Q&A: Brandon Washington, philanthropy

Brandon Washington
Brandon Washington. Marc Studer.

How has work in Advancement & External Relations changed since remote operations began at UW Bothell? Brandon Washington, manager of annual giving and philanthropy, answers a few questions from Maria Lamarca Anderson, director of communications.

Q. What would you normally be doing now and where?

A. My start date was in January of this year, so I didn’t have much time to establish a baseline. My “normal” has been far from normal. What I do in my role is connect donors with opportunities to make an impact and promote a culture of philanthropy on campus. Typically, most of my time would be dedicated to building relationships with alumni and community partners through in-person meetings and events.

Prior to the “stay home, stay safe” order, I was spending a lot of my time with students, staff, faculty and leadership. I also traveled often between the Bothell and Seattle campuses to work with our central advancement teams. Going virtual has had its obvious challenges, but staying connected online with colleagues from across campus has kept me engaged and allowed me to continue learning more and more every day.

Q. What are you trying to work on today?

A. Today, I’m really focused on overcoming emotional fatigue. It’s been such a wearying year, and a lot of us are just exhausted. I’m working on managing those feelings. I’ve also found that practicing gratitude has helped me to better handle some of the anticipatory anxiety that I’m sure a lot of us are feeling.

Overall this year, most of the giving campaigns I am focusing on have been in response to the current crises we face. I’ve been charged with supporting the Bothell Emergency Student Fund in response to COVID-19 and the Black Opportunity Fund which focuses on supporting Black students, staff and faculty on campus. This work aligns so deeply with my passion for supporting our diverse student population here at Bothell.

Q. What adjustments have you made to fulfill your work responsibilities?

A. What’s been helpful is creating a new routine. The last few months have been so chaotic that most routines seemed to have just gone out the window. For me, I’m working on trying to create a steady work environment at home. I’m working on increasing the ergonomics of my space and using structural tools to help organize my work.

Another adjustment I’m continuing to focus on is keeping good communication with my colleagues. Checking in and ensuring accountability for myself has been really impactful. It’s so challenging not being able to just get up and walk over to someone’s desk if I have a question, but having all these communication channels to connect through has been a good alternative for the time being.

Q. What are you doing to care for yourself or for others?

A. I’ve been working hard to take care of my family and myself. I’m fairly new to my role, and a lot of my learning has been remote. I’m working on being patient with myself and managing my own expectations. I spend a lot of time supporting my family and friends. Those commitments are overwhelming, but I think having a foundation of gratitude and humility has helped me overcome a lot in this really challenging year.

Q. Do you have a change of perspective to share?

A. I wouldn’t say I’ve had a change of perspective, but this year has really reaffirmed a lot of the core values I believe in. The importance of human connection and caring for others. The need for selflessness and humility. The power of community and people showing up for each other.

There have been some silver linings this year, even if some days you have to dig a bit deeper for it. But I’ve really cemented my belief in the power of people coming together for a common purpose and committing to doing the right thing.

Q. What other thoughts or feelings do you want to share?

A. I’m really excited for the future. I think even with all the setbacks, something has to give. Meaning, eventually things will change, and with that comes so much potential for opportunity. I’m thankful for the Husky community and our demonstrated ability to band together.

I look forward to what’s ahead and the amazing things we’ll accomplish together.

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