Business & the Professions
Executive Vice President, The Curtis Group
By Grace Silipigni
Wendy McGrady wears many hats. The Norfolk native juggles the roles of single mother, steadfast volunteer, vestry person and executive vice president of leading nonprofit fundraising consultants. No matter how much McGrady has on her plate, she approaches each responsibility with eagerness and full-fledged commitment.
At the heart of McGrady’s day-to-day duties is giving back. The Hollins University alumna forged a career in fundraising, where she reveled in the throes of managing large market budgets and arranging benefit events. She then transitioned into the world of sales and marketing, making her a more well-rounded and multitalented business woman.
She now possesses upwards of 30 years of development and marketing experience and was recently promoted to executive vice president at The Curtis Group, a firm McGrady joined nearly a dozen years ago. The mission of The Curtis Group, McGrady explains, is to provide fundraising and planning services to nonprofits. McGrady’s clients span Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina and focus on organizations dedicated to bettering education, history, religion, the arts and the environment.
As executive vice president, McGrady works diligently to ensure the needs of both her clients and firm are being met. McGrady wisely notes that without funding, a mission ceases to exist. This concept is what fuels McGrady’s desire to support her clients and supply them with the proper tools to achieve their goals of defying boundaries, be it socially, environmentally or otherwise.
She is also particularly drawn toward missions that advance women’s rights. “I have a deep seeded passion for equality,” says McGrady. “Women are the recipients of benefits hard earned, and I believe that fight goes on [today].”
Her other contributions to The Curtis Group include raising hundreds of millions of dollars for operations, managing a board of directors and expanding internal capacity. Her work with the support agency has also largely impacted her decision to co-chair the Editorial Review Board for Giving USA, the sister organization of the more widely known platform, The Giving Institute.
The Giving Institute is the organization for fundraising professionals, and The Curtis Group was one of only 50 firms in the United States and Canada to be invited to join. As a member of the review board, McGrady offers input on what she refers to as the yearbook of fundraising. The annual catalogue offers readers a glimpse into national trends that allow leaders like McGrady to inform and transform regional work.
Photo by Timorah Beales Photography
McGrady’s wealth of experience has also landed her in distinguished speaker roles at numerous venues including the Tidewater Community College Academy for Nonprofit Excellence, University of Richmond’s Institute on Philanthropy and at meetings for the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
What McGrady admires most about her profession, however, is that her work so closely aligns with her personal passions. Outside of the office, McGrady invests time in family and community. Two of McGrady’s current passion projects include the Elizabeth River Project and Portsmouth’s Edmarc Hospice for Children. She even includes her 10-year-old twins, Tucker and Jackson, in her volunteer ventures. “If I could pass along anything to my kids, it would be the spirit of valuing humanity and finding the best in people whether they’re white, black, rich or poor,” says McGrady.
Raising her children with the same unwavering confidence and support that her parents gave her is of upmost importance to McGrady. She attributes much of her success as an individual, business woman and mother to her parents, who instilled in her a strong sense of self and a drive to tackle any challenge that comes her way, including single parenthood. McGrady says, “Being a mother is the most humbling job I’ve ever had.”
Like other things in McGrady’s life, her work is never about the award or recognition but rather the fulfillment. “I do what I do every day not only because I’m driven to but also, in my little way, to make the world a better place,” she says. “However, getting recognition from the YWCA, whose mission I think is so powerful, makes me happy to be aligned.”