This year’s Gay Softball World Series in Austin, Texas will be the biggest ever at 187 teams. As the team count continues to rise at the GSWS the tournament costs rise too. With NAGAAA putting a bigger emphasis on securing corporate partners to supplement its budget it is important to have someone in the Business Development role for the NAGAAA Executive Board that understands fundraising in the 21st century.
Catherine “CJ” Kelly stepped into the Business Development position on the NAGAAA Executive Board in early February after the 2016 NAGAAA Winter Meetings in Austin, Texas. Ever since then, she has been working to embolden and improve the existing partnership pipeline and secure more funds for gay softball and the Gay Softball World Series.
Kelly understands relationships and more specifically, she understands how to foster, manage and grow business relationships to deliver positive results. After all, that has been her record throughout her nearly 30 years of professional development work that she has done. “I am working to build relationships with major corporations throughout the country to benefit NAGAAA at the international level and in target markets,” said Kelly.
Catherine is no stranger to working in the softball community at the local level. A Kansas City area resident, Kelly spent several years playing softball and serving on the board of the Heart of America Softball League in Kansas City prior to coming on board as the NAGAAA Annual Giving & Sponsorship committee chairperson and also the NAGAAA Archives chairperson. “Sitting on a committee as a chairperson gives you a lot of insight into the board and into different perspectives,” said Kelly.
The business development position on the NAGAAA Executive Board is a demanding job that comes with a lot of expectations CJ is ready to meet and hopefully exceed. “I’ve found the role to be challenging with lots of opportunity for process changes. Moving forward, business development efforts will be focused out at least two years in advance of a GSWS. By the time Portland series rolls around, we should be wrapping up deals for Tampa and moving onto the 2019 GSWS,” added Kelly.
It takes passion and dedication to be effective in any of the roles on the NAGAAA Executive Board. Kelly knows that it is a time-consuming and often thankless job to volunteer in a board position. It’s clear that CJ carries the important traits character traits one needs to be successful in the business development role. “I want to make a difference. I also want to bring my leadership beliefs, work ethic and knowledge to a larger leadership role within NAGAAA,” said Kelly.
As for what lies ahead for NAGAAA, Kelly thinks the future is pretty bright. “NAGAAA is important because it gives us a voice in the diversity arena, a voice in the gay community and a voice in sports. We don’t just play softball. We create a safe space where gay athletes of all levels can grow as athletes, as gay men and women and as community volunteers and leaders. NAGAAA may be the sport of softball, but to all of inside the walls of NAGAAA it is so much more…it’s all about the friendships we make, the coming out stories we tell, the memories we hold on to and the futures we build together,” Kelly stated.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. NAGAAA has some new blood on the board and they bring with them a level of qualifications and experience that we haven’t quite seen before. That means better, more committed people working on behalf of the NAGAAA international membership. The future looks bright indeed, in part to Catherine Kelly’s development expertise working for NAGAAA.
When you see sponsor logos and partnerships this week at the Gay Softball World Series in Austin, Texas, know that you have NAGAAA board members working tirelessly to provide a foundation and solvency for this organization to thrive for years to come.
*Thank you to Catherine Kelly, NAGAAA Business Development Coordinator for her help with this blog post.*