Meet a USAC Member: Mary Kiolbasa
What department do you work in and what is your job title?
I work in Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) on the Research and Prospect Development Team, and my title is Director of Research Projects. My job, in a nutshell, is identifying possible donors to the university and providing intel to leadership and to our front-line fundraising staff.
How long have you been a Vanderbilt employee?
7 and a half years! Time flies!
How long have you been a part of USAC and how has it impacted you?
I’ve served on USAC for 3 and half years and have loved the opportunity to meet so many interesting colleagues across campus. As part of the staff-life committee, I was especially proud to work on the professional development proposal, where I learned a lot about benchmarking that I’ve been able to apply to my work in DAR.
What has been your career journey to lead you to where you are today?
Because I started my career during the great recession/housing crisis, I feel like I’ve done a little bit of everything. I’ve worked as a bread baker, had internships with some small book publishers, was a bridal registry consultant at the Macy’s in Green Hills, and even worked in the country music industry for a few months. I eventually found my way into the background screening industry and was a licensed private investigator for a couple of years (I promise – it’s not as cool as it sounds). A good friend recruited me to Vanderbilt, and I am so grateful she had the vision to see how I would fit in here.
What has been your favorite vacation you have ever been on?
I just got back from my honeymoon in Hawaii – and it is for sure at the top of the list. We went whale watching, snorkeled with sea turtles, and hiked through a lava field. And I was sworn in as a Junior Ranger at two national parks!
What is something on your bucket list?
Two things: I’ve always wanted to visit Antarctica, and I’ve always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis.
What skill or talent would you most like to learn?
I am what my friends call a “hobby hoarder” – so I want to do everything! Lately, I’ve been teaching myself how to play the ukulele.
If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
Making art, reading, or sleeping.