Teresa Densmore (MBA 2014) is really glad she didn’t settle. After earning her MBA with concentrations in nonprofit strategy and management from the Daniels College of Business, Densmore was prepared to bide her time until the ideal job presented itself.
“I was pretty adamant that I’d just spent two years working really hard, investing in my education, and I wanted a job that put my new skills to good use,” she said. “I had come from the nonprofit sector and my goal was to remain in the nonprofit sector. I was looking for something very specific—an organization that would be open to my bringing in business concepts to streamline processes and make things run more efficiently.”
While waiting may be the hardest part, in Densmore’s case, it paid off. After job hunting for six months and then working as a consultant helping nonprofits incorporate business strategies to become more sustainable, the ideal job came calling after about a year. And it wasn’t even one for which she had applied.
“When people say it’s about networking, in my case that’s completely true,” said Densmore, recounting the phone call she received from Leslie Foster, president of The Gathering Place, Denver’s only daytime drop-in shelter for women, children and transgender individuals experiencing poverty or homelessness. Densmore had applied for a job with the organization but wasn’t hired. Still, she kept in touch with Foster and made such an impression that Foster called months later offering Densmore a position as director of Art Restart. The program—a social enterprise of The Gathering Place—enables clients to earn income by selling their artwork in the form of greeting cards. The job was precisely what Densmore wanted.
“I gave one of our artists a $100 check a couple weeks ago, and she told me, ‘The money is great, but the biggest thing is that someone thinks I’m an artist. Someone likes my art and wants to buy it.’ She was validated as an artist. Her talent was validated. That’s huge,” said Densmore. “This is an opportunity where people can actually take charge. They can say ‘I earned this money, I drew this.’ They can take an active step in making things a little bit better for themselves.”
From the networking skills that helped her land the job with Art Restart, to the financial models she’s now using to determine artists’ commissions and profit margins for the organization, Densmore says she uses her Daniels education every day. “I refer to my old notes and papers all the time. I’m working on our marketing plan right now, using tactics and strategies I learned in my marketing classes,” she said. “Having tools that allow you to say, ‘It makes financial sense to try this’ or ‘This is the percentage of our inventory we need to sell to make a profit’ is amazing. Having that holistic approach to making a decision is key.”
While Densmore is grateful to Daniels for the holistic education she received, what attracted her most to the College was its legacy coupled with its willingness to work with her to customize her degree.
“I was looking for a school steeped in social justice and ethics,” she said. “That, combined with the fact that I could make my own concentration and pick the classes that I needed to get the skills I wanted, was a clear bell for me that Daniels was where I wanted to be.”
As director of Art Restart, Densmore has big plans for the three-year-old program, including expanding its product line. Thanks to Daniels, she has the tools to make good on those plans. “I make weighted scorecards all the time to help take the emotions out of decisions,” she said, citing a practice she learned at the College.
And thanks to Daniels, Densmore was able to align her passion for the nonprofit world with business acumen to land her dream job. “I’m a relationship person at heart and that’s what I really love about this job,” she said. “I’m so happy I held out.”