Tonia P. Ferrell, Ph.D. – Director, Prospect Development and Campaigns for The University of Akron
How did you get into fundraising and/or prospect research?
I had been a market analyst and corporate researcher for a number of years before deciding I needed a career change. I went back to school and got a master’s in higher education. During my job search, I came across prospect research positions at a few universities. After looking into what prospect research was all about and seeing that I had all those skills AND a love of higher ed, I applied and ended up where I am now with UA and have been here for 14 years. I never thought I would be a part of the team that asks for donations, but I love the process and the impact we can make in the lives of students and the overall institution.
What do you listen to on your commute?
I listen to Sirius radio. I bounce around several different channels, but mostly stay on comedy stations. I’ve found that laughing on my commute helps me prepare for the day or decompress after. If I am not in the mood to listen to jokes, I listen to music that I can sing along with and hold a 30-minute solo concert in my car while I drive home. Some days it is better than therapy!
What's the best career advice you've ever received?
Never say no to anyone looking to talk to you about an opportunity. It never hurts to talk with them and find out more. You can always say no later if the fit is not there for you or them.
Who’s your go-to band or artist when you can’t decide on something to listen to?
Sister Hazel. Their music can calm me or lift me up, and there always seems to be a song that is right for those times I am undecided.
Would you rather have a personal chef, personal housekeeper, or personal chauffeur?
Can I have all 3? If I can only pick one, it would be a personal chef. I don’t enjoy meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. Having someone prepare a healthy, well portioned meal and have grab and go snacks at the ready for me (and do all the dishes), would be amazing!