A Q&A with Crystal S. Neuhauser, Bay Path’s New Vice President of Institutional Advancement
How did you get started in the advancement field?
Early in my career at Yale University, I was doing advancement work as ten to fifteen percent of my job, and I loved it. So, I decided to have an exploratory career discussion with the vice president of Development about transitioning into a full-time role in Development. Although I was sure she should immediately make me the major gift officer for pediatrics, I was able to secure a position working with the annual fund and reunion giving, and looking back, this was the best start I could have been given. It gave me the opportunity to learn and touch every gift vehicle and make connections with Yale alumni from across all disciplines of the University. It was the foundation I needed to go on and have a successful career in this field.
What keeps you going as an advancement professional?
This field allows me to continuously meet people I likely wouldn’t otherwise meet. Also, the work we do helps to transform not just students’ lives but the communities we live in. For example, the greater community of New Haven may need to use services offered by the Yale University healthcare system, and my health-based fundraising efforts for the hospital directly impact the people in the community, many I know personally. Higher educational advancement transforms lives, and I love being a part of that.
What is your philanthropic philosophy?
Philanthropy is transformative and lifelong. It allows people to imagine something in a way they could not have imagined before. I love to engage with and build relationships with donors and prospective donors to understand their personal and professional passions. Only after we understand can we connect the donor with the institution’s strategy and vision and see their gifts come into action, making a difference in transformative ways.
After a successful career at several New England colleges and universities, why Bay Path University?
I have always been attracted to historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and women’s colleges. I see both as safe places for students to learn and grow. It is essential for women, and women of color, to build confidence to have a voice at the table and open the doors for those who come beyond us. I believe Bay Path’s mission is committed to providing this opportunity for women.
I look forward to meeting and learning from alumni and finding ways to connect their careers and experiences to our current students. It’s also a special time to build partnerships with new and existing corporate organizations and donors to advance women, especially coming out of the pandemic. All of this, combined with the opportunity, to begin with, a new president and the launch of a strategic plan, is why I am excited to come to Bay Path University.
The pandemic has impacted many areas, including an unprecedented number of online fundraising campaigns. What does the future hold for fundraising?
I believe in my heart of hearts that one of the biggest drivers in the twenty-first century will be fundraising. The pandemic has brought forth individuals with capacity interested in making an impact. People want to make a difference in their communities. Even on a small scale, we are seeing gofundme and other platforms bringing communities together to give what they can for those in need. I look forward to connecting the community with Bay Path’s story.
You hold a master’s in organizational leadership. What is the best quality you have as a leader? And what leader do you most admire?
I see myself as a partnership leader. I love working with teams, I love sharing ideas, and I love working together to solve problems. It is such a great feeling to strategize together and imagine where we want to be, then drive to get to that place committed to growing together in the same direction.
I admire Michele Obama. She has such a welcoming style, is accessible, and leads from the front, back, and side. She reimagines what is next and harnesses projects confidently and makes everyone a part of them.
Beyond your professional reading, what was the last book(s) you read for enjoyment?
I am currently re-listening to The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead; it’s beautifully written.
Tell us something about your life outside of work that we might not find on your resume.
My husband Ron and I married in 1994 and live in East Haven, Connecticut. We recently adopted a dog—half Dachshund and half Labrador—named Zinn, after Howard Zinn. He keeps us on our toes.
I have a background in the arts. Early in my career, my friend and I started a theater company, called The Hypothetical Theater Company, and we produce living history stories, character narratives, at Ellis Island. The name was based on our endless conversations that started with, “Hypothetically, if we ever opened a theater company…” I still enjoy bringing creativity into everything I do, including work.
Your official first day is July 21st. What is the first thing you are going to do?
I look forward to connecting with my team, meeting the greater Bay Path community, and understanding and aligning our work with the new strategic plan.