Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I grew up in beautiful Central Virginia – where I currently live – and have been visiting the Outer Banks since I was little. In fact, my parents met in the Outer Banks, so the ‘Banks have always been a part of our family’s story and a very special place to me – where my heart feels at home.  

In 2016, I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies (Journalism & Spanish). After returning home and working for 15 months as a teaching assistant with middle school students who were learning English and as a writing tutor at the local community college, I started graduate school to pursue a Master of Arts in Professional Writing. During that time, I served as a Graduate Student Assistant (GSA) teaching Communications 101 classes to undergraduate students.  

As graduation approached, I was seriously thinking of pursuing teaching jobs, but a conversation with my (very wise) GSA advisor reminded me that my passion has always been for writing. In some ways, that was a challenging conversation to have, but one that I will be forever grateful for, since it helped guide me onto the path I’m on today.  

I earned my degree in May 2019 and worked a variety of jobs after that: summer camp counselor, academic coach to student athletes at the local university, copywriter for a public relations firm, and – my favorite – Community Engagement Coordinator for Outer Banks Forever! 

How did you get your start in the nonprofit sector? What do you enjoy most about working with nonprofits? 

After graduating in May 2019, I didn’t have a plan, but I did know I was interested in working in the nonprofit sector. That said, I’d never worked for or interned with a nonprofit before! Over the years, I had the chance to participate in some volunteer and giving opportunities with nonprofits, and I was always amazed – and still am – by the good they do in the world.  

I have to give my parents credit for “leading by example” when it comes to embodying generosity, not just with their resources, but with their time and their hearts. Watching the ways in which they care for and give to others has had a huge influence on me. 

So, back to post-graduation. I decided to start looking for nonprofit jobs in the Outer Banks – that’s literally what I typed in Google. As I was searching, I came across a new nonprofit I’d never heard of before: Outer Banks Forever. Reviewing the website, I was intrigued and excited by the mission to protect and enhance the Outer Banks national parks. As a kid, I visited all three parks and had so much fun exploring them and learning about them. I decided to send an email to Jessica to inquire if any job opportunities were available, introducing myself and sharing my resume. 

Shortly thereafter, Jessica emailed me back and wanted to talk! Those conversations led to me becoming a part-time Donor Communications Specialist with Outer Banks Forever in November 2019, while I was working two other part-time jobs. In January 2022, I was offered a full-time job with Outer Banks Forever as the Community Engagement Coordinator and happily accepted! 

One thing I have always loved in life is seeing people get connected to causes that reflect their passions, to see the spark of joy that brings. Working in the nonprofit sector has given me an opportunity to experience that firsthand. Seeing how people get excited about what matters to them and what they do with that excitement – like sharing their stories, volunteering, giving a gift, initiating a business partnership – is incredibly inspiring.  

Why is philanthropy important to you?  

The more I learn, the more I realize that philanthropy is really what “makes the world go ‘round.” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “philanthropy” as: 1) “goodwill to fellow members of the human race” and 2) “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes.” And according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the English word “philanthropy” comes from the Greek “phil- ‘loving’ (philo-) + anthrōpos ‘mankind’ (anthropo-).” Loving mankind. Philanthropy, to me, then, is doing good to and loving one another, being good to one another, and being good caretakers of this earth. Philanthropy, to put it simply, is essential for life.  

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? 

Outside of work, I love being outside! I am happiest when I’m at the beach or in the woods, strolling along the shore or hiking through the mountains. I also LOVE to read! My favorite genres are mystery, thriller, and historical fiction, but I enjoy exploring other genres as well. (I.e., I am taking recommendations!) Additionally, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, experimenting in the kitchen, working out, watching superhero movies (Team Marvel all the way), and drinking too much coffee.  

What do you want people to understand about Outer Banks Forever and our Outer Banks national parks?    

First, Outer Banks Forever is made up of a staff of three and a board of eight. That’s it! When people are first getting to know us, they often think we are a much bigger organization than we are, which is a testament to the talent and the enthusiasm of the people I get to work with every day.  

Second – it might sound cliché, but it’s true – our supporters are what make our work possible. Every gift, forwarded email, social media share, or product purchased from one of our business partners or our online store makes a difference.  

Third, our Outer Banks national parks and our incredible park staff help protect these fragile barrier islands and preserve the diverse stories that make the Outer Banks the amazing place that it is. Without them, these islands and stories could one day be lost to both time and memory. Our Outer Banks national parks are places of wonder, places for reflection and relaxation, and they have something about them that is just truly magical. 

Questions for Rachael? Email her any time at