Marlene Vidal, Director of Development

Tell us about yourself, personally and professionally.

Professionally, my first career and my degree are in Speech and Language Pathology. I’ve been enjoying fundraising/development as my second career for more than 20 years. The experience I bring to this position includes working with Milwaukee’s Girl Scouts, annual giving roles with two arts organizations, and serving as the executive director of an educational foundation for a suburban public school district. Most recently, I spent the past five years going back to the fundraising side of things as the director of development at a health-related organization, working primarily as a grant writer and developing relationships to increase individual giving.

Personally, I like to travel, bike-ride and go hiking with my husband, adult daughters and their families. In my spare time I make sure to save time for reading, sewing projects and a good cup of coffee.

What drew you to St. Sebastian?

The Catholic faith has certainly provided a good foundation to me as both a spiritual and moral compass throughout my life. I attended elementary school at St. Aloysius and have been an active volunteer in various capacities at area parishes through the years. I knew that I was ready for some change professionally, so this past winter I started paying closer attention to what job opportunities were coming around. In spring, when I saw the position at St. Sebs, since my faith has been central to myself and my family, it seemed like a nice opportunity to explore using my background in education and fundraising skills with a faith-based organization. I had some familiarity with the parish many years ago when we lived in the area and attended mass here. More recently, one of my daughters chose to be married at St. Sebs.

Do you have a spiritual guide or philosophy (e.g., saint, theologian, religious person)?

I’ve never thought of it quite as deeply as a guide, but probably as more of having natural conversations with Mary, the Mother of God and St. Anthony. In might stem from being cast as Mary in the Christmas Story as a first grader, when I’d expected to be a choir angel like my older brothers and sisters had all been. It probably also stems from praying the Hail Mary with my mom on a regular basis and her telling me to talk to both God and to Mary….and of course, numerous prayers to St. Anthony asking him to help me find all the lost things that can occur in a household with eight older siblings.

What does your new job entail?

It’s only my first week in the position so I’m trying to sort it all out. I will be working with the school principal in supporting their fundraising and marketing efforts, as well as those of the parish and the education foundation. I enjoy building relationships, as well as writing and telling the story of an organization so I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities for each of these.

What type of volunteers would you like to engage?

Volunteering has been an integral part of my own life since high school when I spent afternoons during my senior year in high school as a Candy Striper, playing with children in a hospital pediatrics department. I’ve continued to volunteer in many capacities as an adult and feel it brings an important balance to my life. I’d like to think that I bring friendliness and energy, fresh ideas and insights, reliability, follow-through and independence to the things I undertake. I guess I’d look for similar skill sets from volunteers who might like to be involved in the parish’s fundraising efforts and events. I know there is great interest in engaging alumni, so I’m hoping many of them, along with other dedicated parishioners, might step forward to be involved and share their own personal and professional skills. I’m a strong advocate of the adage “many hands make light work.”

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Serving the needs of children has been integral to me in so many areas throughout my life. Being the youngest in a large family, I learned to appreciate the perspectives of those who were more experienced than I was both as a child and as an adult. I also delight in the fresh perspectives of those who are younger than me. I look forward to working with parishioners of all ages in building on the reputations of excellence within the parish and the school. I can easily be reached by email in the parish house at mvidal@saintsebs.org.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.”

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