Allyson Summers

Allyson Summers

December 17, 2019

Allyson Summers (2019).

Allyson Summers is the Executive Director of the FOX4 Love Fund for Children, a local children’s charity in Kansas City. In her role, Allyson is responsible for overseeing operations, leadership and strategic direction of the organization and staff. Focusing on growth opportunities that expand the Love Fund’s financial resources, allowing the organization to more effectively serve over 5,000 children in Kansas City.

Outside of the office, Allyson is active in the community, serving as the Shadow Buddies Program Chair, in the Junior League of Kansas City, and a member of the Bacchus Foundation Alumni Advisory Board. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her boxer Ranger, listening to podcasts, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.

What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?

I graduated in 2009 with a concentration in Communication Studies and a minor in Justice Systems.

What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?

I’ve always thought that Truman’s campus provided opportunities for all students to take on leadership roles throughout their college career. I was a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha, serving on their executive leadership team during my junior and senior years. I served on the Student Government as the Communication Director, wrote for the Truman Index, was a member of the St. Jude Up til Dawn Board, and a member of the Communication Honor Society Lambda Pi Eta. I also worked as a student facilitator for the Communication Department and was a lifeguard at the Natatorium.

Allyson (back right) and her ΑΣΑ pledge class on Bid Day  (2006).

Did you go to grad school? If so, where?  Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait?  Why?

I did!  I attended grad school at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) and received my Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis on Nonprofit Administration and Healthcare Administration in May 2012.

I went to grad school a year after graduation from Truman. I had always planned on continuing my education, I just wanted to take some time to ensure that I was focusing my studies in a field that I saw myself working in for the foreseeable future.

What was your first job after graduation?

I started at Self Storage Finders as their Social Media/Marketing Specialist, which is a far cry from life as a nonprofit executive. However, during that time I enrolled in grad school and started interning with the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City in their Development Department. From there I focused on honing my fundraising skills, and I took on a few different positions until I got to where I am today.

What work do you do/What are you doing now?

I am the Executive Director of the FOX4 Love Fund for Children, which is a nonprofit that serves over 5,000 children in Kansas City each year. I am responsible for overseeing operations, leadership and strategic direction of the organization and staff. Focusing on growth opportunities that expand the Love Fund’s financial resources, allowing the organization to more effectively serve our mission and the children of Kansas City.

Allyson, her coworkers, and Love Fund volunteers celebrating the holidays (2018).

How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?

My education at Truman taught me to hone my critical thinking skills and look at problems through a different lens, which has served me well throughout my career. I also enjoyed being able to take a variety of courses during my time at Truman.  Being able to explore subjects and career paths outside of my concentration ultimately sparked my interest in learning beyond the classroom.  This created my desire to be a lifelong student. Working at a small nonprofit gives me the opportunity to utilize my degree everyday, to communicate and drive the mission of the Love Fund forward.

Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?

The class was Interpersonal Communication and it was the final semester of senior year. It may have been senioritis or the fact that we were all about to leave a place we had called home for the past four years, but I struggled through that class. With that said, I have found the interpersonal communication skills I learned in that class to be tremendously helpful throughout my career and life.  I am grateful to have taken the class.

What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?

My greatest accomplishment was being selected at the Communication Director of Student Government during my senior year. It opened my Truman experience up to so many different opportunities and experiences.

Allyson (front row, 3rd from left) at the Truman State Student Government Retreat (2008).

Whispers of budget cuts were looming, enrollment was down and a new policy in the student code of conduct was preventing many students from reporting incidents of assault or sexual misconduct due to the fear of being reprimanded for underage drinking or intoxication. I spent the majority of the year survey groups of students about these topics with Senator JoEllen Flanagan so that in 2010 the Student Government could use our findings to update and publish Beyond the Horizon the 2010 Student Vision Document.

Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?

Truman provided me with the education opportunities I craved and the leadership opportunities I needed to move beyond the classroom. Students are able to take advantage of the liberal arts education by taking a wide array of classes that spark their interests and providing them with the tools to become well-rounded individuals.

What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?

Truman’s tight-knit community of dedicated faculty and staff allows students to step up and really own their education experience in and out of the classroom. Get involved and check out all of the opportunities the COMM Department and Truman has to offer you. Get involved early on and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. This is the perfect time to meet new friends, take on a new leadership role and explore new interests.

What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?

The community and the people. I’ve been back a few times since graduation and it’s never the same because the people are what made the experience truly magical. Truman was a place where everybody knew your name, it felt like home and it was a great place to go to school. I met some of my best friends at Truman and I always know I’m in good company when I meet a fellow Truman grad, especially when I’m hiring.  I know that students who graduated from there are more prepared for the job due to the education they received during their time at Truman.

Allyson and fellow sorority sister and Truman alum Brittany Beck recreating a photo from college (2008 and 2018).

What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?

What’s your passion? The nonprofit sector has it all, from hospitals and colleges to social service agencies, arts, finance, and more. You name it, there’s an organization out there supporting it. Just like in the corporate world there are also a variety of positions to choose from like management, administrative, marketing and communications, business development, and programming. The possibilities are endless, it’s a trillion dollar industry that experiences positive growth year after year.

Find a mentor and a peer group who can support you, champion your success, and celebrate your wins. And remember work-life balance, if you haven’t put on your oxygen mask, then how can you expect to be able to help the people who are trying to serve. So what you do outside of work is sometimes just as important to what you do at work. Take care of yourself to avoid burnout.

What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?

“Truman COMM: Communication, NOT Communications”

If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?

Voluntarism, Philanthropy, and the Nonprofit Sector:  Nonprofit organizations are prevalent institutions throughout our entire lives, providing much needed social services to our communities. Exploring how volunteering, getting involved and investing in your community through nonprofit work at an early stage in life can supercharge your career through innovative thinking, networking and expanding your view of the world.

What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?

I think it’s important to note that there’s no one recipe for success but the skills I learned at Truman gave me the foundation to define what success means to me, to forge my own path, and to make it my own.

Allyson (R) and fellow Truman alum Maggie Fairchild (C) traveling in South Africa (2011).

If you would like to learn more of Allyson’s story, or if you want to learn more about the Department of Communication, contact us!