Omaha, Nebraska – The impressive experience working with non-profit agencies and organizations that Katie LeDoux brings with her to Nebraska – along with support and encouragement from the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) – has enabled her to grow a healthy roster of clients for her business, Sunflower Grant Writers.
LeDoux earned her bachelor’s degree in art history and public policy studies from Duke University, and a master’s degree focused in public policy analysis from The George Washington University. Her 18 years of non-profit experience includes positions at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She has worked to help secure grants for programs and public art projects, as well as in event planning, budget management, contract management and consulting.
She and her husband, Craig, who served in the Air Force, moved to Nebraska in 2017 when he was transferred from his duties at the Pentagon to Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue. He now works for a local marketing, branding and advertising firm.
After settling in Omaha, LeDoux decided to launch her own grant writing company. “It was a rough road at the beginning,” she says. “I didn’t know anyone and so I did a lot of cold calls. People weren’t rude necessarily, but it was hard to generate any interest. I soon came to understand that people here like to meet you face-to-face and really get to know you.”
LeDoux attended some open meetings with non-profits and began to widen her network of contacts. She joined the Center Sphere networking group and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. She also checked online for local and statewide small business resources. That is how she found the NBDC and Consultant Eswari Kalugasalam.
“When Katie first approached the NBDC in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, she was the sole employee of her company, had eight clients and wanted to increase her clientele,” Kalugasalam recalls. “I started working with her on market research, marketing strategies and related matters.”
The two forged a working relationship and a friendship, LeDoux says. “Eswari is amazing,” she says. “She’s pushed me to do more marketing and outreach and to think outside the box. She gave me advice on billing models that make more sense for my clients and for me. She’s been a dream to work with.”
LeDoux now has more than two dozen clients and two assistants. “My clients are mostly small to mid-sized non-profits with no fulltime development team,” she says. “In a sense, I become their full-time development officer.”
LeDoux also utilizes two area radio shows and a local access television program to raise awareness for her clients and help advance their goals. She is on Boomer Radio and I Heart Radio, introducing clients and promoting their programs and coming events. On her KPAO Community Television program, her non-profit clients’ work is documented in a behind-the-scenes video before she joins them for an interview to discuss their organizations and services.
She says it is important for non-profit organizations to have advocates in the community, and that she has found similar support in the NBDC and Kalugasalam.
“Eswari has challenged me to do things with my business that I never would have thought of on my own,” LeDoux says. “She questions me, and I think it is very important to get that kind of honest input from someone with a different perspective.”
The Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) helps Nebraska businesses start, grow and develop, by strengthening Nebraska businesses for a healthy economy and prosperous communities. NBDC is a University of Nebraska at Omaha center that provides confidential consulting business development services across Nebraska to entrepreneurs and business owners for the life cycle of their business. NBDC partners with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Wayne State College, and Chadron State College to deliver its services statewide. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the U.S. Department of Commerce (EDA), and other federal, state and private organizations support NBDC. Visit nbdc.unomaha.edu for more information.
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