By building and maintaining relationships, consultant created a career

Amy Ayoub turned a labor of love into a full-time job in 1998 when she founded Ayoub & Associates, a fundraising training and consulting firm.

Ayoub had been working as a volunteer on political campaigns and mentioned to a candidate that she’d have to quit because it was taking away from her regular job as a financial planner.

"They offered to pay me," she said, "so a lightbulb went on in my head. I could get paid for what I like to do."

Sen. Harry Reid was among her first clients. Current clients include Judge Deborah Schumacher, Las Vegas City Councilman Larry Brown and Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury.

Ayoub, a graduate of Lincoln County High School, also raises money for nonprofit organizations such as Aid for AIDS of Nevada and Foundation for Independent Tomorrow.

She operates her business from an executive suite at 3753 Howard Hughes Parkway.

Question: How do you raise money for your clients?

Answer: It’s different for political clients compared with nonprofits. Even though we call ourselves fundraisers, what we really do is enable fundraising. My job is to help the board of directors at a nonprofit fulfill its fundraising obligation. I try to work with each individual board member; everyone has his or her own strengths.

On the political side, I’m usually working directly with the candidate because it’s the candidate that donors want to hear from. My job is to identify who gives to that particular type of race. Some people will give to a commission race, but not statewide. People give to congressional (races) and that’s all. I make calls and set up events. Each candidate usually brings a circle of friends and associates.

Question: How do you make your money?

Answer: My clients pay a monthly retainer. I don’t take a percentage. Some people take it, but I just get a flat retainer.

Question: What are some of the challenges of your job?

Answer: Some of the challenges are making sure I maintain relationships and nurture them so people don’t avoid me when I call because they know I’m trying to raise money for someone. The current economy is a challenge. A lot of individuals and companies are forced to cut back on charitable giving. I know that’s temporary.

Question: Who are some of your mentors and what did you learn from them?

Answer: Claudine Williams (former owner of Holiday Casino, now Harrah’s) has been a mentor in all areas of my life, not specific to this job. She taught me how to be fearless in going for what you want. I should say fearless but fair.

In this particular career, nobody influenced me more than Richard Bryan. I had the luxury of him being the first person who made me want to be involved in politics. When I met him, I knew I wanted to be part of anything that he did. He taught me what a public servant is.

Also Sig Rogich. I met him when I worked for Claudine. We were his first hotel client.

Question: Who’s your competition?

Answer: I don’t look at it as competition, but there’s other people who do what I do. Quite a few of the political fundraisers work for a candidate at one time. There are only a few consultants that take more than one political client at a time. With nonprofits, there are several consultants in town. My expertise is more in donor relationships. Other consultants have various areas of expertise.

Question: What’s your proudest accomplishment?

Answer: I had the guts to open my own business and take a chance on myself.

Question: How can you improve your business?

Answer: I’m transitioning the way I do some things to improve by business. One of them is to do more coaching and training. I’ve found over the years that a lot of what people come to me for is to coach them through these challenges and issues that didn’t have anything directly to do with fundraising. So I’m doing more training like my workshop on political fundraising and I do individual and group coaching, which I’m getting great feedback on because it’s so needed.

I use a coach myself to help me get organized. I did a workshop for (the) Susan Komen (Breast Cancer Foundation) for getting over the fear of public speaking. That fear holds so many people back from really doing what they want.

Question: You were an executive assistant to Richard Bryan in 1986. What did that entail?

Answer: I’ve volunteered for Bryan from when he was a state senator to attorney general to governor and United States senator. I started in 1976. I cut out all the things in the newspaper for him to read. I talked to his constituents, answering calls and directing them to the correct staff person. I did that job as I was studying for my Series 7 (securities) license. It certainly wasn’t the top job at his office, but I would have cleaned the toilet to be around him.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0491.

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