New board member brings fundraising, allies to center

The newest addition to the board of the William Way LGBT Community Center is looking to use her background in fundraising to breathe new life into the center and help it expand its donor base.

The center’s members approved the election of Moira Mulroney to the board at the center’s Dec. 13 annual meeting. Mulroney will serve a two-year term.

Mulroney, 39, is the director of philanthropic gifts at local radio station WXPN, where she heads the station’s capital campaign.

A native of Alexandria, Va., Mulroney, who is heterosexual, came to Philadelphia in 1995 to pursue her law degree from Villanova University. Shortly after her 1998 graduation, she began working as an assistant district attorney in the DA’s Legislation Unit.

When she left the DA’s office in 2005, Mulroney went to work as the director of grants at the Philadelphia Zoo, which she said provided her first dose of professional fundraising experience.

“When I felt it was time to leave the DA’s office, I was looking for another position and I’d done a lot of grantwriting while I was there, and someone called me about a position at the Zoo,” Mulroney said. “I honestly just thought what a fun place that would be to work. I went into it blindly, not quite knowing what a grantwriter did in the professional world, but I had some great successes there and was able to bring in quite a bit of money.”

Mulroney said the transition from the DA’s office to the world of professional fundraising was not that difficult.

“It actually feels like similar work,” she said. “The work I was doing in the DA’s office was basically lobbying and government affairs, being an advocate. And then I became an advocate for an organization with a wonderful mission. Whether it’s giving a voice to victims at the DA’s office or promoting conversation and preservation at the zoo, or promoting new artists and new music here at WXPN, I feel like they’re all important missions. It was a natural move for me, even though on paper it sounds like a funny step to take.”

Mulroney said that while she was at the Zoo, she connected with the center’s board co-chair, Deb Francesco, who served on one of the Zoo’s committees. Mulroney said Francesco invited her to the center’s art auction earlier this year, where she was introduced to the center’s mission and services.

“That was the first time I’d walked into that building and I was really impressed. I realized that this was a very special place in Philadelphia that was much needed, open to the community and always accessible.”

Mulroney said she assisted Francesco with securing silent-auction items for this year’s Indigo Ball, after which Francesco approached her about joining the center’s board.

She said she considered the offer for a time and was convinced to pursue the position after seeing how committed the group’s leadership is to the center and the community.

“It’s a wonderful organization that has such strong leadership. ’Dolph [Ward Goldenburg, executive director] is fantastic. He has a vision and really builds confidence in the center,” she said. “As a new board member, that was very important to me; the leadership at the center makes me feel like this is a valuable use of my time and that I should commit myself to an organization that’s so well-run and so needed in the community.”

Mulroney said she’s hoping to tap into her fundraising experience to assist the center in attaining much-needed funding.

“It’s an organization that needs money, and any board member should be comfortable being a fundraiser. Hopefully my background as a professional fundraiser will be able to help in that way.”

She noted that the center still needs $150,000 for its elevator construction project and that she’s looking to obtain a portion of that money from state legislators. She said the time she spent working at the D.A.’s office afforded her the opportunity to work with numerous leaders in state government, whom she’s planning to approach to garner funding for the center.

Mulroney noted that she’s also hoping to use her other professional contacts to draw in more donors who may not be familiar with the center but who could become strong allies.

“I think that my professional contacts and networking will be able to bring people into William Way that maybe hadn’t thought of it before,” she said. “Especially as a straight ally, I have access to members of our community that maybe haven’t thought to support William Way before, whether they knew of the center or not, it just may not have been on the top of their agenda for donating because they don’t completely understand what it does for the city as a whole and for people of all communities and all orientations.”

Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected]