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From Retail to Fundraising, Danker's Career Comes Full Circle at UC

For Ohio native Kim Danker, the College of Law’s new Assistant Director of Development, coming to Cincinnati to work at the law school was a natural step.  Having twice lived in the tri-state over the course of her professional career, she was very familiar with UC. “I’ve always been impressed with the university, its architecture, and its history as a research institution,” said Danker. “And I’m enjoying our new president [Santa Ono]; he really seems to enjoy connecting with students—our future alumni and donors.”

Born and reared in Newark, OH—just 45 minutes east of Columbus—Danker  went to college at The Ohio State University. Her initial career goal was to be a psychologist. “But after the first year I decided I didn’t want to do that,” she laughed. Trying to figure out her career path, Danker began to look toward something she really enjoyed: fashion. This led to a bachelor’s degree in merchandising, with a minor in business. Armed with her degree she began her professional career at Melon's, a women’s discount clothing store in Columbus, eventually transferring to a larger division in Chicago. From Melon's, Danker went to work for Banana Republic. “I had a good time working for them and I enjoyed Chicago,” she said. “But I realized (through her experiences working in retail) that I was in the wrong industry.”  She wanted to do more.

Returning home, Danker went to work for Progressive Insurance as a claims adjuster. “This was in the old days when everything was done by hand,” she said. “We travelled the countryside in a car full of binders with part numbers and such that we manually searched through for customers.” 

Moving South Meant Introduction to the Small Business Market

She married and moved to South Carolina, where she was introduced to the small business market with the Greenville, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. While at the Chamber, Danker began to learn about the world of non-profits and the unique challenges and opportunities they faced. When the Chamber’s president transferred to the Detroit office, he offered her a position with him. So, Danker and her husband moved to the Detroit Chamber where she was in charge of special events for the Economic Development Department. She had opportunity to work with the Canadian-U.S. Business Association; host golf/professional outings; and plan the Consular Ball, one of the Chamber’s high-profile events, among many other things.

After several years, Danker and her husband returned to the tri-state—he for a position with Procter & Gamble, Danker for a position with the Girl Scouts of America.  Working in product sales and marketing communication positions there helped her hone skills in logistics, particularly as she was part of the team responsible for the all-important cookie distribution.

This led to a position as membership and volunteer supervisor at the Newport Aquarium, where she enjoyed “visiting the penguin exhibit and 'chatting' with the penguins each morning.” The company, however, was impacted by the economy and her department was downsized. This, though, led to a position at local TV station WCET. “I got to meet really cool people like the Irish Tenors and Nick Clooney. It was fun watching them work.”

Honing Skills in Fundraising and Development

Eventually, Danker moved back north to Wilmington, OH, where she worked in the Development Department for Clinton Memorial Hospital. Danker was responsible for fundraising and board training. After several years, and another unfortunate downsizing, she went to work as director of Wilmington’s Chamber of Commerce.  

“I knew that a Chamber membership was a serious investment for many small businesses,” Danker said. I worked hard at providing a business value for their money.” She expanded programming and developed benefit opportunities that made membership a worthwhile value.   

Her next position was at Ferno Washington, manufacturer of emergency patient handling and physical therapy equipment, in the administrative area for the International Sales Division. “I got to work with colleagues from all over the world,” Danker smiled. “Now, I have friends in Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, and France.”

All of these experiences led to her new role at the College of Law. Having developed a deep knowledge of non-profits and small businesses, she understands the challenges of many alums she meets—some working as business entrepreneurs, some working in solo practice.  And she sees opportunity for growth in the law school’s fundraising and in re-establishing relationships with former students. Indeed, Danker sees her role as re-connecting alumni with their alma mater, finding out about their UC Law experience, and hearing why they became interested in law in the first place. That’s a role she enjoys.  

What You Didn’t Know About Kim Danker

  • Favorite Reality Show: Project Runway
  • Two Things on Her Bucket list:
    • Visit Paris
    • Dance a really good Argentine Tango
  • If I didn’t work in Development, I’d be:
    • “At the Cincinnati Art Museum, heading the textiles division specializing in historic costumes; or, in New York with my own design house!