Mark Cole joins Parisleaf as Vice President of Strategy

Parisleaf is overjoyed to announce that Mark Cole has joined our leadership team as Vice President of Strategy. He brings an even more strategic lens to the brands we’re building for major fundraising campaigns for our non-profit partners. 

Mark is an accomplished fundraising veteran across the nonprofit sector. He is passionate about elevating this sector with Parisleaf by bringing an insider’s lens to our fundraising strategy.

“We’re elated to partner with Mark as our new Vice President of Strategy. It’s a dream come true for us. Mark’s been one of the most impressive leaders we’ve worked with in our careers, and we feel so fortunate to have worked with him as a client and now as a colleague. We’re so excited to have Mark leading this new team for our firm and to see the great things we’ll do for our partners. Together.”

– Chad and Ali Paris, Principals

Here’s what Mark had to say about this integral new role at Parisleaf – and his insights into the world of fundraising.

Can’t see the video? Try this link.

Tell us what brought you to fundraising. What’s one secret to success?

Prior to Parisleaf, I was the CEO of a higher education foundation. Before that, I was the managing director of a theater company and served as general manager of a ballet company. I’ve been fortunate to build successful fundraising teams, run large campaigns, and connect philanthropists to their passions.

Along the way, I’ve learned that nothing is more important than the clarity of your fundraising campaign’s “why” and how you build excitement and momentum around that message. It’s fun to be an evangelist for that “why” to create alignment and champions within your stakeholders – and then share it with the universe of possible supporters.

How does your pre-fundraising experience inform what you do now?

I have two degrees in theater and spent my early career as an actor and stage manager. I think my theater training has been key to my success in fundraising. It prepares you to observe, improvise, and create with whatever tools you have – or don’t have. And theater people know how to tell a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, an essential skill in any business.

You’ve led fundraising campaigns for over 20 years. What motivates you?

Those of us working in the non-profit sector have chosen this space because we want to make the world a better place. We want our work to matter. We share a generous view of humanity. And, of course, we all need to raise funds to deliver our missions. This work is deeply meaningful and challenging to me. 

In this new role, I share Parisleaf’s passion for partnering with purpose-driven organizations and doing good in the world. My experience as a past client and fundraising leader will enable me to walk in our partners’ shoes as we work together to strategically achieve their vision. 

When did you become familiar with Parisleaf? Why?

I became familiar with Parisleaf while leading the Miami Dade College Foundation. We started a search for an agency to help us brand our fundraising campaign. I was, and still am, an admirer of the University of Florida advancement shop. I asked our marketing director to find out who did the UF campaign website. It was Parisleaf. We invited them to submit a proposal. 

We liked Parisleaf’s focus on nonprofits and purpose-driven organizations. We also liked the team that would be working with us and their partnering process.

The rest is history. The experience was a career highlight.   

Thanks to Parisleaf’s guidance, we ensured that the right stakeholders were part of the process – including my board chair, college provost, and college chief marketing officer, along with fundraising and alumni leaders. As a result, the brand identity presentation was a smashing success. The provost wanted to know how soon she could get swag with the new brand!

What’s your role as VP of Strategy at Parisleaf?

I act as the throughline, steward, and galvanizer. 

As the throughline, I’m responsible for finding essential insights and then ensuring consistency – from the very first conversations throughout the entire campaign. I’m a steward cultivating, developing, and maintaining our partnerships. And, I’m a galvanizer to make sure key ideas are crystalized and evangelized and help rally people (ours and theirs) around ideas we co-create. 

I work closely with our creative, project management, business development, and leadership teams to help service the company and our partners’ needs. 

Overall, I bring my experience leading major fundraising efforts to the agency. I think like a fundraiser. And I hope that lens is helpful to our partners.

Why did you choose Parisleaf?

For the opportunity to make the world a better place. I chose it for the people. Everyone on the team is focused on philanthropic campaigns – they are very strong leaders and creative talents. And I chose Parisleaf for its purpose. I share Parisleaf’s belief that money is mission fuel in the right hands and that we need to aim to be the right hand to the right hands. As a fundraising executive, I know how essential it is to have trusted partners. 

As an agency, we bridge the gap between a campaign’s fundraising counsel and creative, bringing a brand perspective to the table in key conversations. And I love the idea of serving as the bridge for our nonprofit partners.

Parisleaf is an amazing fit for me. And I’m excited about our ambition to help our partners raise over $25B by 2030.

More about Mark

Most recently, Mark was chief advancement and marketing officer with the Sarasota Performing Arts Center, where he was responsible for leading marketing and advancement for a public-private partnership campaign to build a new performing arts center on the bay in Sarasota, Florida.

He served for six years as vice president of advancement and executive director of the foundation for the largest community college in the nation – Miami-Dade College. He was responsible for the strategic direction and operational functions of fundraising, alumni relations, marketing, and communications. At MDC, Mark worked closely with the college president and the foundation board, creating and implementing a strategic plan and breaking all previous fundraising records in the college’s 60-year history for campaign, annual, and gala giving. 

Mark also brings a breadth of artistic and operational expertise to Parisleaf. He served 13 years at Miami City Ballet as their production director and then as general manager, responsible for fundraising and all aspects of administration. He played a critical role in drafting and implementing the Ballet’s 5-year strategic plan, philanthropy growth, and marketing rebranding while representing the Ballet’s interest as a resident company during the planning, construction, and opening of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Reach out to wish him well!
352.377.5560 x. 120

Chad Paris

Chad Paris

Principal, CEO
The perfect marriage of strategist, consultant, & rainmaker. Chad loves connecting good people with other good people. He has dedicated his career to brands that are changing the world by helping nonprofits fund progress while also advancing Purpose in the workplace.