When Katie Turcotte becomes UMW’s vice president of advancement later this month, she’ll fill a much-needed role – helping to bring the university forward from pandemic constraints and bolstering its liberal arts and sciences mission.
Who better to lead the University of Mary Washington’s development team than a “nonprofit and philanthropy nerd”? That’s how Turcotte describes herself 25 years into a career that has taken her through every aspect of fundraising for a variety of nonprofits.
She comes to Mary Washington from the consulting firm GG+A, where she is vice president of philanthropic analytics. Her résumé also includes positions at George Mason University, George Washington University, American University and Catholic University.
At UMW, she’ll bring all that experience to bear at a time when public universities are coping with changing demographics and shifting priorities in state budgets. At the same time, students are seeking a quality education with minimal debt – a need the university helps meet with donor-funded scholarships and other institutional aid.
From a development standpoint, Mary Washington is well-situated given the special bond alumni have with one another and with their alma mater, Turcotte said.
While modest donations from younger alumni may not have the immediate power of a single high-dollar gift, they are key to fostering a long-term relationship. “It’s important to provide pathways for alumni to give back in ways that will be impactful both now and in the future,” she said.
Donors at every level have become savvier about their philanthropy in recent years, she said. They want feedback that their gifts have an impact, so telling the stories of student achievements, professors’ effectiveness, alumni successes and overall societal improvement can be especially meaningful.
Turcotte herself is a product of public education, which she considers “one of the greatest socioeconomic change agents.” She knows firsthand the power of a liberal arts and sciences education in fostering academic and personal interests.
As an undergraduate at Purdue University in Indiana, she focused on math and science courses, thinking she might become a physician. But she also enjoyed challenging herself with upper-level English literature classes, relishing the chance to broaden her reading and improve her writing.
The fundraising bug bit when, as a member of a student organization serving as hosts for the development office, she told her own academic story to a prospective donor who then made a substantial gift. The experience changed her academic and professional trajectory, as she committed to an extra year of college to major in organizational leadership and supervision. She also holds a master’s degree in organization development from American University.
UMW President Troy D. Paino said he believes Turcotte will mesh well on Cabinet and beyond.
“We are fortunate to have someone with Katie’s experience, skill set and passion for Mary Washington’s public liberal arts mission join our leadership team,” Paino said. “She possesses both the hard and soft skills necessary to effectively lead our advancement and alumni relations teams who do the critically important work of engaging our alumni, donors and supporters.”
It’s work Turcotte is eager to begin, she said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to partner with everyone across the campus and community.”