Christy Holtby

Top 40 Under 40 2011

Photography 3Ten/Aaron Pedersen

Age: 32

Job Title: Director of Development, University Hospital Foundation

Why She’s Top 40: For cultivating a new generation of philanthropists through the use of online fundraising strategies.

Key To Success: “I love to surround myself with people who will push me and be honest with me. To be surrounded by people who have high expectations drives me.”

Once a week, Christy Holtby and her boyfriend, Marc Carnes, strap on gloves for their kickboxing class, something they’re doing to switch up their exercise regimen. It’s more than a good workout.

“It’s a whole other level of trust. If you’re not focusing on what you’re doing, there’s a chance you could end up with a fist in the face,” Holtby jokes. “But as much as it’s about trust and timing, it’s a good test of your instincts.”

In 2006 Holtby’s trust and instincts were put to the test when she uprooted and left Toronto to follow Carnes to Edmonton, where he was hired as a fundraiser for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Holtby was nervous about leaving her family and friends for a new city but, as it turns out, her instincts were bang on.

“Edmonton is its own best-kept secret. Everyone who lives here knows what an incredible place it is to build a life,” Holtby says. “There are so many opportunities to push you to get involved and meet like-minded people.”

Holtby met those like-minded people as she started a new job with the Arthritis Society, where she helped manage public fundraising campaigns. She then spent her time volunteering and working for several non-profit organizations, and still found time to help launch the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada’s Edmonton branch.

Now, she’s the director of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – a perfect fit – and works as director of development for the University Hospital Foundation. After the foundation hired Holtby in 2009, she upgraded the fundraising body’s online presence to reach a younger generation of potential donors. With her at the helm, the organization increased its online donations by 51 per cent.

“Embracing Edmonton’s culture of leadership from people under the age of 40 is important,” Holtby says. “You see all of these people doing amazing things, and I think about how to engage them and how to make it easy for them to become involved.”

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