We’re celebrating Avalon’s 20th anniversary in July, so I can’t help but think about how far we’ve come in 20 years.
Avalon was founded in 1997, when Friends, Seinfeld, and NYPD Blue were the hot TV shows—before anyone conceived of “reality TV.” On the big screen, audiences flocked to Titanic, Good Will Hunting, and that year’s sleeper hit, The Full Monty. Remember dial-up AOL accounts? (“You’ve got mail!”) And everyone had a landline, because cell phones were costly and far from ubiquitous. Pagers were still cool, Bill Clinton had just begun his second term, Donald Trump was on his second marriage, and you could still light up on very long flights.
And now? “Must See TV” is being replaced by Hulu and “Netflix and chill.” We’re frustrated when we have to wait longer than a second for a link to open. And we can track our old high school classmate’s every move through Facebook.
But beyond pop culture, there have been incredible advances in our lives. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence. There are 21 women in the U.S. Senate (vs. nine in 1997). Marriage equality is the law of the land. And, on a personal note, in 1997, I was in my 20s living in Washington, DC, and now I live in Maryland with two teenagers.
On the down side, the battles continue over core issues like equality for women, minorities, and LGBTQ people. And we’re still fighting for reproductive rights, equal pay, gun control, and an end to police bias, among many other hot-button issues. So much more work to do.
Twenty years ago, Ann Herzog and I had a clear vision for what our new marketing company could be, and I’m so proud that our vision of Avalon is a reality. Every day, we show that a woman-owned, women-led company can have huge influence in our industry—not only because of the cutting-edge work we do, but because our company structure truly takes into account how our employees’ personal lives and careers overlap.
I am so proud of this company we’ve built. Avalon has the best staff in the business—our company culture supports a singular mix of challenging and collaborative work, giving every Avalonian ongoing opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Avalon’s dynamic direct marketing fundraising strategy constantly tests and challenges best practices to ensure the strongest and most successful fundraising programs for our clients. We are innovative and creative, employ good business practices, but are always eager to test new ideas and technologies, and willing to change things up when it’s warranted.
And most important: Avalon’s clients. Our roster of unparalleled nonprofits includes arts, advocacy, political, and environmental organizations. Their work for the common good constantly inspires us, and makes the hard work so infinitely worth it.
We begin Avalon’s next 20 years at a time of uncertainty for our nation and our world. It’s not hyperbole to say that wars, famine, terrorism, and climate change threaten our existence. Political opportunism, corruption, and acrimony infect our democracy. But we are a country—and a company—of people dedicated to changing the world for the better. We have faced seemingly insurmountable odds before, and we have prevailed.
Thank you to my colleagues and our wonderful clients for all you do. Near term, I am looking forward to mentoring a new group of young staff (who were probably toddlers when we founded Avalon) to continue to spread the word about the tremendous personal and professional benefits of working in our industry. Long term, I have high hopes for our company and for our country, due to the great work of our clients and staff!