Greg Pope – How Garrison Keillor and Lake Wobegon Launched His Career in Philanthropy

“We raised $3,000 that night and I found development and never turned back” -Greg Pope

Whether we realize it or not, each of us benefits from the work of the nonprofit sector. A strong nonprofit sector is key to thriving communities. At Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership with Tommy Thomas, we are on a journey – a journey to play a small part in equipping the next generation of nonprofit leaders.

Unlike similar shows where the guests often make their living writing, teaching, or speaking about leadership, our guests are seasoned leaders, and there is something we can learn from their experience that will make the nonprofit stronger and more effective.

Every day, nonprofits feed, heal, shelter, educate, inspire, and nurture people of every age, race, and socioeconomic status. The common thread that runs through each nonprofit story is that the impact of the organization rises and falls on leadership – leadership throughout the organization and leadership at the board level.

Join me, Dr. Tommy Thomas as we talk with Greg Pope, the Chief Mission Integration Officer at Ascension / St. Thomas Healthcare network in Nashville.

Greg shares his humble beginnings in Dayton, Tennessee where his dad was in the shoe retail business.  It is interesting that Greg and his brother both ended up working with major healthcare networks in the midsouth.

Greg is a bit unusual in that what he thought would be a two-year commitment to Ascension St. Thomas has turned into a 27+ year career.

In this episode Greg shares how he got his start in fundraising and how the field has changed throughout his career.

Show Notes

2:06 – Greg talks about his childhood and being raised in a family where his dad had a retail shoe business and preached on the weekends

6:32 – What Greg thought would be a two year commitment to (at the time) St. Thomas Hospital turned into a 27+ year career with Ascension St. Thomas

10:49 – Greg discusses what he is looking for when he hires a major gifts officer

12:30 – The “secret sauce” to Greg’s management success

15:46 – The challenges that one might experience when working for Greg

17:38 – Greg talks about what it would be like to be a member of his senior leadership team

20:57 – Greg discusses how he and his team handled the rebranding of Ascension St. Thomas.  Rebranding being defined as changing the logo, NOT changing the mission.  There was a lot more turmoil and consumer reaction than one might imagine.

24:28 – As we often close episodes, Dr. Thomas asked Greg what counsel he is giving those who come to him wanting to discuss a career in Development / Advancement / Philanthropy

“Energy comes from momentum. And so, you always have to figure out what is it that is the momentum that’s going to drive us forward. It can be celebrating success. It can be new opportunity. It can even be a new member of the team, but what is it that provides that energy and brings that to the team?

Links and Resources

JobfitMatters Website

Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership with Tommy Thomas

Ascension St. Thomas Website


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