10 Questions with THON 2015 Executive Director Megan Renaut
Megan is a… Junior
Majoring in… Psychology
And a fun fact about her is… She has probably reread the same books more times than she has read new books. She loves Harry Potter and has read them countless times.
Onward State: What made you apply to be the Executive Director for THON 2015?
Megan Renaut: I decided to apply to be the Executive Director primarily to help give back to the organization that has enriched my life and the lives of others. I felt that I had a strong vision for THON’s future and I had the passion and dedication to see that vision be implemented in THON 2015 and beyond. And most importantly, I wanted to continue to make a difference in the lives of the children and families we support year-round as THON volunteers.
OS: Where did you make your start with THON, and how did you get to where you are now?
MR: I went to my first THON at a very young age, and my family continued to be involved as I grew up. My sisters both danced in THON and I distinctly remember how inspired I was by their commitment and passion for this organization. I also started a Mini-THON at my school with a friend when we were both in fifth grade. We were both passionate about bringing the fight against pediatric cancer to our peers and helping to spread awareness. I remained involved with this event as a student and continued to support the Mini-THON after I graduated from high school.
After coming to Penn State, I applied and was chosen to be a Hospitality Captain for THON 2012. I worked with donors and led a Committee, which was an amazing learning experience. I was then a Public Relations Captain for THON 2013, where I wrote press documents and communicated with media outlets throughout the year. I truly appreciated the opportunity to spread THON’s mission to people outside the THON community.
For THON 2014, I worked as the Hospitality Director. I learned things about myself, leadership, and THON as a whole that I will carry with me forever. I was also given the opportunity to lead a group of inspiring and hardworking Captains, which was one of the most fun parts of my responsibilities. I continued to have the privilege of spreading THON’s mission to donors in the State College area.
OS: How did you feel when you heard the news?
MR: I was of course ecstatic to hear the news. Being a member of the Executive Committee was the most incredible experience, and to know that I would get to see yet another perspective of THON for another year was so exciting. I was also extremely grateful for so many reasons. I have been blessed with an incredible support system and I owe a lot of what I am able to accomplish to those supportive people.
OS: What are the responsibilities you’ll have right away this summer?
MR: My biggest responsibility during the summer is working with my Executive Committee to help develop their visions and goals and make a plan to implement them. The summer is really integral in the development of ideas and plans for every Committee, so I play a role in helping them determine the best way to execute these ideas come fall.
OS: What changes and improvements are you looking to make being in your new position?
MR: THON is always growing and improving, often thanks to our turnover of volunteers. However, I’m truly hoping to focus on Committee growth this year while I hold this position. I think THON 2015 is the perfect opportunity to look at the processes and protocols that exist in each Committee and evaluate if these are efficient and effective. I am hoping to see Committees build a better foundation for the future and in turn, work toward making THON a well-oiled machine.
I also want to focus my energy on improving fundraising safety for all of THON’s volunteers. While we have continued to make strides in the last few years increasing the safety of our fundraising methods, I want to make this a priority for my position and members of the Executive Committee to continue developing ways we can increase communication with volunteers and bring safety to the forefront of everyone’s decisions.
OS: THON raised its largest total of $13,343,517.33 this year. What is your game plan for this coming year to beat that total?
MR: THON doesn’t set fundraising goals from year to year, because our primary mission is to support the Four Diamonds families emotionally and financially in any capacity possible. For me, it is always important to remember that the emotional support of our families comes before any fundraising goals or expectations, because that is what THON is able to provide that other entities cannot. That being said, we still plan to focus on improving the efficacy of our fundraising methods and continue to spread awareness about our fight against pediatric cancer beyond Pennsylvania.
OS: What are you most excited about for the THON 2015 season?
MR: I am most excited to see the visions and goals of my Executive Committee come to fruition throughout the year. It is an incredible privilege to select these Directors and help guide them as leaders and as THON volunteers, and I am definitely looking forward to watching them be confident and clear in their ideas and how they are going to execute them.
OS: If you have one goal for THON 2015, what would that be and why?
MR: My biggest goal for THON 2015 is moving toward being viewed as a more professional organization. We stress this factor so much, but for us to truly be viewed on a national scale as professionals, we need to make strides toward having every student volunteer be educated, informed, and professional when speaking to anyone about THON. Our volunteers are ambassadors of THON in any setting, and my biggest goal is to help change our perception from a group of students to a successful professional philanthropy.
OS: What has been your ultimate inspiration to THON?
MR: In the end, every inspiration that has kept me going through a challenge has stemmed from the experience I had with a friend affected by pediatric cancer. I appreciated and loved THON at an early age, but it was not until this experience that I truly understood how it was affecting the lives of children and families. Seeing loved ones go through the most traumatic time in their lives was an eye opening experience and they are the inspiration that ultimately fuels my fight.
OS: To wrap this all up… If you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?
MR: I would be a stegosaurus because although they appear to be intimidating, they are truly gentle animals who just stick to their veggies!
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