“People are nicer than you’d think,” says Kevynne Fountain-Pokipala, a student fundraiser in the UH Foundation’s call center. “In training, new callers are afraid that people are going to yell at them and be rude, but they’re generally pretty friendly. I spoke on the phone with an athletic donor who makes donations all the time, and he wanted to make a gift in my name.”
The senior kinesiology major, whose photo is already on the call center’s Wall of Fame for raising more than $100,000 in pledges, recently crossed the $200,000 mark. It’s a rare achievement, but her supervisors and coworkers are not stunned.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” says student fundraiser Gabrielle Carvalho, a sophomore pre-business major. “Kevynne knows what to say to get donors’ attention, and to get them interested in what we’re calling about. She gets them enthusiastic so they’re ready to make a difference.”
Making a difference is part of Kevynne’s motivation. She says, “Fundraising is good work. You’re giving back to the school.” The rest is all about connections.
“I really like the people who work here. Every semester you meet new people you would never have met otherwise,” she says. “I went to one coworker’s wedding. I’ve been to a few of their graduation parties, and we go out all the time. We just went to the beach over spring break.”
Kevynne extends these connections with her coworkers into other calling center responsibilities. She supervises shifts twice a week and conducts training for new fundraisers. One of her trainees was Gabrielle, who is now a trainer herself.
“At first, Gabbie was very passive,” Kevynne says. “But she liked to listen and observe. Now, she’s blossomed out of her shell for sure. She’s a hard worker, she gives really good advice to new callers, and her mock calls with trainees are better than mine.”
“When I was first promoted as a supervisor, Kevynne was the first co-supervisor I led with,” says Gabrielle. I learned so much from her about how to lead a shift, to make sure everyone is being productive, and to be successful when we’re not quite at our target levels. She makes the workplace fun and enjoyable before and after each shift. She keeps us smiling, laughing and engaged.”
Dale Hagadone, Director of Annual Giving, admires Kevynne’s leadership style. She says, “Kevynne is one of our most knowledgeable supervisors. She works quietly and efficiently, leading with grace, and embracing our wonderful student community in the call center.”
“She joined us just days after graduating from Moanalua High School and has impressed me from the beginning,” says Kevynne’s supervisor, Associate Director of Annual Giving Tyrome Yamaguchi. “She is one of our strongest leaders and has the special ability to think of things days before I need them. I’ve learned to absolutely trust her excellent judgment.”
As Kevynne approached the $200,000 pledge total, she said, “I just want to get there. I was leading the shift, so I set up superfast, hoping to get as many good calls as possible. I’m so close! I just want to call and get one more gift; it’s literally one more pledge.”
Now that she’s crossed the line, she says, “It feels good, really good, to play a small part in other people’s educations.”