Wildcats@Work with Julie Ragland

Julie Ragland '01 has 18 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and now works as the development director for the Rialto Theatre Foundation. She is also a capoeira instructor and an active member of the Tucson community. Read more about how Julie's degree in anthropology prepared her for her current role.

What is your current job and what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I've worked in the nonprofit sector since graduating from the University of Arizona in 2001, with the last 15 years having a focus on fundraising. I'm currently the development director for the Rialto Theatre Foundation, a position I've held since April 2016.

I head up the Rialto's membership, charitable giving and community outreach programs. I connect and communicate regularly with our 1,400 members, and recently completed a successful $1 million capital campaign to raise funds for renovations to the historic Rialto Theatre.

In addition to my "day job" at the Rialto, I'm also a capoeira instructor at Studio Axe, a martial arts academy here in Tucson. I teach capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art incorporating fighting techniques, dance, elements, and Brazilian language and culture, to children and adults.

I'm also active in the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which provides support and resources to those working in the nonprofit fundraising sector.


How did your time at the UA prepare you to make networking connections and be successful as a professional?
My anthropology degree gives me invaluable insight into how to connect and communicate effectively with people. All of the things I'm involved in, from my position at the Rialto to our capoeira academy, are very community-oriented. Having a solid knowledge of the basics of human evolution, development, and culture helps me as a community leader and builder. 

My minor in Portuguese has helped me as a leader and teacher in my capoeira journey, as Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, where capoeira originated.

In general, my time at the UA prepared me to be a solutions-oriented critical thinker. It has also provided me with the communication skills and confidence that leadership requires. 

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." As a Virgo and natural perfectionist, I can easily get caught up in trying to make things "perfect", when sometimes things just need to get done. It's a balancing act. One should always strive to do their best, but not so much so that perfectionism gets in the way of progress.