The Well-Rounded Executive
Meet UHD Alumna Julie Voss
By Mike Emery
Healthcare and helping others have long been at the heart of University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) alumna Julie Voss’ personal and professional journeys.
As executive director for Susan G. Komen® Houston, Voss oversees a number of initiatives aimed at educating the public on breast cancer and raising funds for research that may eradicate the disease.
Long before embarking on a successful career in health care and charitable organizations, Voss recognized the need for organizations aimed at helping others during a crisis. While in college, her father was diagnosed with cancer. He ultimately succumbed to the disease; however, the experience of caring for him and connecting with nonprofit organizations for support and information inspired her career path.
“I had reached out to the American Cancer Society for information and literature,” she said. “I realized through this process that I wanted to work for an organization that helped others. At the time, nonprofit management and fundraising weren’t emerging career fields. But, the more I learned about them through the experience of trying to help my father; I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
After earning a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin, Voss served in fundraising roles at the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and The University of Texas Medical Branch. In 2006, she joined the Memorial Hermann Foundation, where she oversaw a range of fundraising initiatives. She served the foundation for 11 years, becoming its vice president and interim CEO.
Although she had achieved career success in her chosen field, Voss was determined to grow her professional skills. A friend told her about UHD’s Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management program (MNPM), and she was intrigued.
“I had been looking at several master’s programs,” she said. “My boss at Memorial Hermann was very supportive of me earning a graduate degree, but I needed to find something that could accommodate my work schedule. This program did exactly that, and it was very affordable.”
Voss also discovered that the MNPM program’s academic content fit perfectly into her career goals. Its versatile curriculum complemented her responsibilities at Memorial Hermann and provided her with new insights and skills.
“I already had a strong background in philanthropy, so I took classes that would strengthen my abilities in other areas such as finance and management,” she said. “The program helped me develop into a well-rounded nonprofit executive.”
Voss completed her master’s degree in 2017 and was prepared for new professional opportunities. She found one at Susan G. Komen® Houston, and became the organization’s executive director in 2019. Her new roll provides opportunities to shape a range of initiatives and further fuels her passion for helping others.
“We take for granted the journey of those with breast cancer,” she said. “My sister-in-law had the disease and survived. I was able to see firsthand how life-changing it is. And, others in Houston have the disease but can’t afford treatment. My role at Komen provides me with a platform to help them.”
Voss’ arrival at Komen comes at the perfect time as the organization prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2020. Her experience as a fundraiser and administrator will no doubt be assets to the global leader in breast cancer advocacy. Likewise the insights gained at UHD will also come into play as she assists the foundation in its goal to cure the disease and save more lives.
“Nonprofits are my calling,” she said. “I love helping people, and thanks to UHD’s nonprofit management program, I’m able to make a difference in the lives of others. For that, I am particularly grateful.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.