2019 40 Under 40 Winners

2019 40 Under 40 Logo

Sophia Ahmad

CommonSpirit Health - MercyOne Des Moines Foundation
Des Moines, IA

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

1. Sophia instigated an overhaul and expansion of donor cultivation, stewardship and external relations programs, including collaboration with multiple teams throughout the world ‒ including those in Colorado and in India ‒ to digitize a $874,000 annual campaign, resulting in a 20 percent increase in contributed revenue within 20 months.

2. She realigned MercyOne Des Moines Foundation's signature fundraising event to be mission-focused and activated participants through fundraising ambassadorship, resulting in a 22 percent increase in revenue over the previous year, a 153 percent increase in the number of new individual donors and a 385 percent increase in new sponsors.

3. Sophia initiated an innovative, new model for donor-centric service line philanthropy, activating physicians and team members to identify strategic organizational needs and matching those needs with donors. Through this, she led efforts to secure funds that purchased a new $217,000 ECHO machine for the pediatric cardiac care program at MercyOne Children’s Hospital.

4. She instituted a comprehensive external communications plan for the Foundation, including an e-newsletter, a public relations strategy, and a storytelling strategy that encompassed a monthly donor spotlight series and an impact story series.

Q & A

1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?

Philanthropy is rooted in cultivating meaningful relationships, then nurturing and stewarding them effectively. My background is in sales, marketing, public relations and communications, which utilizes similar skills, when executed well. Health care philanthropy is particularly fulfilling because we have the privilege of working with generous donors who make a transformational impact, along with brilliant, gifted providers who articulate the vision, mission and need. It’s a win-win!

2. Why did you choose to make health care philanthropy your career?

The complexity of health care philanthropy is very intriguing! Technology, best practices and opportunities are ever evolving, yet there are similar themes and rhythms across service lines. Some of my most fulfilling moments included identifying and executing upon opportunities that serve multiple departments within MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center. 

3. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.

Working with the national media during the 2016 caucus cycle was eye-opening, exhilarating and memorable. While politics was at the forefront of the news cycle, our most in-depth coverage derived from issues important to Iowans, such as the economy. This experience taught me important lessons: understand the hook, be prepared to go deep into verticals important to your audience segments, and take the long view, as successful pitches can yield interesting stories that evolve over multiple months and years.

4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?

Babysitting! It taught me discipline, engagement and patience. Kids have a natural curiosity and sense of wonder, which is a constant wellspring of inspiration (and humor).

5. What are your future aspirations?

I love serving alongside our rockstar philanthropic and provider teams at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center. I look forward to continuing to grow in my current role and furthering my career in driving measurable, mission-based changed through collaborative, relationship building and activation.
Sophia Ahmad

Fun Fact:

My master’s degree is in classical piano performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Music has made a deep and lasting impact on how I understand, appreciate and interact with the world.