Former THON executive director carries passion for development into career

October 01, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Kelly McCready has always had a passion for understanding how people’s experiences can affect outcomes in their life.

This led her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies, but at first McCready wasn’t sure how the degree would support her career goals in development.

Kelly McCready

Kelly McCready graduated in May with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies.  She now works with the development team for Children's Miracle Network, utilizing skills she learned as executive director for THON 2019.

IMAGE: Kelly McCready

When she became executive director for THON her senior year — a role that put her in charge of organizing fundraising initiatives and working with corporate and individual donors — McCready quickly made the connection between the degree program and nonprofit work.

“People in this field often work directly with a patient, but that didn’t seem like the best fit for me. When I started working with THON, I realized I could explore the business aspect of this field. I could raise dollars to provide resources for the causes I care about.”

McCready, who graduated earlier this year, recently started working as a development assistant with the Children’s National Health System.

McCready now works in Washington, D.C., with the Children’s Miracle Network team, where she manages a portfolio of corporate partners and acts as a liaison to patient families in opportunities with donors.

When looking for the right position, McCready said it was important to her to find a welcoming company that both prioritized patient care and executed best practices in development and fundraising.

She credits the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and her involvement in THON for providing the skills to interact with both families in need and the donors who help provide them resources.

“There is such a wide range of career options for students majoring in human development and family studies, and you do not necessarily have to work in a helping profession. You can also work in business or nonprofit and make a difference,” she said.

When McCready decided on her career goals and expressed them, she found incredible sources of support from the people around her, including Jeff Zapletal, assistant director of campus programming with Penn State Student Affairs; Suzanne Graney, executive director of Four Diamonds; and Kelly Altland, associate vice president and chief development officer for the Penn State College of Medicine, who she worked with as THON executive director.

“I would encourage students to not be afraid to express your career interests early,” said McCready, who also found support in Marc McCann, internship director with the Department of Human Development and Family Studies who helped her secure her capstone internship at ZERO: The End of Prostate Cancer. “People want to connect you and expose you to opportunities.”

As a recent graduate, McCready said she was surprised at the myriad of opportunities available to her. She is grateful for the experiences provided by the department, her internship at ZERO, and her role with THON, and is looking forward to what is next.

“There is still so much I do not know. It is exciting to look beyond Penn State and embrace new organizations and people.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 04, 2019