The Members Spotlight logo

Each month, we shine a spotlight on one of our chapter members with a series of questions. We hope you enjoy learning more about our spotlight nominee this month.

A picture of Sofia Barahona Mena smiling at the cameraAUGUST 2022 - BOARD MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Sofia Barahona Mena (She/Her)
Senior Development Coordinator, Equal Rights Advocates

How long have you been involved in the nonprofit sector? And in fundraising?
Almost four years. I started working as a volunteer and intern at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant when I moved to the United States. I learned all the basics and created my first few grassroot fundraising campaigns. After a year, I started working as a Development Coordinator at LYRIC. I worked managing our database, contacting donors and creating campaigns to fundraise for LGBTQ+ youth in the Bay Area. After two years, I applied to my dream job at Equal Rights Advocates as a Senior Development Coordinator, where I’ve been working for six months.

Please describe why you chose to work in nonprofit fundraising.
I see fundraising as an opportunity to connect people with causes that matter to them. Nonprofit fundraising allows an organization to fund and sustain its mission over time, and benefit the people served by it. I feel deep connections with the missions of the nonprofits I’ve worked at. Fundraising is the tool I use to fight against discrimination and inequality.

Please tell us about your current role and responsibilities.
As the Senior Development Coordinator and working with the development team, I’m responsible for managing our donor database, supporting the implementation of our annual fundraising plan, maintaining donor relationships and researching new opportunities of funding.

What are some silver linings since the pandemic began in March 2020?
Learning that people are willing to support each other, especially in times of crisis.

What are some highlights in your current role and in your career?
In June 9, 2022, Equal Rights Advocates hosted our annual fundraising gala, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a landmark law that radically improved gender equity and expanded opportunities in the classroom and the playing fields.

We had three different events in one day. It was stressful but exciting. We met our fundraising goal and were able to connect with a community of donors committed to gender justice!

What professional knowledge would you impart to other nonprofit fundraisers?
As a young professional, I think I can connect with younger and smaller donors through grassroot fundraising campaigns and creative social media interactions. 

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing the nonprofit fundraising profession today?
I think the fundraising profession is not as diverse as it should be. Before joining the IDEA Fellowship, most of the fundraising professionals I knew were men, white and straight. Being a bisexual Latina, it was difficult to see myself fundraising like them.

I think that it’s important for nonprofits and development organizations such as AFP to continue to support underrepresented groups to break down the barriers of entry to our profession.

What advice would you give to other AFP members who are considering becoming an AFP board member?
I would advise them to join! It’s a great opportunity to learn from others’ experiences and grow surrounded by a community of passionate people.

How do you manage to balance your personal and professional life?
I’m respectful of my boundaries and other people’s boundaries. I work hard during the workday, but I also enjoy very much my time outside of work.

What are some activities you enjoy outside of work?
Partying with my friends, talking about politics and walking with my dog, Lucha. 

What is the last book you read or movie you watched?
I read “Doris, vida mia”, a compilation of love letters from the Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral, to her partner, Doris Dana. 

What career goals do you still want to pursue or accomplish?
I’d love to return to Chile in a few years and pursue nonprofit fundraising.