Karla Woods-Stephens brings fundraising expertise to community education

By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. - Whether they are leaders of non-profit entities or parents of children in a youth organizations, most people at some time in their lives have been asked to help with a fundraising event.

Central Arizona College's Community Education program now offers two classes that help make fundraising event planning easier.

Planning a Fundraising Event Part I and Part II are two, one-day courses offered at CAC's Corporate Center in Casa Grande. In the classes, students will learn the fundamentals of effective fundraising for church, club, corporate or non-profit organizations. In addition, attendees will learn how to implement strategic planning techniques to execute a successful fundraising event.

The two classes, taught by Karla Woods-Stephens, will be held on Tue., Mar. 8 and Thu., Mar. 10, respectively. Tuition for each class is $25.

Woods-Stephens was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn. While a college student at East Tennessee State University, she became involved in many activities that included producing her own one-hour exercise show and hosting her own music show on WETS-FM radio.

She also co-founded a university-recognized organization called Essence to help young collegiate women with the transition to independent college life. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in mass communications and minor in health education.

Woods-Stephens started her career in middle Tennessee as a sports writer with Lakeway Publishers, a regional group of newspapers that spanned from Murfreesboro to Knoxville, Tenn. She covered college football, basketball and all high school sports.

Seeing that her writing abilities were limitless, she began writing for the political beat as well as special interest stories.

When an opportunity for Woods-Stephens to return home to Memphis presented itself, she jumped at the chance. She was offered a position with ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as a marketer and fundraiser.

At ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude, Woods-Stephens made great strides in growing an already successful radio marketing program by more than 10 percent each year. She championed a struggling small market radio program by raising participation over 40 percent.

Woods-Stephens took these stations on and brought many of them up to the caliber of larger stations, planning and coordinating each event. She also was instrumental in developing the multicultural marketing efforts for ALSAC/St. Jude, specifically African-American marketing. One such venture was the fraternity of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Woods-Stephens and the St. Jude team secured a commitment from the fraternity and they eventually signed on to raise $500,000 for the organization. She supported many other fundraising programs by traveling across the country and assisted regional staff with management of events and sponsorship procurement.

Woods-Stephens amassed over 10 years of event planning and marketing prowess with ALSAC/St. Jude.

After resigning her stellar career at ALSAC/St. Jude, Woods-Stephens began working as an independent event planner in the Memphis area. She specialized in corporate and special events.

Shortly thereafter, she moved to the metro Phoenix area where she continued planning and developing events for national nonprofit Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and event planning agency Katherine Christensen & Associates.

Currently, Woods-Stephens is the president of Bona Fide Event Management, LLC, based in Phoenix. She specializes in coordinating corporate events, marketing and consulting.

Woods-Stephens served as vice-president of the Catholic Charities of the East Valley Advisory Board. The board is responsible for assisting in raising funds, spreading the mission of Catholic Charities, and supporting local community service programs in the East Valley. She is also a published freelance writer and past instructor in continuing education.

For more information or to register for this course, please contact Beverly Perry by phone at 520-494-6618, or by e-mail at beverly.perry@centralaz.edu. Registration also is available online at www.centralaz.edu, or in person at any of CAC's 10 locations throughout Pinal County.

Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814