A Bittersweet Farewell

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If you’ve attended any of Starkloff’s volunteer, fundraising or networking events over the past couple of years, you probably know Meg Geiger.

As our Development Associate since March of 2017, Meg has worked tirelessly to implement all aspects of SDI’s annual giving program. She managed our donor-database and direct-mail campaigns, ensuring timely gift acknowledgment and stewardship. She also recruited and managed volunteers and interns, and served on the executive board of SDI Young Friends.

Although Meg juggled her many responsibilities with enthusiasm and skill, coordination of special events might have been the most rewarding.

“Events are a lot of fun,” Meg tells us, “but they’re also difficult and stressful. There’s a lot you can’t control when planning events. But when they are successful, there’s no better feeling.”

FestAbility is a perfect example of Meg’s event-planning expertise. Together with her friend Jenna Baker of iHeartRadio, Meg launched FestAbility, an annual day of activities and entertainment celebrating disability. A collaborative effort between SDI, Paraquad, the St. Louis Arc and many other disability-focused organizations, FestAbility exceeded everyone’s expectations.

“We started off talking about having a family picnic day at the history museum, but it really turned into something much bigger. We had 3,000 attendees in our first year,” Meg says. “We had great partners in the Missouri History Museum and iHeartRadio who helped make the event a huge success.”

Meg brought her boundless work ethic and fun-loving spirit to SDI for nearly two-and-a-half years, but an exciting new chapter in her career is now beginning. Meg recently accepted a new position as Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Lori Becker, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Communications and Development at SDI, knows Meg will make the most of her new opportunity.

“Meg brought a ton of energy, creativity and fresh thinking to SDI,” Lori says. “She will no doubt add that to her new role at the Children’s Hospital Foundation.”

Meg also brings a wealth of valuable experience. Early in Meg’s tenure at SDI, Lori encouraged her to join the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), a move that played a crucial role in her professional development.

“AFP is this great network of fundraisers. You get access to Continuing education tools, webinars and conferences,” Meg says. “Lori knew it would be important for me to learn from others and the resources they provide, so I’ve been an active member ever since.”

After applying for and winning the prestigious Chamberlain Scholarship, Meg attended AFP ICON 2019, the world’s largest conference of fundraising professionals. Held March 31–April 2 in San Antonio, TX, the event represented an opportunity to network with some of the industry’s most prominent figures.

“That was really exciting for me. I learned so much,” Meg says. “I connected with so many international speakers, people with years and years of fundraising experience.”

Although Meg majored in sociology at the University of Missouri-Columbia and worked for the university newspaper as a graphic design editor, she always felt drawn to the nonprofit sector. Meg thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated her college days, leaving her with a profound desire to give back.

“There were a lot of people I knew who didn’t get to experience college, not because they weren’t smart or capable enough, but because of the financial situation they were born into,” Meg recalls. “I left Mizzou with the mindset that I had experienced a lot of privilege that had gotten me to where I was. If I didn’t use it to help level the playing field for others, then I wouldn’t feel fulfilled in my career.”

Outreach positions at nonprofits early in her career did allow her to support underserved communities, but it soon became evident to Meg that these organizations were often overburdened and underfunded.

As a family resource specialist at the St. Louis Arc, Meg worked directly with families of children with profound neurological and developmental conditions, ensuring they had access to the therapeutic devices and social supports they needed. While she loved her work, Meg found it draining as well. Many of the children she served were in dire medical situations, and tragically, one or two would pass away each year.

“You learn pretty quickly whether you have the composure to deal with that, and it wasn’t the healthiest place for me to be—mentally or emotionally,” Meg reveals. “My skills and disposition were better suited to supporting the people who could do that work by raising funds to help these families.”

So Meg took it upon herself to learn all she could about nonprofit development and fundraising, applying for jobs that seemed to be a good match. It wasn’t long before she was interviewing at the Starkloff Disability Institute.

“I’d like to say that I was the director who gave Meg her first job in development,” Lori says. “But really, I was the lucky one who got to tap into her talent and passion when she decided to make the jump into this side of nonprofit work.”

At the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation, Meg will be managing a portfolio of corporate and foundation funding partners, assisting with grant preparation and planning events—many of the same duties she performed for us. She will miss the unique bonds she formed with people in and around Starkloff, however.

“The Young Friends have been a huge source of support for me,” Meg says. “I’ve made so many great connections, not just with the people who work at Starkloff but also the folks from places like Ogletree Deakins and all of our corporate partners.”

Meg’s departure is a bittersweet moment for Lori and the rest of the SDI staff. It’s also a farewell to SDI’s favorite furry friend.

“Everyone will miss Meg’s spirit and laugh,” Lori says. “We will also miss our official mascot, her dog Ruby, a pit mix with three legs. We wish her all the best in her new endeavor.”

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