Please join us in welcoming Erin Waas as our new Executive Director! Erin brings nearly two decades of experience working in the public sector and with nonprofits in fundraising and communications, most recently at the University at Buffalo, where she served as senior advancement writer. Prior to relocating to Buffalo, Erin spent the bulk of her career to-date in Boston, where she worked in stewardship at Harvard University and also as a consultant for nonprofits of all sizes. Erin graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Politics. She and her husband Chris have two young sons, Cormac and Oscar.

What excites you about the opportunity at the Bairs Foundation?

My career has been spent working with nonprofits with varying missions. In my personal life, I have a strong commitment to promoting equity and justice. I believe our society has a lot of work to do to ensure that all individuals have access to the resources they need to live healthy, productive lives. To work at an organization like the Bairs Foundation that is able to provide tangible support to individuals as they pursue civil justice, is incredibly inspiring and motivating. Also, in my last position our style guide did not allow for the use of an oxford comma, so I am very excited to have that tool back in my writing arsenal!

What are you looking to accomplish in your role at Executive Director?

The foundation has had a tremendous impact since its inception six years ago, providing over $2.5 million in loans to hundreds of plaintiffs and their families to help them meet their basic needs. I’m so excited to apply my strategic planning and fundraising skills to help streamline processes, strengthen relationships with our plaintiffs, referring attorneys and donors, and amplify our fundraising program so we can reach even more individuals. We also have new programs in the works for the year ahead, and I’m so pleased that I’ll be here to launch them.

Tell us about your previous role/career path.

After I graduated from college I thought I might attend law school, but once I started working in nonprofits I was hooked. I was so fortunate to find an opportunity at a consulting firm for nonprofits, where I grew from an assistant to an onsite consultant and gained experience in all aspects of development – from feasibility studies to Board development to communications. Through these experiences I have learned that the keys to a successful nonprofit are a clearly-defined mission, respect for your constituents, and strong communications, ensuring that donors – no matter the amount they give – know they are integral members of the organization. It’s an incredible opportunity to be able to put these lessons into place at the Bairs Foundation – and exciting that my early career aspiration of working in the field of law has come to fruition!

How do you stay busy outside of work?

I love spending time with my family – our boys are at such a fun age and keep us really busy building with Magnatiles, playing board games, and learning everything there is to know about dinosaurs. We’re also all avid readers – my sons are named after authors – and I try to read at least two books a month. Finally, at the beginning of the pandemic my husband and I purchased a Peloton bike, and we are hooked! It’s such a fun way to stay active and relieve stress.