20 Under 40 – Catherine Maurer

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Ursuline Academy of Dallas
Education: Davidson College, SMU

(Photo: Brandon Wade)

Catherine Maurer, as an alumna and in her career, remains true to her school.

As the chief development officer at Ursuline Academy of Dallas, Maurer focuses on her alma mater’s fundraising and community engagement strategies.

“I know that the enriching experience I had as an Ursuline student was made possible because a caring community of parents, alumnae, and friends invested time, wisdom, and financial resources in the Ursuline mission. It is a privilege for me to serve in a role that perpetuates this spirit of community involvement on behalf of today’s students,” she said.

Maurer said she quickly learned she enjoyed connecting people with nonprofits.

“In both (the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. and the Meadows Museum at SMU), I worked in event management organizing lectures, concerts, and other programs that invited the community into these organizations. At some point, it dawned on me that nonprofit organizations thrive only as a result of community involvement, and I began to think about career paths that allowed me to help connect people to the organization and its mission,’ she said.

Q: What was your “lightbulb moment” that lead you to your career?

A: There were probably several early on, back when I worked at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. and later the Meadows Museum at SMU. In both places, I worked in event management organizing lectures, concerts, and other programs that invited the community into these organizations.  At some point, it dawned on me that nonprofit organizations thrive only as a result of community involvement, and I began to think about career paths that allowed me to help connect people to the organization and its mission.   

That interest spurred my entry in the MA/MBA program at SMU, where we as students were challenged to apply strong business practices to the nonprofit sector.  We got to see how all the pieces of the organization fit together to ultimately execute its mission.  There’s a lot of complexity to that, but I always enjoyed the community involvement aspect the most.  And for me – I was working full-time at SMU while in grad school – I got the added bonus of hands-on learning in the midst of the university’s Second Century Campaign, which raised more than $1 billion.  How lucky was I to “grow up” professionally in that environment and be exposed to so many talented leaders in Development and learn best practices from them? Personally, I’m grateful for that, and I’m hopeful that the experience is translating into my work at Ursuline today. 

Q: What do you love most about your community?

A: Given what I do professionally, I continue to be impressed by how deeply the spirit of generosity runs here in Dallas. The culture of philanthropy is strong, and it’s energizing to see nonprofit organizations that are able to do great work and fulfilling their mission because so many community members support those efforts through volunteerism and philanthropic support.

Q: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

A: I worked as a program coordinator at a museum in Washington, D.C., where I had the privilege of working for a woman who was considered an industry pioneer. She was relentless in her attention to detail, and I quickly learned that this is an essential skill set when working in customer service, which is the backbone of all nonprofit organizations.

Q: Where is the best place in the Park Cities or Preston Hollow for a power lunch – what do you order?

A: How do you choose?!  I’m missing a few of my favorite spots at Preston Royal that have been temporarily shuttered due to the tornado and have been spending more time at Lovers and Inwood instead.  Mesero has several great salads.  Asian Mint is perfect on a cold day.  And, of course, Empire Baking Company and Gigi’s Cupcakes are right there if you need to indulge a sweet tooth.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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