UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State student Katie Solomon has many goals for THON 2021, and as its newly selected executive director, she will have the opportunity to make them reality. A top priority for the criminology and sociology major is finding new ways to engage volunteers across every Penn State campus.
“It is essential that we foster an inclusive and welcoming environment at every event, meeting and during THON Weekend,” Solomon said. “Everyone has a place in THON if they would like to be a part of it.”
Solomon would also like to see more engagement with alumni, which she hopes to achieve by collaborating with the Penn State Alumni Association and the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group. Overall, Solomon would like everyone involved to connect with THON’s mission.
“Ultimately, we will work to make sure there are tangible ways for all volunteers to feel connected to THON’s mission,” she said. “THON has such an incredible history spanning nearly 50 years all the way from the HUB to the Bryce Jordan Center. None of our story would be possible without the hard work and dedication of every single supporter.”
As the THON 2021 executive director, Solomon will work closely with the 16 members of the executive committee. She will also work to strengthen the organization’s relationship with individual supporters, Penn State administration, University Development, Four Diamonds Staff and the Four Diamonds Advisory Board. Solomon stressed the importance of these relationships.
“These partners work tirelessly to further THON’s mission, and we could not do what we do without their support,” she said.
Solomon attributes much of her ability to be a leader with THON to being a liberal arts student.
“Being a liberal arts student has taught me how to think critically, see the big picture, and be a more empathetic leader,” she said. “In the liberal arts classroom, we are often challenged to hear out every perspective, to put ourselves in the shoes of others, and to sometimes ask the tough questions before coming to any sort of conclusion. This way of thinking has empowered me to ensure that I am considering how any project or decision will impact THON at large. It is essential to include the perspective of our volunteers, families and stakeholders in every planning process.”
During her first and second year at Penn State, Solomon held the THON titles of development liaison captain, and dancer relations committee member, respectively. For the last two years, Solomon was the development director for THON. Her involvement with development doesn’t end there though. Over the last year, Solomon has interned with the College of the Liberal Arts’ Office of Alumni Relations and Development, and the year prior, she interned with Annual Giving.
“The Division of Development and Alumni Relations has provided me with great insight into the world of professional philanthropy,” she said. “As a DDAR intern, I was lucky to have so many educational opportunities that contributed greatly to my communication skills and gave me a deeper understanding of fundraising, engagement, and stewardship. I often look to my peers in DDAR for guidance and am thankful for their endless support.”
Solomon’s continued involvement with THON over the years has positively impacted her Penn State career. “THON has introduced me to so many incredible individuals and provided opportunities at Penn State that I never thought were possible,” she said. “I have met my best friends, made lifelong memories and grown as a person in every sense.”
Although her journey as a Penn State student ends next May, Solomon said her involvement with THON will stay with her forever. Her THON experiences have inspired her to follow a path in which she can serve others.
“I am beyond thankful for this organization and honored to be able to give back to it as a volunteer,” she said.