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Meet and learn about Vitalant’s Director of Volunteer Services, Lauren Wilder

Where are you from?

I grew up and went to college in the New Orleans, Louisana area. I moved to Houston after graduation to work for a non-profit. After 15 years, we actually just moved back to Louisiana to be closer to family – the beauty of being able to work remotely!

Where did you go to college/university and what did you study?

I went to Loyola University New Orleans and studied marketing. My intended path was to get a job in marketing, but I graduated in 2007 during the economic downturn. Marketing jobs were some of the first to be eliminated, and it was challenging to find my first job out of college. I looked into other venues which lead me to non-profit and volunteer management, and I am so happy it did. It is just so rewarding.

Was there anything in your college experience that connected you to the importance of volunteering?

Loyola University is a Jesuit college that challenges students to focus on thinking about what is just and how to use your talents to improve the world. My education instilled service, learning, and connection to the community around us.

Please give a summary of your career path before Vitalant.

I started as a legislative assistant working for a local representative in southern Louisiana but wanted to be more involved in day-to-day operations rather than behind the scenes. I moved to Houston in 2009 and found my first job in volunteer services working for BakerRipley, a nonprofit serving the greater Houston area.

I began as a volunteer coordinator for our volunteer tax preparation program and was amazed by the incredible heart for service in our community. I became the program manager and eventually ran all volunteer programs at BakerRipley, including senior services, immigration assistance, food distribution, charter school activities, community centers, Head Start, and more. My proudest accomplishment was implementing software that incorporated all volunteer programs, making it easier for volunteers to connect to service and for staff to communicate and manage them.

What drew you to apply for this position at Vitalant?

I was looking for a position where I could make a greater impact. The opportunity to bring my experience to Vitalant and have a national impact was incredibly exciting. I also have a personal connection to blood banking as my father received countless platelet transfusions during his 10+ year battle with cancer. While we did lose him to the disease, we were allowed bonus time with him because of these transfusions. I am so proud to have the opportunity to further the mission of saving and extending lives on a national level every day.

What motivates you in the workplace?

I love working with others and seeing a tangible difference because of our efforts. At Vitalant, I work with an incredible team of volunteer service specialists who work directly with our volunteers regionally to connect them with opportunities, make sure the volunteer and the opportunity are the right fit, prepare them with the resources they need to be successful, and steward that relationship so they continue to volunteer with us for years to come. I see my job as supporting my team in their efforts and removing barriers.

Why are you passionate about volunteerism?

My grandmother was the head nurse in the pediatric emergency room at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. She carried her heart for service well after retirement and through the rest of her life. She instilled in me the importance of loving and caring for others in the best way you can.

Although this career was not my original intended path, I believe I am exactly where I need to be. I do not have the stomach for the frontlines of the medical field, but I am still able to use my unique strengths to save lives just like my grandmother did years ago.

I am honored to be in the position to help our volunteers support our services and increase the number of lives that can be impacted by our products. The more volunteers I meet, the more I am amazed by the generosity and spirit of those who want to serve. We have some of the most dedicated volunteers already. I cannot wait to expand our volunteer program and bring these opportunities to potential volunteers in all of our regions.

What do you hope you can uniquely bring to Vitalant in support of its lifesaving mission?

Vitalant already has a strong mission and vision that volunteers can connect with, and we have great existing programs in several regions. Our volunteers are assisting at blood drives, at donation centers, our offices and even driving lifesaving products to where they are needed most.

What I bring to the table is experience standardizing processes and implementing software to ensure that all volunteers, no matter the location, are having the same great experience when they volunteer with Vitalant.

Learn more about volunteering with Vitalant.