Age 34 | Director of development, Mercy Foundation

For Erica Axiotis, philanthropy is more than just a job. It’s her passion.

As director of development for the Mercy Foundation, the fundraising arm of Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines, she works with businesses interested in making donations, as well as on fundraising events, including the House of Mercy Gala and the Audi Quattro Cup.

“Erica possesses an unyielding commitment to health-care philanthropy,” wrote Shannon Duval, president of the Mercy Foundation, adding that Axiotis has worked extensively on developing philanthropy efforts for the House of Mercy, which helps young women and their children. “Her leadership and vision have resulted in a nearly 60 percent increase in funds raised through the annual House of Mercy Gala.”

Although Axiotis said she always knew she wanted to work in the nonprofit world, she studied Spanish as an undergraduate at Simpson College, and even spent a semester in Merida, Venezuela, where her host family knew no English. “It really immersed you in the language,” she said.

A theater lover since she was a child, Axiotis was in productions of “Annie,” “Winnie the Pooh” and “Charlotte’s Web.” Her interest has since evolved into sitting on the board of directors for the Iowa Shakespeare Experience, which puts on productions year-round and the annual Shakesperience Fest.

Axiotis has also been very involved with Junior League of Des Moines for the last four years, leading efforts at the Bargain Basket, a thrift store in the East Village that is the group’s largest fundraising effort, and sitting on the group’s board of directors. She is currently working on reintroducing the Junior League Follies, a variety-show fundraiser that hasn’t taken place in Des Moines since 1996.

“It’s a way to highlight local talent in a fun and energetic way,” she said. “We can also poke fun at ourselves, I think too often Junior League is thought of as stuffy.”

Five reasons she’s a 40:

• Manages Mercy Foundation events, galas and auctions.

• Board member of Junior League of Des Moines.

• Member of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute 2012 class.

• Member of the Iowa Shakespeare Experience board of directors.

• Young Variety board member.

Mentor: Shannon Duval, president of Mercy Foundation

Fun Fact: Axiotis and her husband, Christopher, got married in Greece and are now attempting to learn Greek to better communicate with his family. The two are members of St. George Greek Orthodox Church.