Lambda Chi Sparked a Love for Fundraising in Julie McDearmon. Now She Leads One of Indiana’s Largest Fundraisers.

Working at Lambda Chi Alpha solidified Julie McDearmon’s love for fundraising.

It’s a love that eventually led her to the Indianapolis Zoo, where she now leads the fundraising department and is responsible for Indiana’s largest fundraiser, Zoobilation.

In 2016, she was named to Indianapolis Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list, making her one of three former staff members with that honor.

She has worked in fundraising for 17 years, and has been at the zoo for five.

Photos courtesy of Julie McDearmon

“I’m very passionate about animals and animal conservation, and the Zoo’s mission really spoke to me when I saw the job posted,” McDearmon said. “I always say it’s really hard to raise money for something you aren’t passionate about, and I don’t have that problem here at the zoo.”

She can’t take all the credit for the zoo’s success though, she said. She has a solid team of fundraisers. Together, they raised a record $2.4 million for the zoo’s animal conservation mission last year.

Still, she was surprised to be named to IBJ’s 40 under 40.

“I’m grateful, because it was two of my staff members who nominated me,” she said. “It made me thankful for them and the faith they had in me as a leader.”

At Lambda Chi, she took care of all the gift processing and donor acknowledgement for the Educational Foundation.

“Lambda Chi Alpha was my second fundraising job. I obviously learned a lot about the Greek world, not having been in a sorority myself. It taught me a lot about working at a membership organization and the passion that members and alumni have for the mission,” McDearmon said. “A lot of the things my boss Amy taught me about fundraising I still use and share with my team today.”

She also met her husband while working on staff, Travis McDearmon, who now serves as senior director of development for the Educational Foundation.

“I made some great friends during my time at Lambda Chi Alpha and keep in touch with a lot of them today,” she said.

McDearmon is one of three former staff members to earn a coveted spot on Indianapolis Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list. We are highlighting each of them to show you how their experience at Lambda Chi Alpha’s International Headquarters helped shape their success. 

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