It was a rainy Friday morning in Oswego when I went to meet Kristin Wise for the first time. She was sitting there smiling sipping her tea at the Oswego Tea Company.
Kristin has put her caring, generous and thoughtful personality into her passion, her job.
She is currently the development director for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of central New York.
Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and
limits the ability to breathe over time. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is on a mission with the help of Kristin and others to cure the disease. The goal is to provide all people with it the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment, and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized care.
Cystic fibrosis is known as a rare disease because it only affects 30,000 people nationwide. Kristin has met hundreds of these 30,000 people and this disease needs more attention, it needs a cure, Wise said.
Although Kristin likes to keep to herself, spending her free time with her family, doing yoga, or enjoying nature on a hike she has a lot to give.
Kristin has always been willing to help others as she tells me, “When I was a small child, my mother took a refrigerator box and cut up pictures from people all around the world and glued them in to the inside of the box.”
“In the box I could go anywhere I wanted in the world in the matter of minutes. It was then that I realized the world was a big place, with lots of people who need help. It totally set the trajectory of my life in helping others,” she added.
After being born in Syracuse and hoping around schools from central square to clayton to spending two years in Grafton, Massachusetts she graduated from Chittenango High School. The next step was college. She attended Cazenovia College and majored in communications with a concentration in event planning.
Her dream after graduation was to explore the world while helping other people like she wanted to do since she was a child. Therefore, she applied for the Peace Corp. After several nerve-racking interviews, she was accepted but unfortunately unable to afford it due to student loans. “The next best thing was working for nonprofits,” Wise said.
She started out working for WCNY then went to Syracuse Habitat for Humanity and from there worked at George & Rebecca Barnes Foundation where she had her greatest accomplishment.
She was hired on as the first employee ever and as their new executive director. The company only had six months of operating capital before they were going to have to close their doors.
“Hired as their hail Mary, I was able to not only save the mansion but was able to hire staff and create systems they still carry on to date. It is something that really brings me a lot of pride and accomplishment to think of all I did,” she said.
After that she landed her latest job at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “Two years ago, I was at a professional development seminar with other nonprofit leaders across central New York. Through this program I met the executive director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation here in central New York and when she expressed how close they were to a cure I knew I wanted to get involved,” Wise said.
“Meeting and helping our local families who are suffering from cystic fibrosis with their strength, courage and determination makes me work my hardest every day to find a cure for their loved ones,” this is the most rewarding part of working for the foundation she said.
Gretchen Fronk a member of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation whose daughter is a fighter
of cystic fibrosis says, “Kristin has been so amazing and supportive.” She added, “She genuinely reaches out to my family. She sends sweet cards to my daughter, emails periodically to see how we are doing and she even brought gifts for both of my children on a visit once.”
“Kristin has done wonders to reach out to various organizations in our community to seek support for our walk and cystic fibrosis. By doing so, she has raised the awareness of cystic fibrosis greatly! No one previous to her, to my knowledge, has actively sought out community help to the degree that Kristin has,” Fronk said.
Fronk also mentioned how she thinks the foundation will continue to pioneer achievements on the front of medication and how she sees the foundation working until a cure is found.
Through social media, speaking more to the community and visiting countless Rotary Clubs around central New York Kristin has spread the message of finding a cure for cystic fibrosis while helping local families. Her main strategy has been upping their social media game in central New York, she said.
Kristin has made an impact on other organizations not just families when it comes to cystic fibrosis.
The Delta Phi Epsilon sorority has been in contact with Kristin since spring of last year and has help promote and raise awareness for cystic fibrosis. Kristin even connected the sorority with Katriana, a child with cystic fibrosis in the Oswego community to be her support team and they adopted her as an honorary sister. Kristin goes above and beyond for the patients and families within the foundation.
Julianna Bullis has been working close with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and with Kristin as her mentor for the past year.
Bullis said, “Working with the foundation has not only opened my eyes and made me grow as a person but working with Kristin has.”
“Not only am I getting experience through the organization, but I am experiencing the personal effect of what Kristin does for these families helps them so much,” she added.
Nicholas Derbabian, a junior at SUNY Oswego has even noticed Kristin’s involvement in the community and has been truly thankful for it as his friend Liam Thoubboron has the disease.
Derbabian said, “At first I didn’t understand what was different but over the years I would notice, he needed to take enzymes before eating, be on the nebulizer before bed to clean his chest/lungs.”
“I always thought how hard it must be growing up with something that has an effect on your life daily,” he added.
Last spring at the Oswego Great Strides Walk was when Nicholas became aware of Kristin and what she was doing for the cystic fibrosis community. He mentioned how happy the families were that day and how appreciative they were of Kristin as they announced her name and was amazed at how one person had made this big a difference in the community.
He said, “I’m really happy that Kristin got involved with Delta Phi Epsilon in taking part in cystic fibrosis, as they are my friends and I can now work with them to raise money for Liam and continue to help make a difference.”
“These children and adults living with this awful disease need more support for all they go through every single day and Kristin is helping get that support,” Derbabian added.