Chic Spotlight: Suzy Dorward

Chic Spotlight: Suzy Dorward

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As the Fine Arts Fund (FAF) campaign director, Dorward managed 10 successful campaigns to raise funds for FAF. Dorward currently manages fundraising at the Cincinnati Art Museum as the deputy director of institutional advancement.

Since Dorward is always trying to raise money, you’d think people would run in the opposite direction when they see her coming; But that’s not so. Dorward balances out her fundraising efforts by giving back as a volunteer.

Dorward served on the board of the College-Conservatory of Music, serves as the advisor to the president on the board of Catholic Women, recently retired from the board at St. Rita School for the Deaf and is on the Leadership Cincinnati Alumni Board. Dorward has also been involved with the community theater group, Footlighter’s Inc., where she served as president, worked behind the scenes in a variety of ways and even starred in a play.

Through Dorward’s fundraising and volunteer efforts, she developed many of treasured friendships. She says her family and friends are priceless to her.

With an exciting job, a myriad of community involvement, great friends and family, the only thing Dorward is short on is time. Go, girl!

Learn about the fun events and exhibits coming to the Cincinnati Art Museum, how you can get involved or just drop Dorward a line at

Cincy Chic: You manage fundraising at the Cincinnati Art Museum today. So, as a kid, did you draw and have lemonade stand?

Dorward: No, I can’t draw, and “no” on the lemonade stand. I learned how to make money from my dad when I was eight years old. He bought my sisters and I a few shares of Brunswick stock. My dad wanted us to learn how to read the stock page. Of course, we quickly learned the point of owning stock is to make money. I can still remember how embarrassed my sisters and I were as we cashed our dividend checks for just three cents each.

Cincy Chic: How did you start your career in fundraising?

Dorward: The first time I raised money was in grade school. I sold chances on a Cadillac for a penny. Shortly after that, I moved on to selling Girl Scout cookies.

I really learned about fundraising and what I like to call “friendraising” when I worked at St. Rita School for the Deaf. I formed many friendships with people based on our common goal. We were all working hard to raise funds to support the school. Growing up in Cincinnati, meeting a variety of people through my career and knowing many generous people made it possible to move from selling penny chances to asking for my first $10,000,000 gift for the Art Museum.

Cincy Chic: Not to be Debbie Downer here, but how do you deal with falling short of your fundraising goal?

Dorward: Fortunately, I haven’t had to face that at the end of a fundraising campaign. In the ten years I have raised funds for the Fine Arts Fund, we have always achieved our goal. It wasn’t always easy, but we would start each campaign with a solid strategy. Our plan included “Plan A” and a solid “Plan B.”

We would build on what we learned the year before, too. We would begin with Plan A, and if the campaign was coming to a close and looked like we weren’t going to reach our goal, we kicked into Plan B. Creative methods for raising the additional funds, along with contacting donors and friends, are examples of what might be included in Plan B. Having an idea of what you should do if you are not hitting the mark reinforces what I learned early in my career at St. Rita’s: the importance of friendraising in fundraising.

Cincy Chic: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Dorward: That’s easy! I was the interim co-director of the Art Museum. Although it was temporary until they found a director for the Art Museum, I never in my life imagined myself in such an honored position at one of our country’s finest museums. In my work at the museum today, I still consider it an honor to work with such a great staff and dedicated group of volunteers.

I had a blast at the museum’s 25-hour day of fun activities in honor of the museum’s 125 anniversary, too. I wore my favorite pajamas to the celebration. That wasn’t quite the same as being interim co-director, but it was grand.

Cincy Chic: What drives you to be so involved in your community?

Dorward: I’m very blessed so it’s important to me to give back to the community. If I can use my background and skill set to better an organization, I find it difficult to say “no” when they ask for help. A t-shirt that my sister gave me says it all: ”Stop Me Before I Volunteer Again.”

Cincy Chic
: Is your office setting as lovely as the Art Museum, filled with fabulous pieces of artwork?

Dorward: No, but I am surrounded by photos of my family. I’ll tell you, though, when I leave my office and walk through the galleries every day, I pinch myself. It’s a reminder to take advantage of the opportunity I have to view the wonderful artwork as I pass though the galleries during a regular workday.

Cincy Chic: What’s work to you?

Dorward: Budgeting! The process is just not rewarding to me.

Meeting my goal is hard work, but it’s rewarding. Shaping your team, while allowing them to make their own choices and getting them on the right path to a common goal is hard work, but very rewarding.

Budgeting is just no fun!

Cincy Chic: What’s fun to you?

Dorward: I enjoy many of the special events we have at the museum including Jazz in the Courtyard and bringing my nephews to Family First Saturdays. Other than that, I spend a lot of time with my family. No matter what we do, I always have fun. Friends and family are important to me. I also, enjoy a simple walk down the street with my cocker spaniel, Abby.

Cincy Chic: What’s up next?

Dorward: I don’t know. I’ve never had a plan for my life. I think that’s the best way to live, though. With a plan, I would have limited my ability to consider opportunities outside my comfort zone.