2019 40 Under 40 Winners

2019 40 Under 40 Logo

Talmadge Ingham-Johnsen

Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, TN

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

1. Under Talmadge's leadership, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) development team has recruited over 20 new colleagues, received satisfactory audit reports, initiated numerous data integrity improvements, better aligned Development Communications with VUMC strategic marketing efforts, and managed VUMC’s first endowment impact reporting — all while exceeding institutional fundraising goals.

2. Talmadge played a lead role in rebuilding the VUMC development office and overseeing the human capital and policy needs and recruiting following VUMC's legal separation from Vanderbilt University.

3. She is the youngest leader on VUMC's leadership team by at least 15 years.

4. Talmadge volunteers in her community at the Safe Haven Family Shelter and at Oak Hill School.

Q & A

1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?

After earning a master’s degree in Public Administration, I knew I wanted to work for a non-profit. Informational interviews and networking helped me begin a career in health care philanthropy. I was introduced to an individual serving as a development officer for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and was energized by her description of the impact philanthropy has on patient care, research and clinical training. I took advantage of her offer to connect me to individuals within the Vanderbilt development organization. After meeting with Randy Farmer, Doug Twells, Sara Malin and many other staff members, I accepted the Director of Stewardship role for VUMC, my first role in health care philanthropy.

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

The people. I can’t say I proactively chose the health care industry for my career in philanthropy, but I did choose VUMC. I truly appreciate the organization that helped shape my career and feel motivated by the colleagues that surround me every day. These colleagues work diligently to forward our mission, challenge and support each other and continuously improve our results year over year.

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

A crucial step in my career journey, was the 2016 legal and financial separation between Vanderbilt University and VUMC in which VUMC became a fully independent, nonprofit entity positioned for future growth. Essentially, we were a start-up development shop in a 100 plus year old organization maintaining deep connections to the university in research and teaching.

I was a member of the six-person leadership team that helped stand-up operations for VUMC Development. Not only did I learn my opportunities for growth very quickly by making mistakes, but I was challenged by new expectations in finance related to budgets, human resources associated with retention and recruitment and database management with an emphasis on reporting, modeling and pipeline growth. This experience helped emphasize for me the importance of cross-training and career ladders in succession planning. There are always improvements to be made, but just three years after the legal separation I am proud to say we’ve transitioned from six distinct operations teams within Development Services to three integrated teams offering exposure across the service lines.

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

Babysitting taught me networking skills as I worked to grow professional contacts in a first job that could be accomplished around school and club volleyball schedules. It also taught me patience, problem-solving, time management, communication and relationship building as well as self-reliance.

5. What are your future aspirations?

I want to continue growing and learning within the field of health care philanthropy. At a time when donors expect tangible results, there are so many challenges related to managing expectations and reporting impact.

Specifically, I hope to gain more exposure to the ways experienced Chief Development Officers uncover shared values between the organization and potential donors and translate those principles to meet a mutually beneficial need.

In order to fundraise in a complex medical center environment, negotiation skills are essential. Negotiating is truly an art and a science defined by listening first. In the short term, I hope to hone my negotiation skills by intentionally setting aside time to work with peers, team members and leaders across VUMC to learn more about what they care about, what motivates and inspires them, what dissatisfies them, etc.
Talmadge Ingham-Johnsen

Fun Fact:

Nashville is the 11th place I have called home.