Leadership, mentoring, networking and fundraising—just a handful of the skills that helped Colleen Dilly achieve success both in her career and in her position with the Central Maryland Chapter. As director of recruiting for Data Computer Corporation of America, she works to attract talented individuals and match their skills with job opportunities. This ability to build a strong team shines through in her role as leader of the chapter’s annual Race for Excellence 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run.
The race began as a family event and an effort to raise money for the chapter’s scholarship fund. In its first year, nearly 390 runners participated, and it has since grown under Dilly’s leadership to this year’s total of more than 1,000 runners and 1,500 total participants, including family members, walkers and spectators.
In addition, the number of running teams grew from three teams in 2010 to 31 teams in 2011. “The team involvement in this year’s event provided a heightened level of excitement,” says Dilly, and she recruited more than 70 AFCEA volunteers to support the growth. As a result, the 2011 event raised more than $50,000 for the chapter’s scholarship fund—the largest collection in the event’s history.
A race of this size requires at least a year of planning. “This event is only made possible through the contributions from our sponsors, volunteers and participants,” Dilly notes. Each year requires Dilly and her volunteer team to develop new, creative strategies to ensure that the bottom line improves. “The volunteers supporting this fundraising activity overcame numerous obstacles through the years to ensure that the event continues to increase the amount of significant donations to fund the AFCEA scholarship program.”
Dilly credits AFCEA with improving her business acumen and sales skills. “Since becoming actively involved in AFCEA in 2006, my business contacts have grown extensively.” She notes that the chapter provides a significant landscape for her to offer and receive mentorship while assisting small business and young professionals in the community.
“Supporting AFCEA over the years has given me exposure to the key components involved with philanthropic event organization, such as strategic planning, annual giving, volunteer leadership management, special events and stewardship,” explains Dilly. In the future, she hopes to have more opportunities to increase her involvement in professional fundraising to give back to the community.