Q&A: Debra Minton

Q&A: Debra Minton

Debra Minton. Courtesy Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Debra Minton is the senior director of philanthropy and strategic initiatives at the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, a national organization based in Grand Rapids.

Minton’s work involves oversight of all philanthropic initiatives, as well as securing corporate relationships in relevant burn care sectors, including insurance, bone and tissue banks, medical device and fire-suppression organizations.

Previously, Minton owned a fundraising consulting practice, Philanthropia Partners, serving nonprofit clients in Michigan. She has also held senior positions with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids and Heart of West Michigan United Way. 

She currently serves as chair of the West Michigan Regional Council of Inforum and is a long-time board member of the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. 

Biggest career break?

Having the opportunity to work with Mike Brennan for nearly a decade. He was a great mentor, extraordinary visionary and nurtured leadership principles that I have carried with me throughout my career.

Proudest moment?

The day we dedicated and opened the David D. Hunting YMCA, the largest YMCA in the country at the time and the first LEED-certified Y. Two-thousand community members were present, and we were able to honor some of our donors and lifetime members with opportunities for a first lap, first swim. To this day, I still look at that building and marvel at its impact on community. A crown jewel.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Regarding your life and work: See it. Believe it. Feel it. Surround yourself with good people. Surround yourself with good systems. Ask. Relationships — treasure them. Give 110 percent.

How did you make your first dollar?

I worked on a friend’s farm on the lakeshore picking asparagus.

Most-treasured possession?

My grandfather’s old crank-style Victrola. We often listened to music and danced together when I was a child. It still plays!

Dream job?

My dream job would be a sports broadcaster for ESPN covering college sports. I would love to do play-by-play or color commentating.

If you were president for a day, you would … ?

Eliminate racism and fix health care. I may need two days.  

Last book you read?

Beautiful Boy” by David Sheff

Last search term you googled?

Clemson v Alabama

Your worst habit?

Diet Coke

To unwind, you like to … ?

Spend time outdoors with our dogs

Dream vacation?

An extended period in the Virgin Islands

Favorite food?

Breakfast — any time

Person you most admire?

Malala Yousafzai

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