Apra Professional of the Year Award

Editor's Note: In the time since this story was first published, John McBride has taken a new position as senior prospect research analyst at Loyola University Chicago. 

Recipient: John McBride, Associate Director of Prospect Research, University of Chicago

“I am very flattered to win this award, but really, everything we do is a team effort,” said John McBride, associate director of prospect research at the University of Chicago and recipient of Apra’s 2016 Professional of the Year Award. “Gift officers realize that we are experts. We know a lot about their prospects. That’s how we have positioned ourselves in the organization.”

According to his colleagues, McBride personifies this University of Chicago approach, and it is his leadership within the team and the larger organization that made his nomination stand out.

“John’s deep experience in prospect research as an analyst and team supervisor — and his willingness to step outside the role of the ‘traditional’ prospect researcher to establish meetings with leadership to discuss the importance of mega-gifts and outlining how mega-donors can and should be approached — has been instrumental to alumni relations and development,” wrote nominator Marcus Smith, who is on McBride’s team at Chicago.

The Apra Professional of the Year Award recognizes a prospect professional who has had a significant positive impact on his or her organization’s success in fulfilling its mission. It recognizes the skills, talents and accomplishments of an individual who has gone above and beyond the scope of their core duties and played a leadership role in their organization. The awardee receives a complimentary conference registration and accommodation.

During his seven-year tenure at the University of Chicago, McBride has learned to be a strong advocate for his work, his team and the profession. “We are talking to our gift officers all the time. We regularly make presentations to them exactly like the one we did here at the conference on venture capital and private equity,” he said, referencing a session he jointly led with colleague Amelia Aldred.

McBride is not afraid to speak up. “I can’t stand the idea of being in ‘the back office,’” he said. “The things that come out of our shop are tailor-made to raise money, to help gift officers be successful. We understand the kinds of questions gifts officers are going to ask and the kinds of objections they are going to make, and we are prepared.”

McBride urged his colleagues in prospect development to become more proactive in everything they do.

“It’s about accepting that you are going to get challenged, and having airtight answers,” he said. “People have disagreements all the time and they think it is a bad thing. But it’s not. It’s a healthy tension. Once we adopted that philosophy in our team, it changed the way we do business.”

Susan H. Faraone is a senior consultant for Aspen Leadership Group. She serves as the editor of Connections and former chair of Apra’s editorial advisory committee.


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