Last year, Louise Koonce joined HopeWorks’ ranks to provide administrative and teaching support to several key programs. Once she got to work, it was clear that her skills in design, marketing and outreach communication were invaluable to the organization, earning her the role of development coordinator. With one calendar year under her belt, we sat down with Louise to learn about her unique history, how she became connected with HopeWorks and what her goals are for the future. Continue reading to learn more about Louise!
Give us a brief history of your relationship with HopeWorks?
My history with HopeWorks is a brief one. My husband and I were missionaries in Africa for 22 years – we spent 11 years in West Africa and 11 in East Africa. We raised our four boys there, but after they finished high school, we wanted to return to the United States. When we moved from Africa to Memphis, one of the few people I knew in town was Nicole Kennell, the director of Adult English as a Second Language. I had breakfast with her shortly after I moved here, and she asked if I was looking for a job. She shared that she would love to have me teach English within the HopeWorks AESL program because of my international experience. That wasn’t in my career field, so I told her I would keep her offer in mind while I continued to search for a role that more traditionally fit my education. When I didn’t find that job, I called Nicole and started teaching in AESL.
What drew you to your current role in development?
My skill set is in graphic design and marketing. When I joined the HopeWorks team, I was looking around at all of our materials and felt that my experience could help unify HopeWorks visually. When Ron and HopeWorks’ then COO first approached me about working on the admin side, my role was going to be a mixed bag. I would be part office and facility manager and part development support. Ron was especially interested in my help because of my mission experience. In the field, I did all of our family’s outreach, communication with supporters and storytelling. I had cultivated 22 years worth of donor relations and development experience without realizing it.
In your first year at HopeWorks, what are you most proud of?
Organizing the donor database and communication system. We implemented a new software to manage donor information that I’m currently finalizing. Once it’s all said and done, we will have a really clean system to file information about our generous supporters and communicate with them more effectively.
Another thing I’m proud of is HopeWorks’ first donor appreciation open house. This was my first event to create from scratch for HopeWorks – and I think it went well. Even though it was right in the middle of the pandemic, we were able to make meaningful connections with a small pool of our supporters.
What do you hope to build on or grow as you enter year two?
I definitely want to do another donor appreciation open house. My goal is for this to become a more solid event that donors can look forward to, and not just an opportunity to get a gift and have good food. I want this to be a way they can feel more connected to the organization and understand the programs. I want our donors to feel like they are a vital part of reaching out to Memphis. I’m also excited about growing our Prayer Donor program. My hope is that this will become not just a list of prayer requests you read once a month, but something that makes donors feel like they’re investing with their prayer energy. My experience as a missionary shows that people will pray more consistently for the organizations they support. Looking at support as a financial investment, the best way to secure it is to ask God to use it, bless it and even multiply it. I want people who can’t give financially, to know they can make a huge difference by praying for the mission of HopeWorks.