Megan A. Horvitz (’13)
Megan A. Horvitz is a non-profit management professional, specializing in event and program management. She currently works for Clark University as the Senior Associate Director of Signature Events and Programs. Prior to Clark, Megan worked for Lasell College, The Rivers School Conservatory, and Boston University.
Megan completed her BM in Voice Performance, cum laude from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, as well as her MS in Arts Administration from Boston University’s Metropolitan College. Megan served as the President of the Arts Administration Student Association from 2012-2013 and was the recipient of the Arts Administration Excellence in Graduate Study Award.
She lives in Westborough, MA with her husband and fellow Terrier Aaron and adorable Goldendoodle Tedy.
Q: You are working at Clark University in the Advancement Department: tell us more about what that position entails?
A: Currently, I’m the Senior Associate Director of Signature Events & Programs at Clark University. I report directly to the Director of Stewardship & Donor Relations. My position entails organizing major events as well as high-level engagement programs. Major events include anything related to our Capital Campaign (most recently upcoming regional campaign launches) and any local and regional events promoting our new ClarkCONNECT online platform that connects students with alumni. Our largest engagement program is called “Alumni-in-Residence” where we bring alumni back to campus for a full day of reconnecting with our community, including attending classes, touring campus, and meeting with students and faculty. I’m also responsible for our Reunion, which is held in the spring on commencement weekend, and consists of a 4-day-long program celebrating milestone class years as well as family-oriented activities.
Q: How does the BU Arts Admin Program translate to your current position?
A: As a part of University Advancement, our team’s goal is to be able to connect alumni and families with the school in ways that encourage them to support the students and future of Clark. The classes that I took in the Arts Admin Program relating to fundraising and capital campaigns are relevant to my day-to-day life in our office. Having a working knowledge of all of the different fundraising facets and how engagement events can affect those relationships is vital to the success of my position. It’s also important to have a good understanding of all the different parts of an advancement team, which include marketing, grants management, donor relations, major gifts, and annual fund etc. All the different classes I took in the program inform how I approach my colleagues who work in these areas on my team. I think it’s also important to have a good foundation of how nonprofits fit into the bigger scheme of the world. No matter what non-profit you work for, whether it be arts focused or not, there are usually a common set of challenges that you’ll encounter. Understanding the landscape will help navigate these challenges.
*I also learned a lot about event management from being a part of AASA!
Q: What are some of the challenges with your work?
A: There are many challenges that come with an event management position in a non-profit setting. The most common one is always budget. Usually nonprofits are working with a limited budget, but still want to have an event that impresses and inspires their alumni and greater community. Being creative to stay within budget but still execute an engaging and interesting event is always a fun challenge! Another common challenge can sometimes be attendance. Constituents are usually being oversaturated with emails and mailings, asking for donations, or alerting them to a new event or a myriad of other things. Oftentimes people can be turned off by the overabundance of communication, so it can be hard to find a good balance to ensure people are excited to attend your event. Another facet of event planning that can be challenging is dealing with a multitude of different vendors. Finding a venue that fits the feel of the event (and budget!), flowers, food, décor, a/v – the list goes on and on and all of these people will have different personalities, priorities, and style of work – so you have to learn to be flexible to find a good fit.
Q: As the Senior Associate Director of Signature Events and Programs, what is the most rewarding part of your work?
A: For me, the most rewarding part of my job is when alum or someone related to the community increases their support and engagement with the school as a direct result of the positive experience they had at one of my events. I wanted to work in the non-profit sector because it’s important for me to feel that I’m contributing towards the greater good. Feeling like everyone is working together, on all sorts of small tasks that eventually come together to make and impact – is an awesome feeling.
Q: If you were interviewing someone for your current position what quality would you look for most and why?
A: First and foremost, event management cannot be successful without organization. That is the baseline for being successful in my job, so that’s the first thing I’d look for. In addition to that, being flexible, having the ability to successfully navigate different personalities, a willingness to learn, and creativity are also important. Also, a positive attitude will get you very, very far – in any job.
Q: During your time in the Arts Admin Program, what was one of your favorite classes, experiences, or topics you learned about?
A: I have three! First, the Barcelona class was an incredible experience that gave me an invaluable hands-on understanding and appreciation for how arts administration differs in other countries. Aside from the fact that we got to experience an insider’s view of museums in an incredible city, it was also a great chance to get to know some of my classmates better. Second, the education class with Linda Sutherland was a lot of fun and gave me many transferable skills that have helped me with event planning. Creating teaching plans and thinking critically about what authentically engages constituents (whether they be students or otherwise) is a great skill to develop. Third, was being President of the Arts Administration Student Association. Having classes a couple times a week at night doesn’t allow for much time to get to know your peers – and the arts world can be a very small place, so it’s great to know people to ask for advice when needed! It was also my first lesson in what it means to take on a leadership role, and how to navigate that role working within a small group.
Q: Since graduating, what has your journey looked like and how did you end up where you are today? Has anything unexpected happened along the way?
A: There have certainly been many unexpected turns in my career – as there will be for anyone! I would be very surprised if you told me five years ago I’d be working in higher ed now. I started my Arts Admin career at a small private music school. This was an invaluable experience because I got to experiment with many different areas of nonprofit management and take on leadership roles where I probably wouldn’t have had the chance so soon if I had worked for a larger institution. I had the opportunity to run all facets of their fundraising, which exposed me to prospect research, grant writing, crafting solicitations, and of course event planning! This first step helped me to know myself better and begin to think about where I wanted my career to go. I stayed at this institution for three years, when another opportunity at a small private liberal arts college opened up. It was again another catch all position where I had the opportunity to run many different engagement programs, plan all size and structure of events, and also be exposed to a slightly larger development team where I learned the flow of the higher ed calendar. After I moved to central Mass, I set my sights on finding a new position in Worcester. I also took this as an opportunity to limit my job search to positions that were much more narrowly focused. I felt that I now had a good enough understanding of each area of advancement to feel confident about choosing a position where I could hone and develop my event and program management skills.
Q: Talk to us about any setbacks you have had?
A: Everyone is going to experience setbacks, and I’ve certainly had my fair share – and I know there are more to come! It is important to look back at these situations, consider what factors contributed to them, what role you yourself played, and then evaluate how you will approach people/events/situations differently going forward. It might be hard, but it’s important to always remember that everyone is human, we all make mistakes, and that there is a solution to every problem. As I said above, being a positive problem-solver can help in immeasurable ways. It’s also important to know yourself, and sometimes this takes time. Burnout is a real thing in this field, so you want to make sure that you are self-aware and making sure to have a balance in your life so that you never lose your love of aiding the greater good. Don’t be afraid to make a change if something isn’t working for you.
Q: If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself while you were in BU’s Arts Admin program, what would you say?
A: I would tell myself to try to be more proactive and thoughtful about what aspects of my work I enjoyed the most. It’s taken me awhile to figure out what I enjoy and what I do not. Nothing can replace experience, but perhaps being more aware and critical of my experiences might have helped me get here sooner.
Q: What do you consider to be one of the most important aspects of working as an administrator today?
A: One of the most important parts of being an administrator is to be a team player. That’s really one of the most important aspects of any job. Sometimes we might not feel appreciated, or we might feel like we’re doing something that isn’t our job etc. etc. etc. but in the end it’s better to err on the side of going the extra mile when you can. I also think it’s important to know your worth. Often times our initiatives are in place to aid others, to make the organization as a whole look good, with us running everything from behind the scenes. Know that your role, no matter how small, is vital and worth the effort.