Demetria Jackson Lightfoot is a two-time Fontbonne alumnae. After transferring from a larger public institution, she received her undergraduate degree in Sports and Entertainment Management in 2007. When asked, Demetria explained, “I was looking for a different experience outside the big schools. A friend of mine played basketball at Fontbonne, and they liked it here, so I looked into it and decided to make that my school. I met many people I am still in touch with today.” Through the support of her admissions counselor and the Fontbonne community, Demetria made a smooth transition. “I never felt behind transferring because I had a great counselor who ensured I stayed the course. She provided sound advice and was a resource for me while getting my degrees. I was also able to get support from my professors and other students. I was lucky enough to make friends with a group of pretty awesome people. We all helped each other make it through.”
Shortly after completing her Bachelor’s, Demetria returned and completed her MBA in 2011. During this time, she experienced tremendous growth, “I learned MANY things at Fontbonne. One of which is that you won’t have all the answers all the time, and that is okay. Just because you don’t know how to do something or aren’t knowledgeable on a subject, doesn’t mean you don’t try to learn or you don’t try at all. Exploration is the key to success.”
During her time at Fontbonne, Demetria discovered her passion for nonprofits and philanthropy, “In undergrad, I started as a biology major with every intention of being a doctor. But life plans changed, and I switched majors. I thought I wanted to be a doctor because it was a noble and respected profession, but I found my way to philanthropy in the nonprofit sector, and it has been the most rewarding career experience. I wouldn’t change my decisions for anything.”
Demetria’s passion for serving others started at the age of 13 when she volunteered as a volunteer in the NICU. While discovering this nonprofit path in her 20s, Demetria began working as a receptionist and has since worked her way up to Senior Director of Philanthropy at Youth In Need. When asked about her career path, she explained, “My career was definitely not a traditional path. But I was blessed to find a career in the fundraising space for social justice nonprofits that support children, youth and families. The mission of my current organization is to build on the strength of children, youth and families, so they find safety, hope and success in life. Our mission is important to me personally because I had to navigate my way through college life on my own. I think back and wonder what my life choices and decisions could have been if I had someone sharing the information I know now when I was in elementary, junior high, high school or even college. If I can help support the people directly impacting our clients’ lives, that makes me feel good.”
Demetria was recently asked to present at Nonprofit Marketers Network STL’s Spectrum 2022 Conference, “It’s a sense of accomplishment to be seen as a leader and subject matter expert. It feels good to know people value your opinion. If I can share what I know with someone else, and they can benefit from learning something new, or it serve as confirmation that they are headed in the right direction, that makes it all worth it.” Demetria started as a mentee in Nonprofit Marketers Network STL and has been involved with the organization for over a decade.
When asked what advice she would give young professionals in the nonprofit world, Demetria said, “follow your heart and passion, and success will follow. I always thought I needed to go to college to get a cool job and make a lot of money. But when I found my passion, I was much happier, and the dollar signs followed. Don’t do something because you think you’re supposed to do it. Do it because YOU want to do it.”