CCAH Spotlight – David Wolkin

Setting the Stage

You would be hard-pressed to find a colleague whose enthusiasm can best that of David Wolkin, Senior Copywriter. As one teammate put it: “He’s always ready to jump into the next project, no matter how large or small.”

Having worked at CCAH since 2017, David’s client roster runs the gamut of nonprofit genres, with him writing fundraising copy for museums, religious and medical organizations, as well as civil rights and animal welfare groups.

The variety provides David with a pathway to serving a wide range of missions that align with his own values. For him, “There’s something really special about being able to play a behind-the-scenes role in securing resources for so many different causes, so that they can be out there doing the work.”

Making a Difference

Building community is paramount for the clients of CCAH; in that respect, David is well-versed. After college, he worked at a Jewish summer camp, in charge of campers and counselors ranging from high-school freshmen to college students. His recollection of their respect for each other, and the sense of caring that they created at camp, inspired him to pursue a post-graduate degree in Jewish education.

David worked in the Jewish community for a decade after earning his master’s degree, seeking his own path as an educator. His mother was a grade-school teacher and his father was a rabbi, and while he admired their work, he didn’t want to take on their careers – instead he sought a hybrid of the two.

He was attracted to the relational and educational aspects of their roles and was moved by their ability to build community in their own ways. This drive to be of service to those around him inspired him to become a hospice volunteer, providing comfort to patients in the final chapter of their lives, in addition to supporting their families. “I don’t like the idea of anyone being alone in those times, and so if I can show up and help, that can lessen their challenges or struggles.”

Believe it or not, David’s background as a Jewish educator serves him well as a writer. “I spent 15 years trying to find the best ways to share an ancient tradition – one I love – with learners of all ages. You learn a surprising amount about effective messaging that way.”

Doing What Matters

David’s storytelling abilities have served him well in roles both past and current, and even though he spends his work week crafting narratives for his clients, he still finds more time to hone that skill outside of the office. He has performed with Story District, a Washington, D.C. organization that brings live storytelling to the stage, as well as providing the District with storytelling classes and training. When he isn’t telling stories, you might find him reading one – especially if it’s a comic book.

Whether he’s writing for a client, teaching on a Saturday at his synagogue, playing soccer with his Border Collie, Waffles, or planning adventures with his wife Keeli – a leader at the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN – David pours 100% of himself into the task at hand.

His ability to inject some laughter into the average conference call is lauded by his colleagues, and his dependability as a team member is well regarded. He doesn’t take his position lightly, though. “To go from being a Jewish educator to a copywriter, there’s no clear path”, he chuckles, “but I’ve been incredibly lucky.”

A difficult yet rewarding year.

$401,324,272.25.

That’s how much money Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey helped our clients raise in 2020. The most ever in any of our firm’s 35 years.

2020 was an extremely difficult year for everyone … the pandemic and the life-threatening coronavirus … personal hardship in a topsy-turvy economy … massive unemployment … isolation and loneliness … a historically divisive political landscape … assaults upon civil liberties … and our electoral process.

But there was a silver lining. Despite the immense hardships faced in 2020, Americans united to support the causes that matter the most. 

Jim Hussey, Chair

In addition to raising more than $50 million to aid those impacted by the pandemic, and more than $36 million to support health-related institutions, including many that are addressing the coronavirus crisis, CCAH is especially proud of the role we played to defeat Donald Trump and elect Democrats up-and-down the ticket.

We helped the Democratic Party raise more than $166 million to elect President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Combined with our victories with the Clinton/Gore Campaign in 1996 and the Obama/Biden Campaign in 2012, this adds up to three successful presidential campaigns for CCAH President Kim Cubine and her team of highly seasoned political specialists. (It’s really five if you count Al Gore’s race in 2000 and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 … both of which won the popular vote.)

Other CCAH partners generated more than $50 million in the successful effort to retake the U.S. Senate, and an additional $15.6 million to elect more Democrats (especially women and people of color) to positions in the U.S. House of Representatives, and to state offices around the nation.

And during a year which saw the growing threat of racial intolerance gain the attention it has long deserved, CCAH was able to help its clients raise over $70 million for civil rights causes which … fought for the rights of all Americans to have their voices heard at the polls … and addressed the sickening rise of right wing intolerance, neo-Nazism, and antisemitism. We are also proud that CCAH raised $76.6 million for environmental and animal rights organizations, and other worthy advocacy causes.

None of this work would have been possible without the dedicated efforts of our more than 100 CCAH staff members, who operated from 14 states and persevered despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic and social distancing. Like the rest of the country, our employees left the office in mid-March of 2020 and coordinated all of these successful efforts from their homes without the benefit of office resources or face-to-face coordination with their co-workers. All of our partners and supervisors are incredibly grateful for their brilliant service and success. 

And their hard work will continue throughout 2021 as we look forward to the post-COVID era and continue to partner with amazing organizations to address the most important causes facing our nation.

CCAH Spotlight – Katie Chambers

Setting the Stage

“Katie Chamber’s positive attitude is actually infectious” according to Kim Cubine, and her colleagues all agree. The tireless work ethic and upbeat attitude that she brings to her daily routine have made her an indispensable member of the CCAH family.

On top of her role as an Account Executive working with clients, she is also a member of the company’s Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Committee, a writer for the company blog, and a resource for five other CCAH employees through the company mentorship program. How on Earth did one person wind up with so much on their plate?

“I have a hard time saying no to things,” she says with a laugh. And while her sense of duty might belie an even greater desire for change, Katie’s work – both inside and outside the office – has made her the natural leader that we at CCAH are fortunate enough to work alongside. 

Making a Difference

When she’s not helping her clients to reach their organizational goals, Katie is an ardent supporter of causes outside of CCAH. She has served as a coach for Girls on the Run, an after-school program that helps reinforce the connection between emotional and physical health for young women. She also volunteers, organizes with, and raises funds for Be the Match, an organization that connects patients diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood diseases with life-saving bone marrow and stem cell donors.

Most recently she’s found herself pounding the pavement with members of her community, demanding change to the systems of American policing. Her civic engagement is not so much a newfound passion as it is an extension of her upbringing. “When I was in middle school, my parents would reward me for good grades with trips to D.C., and we’d go to a Smithsonian … or I’d hang outside the Newseum waiting for politicians to sign autographs after they filmed This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Katie’s political passions continued through college and into her first job after graduation, where she worked as a field organizer for a Senate campaign. After that campaign cycle ended, she wasn’t entirely sure where she would end up, until she connected with a family friend who knew of an opening at CCAH. Katie applied “despite not really knowing anything about the industry,” and when she was called in for an interview, began studying up on the ins-and-outs of direct marketing. 

Doing What Matters

It’s no surprise that during this year’s annual company awards ceremony, Katie was the recipient of the CCAH Spirit Award, which is given to an employee who exemplifies the passion for change that we work for each day. Her positive outlook and boundless enthusiasm are contagious, and it’s because of Katie, and colleagues like her, that CCAH can deliver for our clients.

Katie’s work at CCAH encompasses so much more than just her daily client interactions and management of their various campaigns. Her work on the company blog helps to keep CCAH visible within the direct marketing industry, a crucial task in the current age with so many business interactions moving from in-person to online.

Similarly, her work on the DEI committee helps to ensure that all of her CCAH colleagues stay visible within the structure of the company. When CCAH announced the inception of the DEI Committee, Katie saw it as a natural fit. She had, before the committee existed, been working with her supervisors and management to address what areas CCAH might better serve our growing roster of employees. “CCAH is a great place to work for me, and I just want to make sure that’s true for everyone here.”

CCAH Attends Engaging Networks Community Conference

Last week CCAH had the honor of presenting at the Engaging Networks Community Conference. This conference is an opportunity for industry leaders to have one-on-one conversations with colleagues and learn how they are innovating on the Engaging Networks platform.

CCAH attendees learned about critical strategies to ensure increased data security, innovative features exclusive to the platform, and got a sneak peek at what Engaging Networks has in store for 2020. These learnings will allow our Account and Web Developer teams to better achieve client goals by building upon the already robust donation tracking, A/B testing, personalization, and segmentation strategies.

With topics ranging from email automation to peer to peer fundraising, this conference was a great way to remind ourselves of tried and true SOPs and the importance of finding innovative techniques for our client’s success. Conferences like these are a great way for CCAH to show our community what’s working for our clients and what’s working for our company.

Brenna Holmes, Vice President of Digital Services, and Alyssa Ackerman, Senior Account Executive, co-led a session on building a recurring giving program for the future. These sessions featured omnichannel tips as well as case studies of our most successful tactics.

Check out some photos of our experience and the full-length presentation video below!

CCAH Spotlight – John Wanda

John Wanda has always been fascinated by the people who shaped history: their personalities, their characters, and the way they overcame adversity and the challenges thrown at them. He made it his mission to understand what made great leaders.

Setting the Stage

Growing up in Uganda, John never saw himself getting into direct marketing, as it didn’t really exist there; he went to college for accounting, eventually moving to the United States before finding CCAH, where he has worked for the past thirteen years. He started in an accounting position and is now a principal and vice president for finance. His role has evolved into financial management, budgeting, forecasting, and keeping up with regulations. In John’s words, he works to ensure “that our company is in the good and clear, because you can have a great company, but if you don’t have good books and good accounting and good tech systems, you can still run into trouble.”

John has seen CCAH expand from 44 employees to over 90. He has watched it evolve from a company that was mainly direct mail focused to a company on the cutting edge of direct response marketing. However, what he enjoys most about working here is the opportunity to help so many great organizations raise the money they need: “it’s good to feel like you’re helping to play a role in making our world a better place every day.”

Making a Difference

John is passionate about making a difference. Prior to coming to CCAH, he worked at a DC-based foundation that supports the conservation of rainforests in his home continent of Africa. Working at CCAH, he was able to continue to support this passion while also supporting others — from championing good, viable political candidates and supporting important causes outside the mainstream, to benefiting environmental organizations that do work near to his heart.  As John says, working here has allowed him to see that “people don’t leave [changing the world] to the government, they don’t leave it to others, these are individuals who are willing to give significantly to support the causes they care about.”

John is one of these individuals. The organization that means the most to him is the one he and his wife, Joyce Wanda, founded together: Arlington Academy of Hope. Arlington Academy of Hope serves to build a foundation of hope in rural Uganda by raising money to send children to school. The organization has grown to one with a budget of $900,000 per year, and they have successfully raised more than $7 million to help more than 20,000 children go to school. He explains, “I know that a simple act of kindness can actually change a life, and if we all can do a little bit of that every day, we can transform so many lives around the world.”

John explains that providing these students with the opportunity for education “has shown our community that our kids are just as capable as other kids in Uganda, and given the right resources and support, they can compete with anybody.”

John and his wife grew up in very difficult circumstances. They know firsthand the challenges these kids face — those faced at home to those faced going to, and staying in, school — so when they found themselves in the United States with new opportunities, they wanted “to use the resources and connections [they] found to support the kids back in Uganda.” They realized they “could do a lot of good for their community.” And they are not alone: every year, more than a thousand donors contribute to and support the work of Arlington Academy of Hope.

Doing What Matters

John Wanda puts his all into the things that are important to him, and while he is undoubtedly passionate about the work he does at CCAH and the time he spends with family, Arlington Academy of Hope is the thing that makes him “smile every day, wake up every day, and set goals every day.” This work fulfills him, not only because of what it accomplishes, but also because it combines his work, family, and community — the three things that truly inspire him.

Growing up, John read about the great leaders of our world and the way they shaped history to make the world a better place — John can now take his place among them. Really, no one could say it better than John himself:

“Everybody has different things that make them wake up and do what they do, and that is good — it’s just that anytime you add something that helps others, that is what makes it more powerful. You’re not doing it for yourself, you’re not doing it for your kids, you’re doing it for the world, and that just makes it so much more powerful.”