Myron Thurston III appointed as Clear Path’s Chief Development Officer

Clear Path for Veterans CEO and Co-Founder Melissa Spicer and husband David are the sixth generation to live on the family farm in Manlius. Clear Path’s most recent hire has an equally impressive agricultural lineage in the area.

Myron Thurston III is Clear Path’s new Chief Development Officer. He was raised on 600-head dairy farm in Vernon, situated on 2,000 acres of land. That farm was created in 1888 by Myron Benjamin Thurston, but there is an unbroken line of Myron Thurstons dating back even further – starting in the mid 1800’s, and carrying through today to his son, Myron Benjamin Thurston II. The family farm on Marble Hill Road is currently operated by several members of the Thurston Family. The farmstead that he grew up on is still in operation as a hobby farm owned by his father, Myron James Thurston II.

Melissa’s dedication to Clear Path’s mission is one aspect that motivated Myron to apply for the position.

“There are many reasons I was excited about the prospect of working at Clear Path,” Myron said. “Melissa Spicer has put her heart and soul into this organization and has built it up into something that can impact the lives of thousands of Veterans in our community and across the country. There are some amazing people that work at Clear Path, both Veterans and non-Veterans. Our Veterans have fought and died to protect the freedoms that we have in America and it is the least that we can do to provide them with these types of services when they come back home.”

Development foundations

Myron is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and his undergraduate degree is in business, management and economics with a concentration in marketing. He also has a graduate certificate in nonprofit management, and will complete a master’s degree in business administration in 2018.

Development and communications have been his calling for more than a decade. In 2007, Myron served as a campaign director at the United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area; he was in charge of managing all volunteers and organizing the campaigns for 2007-2010.

“We raised more than $11 million to support community nonprofits. It was an amazing experience and was really what got me interested in raising funds,” he said.

Myron departed the United Way, but remained employed in the Utica area by joining the staff at the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory (MMRL), an internationally-recognized biomedical research institute founded by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of New York in 1958. The MMRL is an international center for genetic screening of inherited cardiac arrhythmia diseases, especially those responsible for sudden cardiac death, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and is actively involved in the development of safe and effective drugs for atrial fibrillation.

Although Myron acknowledges that heart research is much different than community-based nonprofit fundraising or educational fundraising, he said his role as the assistant director of development and communications at MMRL planted some important seeds for his next careers – in higher education and then at Clear Path.

One aspect of the MMRL job that is completely transferrable is the importance of telling “the story of the organization and helping people understand how they can make an impact by making an investment,” Myron said. “I love helping people see how they can change the world by giving, advocating and volunteering. I also get the opportunity to find out what people are passionate about and in what way they want to leave their own legacy or change the world in their own way. … This also taught me more about identifying donors with significant potential to make major gifts and I started to work with the media and provide outreach.”

Myron then left the Mohawk Valley for a development position at Morrisville State College (MSC).

“In both of these positions (MMRL and MSC), a major part of my job responsibilities was focused on public speaking and community presentations. At Morrisville State College, I was the only staff member focused on development to raise money for scholarships. Students at Morrisville had a critical need for scholarships to support their education, particularly in the areas of room and board, books, and other fees,” Myron said.

Developing better health

Although Myron’s role directly benefitted students, his experience also impacted him in a substantial way. When Myron was hired at Morrisville, he was – in his words – “very out of shape” and “could not even run a mile without stopping to walk.”

“When I first started going to Planet Fitness in March 2016, I was nearly 300 pounds and so out of shape that five minutes on the elliptical machine made my heart rate spike to dangerously high levels. I knew that it would be a process to get in shape, but I suppose I was not quite prepared for how much pain I would be in after that first workout and nearly every day for the next several months. I stuck with it though and found that eventually I actually came to love going to the gym,” Myron said. In a short period of time he ran in his first 5k and loved it, he said, “then I met so many people within the running community and became close to them.

“I have only been running for about a year and a half. In 2017, I ran four half-marathons and 20 races total. In 2018, I plan on running the Chicago Marathon in October, several half marathons and other races, plus I have been invited to be part of a group that is going to run more than 220 miles in two days as part of a 12-person relay team. Running has changed my life and helped me to see that I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.”

Among his other passions include spending time with his two children – ages 2 and 7, he is an avid reader, a collector of first edition books from the 1800’s, and is a “huge” Star Wars fan.

Myron has served on several community nonprofit board of directors, including the Boy Scouts of America, the American Red Cross and The Peacemaker Program. He was honored in 2017 as the runner-up for the American Heart Association’s Healthy Lifestyle Change Award, which recognizes individuals who have made a significantly beneficial lifestyle change.

Developing a stronger future

Looking toward the future, Myron said he is excited to build on the relationships Clear Path has established within the local community and with donors across the country. His focus will be on identifying and cultivating individuals and businesses who will help broaden Clear Path’s programming and operations.

“The opportunity to create a new national profile for the organization in partnership with all of the rest of the leadership team is more than I could have dreamed of when I first came to Clear Path to talk with Melissa and (Organizational Development Officer) Rob (Solano),” Myron said. “The Veterans I have met so far have been wonderful, the volunteers are amazing, and our donors are committed. There is nothing more that I could possibly ask for in a career.”

To connect with Myron, email him at Myron@ClearPathForVets.com or call him at (315) 430-7504.