From Advertising to Advancement
Vice President of Advancement, Chattanooga Christian School
After earning a master’s degree in advertising from Northwestern University, John Stroud was recruited to work for a large agency in Chicago. A string of sales and marketing jobs followed, taking Stroud to Georgia, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and eventually, the Scenic City.
“All total, I spent about 30 years as a marketer,” Stroud says. “It was a lot of fun – listening to consumers, working on new products, growing those businesses. I loved being a part of a team.”
When corporate restructuring ended Stroud’s marketing career, figuring out his next move required some personal introspection. “Over the course of those six months, I became more aware of what I liked and disliked, which gave me clarity as I searched for my next role,” he says. “I’d tell anyone going through the same thing that it’s a wonderful opportunity to not only learn more about yourself, but also reconnect with people in the community as you network and see what’s out there.”
An opening in the advancement office at Chattanooga Christian School, where Stroud’s four daughters had all attended, was practically providential. “I truly believe God opened that door for me,” he says.
As vice president of advancement, Stroud would be responsible for the school’s fundraising, admissions, and communication efforts. While many of Stroud’s skills seamlessly translated to his new role, others had to be picked up along the way. Stroud explains, “I did a lot of reading, and I reached out to people who had done this type of work before. My boss, Chad Dirkse, was extremely helpful through the transition.”
A few years in, and Stroud is excited about all the new developments taking place at CCS. “We started The King School downtown, and we’ve partnered with Siskin Children’s Institute to create The Learning Center, which will give individualized attention to our older students with more significant needs,” Stroud tells. “It’s very gratifying.”
He adds, “Being involved in the students’ lives, it’s energizing. The other day I was giving a tour, and a first grader ran up to me screaming, ‘Mr. John!’ just because he was excited to see me. It’s a totally different world than what I was used to, but it’s been a real blessing.”