As President/CEO of the Cumberland and Salem County Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program for youth, Donna Bennett was introduced to Impact100 South Jersey as a potential grant awardee. She was immediately impressed with the level of professionalism of Impact’s Grant Review committee members as she led her organization through the grantee application process.
Much to her delight, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties did indeed receive a grant in 2019. It was through this experience that Donna knew she wanted to become a part of Impact100 South Jersey where she saw firsthand the tremendous impact that a group of women, joined together, can make to such worthy causes in their community.
As a South Jersey native, Donna pursued a career path in advertising. Following her studies out of state, Donna returned to her hometown community and heeded the call to establish her roots here.
No stranger to volunteerism and community engagement, Donna sought opportunities to mentor girls. She found her home at the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) organization. To date, she has mentored three young ladies, one of whom she has had a lifelong relationship with, even serving in one another’s weddings.
Considering Donna’s passion for uplifting and mentoring her “littles”, Donna pursued a new career path with BBBS as she assumed a staff position in the 1990s. It was here that Donna advanced into organizational leadership to her position today of President/CEO.
During her tenure, Donna has led a growth campaign, including community, site and school-based programs all the while increasing matches made, capital projects and gross revenues significantly.
When Donna joined BBBS, the program was a small one, serving Cumberland County, exclusively. Today, it serves both Cumberland and Salem counties. Through Donna’s leadership, BBBS has consistently secured grant funding from school districts, state and local government entities, corporate and family foundations year over year.
Moreover, Donna has guided BBBS to consistently secure unrestricted financial support so all mentoring relationships created via grant funding can continue to receive Big Brothers Big Sisters services even after the grant funding cycle ends. What a blessing!
Among her many accomplishments, Donna is most proud of BBBS Mentor 2.0, a virtual curriculum-based college and career readiness program that has been a gamechanger for the organization, thanks to the grant received from Impact100 South Jersey.
To advance the program, Donna leads a partnership with the Cumberland County Technical Education Center in which nearly 70 students have participated. The program has been such a success that Donna consistently seeks mentors to match with all the interested student mentees.
Donna views her decades long commitment to philanthropy as a part of her spirit and responsibility to give back to those less fortunate.
In addition to her commitment to BBBS, Donna is actively involved in several other non-profit ventures including Rotary International – Vineland Club wherein she is the immediate past president. She has been rightly recognized for her community engagement activities over the last three decades.
Donna approaches everyday with this thought in mind “however you are called upon to serve, serve with grace as your style, gratitude as your attitude and humility as your touchstone.”
Outside of her professional endeavors, Donna is a certified yoga instructor and her personal interests include plein air landscape painting and photography. Donnas’ family includes her husband, Jim Crawford, stepdaughter Kellianne ‘Charlotte’ and a rescued German Shepherd named Egypt. Donna loves nature and living by the water in South Jersey.