Joanne O’Brien Beam (’84) recently returned to her alma mater as chief development officer and director of non-degree programs at the Wake Forest University Charlotte Center.
Beam’s dual role is important and timely as the University continues to expand the use of its flexible 30,000 square foot facility in Uptown Charlotte. As chief development officer, Beam will be responsible for fundraising in the Charlotte metro area. As director of non-degree programs, she will further develop and oversee certificate programs, workshops, guest lectures and networking opportunities relating to the Executive Education Series “Essentials of Business for Nonprofit Organizations,” the “College LAUNCH for Leadership” Program and “For the Love of Learning” program.
An experienced fundraiser, planner, and presenter, Beam most recently served as founding partner and president of Capstone Advancement Partners, where she helped a wide range of non-profit organizations – from higher education institutions to health and human service organizations – meet their development needs. Her experience includes assisting non-profit clients with capital and endowment campaigns, major gift programs, strategic planning, start-up plans and programs, volunteer and staff training, and board development and governance. Beam’s fundraising experience began at Wake Forest in 1989, where she served as associate director of advancement.
An active volunteer who currently serves on the Board of Good Friends (in Charlotte), Board of Trustees of The Charlotte Latin School, and the Executive Committee of the Association of Philanthropic Council, Beam is well connected within civic and University circles. In fact, this month, The Mecklenburg Times named Beam one of “The 50 Most Influential Women.” In 2013, she was named one of the Charlotte Business Journal’s “25 Women in Business.” In 1998, she was named one of “Forty Leaders under Forty” in the Piedmont Triad.
Beam answered a few Q&A relating to her return to her alma mater.
Q: After a 15-year consulting career, why return to Wake Forest now?
A: I loved consulting because I knew everyday I was helping nonprofits become stronger. However, 2013 was a year of reflection for me as I was trying to determine what I wanted my legacy to be. I love Wake Forest. People who know me say my blood is gold and black. It was hard to say “no” to my alma mater. The opportunity to use my entrepreneurial skills to help Wake Forest grow in Charlotte and serve this community was a perfect combination. The possibilities to extend our Pro Humanitate mission in this community our abundant.
Q: Isn’t the Wake Forest University Charlotte Center an extension of the School of Business?
A: The Wake Forest University Charlotte Center is a wonderful home to our evening and weekend MBA programs for working professionals, but it is also an incredible facility that offers undergraduate summer school courses within the College, lifelong learning and certificate programs for professionals living in the area, and a great space for hosting events of interest to Wake Forest and Charlotte communities.
Outside of the Triad, more Wake Forest alumni live in the Charlotte area than any other geographic region. We are just starting to realize the potential of the facility and we continue to explore how we can take full advantage of its prime Uptown location. Adding summer school classes in the liberal arts, helping local nonprofit leaders with their business skills, offering free college preparation and enrichment for underserved high school students and creating non-credit short courses and lectures are natural extensions of the University’s commitment to students, faculty, staff and alumni in the area.
Q: What excites you most about the coming year?
A: I am excited about the opportunity to develop new offerings and bring exciting speakers to Charlotte through the For the Love of Learning program, a program of non-credit short courses and lectures. Whenever I describe my position, this is the part that most people get most excited about. They all have great ideas about classes and programs we can offer. Through research and program development determines, we will determine what the best offerings are over time. I feel like a kid in the library for the first time. It is hard to know which book to read first!
I am also glad to be able to use my fundraising skills to help Wake Forest be successful in the Wake Will campaign. In particular, what is close to my heart is the opportunity to grow scholarship support so students who want to attend Wake Forest can afford to do so. Wake Forest gave me an opportunity to grow and develop as a leader and now I get to give back to help others have a similar opportunity.