CASSIE BARNES

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Digital Content Specialist

Donor Relations Guru Group

cassie@donorrelationsguru.com

Cassie first joined the DRG Group in 2019, assisting with social media planning, content creation, and posting. Today, she works closely with Ashley on digital content and planning and is still focused on social media. 

 

Cassie has a bit of an eclectic professional background, though the three consistent threads in her career have been a passion for crafting communications, an insatiable curiosity about everything (but especially scientific topics), and a steadfast dedication to nonprofit work. 

 

Her first step into the professional world took her to work in microbiology labs for Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and the U.S. EPA. It was there at the EPA that she realized being a lab tech wasn't exactly what she wanted to do, so she went back to school, earning a Masters in Professional Writing and Editing at the University of Cincinnati.

 

Graduate school also solidified Cassie's career trajectory in the nonprofit world. She specifically sought a communications internship with the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. There she found her true joy—writing and supporting a mission that spoke to her while being able to learn and exercise new skills in a lot of areas.

 

After graduate school, Cassie officially launched her nonprofit career at the YWCA of greater Cincinnati as a development associate. From there, came grant writing at the University of Cincinnati Foundation, the Columbus Zoo, and Cincinnati Children's.   

 

The draw to the digital side of things began early for Cassie, when she penned her first article for her elementary school paper entitled "What Is a CPU (Central Processing Unit)"? As she grew up, she continually dabbled in and kept up with the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and digital communications (Anyone remember Geocities? LiveJournal? MySpace? Cassie does.). 

 

Eventually, at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Cassie was able to combine her love of communications and the digital world, growing from a grant writer to managing all mission based communications and launching the Zoo's presence on Facebook.  

 

Cincinnati Children's brought her back home to southwest Ohio and back into grant writing for a bit. While at Children's, Cassie transitioned to a senior specialist on the development communications team. There, she wrote and project managed proposals, stewardship reports, event collateral, feature articles, donor magazines, and more. She also oversaw the social media channels for Cincinnati Children's donor relations. 

 

The biggest gift Cassie received from Cincinnati Children's, though, was the chance to combine her love of science and writing. Her bliss was found when she could take a complex, deeply scientific medical research project and write about it in compelling, emotional, understandable language that resonated with donors. 

 

One of Cassie's true loves is nature, and that drew her to Cincinnati Nature Center in 2019, where she took over their digital communications. In the course of three years, she more than doubled the organization's social media following, reach, and engagement on Facebook and Instagram, their primary channels. She also reimagined their weekly e-newsletter when she took it over, bringing it up to a 51% open rate and a 3% click rate with a mailing list that topped 35,000. 

 

In July 2022, Cassie joined her dream organization—The Nature Conservancy, supporting the Wisconsin and Ohio marketing teams with digital content, website management, and analytics. There will be more to come once she actually starts and gets to know her job. 

 

Outside of work, Cassie can be found in her tiny old house outside of Cincinnati, snuggling down with her kid, spouse, two dogs, and one cat. Whenever she can, she's out on the trails, often with a camera, or pottering around her wildly overgrown backyard, dreaming of removing her lawn entirely and replacing it with a native prairie. If the weather isn't cooperating, Cassie will either be reading, drawing very badly, or trying to talk dragons with her kid.