Brooke Donelson – 20 Under 40

Education: SMU

As a consulting analyst at Sendero and an advocate for Dallas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Brooke Donelson makes a difference for clients and children.

Donelson’s worked at the firm for about three years, where she helps guide business, nonprofit, and startup clients to reach their full potential.

“A career in consulting has enabled me to gain valuable experience in a range of industries and meet many talented professionals in our community,” she said. “I do not think there are many other industries that offer such great exposure and learning opportunities so early on in a career as consulting.”

“CASA is very dear to my heart, and their mission is so important and impactful.”

A dedicated volunteer, Donelson also gets coworkers and others involved with the causes important to her, like Dallas CASA.

Dallas CASA is a nonprofit that recruits, trains, and supervises community members to serve as volunteer advocates for children living in the state’s protective care. Donelson has volunteered as an advocate for the nonprofit for about three years and recruits others to get involved as an advocate recruitment co-chair.

“CASAs advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in the Dallas County welfare system and provide judges reports for court hearings that help decide the best possible outcomes for children in foster care,” Donelson said. “CASA is very dear to my heart, and their mission is so important and impactful.”

More recently, in response to needs caused by the pandemic, she’s become a regular blood donor and hosted a drive through her work with the American Red Cross. 

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

I would probably tell a younger version of myself to lighten up a bit. I was a notable teacher’s pet and a voracious student, and while a focus on academia is important, forming personal connections with peers and social experiences are equally as important to fostering a fulfilled life.

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

Professionally, I’d like to be established in my career in a role in which I feel I am really making a difference. Personally, I’d like to get back to regular travel and maybe have a family of my own. I hope that in the next decade I can look to my family, friends, and mentors to learn how to strike a good balance between pursuing a career without sacrificing personal goals.

Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

The last year has certainly put my flexibility skills to the test. I have a pretty “type A” personality, so I like knowing how things should play out, and I love to plan. Deviations from plans can sometimes test my patience, which is something that I’ve had to actively combat more head-on recently due to uncertainties caused by the pandemic.

What’s on your bucket list?

I would really like to live abroad for at least a year in a Spanish-speaking country. I have been taking Spanish classes since middle school and have a goal to one day be fully bilingual. I’m actually currently enrolled in a Spanish conversation class through SMU’s continuing education department to freshen up on my skills.

Fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you:

I have been skydiving five times. My favorite jump was off the coast of Spain, at Skydive Empuriabrava. The view was astonishing, and you could even see across the Pyrenees mountains into France. What made it even more special was that my mother and younger sister, who were visiting, made the jump with me.

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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 [email protected]

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