About CASE
Patricia King Jackson

This profile from the August 2004 edition of the BriefCASE Newsletter highlights the career of longtime volunteer Patricia King Jackson

Patricia King JacksonAs assistant head of school, development and alumni relations at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., Pat King Jackson planned and implemented the school's largest campaign, which won the CASE 1998 Circle of Excellence Award for the most outstanding fundraising program at an independent day school. Prior to joining Sidwell Friends in 1992, Jackson worked as an independent consultant to higher education and health organizations as vice president of Grenzebach/Glier Associates in Chicago and held positions in development at Bryn Mawr and Dartmouth colleges.

What do you love about working in education?
It is such important and worthy work. I love the mechanics, the interaction with people, the writing. I love the idea of being an effective advocate for education. There is so much value to the cause of education itself. Also, I have personally experienced the value of education. I grew up in Stockton, Calif. and was a scholarship student. I went to Mills College and my experiences there opened a whole new vista for me. It was absolutely the right place at the right time. I am deeply grateful for my experiences there. 

What was the job climate like when you graduated in 1969? Did you jump into advancement work right after college? 
When I graduated from college, I wanted to live in New York City. This was 1969, so I looked around and like most college grads, I had an exalted idea of my abilities! I was walking against the tide-I didn't see myself as a secretary, even though I was a great typist and I could support myself typing. I found my first job in the oil industry, as an economist-writer with the American Petroleum Institute. I worked in public affairs. I was there for 18 months and then API moved to D.C. I wanted to stay in New York. What could I do? I loved everything about my job except oil; it was all gas tax battles, oil depletion, and industry politics. I wanted the same job but in a field about which I was passionate. Conversations with colleagues and friends led me to educational fundraising.

Most schools were against hiring women in development back then. How did you get your first job in advancement?
I contacted my alma mater and said I would love a job in development. They said, "We don't hire women. Women only like to talk to men about finances!" This experience was not unusual. In 1970, the power structure in colleges did not include women in many development positions. During that period, I wrote to several schools, such as Vassar, Holyoke, and Smith. I remember one person I sent a letter to, and because the name was Lynn and I was writing to a women's college, I assumed that this was a missus. "Dear Mrs." I wrote. I got a letter back from a man: "People call me doctor and they call me mister, but never 'Mrs.' " I never did get an interview with him. 

A former Mills vice president, John Detmold (who was at that time at Connecticut College), sent me a letter of encouragement, but no job offer-of course. He gave me other names including Robert Conway, a well-known consultant with Brakeley, John Price Jones. Bob, John, and others kept my spirits up and helped me do a 1970s version of networking.

Martha Stokes, head of resources at Bryn Mawr College, needed to expand her office. She was attending a CASE conference, and she sits next to John Detmold and says, "I'm looking for someone who is a young woman and really has no experience. We want to train this person ourselves." So he gave her my name.

After you got your first job at Bryn Mawr, how did the climate for women in development change?
The awareness of the Equal Rights Amendment and Civil Rights legislation helped a great deal. I had been at Bryn Mawr for a year when my alma mater contacted me and said, "We would love to have you come work for us." They finally realized they needed to hire women, so things were changing. When I was job hunting, I was told by more than one place, "We do not hire women." In the 1970s, it was perfectly legal to do this. I even received a letter from one well-known college that said, "We do not hire women in our development program." So it was still like the 1950s in development.

From your perspective, when did higher education institutions really begin fundraising aggressively? 
Thirty-five years ago there wasn't a lot of aggressive fundraising going on. The first fundraising campaigns other than annual fund were back in the '60s when the Ford Foundation gave "venture" grants to colleges that then built endowment campaigns around these grants. Until then, it might just be a campaign for a building, for instance. The idea of a modern campaign really started with the Ford Foundation grants. The idea of working toward a specific goal over a defined period of time was a new way of working. That time period marks the real beginning of institutional dependence on fundraising.

You've worked in college development offices and as a consultant. What new challenges awaited you at an independent school?
The mechanics are exactly the same. The differences relate more to the degree of loyalty of various constituents, such as the parents of students, as well as alumni. Colleges and universities have started trying to reach parents, which is, of course, a strong group for us. At Sidwell, our parents are involved for several years-maybe longer if you have several children enrolled. You could be tied to the school 14 to 20 years. So the tie between a parent and a day school is passionate. Parents contribute much.

Also, many of our parents are natives of Washington, D.C., or they have put down strong roots here. This is their city and we are their school. Day schools have relied heavily on parents historically. Ironically, this sends a message to alumni that ownership of the school is with the parents, not with the students. If you look at the number of parents on the board here, there are more parents than alumni, and contrast that with some colleges and universities where alumni are so empowered and so invested in the school that the alumni tie can verge on becoming a problem. The alumni at a day school are not as naturally passionate or engaged with the school unless they send their kids here. So the challenge is: How do we get alumni involved in the school? We do the same things as colleges and universities: have regional events, online communities, class officers, reunions.

I found this job through Bryn Mawr alumni, who insisted that I look at Sidwell Friends. I initially said, "I don't want to work at a day school." But when I looked at Sidwell, I realized that it is more like Bryn Mawr or Dartmouth and the institutions I've been a part of than a lot of other places in this town. The reason? The quality of teaching that goes on here, especially in the high school. It's like a small liberal arts college, it's selective.

Has your experience as a consultant been helpful now that you're working at just one institution?
When you are consulting, your perspective is broad, and you see things differently than when you work for the institution. You also are listened to and you are treated like the voice of wisdom. Once you are in an institution, you become predictable. They often want the outside expert's advice, the consultant's advice- even though you may be a former consultant! 

The whole profession has evolved so much that I'm learning constantly. But the basics are the same: the need for communication skills and listening skills, whether consulting, working at a college or university, or a day school.

One thing about educational advancement is that it is a very sharing profession, so when I see an institution that is performing better than we are, I call them. I try to find out what they are doing. We don't have any overlapping constituencies, so I ask: Is this strategy applicable to us? Can I use this idea?

Do you have any accomplishments you'd like to share?
I have felt most proud of the fact that I have always left my institutions much better off-and stronger, in terms of fundraising-from my presence. At Bryn Mawr, I built a corporate foundation program that is now a major component of their fundraising. At Dartmouth, I built the first fundraising program for the medical school. At Sidwell Friends, we have gone from a program raising $1.5 million per year to one raising $6 million (and hopefully, soon more).

In every case, I have pushed the fundraising thresholds. And, I believe that the reason I have been able to do this is because I understand the basic data that undergird a development program. In this regard, I am a worshipper of the Council on Aid to Education Voluntary Support Survey. This excellent resource allows us to look at ourselves-and our peers-clearly, critically, and constructively. The data allow us to identify best practices, set goals, and be accountable. These data define our profession in many ways.