Lover of Local
I have many names. I have been known as Alexis my entire life. I chose it as the name I would be known as because it is a more commonly known diminutive form of my birth name - and easier to pronounce. I chose it and so it represents my individuality. It comes from the Greek name Alexander, which means "defender, protector of people" or "helper of people."
The deer has economic and spiritual significance in both Choctaw and Scottish cultures. It is the deer that provides sustenance, clothing, and a means of trade. For the Choctaw, the deer also signifies compassion. And both cultures see the deer as a reminder of cyclical patterns, regeneration, resilience, restoration, healing, growth, and guidance.
Names hold so much meaning. Names are how we present ourselves - and our business - to the world. Names are unique identifiers and they also connect us to family and ancestors. Socrates spoke on the importance of names - a name (or word) has not been attached in a random way to its object; it is an encoded description of the object.
I am also a tribally enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, of the Watonlak Oshi “White Crane” Clan. It is through this family that I was given another name - Issi Chunkash. It means Deer Heart. The Choctaw believe these names were given to us by our ancestors and that, similar to Socrates, our name has always been ours and it is intrinsic to who we are.
I was born Alexandrina Imma Irene Isabel Brown. This includes family names on my mother's side. It connects me to my Scottish ancestors. I am from Clan Ross, from the highlands north of Inverness, whose lineage can be traced to the 10th century Gilleon na h-airde, a Celtic-speaking Pict. It is said that, to the Picts, "ross" meant "noble steed." And, because of the time period, they actually meant stag or deer.
I try to follow in my ancestors' footsteps by having my work begin from a place of compassion. My intent is to help small business owners find resiliency and develop strategy that allows them to adapt to change. I want to help members of my community overcome the struggles they face, restore their passion for their work, and develop the tools they need to not just survive dark times, but come out of it stronger.
And though both cultures hold these ideas of the deer, I chose the name Deer Heart for my consulting business specifically because the Choctaw people embody these ideas. They walked the Trail of Tears knowing they would face hardship and death but they had a vision of health, balance, and rejuvenation for the Choctaw people. They show us what is possible when you are resilient through dark times and develop an ability to quickly adapt to change. A mere 4,000 people survived the walk. But the Trail of Tears did not destroy them. It made them more compassionate and giving. And now they are the third largest tribe in the United States, with over 200,000 enrollees located around the world. Their resilience and adaptability, combined with compassion and love of fellow man, allowed the Choctaw Nation to thrive despite the great adversity they faced.
About the name "Deer Heart"
My business consulting is comprehensive. You'll get more than advice, because I am a writer, researcher, and strategist who can see both the forest AND the trees.
I have over 20 years of experience working in support of nonprofits, artists and arts organizations, entrepreneurs, and local businesses. I have done this as a Director of Development, volunteer, board member, activist, and ally.
I have worked with grassroots, underground groups that grew into nonprofits. I have worked for a local nonprofit affiliated with a large and generous national agency who continually invested in my professional development. And, I have worked for a larger institution who has faced significant financial struggle even thought they had an annual budget in the tens of millions of dollars.
A Wide Range
I was born and raised in Santa Fe. I stayed after high school to go to St. John's. I stayed after St. John's because of my love for the land and the people here. I love how our connection to this place becomes such a major part of our stories.
I studied music for 20 years. This enhanced my ability to plan, make decisions, process multiple things at once, and develop solutions to complex problems. It is through music that I learned patience, perseverance, abstract reasoning, creativity, and self discipline. And, where I learned how to work well with a team or be a leader.
My entire life I have loved to read, learn, and write. It started as escapism, and grew into how I expanded my understanding of the world and a way to connect and empathize. I’ve maintained youthful curiosity and a love of books. That's what got me into St. John's College, where I earned a B.A. of Liberal Arts and an M.A. in Eastern Classics. My studies taught me to think critically, analytically, and creatively, to speak and write clearly, and to truly listen to others.
I had many great mentors and supporters while I worked at St. John's College.
Stef Takacs taught me the core methods of fundraising and showed me a level of encouragement not shown by my direct supervisors, both of which sent me on the path that became my career.
Ellen Herr (who is the best graphic designer I've ever worked with) showed me the Art of graphic design. And she showed me that the graphic arts are rooted in strategy - every decision is intentional.
And there was Jeff Bishop (d.). He was VP at St. John's College, Annapolis MD. I didn't see it or understand it at the time, but what a blessing that my career started with a professional of his caliber choosing to mentor me. He taught me valuable lessons in fundraising and business development.
1. Marketing is an essential component to making money.
2. You become successful at fundraising and business development when you realize it's all about fostering relationships... and you can find a meaningful way to connect with anyone you meet.
Connection to Place
Music Developed My Skills
St. John's Gave Me Direction
St. John's Shaped My Thinking
Jean Bransford saw my aptitude for understanding relational databases and gave me specialized training on the college's Unix Database. It was then revealed that my nerdiest attribute is a love of databases. Even I was surprised by that!
The first lesson was not an intuitive idea for many fundraisers, because marketing was often the first place they would make budget cuts. The second lesson catalyzed my thinking that strategy, branding, marketing, human resources, customer engagement, networking, partnerships, investors - EVERYTHING about business is about relationships.
Background & Influences
Skills & Qualifications
Budget Development & Forecasts
Copy Editing & Copy Writing
Crowdsourcing & Crowdfunding
Developing a Case for Support
Event Planning (large & small, public & private, fundraising & art/music productions
Grant Strategy & Writing
eCommerce Sites (Ebay, Etsy)
Graphic Design (basic)
Graphic Design Concept
Graphic Design Project Oversight
Infographics & Fact Sheets
Internal Communications Systems
Media Relations & Press Releases
Small Business Systems Development
Secondary Market Research
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram)
Strategic Action Plans
Website Content & Site Maps
Website SEO (keyword research, updates, site monitoring, backlinks, etc
This is what I had to learn in order to achieve that:
The face of my work has been fundraising. The heart of my work has been telling stories and connecting with people. This is how I sold ideas and emotions to the tune of over $7,000,000 (an average of $375,000 per year.) And, the work I did generated revenue for those organizations long after I was gone.