Amy Harriet Miller has been a force in the nonprofit community for more than 25 years. As the new president of Bill Edwards Foundation for the Arts, Miller is charged with driving the complex relationship between the Edwards organization and the Mahaffey Theater, and transforming the community's understanding of its funding needs. A skilled nonprofit growth consultant, Miller is known for her expert fundraising, business development, marketing and public relations work. Prior to Miller's work with the Edwards Foundation, she was integral to the success of the Dali Museum's $40 million capital project to build the iconic venue that it is today. She also co-founded the History Council in early 2018.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
Board member of the History Council, Area Chambers of Commerce, arts organizations.
What gets you out of bed every day?
I have so much on my plate as the new president of the Edwards Foundation, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking of ideas, so I spring out of bed and try to take everything into action. I've basically restructured and revamped the entire organization in my first 30 days on the job. So my overactive brain is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Why St. Pete?
St. Petersburg is amazing, I think it's a wonderful place to have a home base. I'm originally from South Bend, Indiana. I was the only high schooler in about five or six high schools in our area to even leave the state. I explored Florida as a young person visiting my grandparents, who lived in Naples. I just thought Florida was paradise. So when I went to school at the University of Tampa, I got my first out-of-college job in St. Petersburg and I've been here ever since.
What is one habit that you keep?
Practicing creative process. I think everything is a process when you're a fundraiser and you're given very lofty goals, and those goals tend to increase every single year - you really have to get a grip on not becoming overwhelmed. I keep myself from becoming overwhelmed by practicing process.
who are some people that influence you?
I've been recently influenced by Jim MacDougald, he is a mentor of mine, a friend, a former colleague. Betty and Mel Sembler, who were also employers of mine. They were probably the key people that inspired me to become a fundraiser. I've been inspired by lots of the philanthropists around town like Tom James, Bill Hough, Hazel Hough. I think everything they've done for the community has been beautiful and we have so much to thank them for.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
"Who Moved My Cheese?" I don't know if you've heard of that book, it's a very simple and profound and hilarious book.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
How hard it is to please everyone. How hard it is to bring in acts that make everyone happy. People seem to think it's not good enough, not the right act, not large enough but they don't know the inside of the business. We have a lot of challenges and hurdles that we really can't do much about, like the size of our market, how far away we are from the state line, how expensive things are. But we are moving forward, we have a great relationship with LiveNation now and that is helping us attract bigger and better acts.
Growing our board of directors, introducing new programs to the Edwards Foundation. Branding the Foundation, really. I don't think a lot of people even knew the Mahaffey is supported by the Foundation. That we are called the foundation is a misnomer because it leads some people to believe that we don't in fact need money, and that we award grants, which we don't.