Blog interview series: Marissa Nielsen

Marissa_CICF_Development_Team_x.jpgMarissa is passionate about local philanthropy and the power of community foundations to be a positive change agent in their communities. “I enjoy engaging with compassionate people to assist in creating positive community change. Nothing is more rewarding than helping others achieve their philanthropic goals.”

Marissa holds a M.A. in Philanthropic Studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and a B.S. in Advertising and Public Relations from Spring Arbor University.

Prior to joining Central Indiana Community Foundation, Marissa was the Interim Director of the Smithville Charitable Foundation and interned at the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation. Before making the move to Indiana from Michigan, Marissa’s previous professional experiences include serving as the Executive Director of the Homer Area Community Foundation and working with the Community Foundation Alliance of Calhoun County.

How long have you lived in Indy?

I’ve lived in Indy for almost four years now. My husband and I moved down here to attend graduate school at IUPUI. We’re both originally from Michigan.

Why have you focused on using your skills in the nonprofit sector?

After completing undergrad, I was selling ad space in a local newspaper. When I entered the local community foundation to ask if they needed an ad, the president asked if I would join her team. I was elated to accept her offer and learn about community foundations and the nonprofit sector. Community foundations empower donors of all levels to pool their resources together and make positive changes in their community. The transformative power of philanthropy is why I continue to focus my energy in the nonprofit sector.

How did you find your current position?

Isn’t it always all about who you know? I learned about my current position through word-of-mouth and applied through the Charitable Advisors job board. Our community is so fortunate to have Charitable Advisors as a resource!

What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?

As an undergrad I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a “career” and decided to pursue a major in the communications department because of its ability to be applied broadly in any sector. I was fortunate to be recruited for a position at the community foundation in my hometown soon after graduation and fell in love with the sector. I have found my positions in the nonprofit sector, current and previous, extremely fulfilling both professionally and personally. I would encourage any young professional considering a nonprofit position to follow their passions, roll-up their sleeves, and make a difference!

If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?

I love sewing, but didn’t catch the “tailoring gene” from my mother. I would love to learn how to better tailor garments.

If you were an inanimate object, what would you be and why?

That’s a thinker … Maybe a desk organizer? I’m a VERY Type-A, organized, list-maker type!

What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?

I have been so fortunate in the pursuit of my goals and have accomplished almost everything I’ve set my mind to, but I hope to become a mother sometime in the future.

Share a little-known treasure of Indianapolis with us.

My husband and I love the authentic Korean restaurant Bando in Lawrence. Their dolsot bibimbap is worth the drive!

You’re a new, first-time homeowner – congratulations! When you were looking for a neighborhood to put down your roots, what were the most important things you considered?

Thank you! And wow, is downtown Indy real estate is a hot ticket item!

My husband and I knew that we wanted to stay in the downtown area, south of Fall Creek Parkway but north of the circle. We love all that downtown has to offer, we both work in or near the downtown area, and enjoy not having to fight traffic!

Another huge factor in our decision was the walkability and bike-ability from our potential new home. We ended up choosing a relatively new home in an up-and-coming area near the Monon and hope it will be a good long-term investment.


CICF_logo_WEB_vertical.pngAs a philanthropic advisor at Central Indiana Community Foundation, Marissa spends most of her time working with individuals, families, and businesses to develop smart giving strategies, based on their values and interests, that make philanthropy more personal and meaningful. Marissa advises that smart giving strategies guide not only monetary giving, but gifts of time and talent, too.

Sign up for CICF’s newsletter to read, watch and listen to stories about how Marissa, CICF and its donors are transforming Central Indiana with strategic grants and collaboration.

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  • commented 2017-05-25 13:24:49 -0400
    Great work Marissa! Glad to see you get recognized for your contributions!

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