ESU Alumna Dives in with D.C. Organization to Focus on Fundraising and Strategic Planning
In her fellowship with a Washington, D.C.-based global affairs group, Ashley Burrell M’11 got the idea for a new fundraising tool and oversaw its creation. When the organization needed help on strategic planning, Burrell found an expert who would do the work pro bono.
It’s that kind of initiative that GlobalSolutions.org was looking for when it chose Burrell from more than 80 applicants vying for the paid fellowship.
“Ashley is a star,” said Don Kraus, president and CEO of GlobalSolutions, which works to educate citizens on issues ranging from human rights to climate change to international treaties, and lobbies on those issues. “She has great communications skills, both written and verbal, and she presents very well in person. She’s really fearless when it comes to being able to reach out and talk to people in situations where she hasn’t been before.”
Burrell, who graduated with a master’s degree in political science from East Stroudsburg University in 2011, impressed the GlobalSolutions staff with her passion for international affairs. As part of her ESU graduate work, Burrell interned for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City and the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, Italy, both branches of the State Department.
Burrell said her one-year fellowship at GlobalSolutions allows her to continue to do work she loves and get paid for it.
“I wanted to work on foreign policy issues and things that are important to me,” Burrell said. “They work on world affairs, and I’m really passionate about their mission and what they’re doing.”
Burrell’s focus is primarily in development and fundraising campaigns.
“Most days I’m working on multiple things at once,” she said. “So I might be working an e-appeal — an appeal letter that will be e-mailed to our donor list to get them engaged and ask them to donate to our organization. I’ll also be working on a direct mail piece.
“It’s very challenging. I feel like I’m constantly juggling a lot of projects at once.”
Burrell has been active in GlobalSolutions’ campaign called “Stop the War on International Law.” The campaign seeks to convince Americans of the importance of international treaties such as The Disabilities Treaty, which aims to remove barriers for people with disabilities in all countries – a goal that is especially important to disabled U.S. veterans and others working abroad.
Burrell does a lot with social media and it was her idea that GlobalSolutions should try a crowdsourcing funding project on a website called Indiegogo.com. People can go online and read about the work GlobalSolutions is doing and decide whether to donate.
She also saved the organization money by finding a consultant who was willing to help GlobalSolutions for free.
“We wanted to do some strategic planning with our organization this year and it wasn’t really in this fiscal budget,” Kraus said.
“Ashley just jumped right into it, started making phone calls and found a wonderful consultant who is willing to work with us pro bono.”
Burrell demonstrated that kind of initiative and work ethic when she was hired as a graduate assistant in ESU’s economics department, according to Pattabiraman Neelakantan, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the department.
“In terms of work ethic, Ashley was fabulous,” he said. “Any work I assigned to her, she completed beyond expectations.”
For her part, Burrell said she learned a lot working with Neelakantan and taking classes with such professors as Samuel Quainoo, Ph.D., ESU professor of political science. Both were very accessible and encouraged her in her studies and goals. Neelakantan gave Burrell one of the recommendations that helped her get the GlobalSolutions fellowship.
Burrell, who graduated from East Stroudsburg High School, earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland in 2005. After graduation, she worked for NBC News in Washington, D.C. as a news desk assistant and became engrossed in stories about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other international issues.
“I wanted to learn more and learn what our country was doing to solve a lot of these problems,” she said. “That’s why I decided to go to graduate school – to learn more about how government works and how we interact with other countries.”
Ultimately, Burrell hopes to get a job as a foreign policy adviser to the U.S. Missions to the United Nations.
“She wants to make a difference in others’ lives,” said Neelakantan. “She will go places, I know this.”