Kotzian organizes, plans her way to United Way of America
When Heidi Kotzian was a student at Waldorf College, she didn’t plan to become the director of marketing and national events for the United Way of America. She had her heart set on a career in politics, instead, because she believed it was an effective way to improve people’s lives.
"I started out in politics - working on a gubernatorial campaign and then on Elizabeth Dole's presidential," said Kotzian, '98, originally from the Des Moines area. "I was the ultimate idealist ready to use my communications degree to change the world.”
And while Kotzian assisted with other political campaigns and political causes, she kept finding herself using marketing and event planning skills. While in Washington, DC, she put those skills to use working for a public relations and production company, and then for a public affairs shop before striking out on her own. In 2001, she founded Monumental Impact Media to provide media and public relations to non-profits and individuals.
“Starting my own business was one of the best things I ever did,” said Kotzian. “It’s like getting an MBA on the job, and I was able to choose my own clients; so I could continue to work in areas that made a positive impact on the world – United Way was one of my clients.”
United Way of America recruited her to join the country’s largest nonprofit organization on a full-time basis, and she accepted. In her current role, Kotzian oversees marketing and national events for the Center for Community Leadership, the training arm of United Way, producing six national events each year and marketing for over 150 programs.
“I work with a great team that handles logistics and other details, critical to the success of events, which allows me to focus on marketing and production – the fun stuff,” said Kotzian, who now manages a budget of $2.7 million. “It’s a big investment, but a worthwhile one. United Way knows the importance of learning to improve staff and volunteer skills thus contributing to real community impact.”
Kotzian’s Waldorf professors don’t seem surprised to learn how she’s mixed her political passions with her planning proficiency. “Heidi was one of the most motivated students I’ve known,” said Joy M. Newcom, adjunct instructor in public relations. “I’m thrilled she’s discovered a way to channel her boundless passion into a career that changes people’s lives. The United Way’s mission matches her passion to make the world a better place. That’s simply fantastic.”