Meet Our New Chief Development Officer

Darlene Larsen headshot

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

I have spent 20 years in the nonprofit sector, including holding senior fundraising positions with The International Rescue Fund and the Center for Reproductive Rights, organizations where I was lucky enough to work with incredible staff and partner with amazing donors. Along the way I learned that donors are optimists. They believe they can change the world so they do. Fundraisers show them how philanthropy can make that happen. We don’t persuade people. We give them the answer they were looking for.

What drew you to CR?

I began my career as a social worker working with children in foster care. I met amazing foster care parents and remarkable children. I also witnessed firsthand the impact of racism, poverty, and the lack of access and how these forces shape a person’s quality of life. I feel I have come full circle to now be able to work with an organization that brings lasting change that improves the lives of thousands of children at a time.

What made you become a fundraiser?

When I looked at the pathways open to me as a social worker, I could become a supervisor or a director. But no matter how much I grew there would always be a limited number of kids in my portfolio. The need I saw was so much bigger than what I could accomplish. Fundraising is scalable, and connecting people with opportunities to make real change was my mechanism to have a bigger impact on the things I care about.

Isn’t it hard to ask people for money?

If you got to know donors as I have you would not be uncomfortable. The act of giving is an incredible thing. Donors are people who don’t have to care – but they do! They recognize and wrestle with the negative things that impact our world. They want to make transformative change and an organization like CR makes that possible. They can’t be the lawyer or the policy analyst, but they can be their partner.

Any last thoughts?

When I was interviewing for this job, people practically jumped through the Zoom screen at me with their passion. They described how they were poised to do big things and take bold action. Like eliminating child removal practices that destroy Black families and harm Black children. Or shifting from family surveillance to community services that support families and help them stay together. Or ending the harmful placement of thousands of children in institutions instead of loving homes.

The magnitude of Children’s Rights came through—and I knew I wanted to be part of that.