Interview by Derek Grosso
Name: PJ Gamble
Profession: Sr. Director of Development at SproutFive
Neighborhood: Downtown Columbus
Education: BS, History – Capital University
Community Involvement: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Alpha Rho Lambda Chapter, APDS, Inc. Board of Directors, Central Ohio Association of Fundraising Professionals, Columbus Metropolitan Club (Diversity Committee), Columbus Urban League Young Professionals
Quote: “Growth is not made in the comfort zone.” “Onward and upwards.” “Be as comfortable soaring as you are with being on the ground.”
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter
Give us a snapshot of your career path: After years of being in the sales industry, I was given an opportunity by a mentor of mine to consider a pathway into the nonprofit sector through community outreach and engagement, specifically at a Federally Qualified Health Center by the name of PrimaryOne Health. There I was able to scratch the itch of giving back to the city that gave so much to me. I spent seven years engaging with our neighbors in emerging communities, which evolved into an opportunity to oversee operations at one of the many Community Health Centers around the city. From there, I wanted to get back into community engagement and relationship management, so I’ve spent the last few years making my way back through development with organizations like Aetna and the United Way of Central Ohio. I currently lead the philanthropic giving and volunteer efforts of SproutFive, a nonprofit with a century of history and a startup mindset that sees early education as the first and most effective mechanism for community development.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
Faith, Family, and Friends. I am guided by my faith, motivated by family, and encouraged by my friends, who truly all get me through my work week. I am often striving to make them proud.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
Be authentic and move with intention. I am getting better at both, but the more I practice each, the more successful I’ve been in my professional career.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
Music, music, music… Did I tell you that I was a music lover? I love it all, well, almost everything. I love the art of a good DJ set to live music experiences. Music really knows how to get me through a day or into the next.
What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
I love new restaurants and bars, and Columbus constantly throws around new spaces and places as we grow. Some of my favorites are Antiques on High, The Sycamore, and Ferdinand Lounge. I am also really into the arts, so ANYTHING by Maroon Arts Group and the MAG Box Park right in the heart of Bronzeville.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
That’s a tricky question because I am interested in so many things that it often ebbed and flowed growing up. I recall interest in anything from wanting to work in the music or sports industries to wanting to get into fashion. There was a fighter pilot phase from the Top Gun and Iron Eagle era to being a High School History Teacher. I was a pretty squirrely kid… oh, look, a squirrel.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I am a bit of a podcast junkie covering a WIDE range of subject matters. I really enjoy many of the national journalism pods like The Daily, The Post Reports, The Journal, and the entire NPR line-up (Up First, Code Switch, & Consider This). However, I do have a ton of pods that keep me in tune with Black and Hip-Hop culture like Into America, Stuck with Damon Young, Diversifying, and Joe Budden Podcast. Lastly, for my locals, I love Columbus Can’t Wait, What We Talking ‘Bout, Gravity, Small Joys, and shameless plug Circle Time, whose long-awaited 3rd Season is coming soon.
What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
Wow, as a Columbus native, all I can say is ‘what an unexpected and humbling honor.’ To know that people have seen you grinding in your respective field and that the hard work is paying off is a fantastic feeling. So many great people have been honored with this award, and I’m happy to be considered “Next Up.”
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The “pulse” of Columbus is one of opportunity, and it makes Columbus so desirable to live, work, and play. Though there is always room for improvement, our city’s pulse is vibrant, fresh, and full of potential, which is why we are one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities.
The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2022 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Ohio Dominican University and Spectrum for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2022” »