Director of Major Gifts Raises Gifts for Wesleyan’s Endowment

Olivia DrakeApril 3, 20087min

Christine Pina ’91 travels 100 times a year visiting Wesleyan alumni, friends and parents to secure gifts for the university.
Posted 04/03/08
Christine Pina loves donors to give, and give big.

As the director of major gifts in University Relations, Pina oversees solicitations of financial gifts of $50,000 and higher, and has responsibility for both the major gifts and development research teams.

“Our teams work to raise large gifts for Wesleyan’s endowment and other capital needs such as buildings and programs,” Pina explains. “We work with alumni, friends and parents to secure gifts that will be used to strengthen Wesleyan.”

These gifts can be given to the endowment or through the Wesleyan Fund and support scholarship aid, academic programs, facilities and general operating costs.

Pina corresponds with donors through e-mail and on the phone daily, and visits about 100 people throughout the country each year. She frequently helps donors make connections to faculty, students and programs at Wesleyan.

In addition to her normal fund-raising duties, she works to help Wesleyan realize its goal of enhancing its science facilities with the proposed Molecular and Life Sciences building. She hopes the ongoing project will have a transformative effect on the southern end of campus.

“Though I am not a scientist, I recognize that the study and understanding of these disciplines are enormously vital to our local and global communities,” she says. “I am honored to be able help ensure that future generations of Wes grads are scientifically literate no matter what their academic major.”

Pina joined the major gifts staff in September 2004 as a major gift officer. In the spring of 2006, she was promoted to the director of major gifts. Her “tremendously wonderful colleagues” on the major gift team include Faye Del Pezzo, Robert Mosca and Michelle Dube. Faraneh Carnegie, currently in Alumni Programs, and Regan Schubel, currently in the Wesleyan Fund, will join the team this summer.

Prior to beginning a career in institutional advancement, Pina worked as a management consultant before turning to the field of education. She spent several years at Dartmouth College’s Office of Admission and subsequently became the associate director of admission and the director of minority recruitment for Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H.

At the Development Office at the Madeira School in McLean, Va., Pina helped develop the first major gift program for the all girls’ boarding-day school in anticipation of a $60M capital campaign for building and endowment support. After leaving Madeira she continued to live in Virginia and became a remotely-based gift officer for the development team at St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. For St. Paul’s she focused on securing major gifts for the School’s endowment and the construction of a $25M athletic facility.

Pina earned her Ed.M in higher education administration, planning and policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor of art in African American Studies from Wesleyan in 1991. During these undergraduate years, Pina spent her summers on Capitol Hill doing education and health care policy work for her then-congressman. That experience helped Pina identify an interest in planning and policy work.

“I am really proud to be working at my alma mater,” Pina says. “I think Wesleyan is an extraordinary place and I consider it a privilege to work here and help the university provide a distinctive and first-rate education to its students.”

Pina is active in Wesleyan’s Administrators and Faculty of Color Alliance, and participates in various Wesleyan alumni events throughout the year.

Outside of Wesleyan, she is the senior warden of the vestry at St. James’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford, Conn. and is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. She also is the founding director of A Hand Up, Inc., an organization working to move families in the greater Hartford area from homelessness to independent living.

“Our goal is to help people in the Greater Hartford area who are transitioning from homelessness to independence by supplying them with basic household goods,” Pina says. “We are a volunteer organization and we work in consort with a number of other service agencies in Hartford. We help about 60 families each year and are getting ready to expand our program, and we are always looking for individuals and groups who would like to volunteer a few hours to help.”

Pina grew up in West Falmouth, Mass. and is the third generation of family hailing from Cape Cod. She currently lives in West Hartford with her husband, Alex Smith, an “avid University of Michigan fan” whom she constantly reminds that Wesleyan football still holds an undefeated record against the maize and blue, and 4-year-old son, Arthur.

“Arthur often says that he wants to play baseball, hockey and lacrosse and study race car jumping – I think that means physics – at Wesleyan,” Pina says, smiling.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor