|Q: When did
you come to Wesleyan and were you hired in as director of Major Gifts?
A: I started at Wesleyan on August 4, 1994 as an assistant director
within the Wesleyan Annual Fund.
Q: What is your background that led you to this job?
A: Mostly sales. I was working for Otis Elevator Company as an
account representative for service sales out of the Stamford office. I
interned with Otis during my last three years as a student at Wesleyan
University. I graduated from Wesleyan in 1992 with a double major in
sociology and African American Studies. I am currently beginning my third
semester at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs
in pursuit of an executive MPA.
Q: Please define what a 'gift' is in university terms.
A: A gift to the university could consist of any type of monetary
contribution or object that could be sold for cash. For example cash, stock,
planned gift like a charitable remainder trust, bequest, unitrust, or
property, art, rare books or rare collections. On occasion, Wesleyan will
accept an item that may be beneficial to our own collections.
Q: What is a 'major gift?'
A: Gifts of $50,000 in value and greater are considered major gifts.
Q: What are your responsibilities as director of Major Gifts?
A: During the campaign, which ended on January 13, 2005, my major
responsibility was to lead the various regional campaigns across the
country. I went to Boston, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland. Outside of the campaign, I am responsible for raising
major gifts from our major gift prospect pool of approximately 2,500
prospects. I articulate solicitation strategies, talking points and travel
agendas for the chairman of the board, the president and the vice president
of University Relations, Barbara-Jan Wilson, my fearless leader. I lead and
manage the Major Gifts team, which consists of major gift officers,
researchers, a development writer and administrative assistants.
Q: Where do fund raised through Major Gifts go?
A: Our team plays a large role in securing the $31 million dollar
annual goal needed to meet our institutional goals. Funds raised by our team
goes towards the Annual Fund, various campus approved projects like the
College of Social Studies, Turf field, Science Center, financial aid and
facilities to name a few.
Q: Do you travel much for work?
A: I visit with 75 prospects annually, down from a high of 100
visits. I spend two to three weeks on the West Coast and the rest of the
travel is done with one to three day trips to various locations such as New
York, Boston, Philly, D.C, and Florida. The other members of the team each
have visit goals of 100-125 visits per year and they have specific areas of
coverage. I try to visit each major city area every year.
Q: Who generally donates major gifts? Do they always have a Wesleyan
A: Most of our major donors are alumni and that is the group I focus
on, although we receive gifts from corporations, foundations and friends,
current and past parents. Most gifts have a tie but not all.
Q: Is finding major gifts a collaborative effort?
A: Major gifts are a complete collaborative effort. Gifts raised
today may be because of solid work from previous fundraisers, administrators
or faculty. A prospect, for the most part, just does not wake up one morning
and say I want to give a million bucks. A tremendous amount of planning and
work goes into a successful solicitation. Our alumni programs and events
staff, the Career Resource Center & annual fund staff, reunion programming
and many other departments play a major role. I have had the pleasure of
working closely with Barbara-Jan Wilson, Midge and Doug Bennet, other
members of senior staff, and several volunteers across the country – Mary
McWilliams ’71, Bob Coleman '68, Susan Sutherland ’82, Sanford Livingston ’87,
Bruce Corwin ’62, Peter Hicks ’72, Kofi Appenteng ’80, Alan Dachs ’70, Renny
Smith ’78 and John Nelson ’53 to name a few.
Q: What are the hours like?
A: When I am in the office I work a fairly normal day, although I
tend to be a night owl. So, it is not uncommon to find me in front of
computer at home in the early am or the late evening. When I am on the road,
my day starts at 5:30 a.m. and if I have a dinner engagement it is not
unlikely to return to the hotel until well after 10 p.m.
Q: What is your involvement with the Administrators and Faculty of
A: I am currently the co-chair of this group with Lucy Diaz. This is
a rewarding experience to serve this group. We are currently in the middle
of a strategic planning session that I look forward to sharing with the
greater Wesleyan community once it is completed.
Q: Are you involved in any other Wesleyan or community groups?
A: I am the vice president of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.,
Hartford Alumni Chapter, a former board member and keeper of records for
this organization. My relationship with Kappa began at Wesleyan in 1989 and
I have continued to play a leadership role with this organization since the
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
A: Golf! I love the game, but I need a tremendous amount of work to
improve. I joined a golf league last year that plays weekly at Keeney Golf
course in Hartford. The organizer is a good friend and mentor, Evans Jacobs,
class of 1973 from Wesleyan.
Q: Do you have a family?
A: My number one priority is my beautiful and loving family. They are
Camille, my bride and sweetheart, also a Wesleyan alumnus class of 1993, and
my two boys Kyle, 5, and Maxwell, 3.