Ten years ago, Jennifer Milacci, then expecting her second child, was looking for volunteer opportunities that championed issues close to her heart. “I was drawn to organizations that helped children and families,” Milacci recalls, and that’s when she learned of The Child Center of NY. Milacci quickly became a board member, and, in the years since, her acuity in sales and marketing has come in handy for our organization.
We talked with Milacci about everything from her invaluable work on our Annual Gala committee to an upcoming shopping event at her own apartment to a particularly poignant memory of a dodgeball tournament that included her daughter.
How were you were first introduced to The Child Center of NY?
In mid 2007, I came to learn of The Child Center through the Robin Hood Foundation. Robin Hood had a process by which they introduced individuals interested in potentially serving as board members to their underlying grantee organizations, of which The Child Center was and remains.
I was pregnant with my second child at the time, and I was drawn to organizations that helped children and families. They matched me with The Child Center, and I met with the executive director at the time and a board member to learn more. Then I visited one of the Child Center’s Head Start programs in Queens, attended a few board events, and I eventually joined the board a few months later.
Tell us about your day job and how it’s prepared you for your role on The Child Center’s board of directors.
I work at a hedge fund in a sales and marketing role, and I think that experience has provided insight into the overall messaging and branding of the organization. In addition, as an active participant in planning our Annual Gala, my contribution is augmented by my years of marketing in the private sector. I believe my business experience has also offered a perspective when faced with management and organizational challenges.
What does your work for The Child Center involve?
As a board member, I attend board meetings, and in that capacity I help to influence the direction of the organization and guide senior management in their execution of The Child Center’s goals.
For a number of years, I have served on the Gala committee and acted as co-chair for the event. We work alongside an outside consultant to decide on all aspects of the annual fundraiser, which is one of our biggest opportunities to raise outside money.
Our goal is to help provide the appropriate messaging and solicit and raise funds that support the Child Center’s various programs. We often feature our young beneficiaries in the show — and their energy and success stories are inspirational and heartwarming.
Tell us a bit about the shopping event in February and the Gala 2018 committee.
We are hosting a fundraising shopping event in February at my apartment. This is an opportunity to engage with potential donors in a small setting while accessing a local designer. A portion of the proceeds spent during the event will go to The Child Center. This is the second of these types of events that we’re holding in order to broaden our fundraising reach.
Can you tell us about a particularly satisfying project or moment working with The Child Center?
A few years ago, we hosted a dodgeball tournament as a fundraising event at Chelsea Piers. Along with a couple other board members, we formed teams to compete — and mine included my daughter and her classmates. It was a chance to get the younger generation involved and demonstrate what The Child Center does while making a small impact at the same time.
A group of step dancers from one of The Child Center’s afterschool programs performed with amazing enthusiasm and passion. My daughter’s team didn’t play so well in their dodgeball games — but they came away feeling proud that their financial contribution was going to a good cause.
What would you say to someone who asks why they should get involved with The Child Center?
We have thousands and thousands of children and families in NYC who don’t know about or have access to basic resources that so many of us take for granted. Being able to provide early preschool education so parents can work for a decent wage or offering afterschool programs to keep young adolescents off the streets is a very fulfilling opportunity.
A single success story from one of our programs fills me with pride and keeps me engaged and wanting to do more, whether that be by spending my time or money — both of which help make a difference.