Interlochen Online's next session begins May 6—enroll in any course or certificate program now.

Giving with gratitude

Sustaining Interlochen donor and active volunteer Jonathan Slawson “found his purpose” at Interlochen—and knows that every gift matters.

Jonathan Slawson

Photo by Fadi Kheir.

Jonathan Slawson with conductor Hugh Floyd

Jonathan Slawson (right) with conductor Hugh Floyd (left).

Slawson with friends outside the High School Lakeside division.

Slawson (far left) poses with friends outside the entrance to the High School Lakeside division.

Slawson with castmates after a performance of The Gondoliers.

Slawson (center) with castmates after a performance of The Gondoliers. 

For Jonathan Slawson (IAC 03), attending Interlochen Arts Camp changed the course of his life. “It was the first time where I genuinely found my people and my purpose,” he recalls. “People at Interlochen saw in me the potential that, at the time, I didn’t see in myself.”

As a fundraising and philanthropy consultant, Slawson has previously served institutions such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and understands the value of supporting the institutions that shaped his life. Since 2014, he has served on Interlochen’s Annual Funds Committee, and as an Interlochen “Evergreen”—a supporter who makes a recurring gift—Slawson has made a commitment to help Interlochen grow its Annual Fund to enable motivated young artists to access the transformational growth at Interlochen that he himself experienced.

In 2018, Slawson accepted an invitation to join Interlochen’s Engagement Council, which provides advisory support to engage, strengthen, and empower Interlochen alumni and parents through unique volunteer opportunities and events. In a recent conversation, Slawson reflected on his time at Interlochen and his motivation for staying involved.

Compelled to give back
As I look back on my life, I feel compelled to reinvest my energy in the people and places that invested so much in me. It is a privilege to give back to Interlochen and to help bridge the opportunity gap for others so that they can experience it too.

The summer that changed my life
[Former Choral Director] Hugh Floyd had an enormous impact on me. His choir rehearsals were among my favorite, ever. In hindsight, he was one of the key people that led to my decision to pursue an undergraduate degree in music education from Westminster Choir College.

Most of my favorite Interlochen memories were made outside the classroom: pulling up to the cabin for the first time; meeting a close friend by the lake at sunset every evening; walking by the practice huts; attending recitals and concerts of all kinds. The totality of these experiences made for an unforgettable and life-changing summer.

A family tradition
Giving back to educational institutions has always been part of my DNA; it is a trait I inherited from my father. I knew from a relatively early age that participation matters. Every gift counts, no matter how small. Most of my expenses are charged automatically each month: my rent, the gym, Netflix, etc. For me, it just makes sense to include giving to Interlochen in that same monthly cycle!

Parting advice
I’d tell any current or prospective student to enjoy every moment. Interlochen is a place unlike any other. And keep a journal.

For those interested in learning how to become an Interlochen Evergreen, visit