Mary Valloni has built a career working for nonprofit organizations that help others, raising money and enticing people to get involved.
After graduating from Missouri State University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication, Valloni worked as development coordinator for Special Olympics Missouri until 2005. She then took on the post of regional development director for ALS Association, where she was responsible for fundraising efforts throughout southwest Missouri to raise awareness and research for Lou Gehrig’s Disease. During her time with the ALS Association, she increased revenue by $125,000 during her first year of employment, and in 2006, she grew the funds raised by the Walk to Defeat ALS by 55 percent.
In 2007, she joined the American Cancer Society, for which she is the regional distinguished events director.
“I have been very blessed by the work that I do and have had the opportunity to impact the lives of those in need,” she says.
Her greatest undertaking to date with American Cancer Society is the Southwest Missouri Cattle Baron’s Ball, which debuted in 2009.
The fundraising gala brought in $502,000 in its inaugural year.
“I had zero volunteers and at that point had no idea what would come in the following years,” she says, noting she now works with more than 100 volunteers annually.
In 2010, the ball drew $670,000.
“After we completed last year’s ball, I realized that this event has and will continue to impact so many lives as we work toward eliminating cancer as a major health concern,” Valloni says, nothing that the planning committee is shooting for $1 million in 2011.
With leadership, Valloni takes an approach similar to the old idiom, “If the shoe fits, wear it.”
“I try to lead by example and will not ask a volunteer or co-worker to take on a task if I wouldn’t do it myself,” she says. “I understand that, with our volunteers, they don’t get paid to volunteer, and it is my role to encourage them and to show them that they are making an impact through the skills and talents they bring to the table.”
And though the Springfield area is known for its giving spirit, a little push here and there can sometimes be necessary.
“Our community leaders are so busy with work and family that it was difficult at times to ask
them to make another commitment and add volunteering to that list,” Valloni says.
“I would hope that if you asked those same volunteers today if they regretted the time they invested in the American Cancer Society, they would say that it has been one of the most rewarding experiences.”Click here for full coverage of the 2011 40 Under 40.