Casey Rotter

Children’s Champion

Casey Rotter 2005 was committed to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a campus member of the UW UNICEF Club. But it was a conversation with a UW Sudanese student that sealed the deal on her dream job.

UNICEF was always a sign of hope while he was growing up, he told her. “I knew at that moment that UNICEF would be a prominent part of my future,” she says of the global humanitarian relief organization that provides children with health care and immunizations, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, and emergency relief.

Rotter, who is a 2012 Forward under 40 honoree, earned her UW–Madison BA in International Studies and went on to get a master’s in the science of fundraising philanthropy at New York University. She soon landed a job at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and it wasn’t long before she noticed that something was missing: people her age.

So she proposed UNICEF’s Next Generation, which focuses on attracting younger donors. The program was born from Casey’s NYU thesis, where she wrote about how non-profit organizations should engage Generations X and Y to cultivate their next cohort of major donors, supporters, advocates and board members. She is now the director of Next Generation, which has raised more than $7 million in donations for UNICEF, completing 15 projects.

Rotter was instrumental in engaging Jenna Bush Hager — the daughter of former President George W. Bush and a contributing correspondent for NBC’s Today show — as a founder of the effort in 2009.

Among other initiatives, the group has raised money for UNICEF’s micronutrient programs in Guatemala, its emergency relief efforts in Haiti, a neonatology unit in Ethiopia, and for an initiative known as the Community and Lady Health Worker program in Pakistan.

Next Generation has a nationwide membership base and has expanded to include steering committees in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago. It recently launched in Sweden and France, helping to create a global network of young philanthropists and influencers for UNICEF.