Katie Garland: Public Historian, Fundraiser


Katie Garland (right)

Katie Garland graduated from Messiah College in 2012.  She worked as my research assistant for three years during her undergraduate years and continued to help me with my work as she continued her studies in the M.A. program in public history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Most people don’t know that Katie wrote the book proposal for Why Study History: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past and did much of the research for The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society.  Katie is somewhat of a legend among the students in the public history program at Messiah College.  She is one of the best students to ever come through the Messiah College History Department.

After graduating from UMASS in 2015, Katie took a job working as a fundraiser with the Girls Scouts.  She tells her story in this piece in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History.

Here is a taste:

Additionally, good fundraisers must also see themselves as part of a larger community. Fundraising is all about building relationships, bringing together people of affluence and influence to solve large-scale problems. Individual nonprofits cannot apply Band-Aid solutions to problems; we must work collaboratively to address their root causes. At GSHPA, we strive to be humble and to recognize that we cannot solve gender inequality alone. Therefore, we work with other businesses and nonprofits, donors and volunteers, to create real and lasting change.

At its heart, this process requires community leaders and fundraisers to be historians. To work together to change the future, we must have a deep understanding of how the past has influenced our present. I cannot hope to speak eloquently about gender inequality today without a deep appreciation for gender history and an understanding of how earlier generations fought for equality. GSHPA’s work (and my own) is part of a larger narrative.

I used to talk about my fundraising career like it was my Plan B. After all, I became a fundraiser only when I couldn’t find a public history job. Despite working at a job I genuinely love, the story I told to others—and myself—was one of failure. No longer. I might not be where I thought I was going, but that’s because I got lucky, not because I failed. In public history, I learned to write well, tell stories, read an audience, be empathetic, collaborate, and see myself as part of a larger historical narrative. All of these skills help me raise money and improve peoples’ lives, and it is an incredible privilege to be able to use my history degrees in this way.

Read the entire piece here.  Nice work, Katie.  We are all proud of you!!