Nancy Wolff promotes heart health using skills honed at NDSU
Published March 2016
Nancy Wolff knows the importance of collaboration, a life skill she learned at NDSU.
Today, she is senior vice president for development for the SouthWest Affiliate of the American Heart Association.
Major: Bachelor of Science in corporate and community fitness
Lives in: Plano, Texas
Works in: Irving, Texas
What do you do at your job? I am responsible for strategy and execution of fundraising across a six-state region raising more than $55 million.
What is one of the most exciting things about your work?
It’s the impact that we can have on people’s lives. I am mostly focused on fundraising. I believe in the mission of the American Heart Association to build a healthy tomorrow for future generations. This is the first generation not expected to outlive their parents due to a lack of exercise and diet. If we can collaborate to make the healthy choice the easy choice, we can help this generation to live longer and healthier with quality of life throughout.
What is your career timeline?
- 1999 to 2003: Marketing and communications manager, Texas Instruments/Health Fitness Corporation
- 2003 to 2004: Marketing and communications director, Examination Management Services, Inc.
- 2004 to 2008: Associate executive director, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
- 2008: National manager of special events, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
- 2009: Senior Director, American Heart Association
- 2009-2012: Executive director, American Heart Association
- 2012-2013: Vice president of major gifts, American Heart Association – North Texas
- 2013-2015: Vice president of development, American Heart Association-Dallas Division
How has NDSU helped prepare you in your career?
From an education standpoint, the programs and classes I took had a great curriculum. I had wonderful instructors. I was not afraid to ask questions, because I felt well supported. They taught me to look at things in a different way.
I learned collaboration from the labs and team projects, working with organizations, sororities and fraternities. With the American Heart Association’s community programs, it is important to collaborate with the groups we need to tell the story.
What is one of your favorite NDSU memories?
Seeing Senior Day come to fruition. As a Bison Ambassador, I had gone through the intimidating interview process and then served on multiple committees throughout the years. The final role I played was as Senior Day Committee Chair during my senior year. It was so fulfilling to see all of the pieces come together.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Being named the Highly Distinguished Alumni for the College of Human Development and Education means so much to me. Over the years, I’ve wondered how honorees were chosen and thought, ‘Someday I hope that that’s me.’ I am so humbled and so honored that they chose me in 2015.
It’s about career, community work with the American Legion and my church — all the different aspects of my life. It all comes together with this award.
What advice would you give your 25-year-old self or an NDSU student studying in your field?
Ask yourself, what impact can I make today? That’s takes a variety of simple forms. Every day is a gift, so how can you make that day mean something? So many people have touched my life — parents, teachers and friends.
When I was in the fifth grade, I watched “Top Gun” and wanted to be a fighter pilot. A family friend’s son attended the U.S. Air Force Academy. He came to my fifth-grade door and told me I needed to have good grades and community involvement and to know my legislators since they make the recommendations. He instilled the importance of a well-rounded student early on. I didn’t end up going to the academy, but I did join the National Guard to pay for college.
When I was a high school sophomore, fitness was a passion of mine. A neighbor across the street had a son who was a corporate and community fitness major at NDSU. He gave me his initial textbooks and encouraged me to explore what I loved.
That’s how I decided to visit NDSU. I only applied here. I bleed green and gold.