It’s a powerful thing to be able to work at a company you care about, but also work within the charitable giving department of that company. What a dream job! We sat down with Marcie, the Senior Director of American Eagle Outfitters Foundation and Corporate Social Responsibility to see what it’s like to be in her shoes and gain some perspective on the benefits of giving back in our everyday lives.
Tell us what led you to a charitable foundation career path—did you expect yourself to end up here, or was it a surprise?
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a social worker, but my dad wanted me to major in something more “practical.” So I studied Information Systems in college but wasn’t crazy about computer programming by the time I graduated. Fortunately, I went to school on a scholarship and since I didn’t have student loans to contend with, I was able to follow my passion and landed my first job at the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I worked there for nearly eleven years before joining AEO Inc. to lead the American Eagle and Aerie brands’ charitable giving. Being in charitable giving at a company is the best of both worlds. I love my job and consider myself lucky.
How have you seen progress in our culture as far as brands looking to support charities? What would you like to see change?
There has been a great deal of momentum over the past few years as brands look to make strategic alliances with charitable initiatives which complement their businesses and connect with their customers. Consumers are also known to stick with brands that strive to make a difference. I suspect this momentum will continue in 2019.
With so many needs globally, how do you personally go about choosing the ones to give to through the AEO Foundation?
We support causes that are important to both our associates and our customers. Our focus as a company has been on youth empowerment, young women’s health, environmental sustainability and equality.
Tell us one of your favorite impact stories due to the work that you’ve done.
One of my favorite charities that we support as a company is The Pittsburgh Promise. This organization provides scholarship funding to every student who graduates from Pittsburgh Public Schools with at least a 2.5 GPA and 90% attendance rate. The Promise is one of the largest scholarship programs in the country, and there are countless success stories about young people who would not have been able to pursue post-secondary education without the Promise. A few college grads who benefitted from the Promise even work at AEO. It is a fantastic program.
How would you suggest that women view “giving”—in their personal and professional lives?
Giving comes in many forms. Most people think that donating money is the most important form of giving, but giving your time and sharing your talents are even more valuable. A lot of young people who have graduated from college don’t have many funds to give, but they can certainly volunteer some of their time. I think it’s also important to seek out ways to give back every single day. It can be as simple as smiling at someone on the bus or being kind to a stranger. The benefits of giving back are as rewarding for you as they are for the recipient.
What’s ahead for you? What are you personally the most excited about?
As the mom of four boys, my husband and I are not only busy at work but also at home. We look forward to spending time with our boys and friends and family over the holidays. I also look forward to helping to evolve AE and Aerie’s charitable giving platform over the next year.
How can people get involved with AEO Foundation?
American Eagle and Aerie provide a number of ways for our customers to give back and support causes throughout the year. For example, this past December, for every hat, gloves or scarf purchased at AE or Aerie, we donated a warm winter hat (40,000 total!) to someone in need through Delivering Good. Nothing is better than doing your holiday shopping while also supporting individuals in need.
This post is brought to you by Darling partner, Aerie. We’re proud to partner with brands that strive to create better, more realistic media for women. All thoughts and opinions remain Darling’s own.
Un-retouched Images provided by Aerie