AVMF hires former Ohio State fundraiser as executive director

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) welcomed Danielle Johnson as executive director at the end of April after an extensive search to fill the top role of the AVMA’s charitable arm.

Dr. José Arce, chair of the AVMF board of directors, said “I am delighted that Danielle Johnson has joined us as director of the Foundation. Her background and record of success will improve the effectiveness of AVMF’s programs and staff and will help our foundation reach new heights.”

Danielle Johnson
Danielle Johnson

Johnson has more than 20 years of fundraising experience, serving in senior development positions with The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Her immediate aim, Johnson said, is to bring greater structure and stability to the Foundation, which has gone without a permanent executive director for three years.

 “I’m taking a hard look at our operations and (looking) to put processes and procedures in place that will make it easier for us to talk with members and with AVMA leadership about donating to the Foundation,” she said. “I have a lot of experience building relationships with people and talking with them about legacy gifts and longer-term larger gifts, as well as donating on an annual basis.”

Prior to joining the AVMF, Johnson worked for nearly 14 years fundraising for Ohio State’s veterinary college, including seven years as senior director of development. During that time, she created a client giving campaign, assisted in the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) Enhancement and Expansion Campaign as well as other college priorities. She also assisted in creating and implementing the Commitment to Care Campaign to raise awareness and funds for the the veterinary college’s Veterinary Medical Center.

After graduating in 2001 from Ohio State, Johnson went to work fundraising for the Central Ohio chapter of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Eight years later, she left her job as senior director of development to work for The Ohio State University.

“It was a big change,” Johnson said, “going from talking about a T-shirt for a $100 pledge to asking for major gifts of a $100,000 or more.”

One of Johnson’s long-term goals is to raise the visibility of the AVMF, not only within the veterinary community but also among the public.

“I see this as a tremendous opportunity for the Foundation,” she said, “and in my conversations I want to learn what is missing that is keeping the AVMF from being recognized in those areas where other national animal organizations are better known.”

A version of this story appears in the July 2023 print issue of JAVMA.