Spotlight on John Grice

John Tatum Grice began working for WFAA in November 2018. He began his career in philanthropy as a student foundation member at Kansas State University, serving within the K-State Proud Student Campaign. Following graduation, he joined the KSU Foundation’s annual giving department, focused on direct mail, phonathon, student philanthropy, and student-life fundraising. In 2014, he accepted a role at the Oklahoma State University Foundation focused on next-generation philanthropy that engages students, young alumni, and donors in all seasons of life through crowdfunding, days of giving, and peer-to-peer strategies.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I studied political science with a minor in leadership studies at Kansas State University. While my academic studies were interesting, I found myself exhilarated by my co-curricular experiences in student government, the student foundation, fraternity life, and the student alumni board. They allowed me to help effectuate change in my community and on behalf of my peers.
What brought you to Madison and the UW Foundation?
I was interested in continuing to serve institutions that have the people, power, and propensity to change the world. That happens right here in Madison and at WFAA. Our organization interested me because we are willing to take calculated risks to achieve what’s necessary to provide accessible education and practical educational pathways and to contribute to the community.
What does your role at WFAA entail?
I’m fortunate to have the incredible opportunity to lead a team of fundraising professionals. We are creating programs that inspire people to come together and give back to help UW–Madison continue to defy the impossible. Our team connects with all alumni and friends through days of giving, crowdfunding, direct mail, student callers, and much more to provide an experience where people feel a part of the work UW–Madison continues to do — no matter where they are in life.
What led you to the field of development as a profession?
I have been surrounded by incredible mentors since early in college. They have all helped me focus on my strengths and provided challenges that stretched my capacity. One memory that has always stuck with me was during my time as a student leading the K-State Proud Student Campaign. We’d planned for an entire year, took risks to add engaging moments for our audience, and tirelessly shared the message of opportunity for students to help other students stay at the university through giving to an opportunity fund for their peers in dire need. Moments before they announced the total dollars raised, an amount that minutes later I would learn had set a record, I kept asking my adviser and mentor what the final number was. Without disclosing the amount, she reminded me to enjoy the moment and reflect upon all the students who would now be able to continue their education due to the generosity of their peers. From that moment forward, I’ve been concretely driven toward the development profession.
What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
  1. Listen to understand, not respond. If we are quiet more often, we’ll learn in ways that help us grow and catch what others miss.
  2. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. Mental health days are good, eating well is hard, and figuring out what the big rocks are in your life that need to go in first is important.
  3. Surround yourself with the right people. Nothing I accomplished would have been possible without support from a wonderful partner, thoughtful mentors, passionate team members, and people who challenge the way I think.
What is your favorite thing to do in Madison?
I love exploring the city and trying new restaurants. Madison is a great place to work and live because there’s fulfillment professionally and opportunity for a vibrant personal life.
People would be surprised if they knew:
… how much I enjoy playing video games and cooking. At work I’m very focused on strategy, analytics, and often negotiating wins for multiple interested parties. When I get home, that part of my brain is pretty exhausted. I find that I can relax through engaging in the creativity of beautifully designed video games and crafting a tasty meal.
What TV show/movie are you ashamed to admit you love?
The Great British Baking Show. I have no further comment.
What would you say to someone who is considering working for WFAA?
If you’re interested in joining an organization that’s driven to change the world, this can be the place for you. We’ll take smart risks, put the donor first, and do our best to deliver results that will help UW–Madison change the world.