Five Questions with Amanda Davis

Meet the new UMKC Foundation president

Alumna Amanda Davis, (MPA ’02) begins her role as UMKC chief advancement officer and president of the UMKC Foundation this week. Her vision for the role is based on her history at the university.

Davis is a five-generation Missourian and an alumna of the UMKC Bloch School of Management where she earned her master’s in public administration. She was a fundraiser for the Red Cross in New Orleans and other nonprofits before falling in love with higher education and returning to Kansas City to work at the UMKC School of Law. Her most recent role was assistant vice president for campaign leadership at the University of Oklahoma Foundation, where she developed programs and policy to accelerate advancement outcomes. Her focus on identifying gift opportunities and prospects contributed to more than $300 million in annual fundraising results and the launch of a $2 billion comprehensive campaign for OU.


What are you most looking forward to in your new position as UMKC Foundation president?

I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to put the education that I received at the Bloch School of Management to good use to help the university grow and continue to succeed. Part of that is to improve the university’s advancement in an overarching sense, and also grow partnerships with existing donors and alumni.

 As an alumna, how does it feel to be back on campus?

Honestly, it’s thrilling. There is so much going on at both campuses. It’s very exciting to come home to UMKC at this particular moment. The chancellor’s leadership is visionary, which dovetails with the visionary leadership we are seeing across Kansas City and complements the incredible strength of the UMKC Foundation board. It’s an exciting time for me to step back in and to be able to make positive change and continue to build UMKC.

How does your experience as a student impact your perspective as UMKC leadership?

I have an incredible enthusiasm for this institution, particularly in its current iteration. I came to UMKC at the exact time in my life that allowed me to discover philanthropy as a career. It's incredibly meaningful to be able to take a skill set that I learned from UMKC, and then come back and use those skills to benefit the institution. I hope my work at UMKC enables other students to feel at home here and have the opportunity to earn an education in their given field so they can go on to do great things.

When you think about the best teams that you’ve been a part of, what about them stands out in your mind?

Two things stand out to me. One, on the best teams there is a safe psychological space to take risks and to do the best you can do. And two, it’s important to have a cohesive direction from leadership so everyone knows what their role is and that they are all rowing in the same direction.

What do you think is the key – or keys – to successful fundraising?

Considering everything from the donors’ perspectives is essential. It’s important to recognize that many of our most engaged donors may be giving in different ways. Perhaps they give an annual gift, but have also planned an estate gift, or are passionate about supporting a specific program or student service. It’s essential to consider how their interests in giving intersect to understand how they feel about the university and how it feels to be the donor from outside the organization.

One more – what is something about you that would surprise people?

One of my passions is costume making. I inherited that gene from my mother, who always made us fabulous Halloween costumes. That’s where I learned the transformative power and fun of costumes. When I moved to New Orleans in my twenties, I was the person my friends came to for help with their Mardi Gras costumes.

Published: Nov 30, 2022
Posted In: Our People

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