Setting a Foundation for Newcomers
Starting out in a new profession can be daunting. Our Summer Institutes programming offers an intensive learning experience for newcomers to five branches of advancement: educational fundraising, alumni relations, communications and marketing, advancement services, and independent schools.
As we gear up for the Summer Institutes this July, we spoke with these faculty members on their favorite parts of their jobs and what they’re most looking forward to at the institutes:
Shara Freeman Hoefel, head of advancement for Francis Parker School, from the Summer Institute in Independent Schools;
Mike Barzacchini, director of the Marketing Services Department at Harper College, from the Summer Institute in Communications and Marketing;
Jim Husson, senior vice president for university advancement at Boston College, from the Summer Institute in Educational Fundraising;
Cindy Fredrick, associate vice president for engagement and annual giving at the University of Virginia, from the Summer Institute in Alumni Relations; and
Kushal Dasgupta, associate vice chancellor of advancement services for NC State University, from the Summer Institute in Advancement Services.
CASE: How did you find your way to advancement?
Shara Freeman Hoefel: I had a sorority sister who was working for Cornell University's Boston regional office and she encouraged me to apply for the regional job in alumni affairs and development (yes, they called it development back then!) which entailed working with alumni and keeping them connected to our alma mater. It was the perfect job for me! When I moved to New York City, I was hired at The Chapin School. They were at the beginning of a $75 million campaign and I loved the work, the school, and the people.
Mike Barzacchini: I started at a small-town newspaper, then worked in health care, with a few short stints at public relations agencies. My gateway to education communication was a public relations and marketing position at an academic medical center, where I worked with faculty physicians and medical and allied health colleagues, as well as a teaching and research hospital.
Jim Husson: As an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, I was appointed to committee focused on improving undergraduate retention and that sparked my interest in high educational administration. I was also an annual fund volunteer for my secondary school alma mater (Northfield Mount Hermon School), and that prompted me to apply for fundraising jobs as I approached graduation.
Cindy Fredrick: I have spent my entire 35+ year career working in educational and public service organizations. I first became aware of alumni relations as a child. Both of my parents were active alumni volunteer leaders for youth organizations: 4H and FFA. I grew up participating in these programs and the alumni volunteers helped me become the person I am today.
Kushal Dasgupta: While in graduate school at LSU, I worked briefly in the Alumni Relations office in the College of Business. I loved the work the advancement team was doing and that sparked my career in supporting higher education alumni and development programs spanning major capital campaigns.
When considering a job opportunity, pay special attention to the people you will be working with and the culture of the organization you are joining. Over time, those are the things that will shape you
CASE: What’s your favorite part of your job?
SFH: My favorite part of the job is watching the great joy and delight that comes from giving—for the philanthropist and the recipient. It’s awesome to have a front row seat to this experience, and to sometimes even play a part in in.
MB: The people. I work with a talented, smart, and creative team. And we work on behalf of a vibrant campus community. It’s a wonderful environment for another thing that I love about my job: the opportunity to capture and share stories.
JH: I’m inspired every day by my colleagues who give so much of themselves to their work. I feel fortunate to work alongside them. And, of course, I’m inspired by our philanthropists and volunteers who are making a real difference in the world through their gifts and service to BC and so many charities.
CF: The people. I work with a team of dedicated and committed advancement professionals who are creative, energetic, risk takers, and good people. They inspire me to do better as an individual and as a leader.
KD: My favorite part of the job is getting to work on collaborative projects that span across development, communications and marketing, and alumni relations. Teamwork at its best is when all the parts of the division work well together to create a constituent-centered culture and organization.
My favorite part of the job is watching the great joy and delight that comes from giving—for the philanthropist and the recipient.
CASE: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
SFH: Fast is slow and slow is fast. Sometimes, we want to rush the process—identification, cultivation, solicitation, stewardship—because we have our own agenda or feel pressure from others. But when we go fast, it ends up taking longer to get to the desired outcome. Taking your time, trusting the process, and doing what’s best for the donor, school, etc., that’s how we get the best outcome. All mature relationships take time.
MB: Be the person in the room who listens the most.
JH: Two stand out. 1. When considering a job opportunity, pay special attention to the people you will be working with and the culture of the organization you are joining. Over time, those are the things that will shape you. 2. It’s very hard to see yourself as others see you, but, in our work, self-awareness is one of the most important qualities we can cultivate.
CF: Be your authentic self. Part of finding your true self is always learning, asking questions, and reflecting on what is important to you.
KD: Set a goal and make a plan to achieve that goal. If you fail, change your plan, not your goal.
I work with a talented, smart, and creative team. And we work on behalf of a vibrant campus community. It’s a wonderful environment for another thing that I love about my job: the opportunity to capture and share stories.
CASE: What book are you reading right now?
SFH: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. A must read!
MB: Upstream by Mary Oliver and Keep Going by Austin Kleon.
JH: Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell.
CF: Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman. It’s giving me new perspective on my leadership values and the importance of resiliency.
KD: Pivot: A vision for the New University by Joanne Soliday and Dr. Mark Lombardi
CASE: Did you attend the Summer Institutes as a newcomer?
SFH: Yes. In 2004 I attended the CASE Summer Institute for Colleges and Universities at Dartmouth. I remember thinking that the faculty were gods and goddesses of development, so much so that I still have their presentations and my conference notes!
MB: Regrettably, I did not.
JH: No—If only I had!
CF: No, but I certainly wish I had. SIAR has become a highlight of my year.
KD: I did not attend as a newcomer. I wish I had.
My hope is that people will come away from SIAR with a better understanding of the value of alumni relations, a foundational framework to guide their work, and at least three new ideas to implement when they get back to their offices.
CASE: What are you most looking forward to at the Summer Institutes this year?
SFH: The opportunity to share, hear, and learn brilliant insights and ideas from my colleagues at peer schools. Even though I’m on the faculty, our colleagues come with their own experiences and challenges that make it a two-way dialogue.
MB: I love the conversations. Getting to know and work with attendees, learning about their opportunities and obstacles, and watching them have “aha” moments throughout the week. I think of SICM as Big Idea Summer Camp for communicators.
JH: This will be my 11th SIEFR and so I always look forward to reconnecting with my friends on the faculty. We always get so much out of our time together in July. And then there are the attendees. My week at SIEFR and the opportunity to connect with more than 300 early stage advancement peers reminds me of how fortunate I am to work in this profession.
CF: Of course it’s the people. I love hearing the various perspectives of people new to alumni relations. The structure of SIAR allows everyone to contribute and learn from each other.
KD: I enjoy meeting new people and helping them think through what they want to accomplish at their institutions and in their careers. The entire week is packed with great conversations and community building.
Set a goal and make a plan to achieve that goal. If you fail, change your plan, not your goal.
CASE: What do you hope people will take away from the Summer Institutes?
SFH: Confidence. Much of our work, in addition to building relationships, takes practice and time. It might be hard for someone to picture themselves asking a donor for a seven-figure gift. But it will happen. The first step is feeling confident in your skills and ability to build a meaningful relationship with the donor.
MB: A notebook full of actionable ideas they can bring back to their institutions, dozens of new colleague contacts, and a deep understanding that they’re working in a vibrant, evolving profession that makes a difference.
JH: I hope people will leave SIEFR with a broader perspective on their work, as it offers an opportunity to step out of our day-to-day and learn from others in similar roles. Second, we strive in each session to engage in a dialogue around best practices, enabling attendees to leave with specific insights and ideas that they can incorporate into their work. And finally, SIEFR offers an opportunity to connect professionally with peers from around the world, some of whom will become lifelong friends.
CF: My hope is that people will come away from SIAR with a better understanding of the value of alumni relations, a foundational framework to guide their work, and at least three new ideas to implement when they get back to their offices.
KD: A better understanding of how they can be effective in their jobs and a recognition that this community thrives on sharing ideas.