In August, we welcomed our new Chief Development Officer, Erin Dowland Kabwe. She has devoted her entire career to service with almost 20 years of diverse, global experience in fundraising and community development. Her journey to CEDA began many years ago and is lit by amazing achievements along the way.
A highlight in Erin’s career was her time spent with United Way of Metropolitan Chicago raising $30 million in just 4 years, while also launching the Exelon “Stay in School” Initiative that went on to win the Rob Brown Presidential—the country’s only presidential award for outstanding achievement in employee and community relations.
Within all this success, Erin felt the call to commit herself further to serving others and embarked on a five-year, multi-country journey. First, with the United Way of Jamaica she partnered with local leaders to launch the first major giving program outside of the U.S. for United Way International. Together they raised more than $120,000 to mobilize resources and transform lives.
Then she felt another service calling: this time from Uncle Sam! Erin served in the United States Peace Corps in Ukraine from 2008-2011. Just six kilometers from the Hungarian border, she learned Russian, Ukrainian, and kicsit (“a little”) Hungarian. Some of her most cherished memories surrounded simply getting to know the people in this unique part of the world. While there, she launched a tourist-attracting half marathon that is still being run by the local Ministry of Youth to this day, which brings international tourists to the community! When you meet Erin, you will know her time working in the segregated gypsy school was one of the most impactful times in her service. Working with teaching staff, they created and an after-school program for Roma youth to encourage them to attend classes regularly and advance to the next grade. Their work was awarded an exclusive Democracy grant from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to further this work.
After moving back to Chicago, Erin worked in Zambia in venture philanthropy, where agricultural businesses were launched to support a school and orphanage in Twapia, a village located in the Copperbelt region.
Inspired by the below quote, Erin sought opportunities to impact her home, Chicago.
“If you’re going to change the world, start with serving your community. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, lending a hand and listening to your neighbor will make you a better leader – a better person.” – President Barack Obama
Erin joined CEDA because she is truly passionate about empowering others. She is excited to be part of CEDA and looks forward to creating long-term relationships that can significantly impact the mission. In her new role, Erin will be responsible for implementing a comprehensive fundraising and marketing program.
Erin received her B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently resides in Chicago with her husband Mofya, with whom she recently celebrated her two-year anniversary. Erin enjoys hiking, kayaking, traveling, cooking, and learning new languages. She is passionate about travel, and she has a goal to visit 50 countries by the time she turns 50.
You can reach out to Erin directly at [email protected]