40 Under 40: Mary McFadden Lawson '99
Triangle Business Journal, May 26, 2011
• Age: 34
• Company description: A not-for-profit, the North Carolina Symphony is the largest professional performing arts organization in the state. It presents concerts and educational programs across the state for more than 250,000 patrons annually.
• Hometown: Cheraw, S.C.
• Family members: Husband, Kevin; daughter, Ellie (3); son, William (6 weeks).
• Education: BA, business economics, Wofford College.
What accomplishments are you most proud of from the past year? Leading an incredible team of dedicated fundraisers and support staff to do what many thought was impossible – raising money to not only meet the $8 million challenge grant from the state of North Carolina but also securing additional dollars.
What is your professional goal five years from now? To be a key opinion leader and speaker for the fundraising community and be a lead voice in the strategic future for the organization.
What was your first job as an adult? Believe it or not, my first ‘big girl job’ out of college was as a fundraiser for Opera Carolina in Charlotte.
What is the most difficult question you’ve faced in a job interview? I was asked by a CEO, ‘do you want my job?’
What community cause or charity have you been involved in during the past year? The church school program for toddlers at First Presbyterian Church and helping our Sunday school class serve needs in the community through assistance with programs like the Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network.
If your house caught fire and you had time to grab two things, what would they be? Assuming my family is out and safe, my photo albums and my grandmother’s silver.
Who is your hero? My mother for showing me that being a leader has nothing to do with your gender but rather everything to do with your intellect and drive, and my father for always telling me, ‘Remember who you are and what you want to be’.
What is your favorite restaurant? The Woodlands Barbeque in Blowing Rock, N.C.
Nothing makes me madder than … People who think the arts are superfluous – it is what makes us a civilized society.
Who is the most famous person you’ve met, and what did you say to that celebrity? Randy Newman. I met him at a post-concert reception and I approached him, put my hand on his shoulder and asked if he wouldn’t mind posing for a picture with a few of my donors.
Who would make the guest list for your dream dinner party? My grandfathers (because I never knew them), Sting, Stephen Colbert, Julia Roberts, Warren Buffet, my husband Kevin and my twin sister Margie. The conversations would never end!