The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Amy Zucchero

Amy Zucchero
Chief of Resource Development and Communications
IGNITE

Degree & graduation year: MPA 2003

Current position: Chief of Resource Development and Communications at IGNITE.

What I do: I direct IGNITE’s fundraising and communications strategy for our national efforts to train 5,000+ high school and college-aged women to become the next generation of political leaders. My position includes managing and growing an individual donor portfolio, as well as identifying institutional funders who will partner with us on our efforts. Under my leadership we’ve nearly doubled our budget and become a multi-million dollar organization with a well-respected national brand.  

How I ended up working there: I’ve dedicated my career to leveling the playing field for women and girls, and I’ve worked in a number of nonprofits that focus on gender equity. I  started working with IGNITE in the months leading up to the 2016 election thinking that it would be exciting to be a part of a women’s political organization when we saw a woman break the ultimate glass ceiling. And, while we didn’t elect our first female President, what we have seen in the aftermath is pretty phenomenal. In the wake of the election, millions of women are marching in the streets, tens of thousands declaring their intention to run, thousands more announcing their fury around a lifetime of sexual harassment, and now young people (and young women) leading a national effort around gun violence. There has never been a more important time to invest in young women who are passionate about bettering their communities, are fed up with the status quo, and are harnessing their political power. I’m privileged to be a part of this movement.

The best part of my job: I get to work with amazing women from all walks of life. It’s the young women we train. The elected women who are dedicated to feeding the leadership pipeline and offer countless hours of mentorship. And our dedicated group of supporters who understand how important it is invest in the next generation of women. Every day I get to interact and learn from a powerful group of women.

A recent exciting work experience: I recently took a trip to Atlanta, where I spent an afternoon helping ten young women articulate why they want to run for office and then map out the steps that they need to take to declare their candidacy. The next day, I met with an intimate group of potential supporters to discuss why the time is now to invest in the next generation of female political leaders. It’s the variety of experiences like this that keep me motivated and grounded in my career.

How the School of Public Policy prepared me for my career: I think it really is the practical skills I gained through the program—writing, public speaking, project management, and working in teams.

Advice to students considering a degree in public policy: It’s an incredibly versatile degree, which is very beneficial. You can take the skills and experience you gain from the degree and go in pretty much any direction professionally.

Future plans: I assume I’ll continue to fundraise for causes I believe in.