Alumna makes it a priority to share her story and advocate for UNT.
Cameron Hernholm (’99), CFRE, currently serves as the chief advancement officer for Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region (CISDR). After serving for seven years as chief development officer at Resource Center, she joined the CISDR team in May 2020. Cameron has over 17 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and development. Her personal commitment to community service and nonprofit leadership include serving as board president of the Texas Eating Disorder Association, board member of the Friends of Solar Prep, and board member of the Dallas County UNT Alumni Chapter. She resides in Old East Dallas with her foster daughter and rescue pup, Milo.
Let’s start by talking a bit about your time at UNT. Are there experiences you had as a student that you feel helped set you up for success?
I wanted a high-academic-rigor college experience, which the honors program and the political science and sociology departments offered.
Also, I had a number of internships, was a member of NT40 and served on the Student Government Association as a senator for the College of Public Affairs and Community Service. I was given the opportunity to really be a leader on campus and feel like I was part of the administrative leadership. People listened to us. There were a lot of adults at UNT who really championed their students and gave them opportunities that I feel like you wouldn’t necessarily have at another university.
I know you’re a member of the UNT Alumni Association and that you’ve served on the Honors College Advisory Board and were president of the Dallas County UNT Alumni Chapter Board. Why do you choose to stay so connected to the university as an alumna?
For me, it was always that I felt UNT played such a large part in my career and in my career choices. I’m very blessed that I’ve always had the same job working in a head development role for nonprofit organizations — I love it and don’t have any plans to change! I think that’s partly due to my experiences at UNT. My education gave me the ability to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and provided the resources to make the connections I needed.
Another way you’ve been connected is through our legislative advocacy efforts. Can you tell me a bit about your experiences with UNT Day at the Capitol in 2019?
My first reaction was finally, thank goodness we are having this! It was such a big opportunity to share all of the amazing things that UNT does. The university provides so much — not just for North Texas, but for the state as a whole. UNT is such a hidden gem, so the Day at the Capitol was a great way for myself and fellow alumni to be able to share our own experiences and the benefits that we gained from going to the university with those who might not be aware of the important work happening there.
What was it like to visit with representatives? Did you feel like your voice and message were really heard?
I definitely felt heard. I think the team at the UNT Alumni Association did a great job of giving us talking points and stories to relay. On top of sharing my own personal story, it was great to be able to talk about the statistics of where the university was, the impression it was making, the number of students that were part of each legislator’s area and the alumni economic impact.
I do have UNT pride, and it was wonderful to be able to share that with our representatives.
As you know, our 2021 legislative advocacy efforts will be a letter-writing campaign. Why are you choosing to get involved this way? What kind of an impact do you think we can have with this initiative?
Especially at a state level, it’s super important for constituents to let their representatives know the issues that matter to them. As a resident of Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I think that the more you communicate with your legislators, the more they actually listen to your concerns and provide funding for the schools, universities and other entities that are a priority for you.
Other universities have a larger footprint with the legislators, and we’re somewhat getting started in this area. I think it’s important to keep up the messaging, even if we’re not able to do it in person.
What might you say to encourage people who are interested in getting involved with the letter-writing campaign and future legislative advocacy events?
As someone who worked at the state Capitol as an intern and undergrad and who also worked at a U.S. congresswoman’s office, I know the messages are not only heard, but they’re logged and brought to the attention of the lawmakers.
I think it’s really important for alumni to continue to help the university message because current students need to be working on their academic careers. It’s up to us alumni to support UNT. This is especially true looking ahead at a year like 2021 when the budget is going to be strapped. It’s going to be crucial for legislators to know that UNT is a priority so the funding can match the important work that the university is doing — because I do feel like we’re doing a lot of important work in the state.
I’d like to hear about your experiences as a UNT donor. Why do you choose to give to the university?
It’s because I really do feel like the university supported my success. Not only did UNT help me gain professional success by providing the educational, social and emotional learning experiences I needed, the university continued to support me when I was starting my career. I just feel like I owe that to UNT.
It’s also important to me that UNT is so diverse and offers the same kind of opportunities to a lot of students who might not have had those experiences at a different university. I want to support that.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fellow UNT alumni?
I still haven’t found this magic formula, but I just wish there was a way to motivate and inspire alumni to know how important it is for us to be loud, be engaged and be involved. There are so many successful UNT alumni — I just don’t think we’re always quite as vocal. It’s important, especially when it comes down to funding matters in Austin.