Looking Back: A Retirement Interview with Julia Summers, a Camp Fire First Texas blog

On Thursday, March 30, 2023, Julia Summers will bid farewell to the Camp Fire First Texas family after a long and impactful career. During her tenure as Vice President of Development, Julia Summers helped spearhead some of the organization’s largest fundraising campaigns and planned star-studded special events. She has also empowered community donors with concrete opportunities to invest in our children and youth with their time, talents, and resources.

Before her Development role, Julia was a previous Camp Fire executive board member, volunteer, and staff member. Throughout her time at Camp Fire, her love for helping individuals live to their full potential and teams achieve goals has always been on display.

We recently took the time to speak to Julia about her career, life with Camp Fire First Texas and upcoming adventures to follow a well-deserved retirement.

Looking Back: A Retirement Interview with Julia Summers, a Camp Fire First Texas blogWhat about Camp Fire First Texas inspired you to join as Vice President of Development?

In 2006, I was working at Pier 1 in the children’s furniture division, but I was on the board of Camp Fire. When I left Pier 1, Zem Neill recruited me to join as Vice President of Development and I jumped at the opportunity. I had been involved for a while. My sister, Pam Summers, is an artist and was one of the contributing artists when An Artists’ Christmas Gala and Fundraiser began like 35 years ago, so I had been to An Artists’ Christmas and learned about Camp Fire.

Looking back on your time at Camp Fire First Texas, what do you consider some of your greatest successes or accomplishments?

Oh, so many! But I certainly did not do them in a vacuum. I am very proud of the team we built this time around during my second stint as Vice President of Development. I am very proud of our fundraising efforts the last few years, even during COVID. We made it through COVID, and we did not lose any donors. We strengthened our relationships. I think the thing I am most proud of is the relationships I’ve built with my team, with my peers, with our donors, and with our board of directors. I love people and this has been an ideal situation for me to learn about people. Everybody has a story.

What has been your favorite Camp Fire First Texas project, and why?

I think one of my favorites is the 2021 An Artists’ Christmas Gala and Fundraiser where we had Emmitt Smith as the keynote speaker. It was a huge success. It was so much fun. He is a great guy and had a great message for us. We raised more net income than we had ever raised in 33 years of An Artists’ Christmas. It was such a team effort and remarkably successful. It was a beautiful evening and people had a wonderful time.

Looking Back: A Retirement Interview with Julia Summers, a Camp Fire First Texas blogWhat will you miss most about your Camp Fire First Texas team?

Everybody! I will really miss my development team. It has been a great couple of years, and we have grown the department from one and two halves to six people now. It’s not about the money raise. It’s about relationships. I will miss my co-workers. I will miss our donors. I will miss my peers and our board of directors. I will miss everybody because like I said earlier, I really enjoy getting to know people.

How can Camp Fire First Texas continue to improve as the organization moves forward?

I think continuing to do what we have been doing the last few years. Lauren Richard has made some very strategic and innovative improvements to our programs. She’s hired a great executive leadership team. She’s helped make room for people to grow within the organization.

It is also important for us to keep developing relationships with our individual donors – engaging and reengaging them, communicating with them, and loving them.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?

If I could do one day in another job, I would be an interior decorator. Because I love art, color, and design.

What are your plans for retirement?

My plans for retirement are to sleep in and to visit my grandchildren who are in Houston. I have three grandchildren. They are five, four, and two and a half. I adore them and they adore Grammie, so I will be spending a little more time in Houston to visit them. I look forward to having coffee and lunch with my girlfriends, working in the yard (I love to be outdoors), reading books, and traveling.

Thank you, Julia! Camp Fire First Texas appreciates your hard work and dedicated service. We wish you all the best in your new life stage.