When Stars Align: Lemur Conservation Foundation Participates in The Patterson Foundation's Nonprofit Internship Program

When Stars Align: Lemur Conservation Foundation Participates in The Patterson Foundation's Nonprofit Internship Program

Posted on February 15, 2023 by Deborah Robbins Millman, Executive Director of the Lemur Conservation Foundation

Editor's Note: Deborah Robbins Millman has been executive director of the Lemur Conservation Foundation since 2020. She has more than 20 years of for-profit and nonprofit management, strategic development, and animal advocacy experience. Before joining the Lemur Conservation Foundation, she spent eight years with the Humane Society of the United States, serving as director of operations at HSUS’ South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale and as director of Cape Wildlife Center on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Prior to that, she was executive director of the Humane Society of Sarasota County for a decade. The Venice resident has a master’s degree in political management from The George Washington University and is accredited in public relations. She is an award-winning journalist and has served on multiple local and regional boards.


When the Lemur Conservation Foundation received The Patterson Foundation’s invitation to apply for a philanthropy intern, it seemed too good to be true. A highly-skilled intern with his/her stipend covered by The Patterson Foundation was incredibly good news at just the right time.

As I reviewed the specifics, I was wondering, for perhaps the 100th time, how I was going to carve out the hours required to complete the many outreach items needed to engage and inform our donors and raise the Lemur Conservation Foundation’s reach and results.

The Lemur Conservation Foundation, now in its 26th year, manages programs in the United States and Madagascar, all geared toward saving lemurs from extinction. Of the more than 100 species of lemur, about 98% are threatened with extinction, making our work critical. Accordingly, most of our staff and resources are focused on animal care and direct programming, with limited employees and funds for promotions, fundraising, and events.

Adding to the challenge, we were down a staff member, and I had inherited planning our annual World Lemur Festival, a week-long educational and entertaining event that includes an international art competition.

Beyond all that, I also needed someone upon whom to bounce ideas and seek their expertise on new communication trends.

The same day I received The Patterson Foundation’s invitation, I submitted our request for an Online Engagement Intern. I thank my lucky stars I moved fast! Almost immediately, Avery Crews Prado de Lima replied. We set up a Zoom call, and I was delighted by her enthusiasm, professionalism, and depth of knowledge. I was also pleased that she had done her homework and knew about the Lemur Conservation Foundation’s programs and projects. During our very first meeting, Avery gave me multiple excellent ideas to pursue, and on a personal level, we clicked. This was a woman I was eager to add to the LCF team!

As I knew she would, Avery made a vital difference. She dove into planning the World Lemur Festival with me, making some excellent contributions to increase its appeal. She created a festival graphic and designed a save-the-date postcard, arranged the event calendar to encourage repeat visits, and took charge of the festival’s online virtual escape room. She also assisted me with navigating the dizzying array of Dropbox folders, Google files, and other locations which housed the many festival components and helped streamline the cumbersome process.

Avery also designed branded templates for newsletters and e-blasts. These were instrumental in our Giving Tuesday success and gave me the means to swiftly communicate with donors and friends after Hurricane Ian blasted our reserve. Rather than trying to put a template together, I focused on clearly conveying the extent of our devastation and soliciting much-needed funds for recovery.

I could not be more pleased with Avery’s contributions; when she graduates, someone will be getting a gem! The Lemur Conservation Foundation and I were fortunate to have the opportunity to work with her. She has made a lasting contribution. Thank you, The Patterson Foundation, for this exceptional program!

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