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Sarah Cardillo

Dance Management, 2008


Development Officer for Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Dancers Responding to AIDS

Briefly describe your career path. 

Upon graduation I taught ballroom dance and performed before making my way back to New York City. Thanks to an introduction by Professor Rachel Jacquemain, I got my first job in New York City as the Event Operations Coordinator for Macy’s Parade and Entertainment Group where I coordinated the logistical and operations side of Macy’s annual events including the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Fireworks Spectacular, Santaland/Puppet Theatre and the Herald Square Flower Show. In addition to my role at Macy’s I also stage managed productions for St. Bart’s Players and the New York International Fringe Festival.  

I then ventured to Bethesda, Maryland to work in development and marketing for a children’s theatre called Imagination Stage where my love for fundraising blossomed. My passion for fundraising brought me back to New York City to work for Dancers Responding to AIDS, which is a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, one of the nation’s leading industry-based HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. 

As Development Officer, I cultivate and strengthen relationships with individual and corporate donors for our annual Fire Island Dance Festival, Hudson Valley Dance Festival and Angels Circle to raise money to support those in need in all 50 states.

Describe what an average day looks like. 

My morning usually starts with answering emails from our donors to make sure that they are well cared for and following up with our event committee members about ticket sales for our upcoming events. I then meet with our communications team to check in about our outreach efforts including emails, social media and printed materials. 

My afternoons often consist of meetings or calls with individual donors and sponsors to ensure their continued commitment to our efforts, and the day usually wraps up with a discussion with our Founding Director to make sure we are on the same page about the needs of our donors, the artists that we present and the production elements of our events. 

There is a constant hustle and bustle in our office because we have a full calendar of events to ensure that we raise enough money to continue to support our grantees nationwide and those working in the performing arts community.

Networking is key! Never underestimate the people you meet along the way. 

What advice would you give your college self about pursuing work in your current industry? 

Networking is key! Never underestimate the people you meet along the way. You never know where your next job lead will come from or when you might need someone else’s help.

What is a lesson learned at OKCU that you have been able to apply to your career? 

Make your own good luck! Each day I create opportunities for growth and look for ways to improve personally and professionally. You get out of life what you put into it and that has been the motivation for all things in my life and has served me well.

What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating? 

The most significant things that has happened since graduating was giving birth to my daughter Natalie who is now 18 months old. It was the most challenging and rewarding experience I have ever had. Becoming a mother has changed me in so many wonderful ways and continues to shape who I am as a working woman. I hope to instill a sense of compassion and ambition in my daughter and serve as a role model for what women are capable of accomplishing.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

In 10 years I see myself as an Executive Director of a performing arts organization and an advocate for women’s rights.

What is your favorite OKCU memory? 

My favorite OKCU memory was when I found out who my Alpha Phi big sister and twin were. They played such vital roles in my life at OKCU and are still two of the most inspiring people I am lucky enough to know.