A Day in the Life of Senior Philanthropy Specialist Heidi Jedlicka Halvarson 


Heidi Jedlicka Halvarson, Senior Philanthropy Specialist

Medtronic Foundation

Image: Heidi Jedlicka Halvarson, Medtronic Foundation

    1. What brought you to the corporate social responsibility field?
    After several years in the nonprofit art space (including two in Seoul), I knew I wanted to make a career transition that allowed me to be in the driver’s seat of my career as well as contribute to high quality, collective impact initiatives beyond the arts space. I thought surely my experience requesting grants and managing grant funds from the nonprofit side would be a natural fit for a funder. I was lucky to snag a role at St. Jude Medical (since acquired by Abbott) on the corporate giving team in 2011, and I’ve been in philanthropy ever since!

    2. Tell us a little bit about what you do in your role.
    I serve in a dual capacity at the Medtronic Foundation. First, I lead a variety of pan-Foundation initiatives in an operations capacity including internal policies, our project management practice, and our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Secondly, in a programmatic capacity, supporting community investment initiatives and partnering with grantees across a handful of key geographies. It’s an honor to collaborate across my team and across the work on high impact programs around the world!

    3. What does a typical day at work look like?
    I start most days at 7 with a “stroll and scroll”, that is, 30 minutes or so on the treadmill answering emails and catching up on podcasts. I try to get to my desk as quickly as I can in the morning and spend the first few hours of the day meeting with grantees and other partners, consulting with my colleagues, drafting internal documentation, and project planning.

    At noon I start “intern supervision” (my three-year-old is still at home with us #COVIDlife), and we typically spend the lunch hour watching a webinar while we eat. I try to use nap time to refine presentations, prep decks for leadership review, and other detailed research work that requires a lot of focus. Afternoons are spent on team calls (I try to schedule meetings with my most understanding colleagues and partners in the afternoon, given my little interloper) and refining content for any meetings the next day.

    I close the workday on a walk with my kiddo and take a quick break for some dinner as a family before I log on to classes or meetings as part of my MPA program course work. My area of focus is cross-sector program management, so the content is relevant to my entire body of work. I often find myself updating/improving work products after I’ve finished a class or homework. I try to wrap by 11 each night and dump myself in to bed so I’m fresh and energized for the next day!

    4. What initiatives are you looking forward to leading or supporting in 2021?
    Right now, I’m leading our team through the development of our DEI strategy, which will influence much of our collective work. It’s been both the honor of my career and the biggest professional challenge I’ve ever faced. Our phased implementation will begin in 2021 and likely continue, in some form, through the life of our organizations.

    5. What’s one professional skill you’re currently developing or furthering?
    Given the context and linked to the DEI work I am leading, I’m really focused on managing through ambiguity and personal discomfort – I expect both will take lifelong effort!

    6. What’s your go-to productivity trick?
    On Sunday nights, I mark out every hour of every day for the entire week to get a good understanding of what I need to bring to each day and expected deliverables for the week. My weekly to-do list might not always be finished by the end of the week but if it’s NOT on my to-do list, it’s definitely not getting done!