EAST COUNTY — As a former consultant for the New York City Ballet and a fine arts major in college, performing arts have taken center stage for Mary Lee Richey.
Richey, who co-founded an acting company, The Brooklyn Project, while living in New York City, has found ways to marry her passion for the arts with her business acumen, including previously serving as development officer and administrative director for the Sarasota Opera.
But Richey now shifts the spotlight to her newest undertaking.
On July 7, the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish Housing Council Foundation named Richey as the vice president of development — a newly created post that replaces and expands the role of director of development.
She developed a passion for fundraising, in particular, while working as the senior development officer for Ringling College of Art and Design from 2007 to 2013.
“I love what the Jewish Housing Council represents,” Richey said. “They have a mission and goals that show how much members of their communities mean to them. They offer affordable housing and ways for seniors to keep their residences, even after their financial assets deplete.”
Richey’s primary focus is to raise awareness and donations for the nonprofit organization, which creates retirement communities for seniors, including independent living and a memory-care and rehabilitation center.
To generate revenue, Richey is creating a strategic fundraising plan. She wants members of her team to educate businesses on the council and its communities, while also using salesmanship to generate donations. Equally as important are sponsors and creating lasting partnerships, such as the unions built with Mote Marine Laboratory and local theater companies.
Two weeks into her new position, Richey works to finalize a specific plan with a goal to surpass her goals and ensure she and her team build strong donor relationships.
“I identify major prospects, business owners and other people in the community who show interest in my organization,” Richey said. “What I like most about fundraising is helping people actively participate in a cause or organization they are passionate about. I don’t focus on numbers, which has helped me (in fundraising). I don’t settle for goals.”
About Mary Lee richey
• She consulted with the New York City Ballet on development.
• She has a passion for acting and playwriting; it was her longtime dream to become an actress.
• She enjoys cooking and reading and has visited Italy.
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].