In November 2021, Vanessa Peterson joined the Osteosarcoma Institute (OSI) as the new Development Manager. In her role, Vanessa will focus on fundraising efforts, grant writing, marketing and communications to raise awareness and galvanize advocacy of osteosarcoma in North Texas and across the United States.
A Texas native, Vanessa earned her BS in Corporate Communications from the University of Texas in Austin. In 2016, she moved to Dallas to begin her career.
Since starting with the OSI, Vanessa has hit the ground running. She is already hard at work developing a robust fundraising strategy to meet the institute’s goals.
We chatted with Vanessa, who lives in Dallas with her boyfriend, Xavier, and their Insta-famous dog, Jax, about her previous experience and what excites her about the OSI’s mission.
How did you get started in fundraising?
Vanessa: I had my first taste of fundraising while I was in college at the University of Texas. My service organization, called Texas Sweethearts, had an annual charity event that I helped fundraise and plan. I was on several committees and helped with in-kind donations and sponsorships.
My first full-time job after graduating was with the Retina Foundation of the Southwest here in Dallas where I worked more extensively in fundraising for medical research.
You have also been volunteering since you were 15. How do you engage with your community today?
This is my fourth year of being an active member of the Junior League of Dallas. I also sit on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas and help facilitate their Collegiate STEPS program, which prepares high school students for college through mentorship and biweekly evening sessions on topics such as financial aid, choosing a major, etc.
How did you hear about the OSI?
Amy Lobner, the OSI’s new Scientific Project Manager, reached out to me about the position. We worked very closely together while at the Retina Foundation. She began sharing information about the OSI, and I became excited to apply.
I am thrilled to be working with Amy again. After six years of working together, we know each other’s systems and habits. We have even developed a kind of shorthand language that we often use when talking with each other! We have a close working relationship and a great friendship as well.
From your perspective as a new team member, what makes the OSI unique?
A few different things stand out to me. The first thing is that everyone—the staff, board members and volunteers—is very passionate about this organization and about finding a cure for osteosarcoma. The OSI is also fortunate to not have the boundaries or restrictions that other research institutions might have, where departments and teams are very large and siloed. Here, I can already see that it is a very collaborative environment. There is a clear, open line of communication from everyone and from every direction. It is very synergistic, which is unique.
How do you connect with the OSI’s mission?
The OSI has a great organization with areas of opportunity for growth, which is exciting to me. I joined to help grow the organization and accelerate research to find a cure for osteosarcoma. I think that the most exhilarating part about the OSI’s mission is the fact that these top experts from around the world are coming together to figure out what the most promising clinical trials are going to be for us to fund.
I am proud to be part of the OSI, and I look forward to advancing our mission by ensuring the OSI has the financial resources needed to fund breakthrough clinical trials and science for osteosarcoma. I believe that the OSI is on the path to help find a cure and pave the way for advancements for other sarcomas and diseases.
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