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Behind the Ribbon: Katherine Minster

By BCRF | May 16, 2016

A First Calling Grows into Life’s Passion


Katherine Minster always knew she wanted a purpose driven career, and set her sights on the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) because of its longstanding reputation as a best-in-class mission focused organization. She accomplished just that. Katherine joined BCRF right out of college, and over the last eight years, she has grown with the organization in a role that has tapped her drive as a fundraiser, challenged her with opportunities to flex her entrepreneurial skills, and fueled her personal passion of supporting lifesaving research.

Today Katherine serves as Director of Stewardship where she cultivates and builds donor partnerships. She is a fundraising powerhouse for the Foundation’s two major New York City flagship events, and is the strategic leader for BCRF’s legion of Boston supporters. Being a part of the small and nimble team that is BCRF, Katherine has grown her function in development with creativity and resourcefulness – always keeping an eye on financial efficiencies to serve the overall goal of funding the world’s most innovative cancer researchers. When Katherine joined the team in 2008 as a Special Events Associate, BCRF had just 15 total employees, raising $6 million through events. Presently, BCRF’s Development and Events team has doubled its fundraising delivering over $14 million annually toward BCRF’s $58 million raised last year alone.  

“I have learned so much from the relationships I have developed with the outstanding BCRF donors. They are philanthropically savvy, have an invested vision for BCRF, and are deeply involved in supporting the staff to ensure continued success in raising funds through new and engaging ways,” stated Katherine.

As the lead on BCRF’s Boston initiatives, Katherine oversees fundraising and leadership for the Boston Hot Pink Party every spring and the Annual Luncheon and Symposium each October.

“Boston is a dynamic market – it’s truly an epicenter for academics, medicine, technology, and entrepreneurship. Filter all that through a philanthropic lens, and it’s clear how, together with Lucretia Gilbert [BCRF Chief Development Officer], we have built a strong base of support for BCRF’s mission, “ says Katherine. “The Boston donors I engage with are thought leaders who are particularly knowledgeable about their medical and academic institutions, and what is going on in the medical research space. We have tremendous leadership in Boston and they have made BCRF’s mission their personal mission.”

Developing close relationships with philanthropists for nearly a decade, Katherine’s purpose also became personal as she met and befriended women who have been directly impacted by the disease. When asked to recall a standout memory of a BCRF initiative – she instantly lit up.

“The 2014 Boston Hot Pink Party has to be one of my career highlights. It was the year that BCRF brought the Roz and Les Goldstein Unsung Hero Award to Boston and Darby Stott presented the award to her dear friend Donna Stearns.”

Darby, who had triple negative breast cancer, attended the Hot Pink Party that year with a written exception from her doctor to leave the hospital to present the award in honor of Donna’s unconditional support during her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“What makes BCRF stand out is our commitment to providing BCRF’s supporters with life-changing experiences. For our team, it’s so much more than just a donation transaction.  We are constantly working to create partnerships and authentic opportunities for our donors, which inspires them to give generously and freely because they, too, feel a part of the team.”

“That Hot Pink Party [in 2014] will always be a treasured memory for me because Darby, Donna and I were building something very special: a grand moment in time when Darby was feeling well, and had the strength to recognize her friend who meant so much to her.  Selfishly, being a part of that, enabling that, brought me the greatest joy. It was a truly remarkable evening.” Sadly, four months later, Darby passed away from metastatic disease.  

“It still brings tears to my eyes to think about that event, and it was an honor to ensure it was a banner fundraising success in tribute to Darby,” acknowledged Katherine.

From hand-delivering weekly financial updates to BCRF’s Founder, Evelyn Lauder, to her role today as a lead fundraiser and mentor, Katherine has never stopped learning. 

Katherine attributes Mrs. Lauder’s leadership and mentorship to influencing the fundraising best practices she believes are essential to her success.

“It’s about listening, it’s about remembering a birthday, it’s about creating genuine relationships with people because they are bringing something unique to the table, whether it’s time, talent or treasure.”

When asked what the most valuable lesson she learned from Mrs. Lauder, Katherine recited one statement with swift confidence.

“You cannot underestimate the power of a thank you, and you can’t say thank you enough.”

To learn more about the Boston Hot Pink Party click here.