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Meet Allison Gearing-Kalill, Vice President for Development and Planned Giving

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Allison Gearing-Kalill, an accomplished professional, has joined Bay Path University as Vice President for Development and Planned Giving. As a member of the executive staff, Allison will spearhead a comprehensive planned giving program, and provide leadership in the areas of annual giving, alumni relations, stewardship, special events planning, advancement services, and major gifts. 

This is not your first time working with Bay Path. What brought you to the college the first time, and what drew you back? 
I guess the answer in both cases is Dr. Leary and the Bay Path mission. My first position was in 1997 as a planning and student development administrator. I had a friend from this area who was on the advisory committee for Bay Path. He told me about the “dynamic new president” at the College, and he thought she might help me explore possibilities for my future. He was right. From the minute I walked into her office, I was immediately drawn to Dr. Leary. She has the most vibrant, attractive energy. She helped me to feel inspired and empowered, and, in the end, she offered me a job at Bay Path.

What work had you been doing before coming to Bay Path the first time?
I have a degree from UMass Amherst in business with a specialty in marketing. I was director of sales and marketing for major hotel chains for 12 years, which I really enjoyed… but at the level job in the hospitality industry, you’re working 24/7, doing a lot of traveling all over the country. It was very exciting, but it was a big job. I was a first-time parent as well as a single mom. I decided I just couldn’t live that lifestyle anymore. I really wanted to focus on my daughter and raise her here in Western Massachusetts. 

What work did you do before returning to Bay Path?
I volunteered at a local community hospital to help them with their fundraising efforts, which turned into a full-time position. I worked in the healthcare industry for nine years as vice president of development and fundraising for several hospital systems, but I never lost touch with Dr. Leary and her mission. In fact, the relationship grew, as it did with several other members of the Bay Path community. We’d often see each other at the same fundraising events. When there was a change of staff at Bay Path which resulted in an open position, Dr. Leary and I both decided it was a good time to come back, and hopefully continue what I started here at Bay Path all those years ago.

How has Bay Path changed during the years you were gone?
In some ways, it has undergone a breathtaking transition, but at its core, I feel that nothing has changed when it comes to the mission or the passion: focusing on young women, many of them first-generation students, empowering them, and giving them a place where they can learn from which they can excel. At the same time, Bay Path has evolved into this amazing innovative organization that now serves adults through the graduate programs and The American Women’s College. Our online women’s program was the first of its kind and stands alone in this area as an excellent opportunity for women to earn a degree while being able to work and raise their family. It empowers them to move forward and to create a better life.

How to do you plan to nurture the philanthropic culture at Bay Path?
We will be partnering with many areas across the University to support the programs and momentum that are already in place, and to create new opportunities to advance and increase “giving” with faculty and staff. The philanthropic landscape at Bay Path is vital to the success of our students and our academic programs.

What are potential donors surprised to learn about Bay Path?
Philanthropy is based on networking, stewarding, and relationships. I’m grateful that many of the philanthropic relationships I have developed over the years have come with me to Bay Path. My mission has become their mission. However, many people don’t realize that most of our undergraduate students receive scholarships which are funded by grants or donations. Because Bay Path is a private university, many potential donors are unaware of how dependent our students are on scholarships in order to be able to attend college. In fact, most of our students, including those from The American Women’s College, are on financial aid.

Is there a secret to being a highly effective fundraiser in the nonprofit sector?
The main thing is to have a genuine passion for what you are representing. If you work for an organization that you feel enthusiastic about, and you believe in their mission and their story, that passion shows through when you meet with a potential donor. You can create a relationship, a friendship, and steward that donor to support your cause. I wear my passion on my sleeve, and I want everyone around me to feel the same thing.

How do you hope to encourage more alumni to become donors?
Because a lot of our alumni are first generation, and they have attended Bay Path on financial aid, it can take them some time to get established and begin to contribute back to the college. I was a first-generation college student in my family, so I understand. We have a new campaign, “The Power of One,” that will reach across all demographics, and, hopefully, inspire every graduate to pay it forward. We want our alumni to know what they give makes a difference. It’s important that they understand that they’re giving back so that others like them can have the same experiences that they did.

If you would like to drop a line to Allison, or share your success story, just email:
agkalill@baypath.edu