BOONE, N.C. — For the past six years, Appalachian State University alumnus Tommy Wrenn ’14 has worked as a development professional in Washington, D.C., fundraising for organizations connected to the environment and addressing climate change — an issue he describes as a “personal passion.”
Most recently, Wrenn, who holds a B.A. in political science and minors in communication and music from Appalachian, was appointed associate director of individual giving at Resources for the Future (RFF), an organization that works to improve environmental, energy and natural resource decisions.
“The work my organization is doing is on the frontline of creating well-informed policy decisions and options,” Wrenn said, “and I really love getting to continue to learn something new each week from our research, publications and events.”
In this position, Wrenn said he focuses on fundraising from individuals to “support research and policy engagement that is focused on the intersection of environmental policy and the economy.” He works with a variety of giving levels, including major gifts, with the goal of building a community between the organization’s supporters and its work.
“I am working with a diverse group of donors and prospective donors who have a variety of backgrounds in academia, politics and activism,” Wrenn said.
He was one of four individuals who received the 2020 Outstanding Young Professional in Fundraising Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals International.
“Connecting with people who are passionate about the work that your organization does is an incredible feeling,” Wrenn said. “I love helping people see how their financial support can have an impact.”
Learning the ropes
Wrenn said the 2008 presidential election influenced his course of study, saying the event showed him the power of political science, especially surrounding issues he cares about. He said Appalachian’s political science program helped him investigate how decisions are made, how the public can influence decisions and how to engage in the decision-making process.
He was involved in several organizations and initiatives on campus that helped prepare him for a career in politics, including the Student Government Association, Henderson Springs LGBT Center and Red Flag Campaign. Wrenn said these experiences taught him how to educate voters about difficult issues, how to handle the logistics of events and meetings and how to network.
Wrenn first worked on Capitol Hill as a summer intern at the White House, managing tours and events in the Visitors Office. After graduation, he returned to Washington as a Young Fellow for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, where he developed and led a program that teaches young adults to engage in constituent lobbying for peace and justice.
Wrenn has since worked for The Nexus Fund and Public Justice, and he is also a board member of the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
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About the Department of Government and Justice Studies
Appalachian State University’s Department of Government and Justice Studies offers undergraduate programs in political science and criminal justice, and graduate programs in political science and public administration. Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the department has over 600 undergraduate majors and more than 70 graduate students. Learn more at https://gjs.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.