Emily J. Dulin: A Proven Leader in Not-for-Profit Management, Fundraising, and Marketing

Emily J. Dulin | CEO | Brooke USA
Emily J. Dulin | CEO | Brooke USA

Emily J. Dulin is a seasoned not-for-profit executive with a wealth of experience in branding, marketing, and fundraising. With her extensive background in hospitality, healthcare, and integrated communications, Emily has honed her skills in executive management, program development, and team building, making her a sought-after leader in the non-profit sector.

With over 20 years of experience, Emily has proven herself to be an accomplished executive with a track record of success in leading organizations through periods of growth and transition. Her expertise in developing innovative programs and services, working with boards and volunteers, and building exceptional teams has helped many non-profit organizations achieve their goals and objectives.

During the interview, Emily J. Dulin discussed how her role as CEO of Brooke USA allows her to combine her passion for aiding both animals and humans. Here are some of the key highlights from the conversation.

Brief us about your career path as a staunch woman leader up until your current position. What were the challenges that you had to overcome to scale your progress?

I started very early on in the public relations sector and was one of the very few, at the time, that worked in the field of Hispanic marketing across the United States. In those days, diversity marketing was a stretch for most budgets, and making strong sales pitches and presentations was essential to our agency’s survival. I’ve always attributed my success as a fundraiser to the difficulties of making a case for extra spending to a major corporation.

It was when my son was born that everything changed; somehow improving our world became my beacon. I wanted Matthew to live in a better world and I wanted him to know that I was contributing to his future. This was why I landed my first nonprofit job and realized that I was very good at raising money.

Tell us more about your company and its mission and vision. 

Brooke USA Foundation’s (Brooke USA) mission is to significantly improve the health, welfare, and productivity of working horses, donkeys, and mules and the people who depend on them for survival worldwide. We are committed to sustainable economic development by reducing poverty, increasing food security, ensuring access to water, providing a means to education, and raising basic standards of living through improved equine health and welfare.

We strive to alleviate the suffering and vulnerability of developing communities by funding and implementing programs that improve the quality of life and health of working equines and thereby positively impact their economic sustainability. These programs include training on equine care, husbandry, nutrition, and handling. The bottom line is that we want to see healthy, happy people and equines that work in partnership to achieve sustainable local economies.

What methodologies do you implement that contribute to new growth opportunities?

I find that keeping up with nonprofit trends and watching some of the industry leaders is the best way to implement new programs that will contribute to new growth at our nonprofit. We use the information we learn to develop campaigns, events, and appeals that work for our audiences of donors. In fact, it is said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and as a charitable organization, we are consistently copied and mimicked, whether it be a fundraising event, a direct mail piece, or a holiday campaign. In fact, we have created a reputation for creativity and innovation.

Please share your learning of the business world.

Because my background is in the for-profit sector, I have always applied those initial learnings to how I manage Brooke USA. For instance, we are firm believers in annual performance expectations, and our staff pinpoints objectives from our strategic plan to develop their own personal goals. Each one of us is measured against our personal goals, which become our yearly guide to success.

Also, many businesses have been swift to embrace information technology to keep operational wheels turning, and we know that such innovation is the wave of the future for us in the nonprofit sector. Eight years ago, when remote offices were starting, we made the decision to go virtual as it meant enormous operational savings and access to the best employees possible. Because we experimented with and implemented scenarios of working remotely years ago, we were a step ahead during COVID.

I would say that my key learning of the business world is to remain one step ahead of the competition, and so far, we have managed to do so.

What strategies do you implement to promote gender diversity for various leadership positions at your company? 

We learned a long time ago that it was critical for Brooke USA to be culturally competent. We work hard at creating and sustaining an organizational culture that is both empathetic and compassionate to the needs of those we serve in vulnerable communities. Our goal is really to represent them and understand them.

Because we are so small, so specialized, and so geographically spread, we work very hard at recruiting the best people possible, both as employees and as board members. We certainly value the uniqueness of each gender, but more importantly, we value the uniqueness of each individual. We are lucky to have many different talented people working together—different genders, nationalities, ethnicities, skills, education, and interests—and that’s what really makes Brooke USA diverse.

What values do you incorporate to enhance the work culture of your company?

The most important value for us at Brooke USA is the well-being of our employees. We offer support within the organization with policies in place that encourage respect, trust, empathy, and teamwork. This is not too hard for us to implement as we are in the business of helping others across the world, and to do so, we know that our work most often begins at home. We support each other and offer compassion and kindness in times of need; we forgive mistakes and do not assign blame, and we work to inspire each other. We treat each other as friends, care for each other, and are interested in each other’s lives. Our goal is to emphasize meaningful interactions that contribute excellence to all aspects of our work.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for your company?

Personally, I want to continue to see Brooke USA succeed while we direct more funds to programs approved by our Board of Directors. Our goal is simple: to grow more and more each year. Certainly, approaching growth means extraordinary staff, a superb board of directors, and an immaculate reputation. We are working on this on all fronts, and we have a good track record already.

What advice would you give to the next generation of women leaders willing to venture into the modern business arena?

The best advice I can give is to be passionate about your work. One wants to go to work each day with a smile on one’s face. After all, we spend most of our days on the job, and it would be dreadful not to enjoy it.

Unfortunately, finding what one loves is not always that obvious, so I would say, volunteer for special projects on the job, join a board of directors, read whatever you can, get special certifications, and attend continuing education courses. In my mind, it is paramount to be prepared when you find the perfect industry in which to work. I have done just that, and I have never looked back. I just want everyone to be as fortunate as I am.