FTG 0013 - The Power of Philanthropy: A #GivingTuesday Chat with Penn State's Tina Flint Hennessey '93


Guest Bio:

Tina Flint Hennessey ’93 Com is an Assistant Vice President for University Development at Penn State where she oversees alumni relations and development work at 14 of the University's Colleges, Campuses and other units, including the Schreyer Honors College. Before returning to her alma mater in 2009, Tina worked first as a newspaper reporter and editor for 10 years, transitioning to higher education fundraising, holding positions at Arcadia University and Montgomery County Community College, both in suburban Philadelphia. Tina earned a BA in journalism with Honors in 1993. She earned her MBA from Arcadia University in 2007. She is happy to discuss fundraising or her beekeeping hobby. Feel free to connect on LinkedIn.

Episode Specifics:

In our conversation, Tina provides insight through her story on topics like:

· Choosing to start at a Commonwealth Campus close to home

· The value of starting in the College as a second- or third-year student at Penn State

· Using your involvement in campus organizations as professional preparation

· Leveraging your thesis in job interviews

· Identifying what you are good at that can be a transferrable skill, like writing

· Recognizing the signs when you need to make a career or industry change – even lateral or backstep moves

· What major gift officers are and what they do for organizations like Penn State

· Saying “no” to focus on honing your skills and learning all parts of a work unit

· Balancing leadership and technical responsibilities as you move up in an organization

· How to tackle the challenge of being a leader of disparate teams

· Fostering environments for leadership to grow without formal titles

· How an MBA is helpful working in a non-profit & higher education setting

· How and why Scholars could get into fundraising and university advancement work

· Approaching mentorship as a mentor and mentee


Schreyer Honors College Links:






Upcoming Events

• Scholars – Need Assistance? Book an Appointment!

• Alumni – Learn Why and How to Volunteer

Make a Gift to Benefit Schreyer Scholars

• Join the Penn State Alumni Association


Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form here.

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer).

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer.

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License.

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.

Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong a podcast of the Shire Honors College at Penn State. Following the Gone Tatsu inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and it spanned your professional network. You can hear the true bread of how stollar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawan Doheen, class of two thousand and eleven, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. Tina Flynn Hennessy, class of nine hundred and ninety three, is an assistant vice president for university development at Penn State, where she oversees alumni relations and development work at fourteen of the university's colleges, campuses and other units, including the Shire Honors College. Before returning to our Alma Mater in two thousand and nine. Tina work first as a newspaper reporter and editor for ten years, transitioning to higher education fundraising, holding positions at Arkadia University and Montgomery County Community College, both in suburban Philadelphia. Tina earned Herba in journalism with honors in nine hundred and ninety three shared her MBA from Arcadia University in two thousand and seven. She's happy to discuss fundraising or her beekeeping hobby, and feel free to connect with her on Linkedin. In our conversation, Tina provides insight there her story on topics like choosing to start at a comma old campus close to home. The value of starting in the college is a second or third year student of Penn State using your involvement in campus organizations as professional preparation, leveraging your thesis and job interviews, identifying what you were good at that can be a transferable still like writing. She also talks about recognizing the signs when you need to make a career change or industry change. Tina goes on to talk about what major gift officers are and what they do for organizations like Penn State. Say No to focus on honing your skills and learning all parts of a work unit, balancing leadership and technical responsibilities as you move up in an organization, tackling the challenge of being a leader of disparate teams, fostering environments for leadership to grow without formal titles, how an MBA is helpful working and a nonprofit and higher education setting, how a might stollers could get into fundraising and university advancement work and approaching mentorship as a mentor and as a mentee. And with that will get into Tina's story following the Gong. Tina, thank you so much for joining me today on the show and just a little bit up front for our listeners. Tina is, in what you might use in common terms, my boss's boss, so just full disclosure there. But I'm super excited to have you on the show as one of our scholar Alumna. So Welcome, Tina. If we could just kick off with is telling us a little bit about your current role here at Penn State? Sure. thankshaw. I'm really excited to be here. I appreciate the invitation. So I am the Assistant Vice President for university development. I'm one of three individuals in these roles and for my part, I receive fourteen of our fundraising and alumni relations offices. So those fourteen offices are embedded in our colleges, our campuses and what we call our special mission units, like the university libraries and so Shire Honors College, in addition to being one of my Alma maters, is also one of my units that I ever see and we are very proud to be a part of what we affectionately called team Tina in the cohort, along with some other great colleges and campuses as well, as you said, the university libraries. So I want to start at the very beginning and I know you kind of have a unique origin story of how you came to pick pick Penn state as your Alma Mater, as you said. So could you tell us how you came to pick the university? When it was time to choose a college, I didn't have a lot of experience and I didn't have a lot of role models, quite honestly, and my fatherhood attended Penn State, what was them Penn State ogts and is now Penn State Abington, for just a couple semesters, he always said, he, he quote. Deed out. He Got Straight D's. He knew that they would draft him, so he enlisted and ended up in Vietnam and he ultimately got a degree in nights school. But it wasn't a traditional path and that was part of why, as a family, we just didn't really understand the process. And so I applied to some regional schools, with Penn state being one of them. And and Penn State, of course, as anyone from Pennsylvania knows, is a big name and it's very exciting and it was accepted to university park and,...

...and I'll still remember that. An a lum called me on the phone to say do you have any questions? You know we're excited to well community university park and I said I have one question. I don't know how to change my acceptance to my local campus right because I just I just didn't know how you went about going to college. So that kicked off my college career where I was a commuter student at what is now Penn's date Abington. Had a great experience, worked while I was while I was doing that and after three semesters I had to really had to transfer to University of park. I'm not sure I would have otherwise, but it's one of the best things that happened to me. Really was transformative for me as a person to go to college and have that experience and it's part of that transition. In your what we used to refer to as your sophomore year, you joined the University Scholars Program. Can you tell us about the impact that that had on your experience both at what we now call Abington and at University Park am I? I remember my dad saying you got invited to this. You know, you opened the mail and you got in ready to do this thing and and so I said yes. I almost said no to the invitation. I didn't really understand what it was sound like, kind of like a lot of work, but I said sure, I'll do it and I'm really glad I did. It funneled me into honors courses because I had taken an honors course or two at Abington before being invited and accepted into what was on the scholars program but part of being in the program necessity that you continue to take honors courses, and at University Park they were incredibly small classes where you got to have really good indepth conversations with your peers. They were there really antellectually stimulating classes, and they were all of them. I mean I remember so many of them very clearly and some of them would be add onsteather. So I had a really large class in the forum that was a theater course, but we had not our section. That brought, you know, six or eight of us together in a conference room once a week to talk about what we were doing in that class. That was really special. And then, on top of that, the the act of choosing and writing a these is working closely with an advisor, was very unique among all the people I was friends with in college and and forced me to be a better student and to be more focused on what I was doing. And obviously you have gone on to become a leader in the division of developmental and relations in the advancement field, but this is not something that you can really major in in terms of a career path. So can you tell us about your actual major that you pursued and the cocurricular opportunities related to that that you pursued? Sure, so, I majored in journalism and I was part of at Penn State Abington. Oh Gods, I was the editor of the odds campus news. So it's kind of De Fund when I got there and it was fun to pull together a group of people to start to, you know, reimagine a campus newspaper that we put out once a month. I became very closed with my with the advisor for the newspaper, who also taught one of my honors classes, and so he's somebody who I kept in touch with for four years and years until he retired and and we did something kind of from scratched and I remember our office so clearly. I visited that campus not too long ago and and walking to that office really met a lot to me. And then when I transferred university park, I was part of the daily clegion staff. That is an exceptional opportunity for students, not just journalism students by any stretch. Any student has that interest in writing for a newspaper will have a tremendous experience at the legion. So I did that as well. There were other opportunities for for me as an honor student. One that I remember in the College of Communications. What was in the college then but it is now. We went to Watchington DC for a day and we got to sit and listen to the Supreme Court and then we had a private meeting with Justice Anton and Schoolia, which was just amazing experience. I'll never forget it. Wow, I can't even imagine having a one on one meeting with any Supreme Court justice, let alone one who served on the court as long as he did. That is tremendous. So you mentioned your time with the newspapers and I think that's a particular mark of Shire scholars...

...is being able to help lead these efforts and I think you know, particularly at University Park you hear there's not a club, create it, but that's a particularly great opportunity at our Commonwealth campuses is to step up and help. You know, in your case you resurrected something that had been defunct. So certainly no matter what campus you're at or start at, there are opportunities abounding and, as you mentioned, one of those great opportunities was writing your thesis. Do you remember what you wrote about and why you picked that topic? Sorry, I do. I really wanted to go to law school. I had been a legal secretary through high school and College and Summers and that was just what I thought I wanted to do, and so when I took a communications law class. I asked that professor if she had any thoughts about what I should do for my thesis and she suggested I write a legal grief about a case. It was Milkovic, the Lorraine Journal. It had been recently decided by the Supreme Court and it was about whether or not newspapers could be suited for libel based on opinion pieces. I'm going to admit that I don't hundred percent remember where this I think the Supreme Court came down against the newspaper in that ruling, which is why she wanted me to pursue it, and I remember sitting in the Tea Library Friday Saturday nights. Everybody's out have a fun and I'm reading legal griefs and really trying to figure out how to make sense of this. It was work I wouldn't have done for any other reason and it's something I talked about. I remember going to job interviews and talking about that because, as as I butt in journal as a somebody who wanted to work at newspapers, being able to talk about the work I did on a legal case that was really important in the industry was interesting to people, and so I was able to talk about that really in depth and that was pretty powerful. Obviously, law and journalism are both career paths where you need to have really, really great writing skills, and obviously you could talk about your thesis experience in those and other professions. But, Tina, you mentioned you wanted to go to law school, but you just also mentioned that you were looking for jobs in the journalism industry. So how did you end up settling on the career path that you went down as opposed to going to law school? So, you know, I'm going to again say I as somebody who didn't have a lot of mentors in a professional way. I really didn't. I couldn't envision a path that would take me to post baccalaureat and that's I just I couldn't afford it. I couldn't and I didn't understand about the ways that you got funding. So I was prepared to apply and ultimately just you know, didn't. I put that on hold. I continue to think about it for years and I got the job in newspapers. I did that. I worked in that space for ten years. At the end of that time before I left, so it's probably about eight years, and I took a fellowship to work in Washington DC and I worked for a congressman there and and did some in depth work with the American Political Science Association. That that program was really for journalists and that helped remind me that I, you know, maybe didn't want to go to law school, but that I really loved doing work that was important to me and how newspapers had intersected with that. Work in Congress intersected with that. And a couple years later it was time to think about a career change and I looked at higher education and had an opportunity to move into a role in development and allow my relations at a small the arts college near where I was living at the time, and that was that was great move for me. I found I found a real passion in development work and I was also then able to pursue graduate work. So I got my MBA, I said, of a law degree, and that was a good degree to get. I really liked it. It fit well with my interest by the time I got there. So there's a lot to unpact there and I wanted to take a step back into your your journalism career for a minute. I know you were both a reporter correct and an editor along the way. So what still wills have you been able to take from your journalism days into your advancement? Because I think I don't know the exact statistic, but people don't stick in one career anymore. Our scholars are going to...

...go on and change careers and industries. Even so, transferable skills are crucial for lifetime success. So what were you able to take from career number one into career number two? I think it's a great point. So for me, the ability to write well and succinctly was something that has carried me through this career change. It helped me when I was actually working in Congress, especially the piece about being able to write quickly, clearly and briefly. That's a skill that's rare but that people see the journalists bring. So I heard that as soon as I gotten too my fellowship. People said we love the journalist because they can write briefing papers that are one sheet right, and most people can't do that. But but throughout my career I have been I've heard over and over that the my ability to write well is recognize and and differentiates me. So that's something I think scholars get to the the act of writing a thesis. Going in depth with your writing in a way that not every student does helps hone that as well. And then really listening to people asking questions, understanding that you sit and listen. That is something that has helped me in this profession in particular. A lot of our work is about one on one relationship building and really people want to be asked good questions. You're doing a great job. This is the type of thing that you're doing right now. People want to be asked good questions and they want this space to talk about it and and I come into this profession knowing that there's great value and being quiet and listening and and being able to talk to people and remember what they say absolutely, and that is something I want to ask about in a little bit, is about the relational roles that we have in this profession. But you mentioned you were in journalism for about eight or so years, ten years, and I imagine that there was a lot of soul searching that you did as you were considering giving up something that had been a part of your life for, presumably, if you count your pens date days, twelve, fifteen years. Well, were the signs that were maybe telling you it's time to make a change, and how did you, you know, think about that? Perhaps you know, was there family consideration? Walk us through you briefly your mindset and decisionmaking process in making that major career move. So yes, I realize guys in the S is would have been, I guess it would have been early s at this point two thousand and one, two thousand and two, newspaper industry was in great decline. I was realizing that there was really nowhere for me to go. I'd been promoted in the organization I work for, which was a regional newspaper chain. I came back from the fellowship and I soon was moved into the executive editor and director of production roles. That was really the the top of that company for me, and they were relatively young. I was leading a large team and there was nowhere for me to go and I was feeling like I wanted to accomplish more. I knew that the hardest part of that was the transition out, because I think sometimes we get stuck and we get limited by our own expectations. Often I have opportunities to talk to young people who might be going through a similar conversation with themselves and in my mind that conversations about opportunity and people are afraid to take us what they perceive is a step backwards for opportunity, and my advice is always that sometimes you have to do that. You need to step sideways or even back in order to leap forward, and that was my experience. I was at the very top of this company and I really took up big step backwards in taking a role as a major gift officer at this institution in suburban Philadelphia. But it was a it was a decision I made for an opportunity for myself. I was recently married and we were just about to start a family and while I was there we did start our family and making that move was the right decision. Journalism was not the place I wanted to be at that point in my life. It was hard. I missed kind...

...of the creative fun of the journalism space. People who worked there can will talk about there's lots of crazy stories, you know, and you really are in the thick of things and that can be exciting, but it can also be exhausting and it's you know, I think it's pretty natural for people at some point to think assigned for me to move on something else. So that answer your question? Yeah, absolutely, I think, knowing that our students probably have those same thoughts around majors and changing majors or may have these around careers, I think this is very helpful. And you mentioned a term that we know very well, which is major gift officer. Can you tell the listener a little bit more about what exactly amazing your gift officer is? So our major gift officers are individuals who work in our alumni relations and development offices and their role is to engage with typically alumni, sometimes others, but but for this purpose we'll talk about Alumna, alumni of the institution, meet with them, usually one on one. That that's a big part of that process, talk to them about their interests, in their experience and ultimately be thinking about does this person that I'm talking to want to make a gift, philanthropic gift, to this institution, and do they have the ability to do that? Do they want to do it, and can I help them do that? Ultimately, you do ask for money. That's the thing that most people say. I could never ask for money, and I think you'd be surprising what you can do. You know if you have the tools and the skill somebody to help you understand it. Sitting down with somebody and helping them make the gift they want to make is a really wonderful, rewarding thing to do, and we don't ever take gifts from individuals that they don't want to give us and that don't bring them joy, and so it's really, I feel, much more like our major gift officers are both facilitated Ers for individuals who want to make gifts and they're also advocates for those people. They advocate for them at the institution to help them meet their goals and their interests, making sure that their scholarship is awarded to the type of student they want to help, for example. That's really important work and it helps our students, it helps our institutions and and usually the thing that makes our works are rewarding is that the person who's made the gift, the person we call the donor, thanks us. They're really pleased that we were able to help them do what they ultimately really wanted to do anyway. Working with some of these mgos, and this is a term you'll see in a lot of nonprofit spaces, as well, not just at Penn state or in higher education. I like in them as well to kind of bridge builders between the institution and the donors, right helping them, but particularly there's almost an educational aspect to it. I think a lot of donors, from what I've seen, tend to be surprised at the creativity that can be involved in the ways that you can support. You know, perhaps you're making a gift of a painting or software or even a horse can be a gift in some cases for our colleagues over in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and so the gift officers help false understand this and, like you said, they're making a difference for our students, for our faculty, for our graduate students, but particularly the Honors College, for our undergraduate scholars of of note. And so you've advanced to a senior leadership roll pretty quickly in your time at Penn State. Can you kind of walk us through your career progression within DDA R, as we call it, from your starting point now to being in the leadership team for the Division as an assistant vice president? Yeah, and and I like that term bridge butter. I'll hold on to that one. Too, so thank you for that. So I came to pendstate. Penn state actually found me as somebody working in development and super in Philadelphia and one of their alums. And so then newly formed office of as meant to recruit people and do these NGO roles because at the time, and I think so this is the case, there are not enough qualified people to fill the openings nationally for major gift officers. So pence, they started an office to help her crew for that and they found me. I had updated my information in the database. Is that cute? All of our future alums that keep that information updated these are able to send me an email and saying we have an opening, we we'd like for you to look at it. After, you know, many months of that process, finding...

...the right fit of Penn State and deciding that my husband and my now two young children wanted to make a move to state college, I settled in the College of Engineering here as a as a major gift officer, and one of the decisions I made personally at that time, having managed and let big teams for a while, was that I really didn't want to do that. I wanted to learn how to do fundraising at a big ten institution and and learn to do it really well without any distractions. So I made a conscious decision to put my head down, to not raise my hand for any opportunities, no matter what, at end to get really good at this, this work for Penn State. So it was in the college engineer for four years and you know, ultimately I feel like I was very successful there and once it was time for me to move on, I decided again to take a sideway step to some extent. I went into what's called our office of gift planning. There was an opening there. This is interesting sit marries both my interest in, and my experience with the legal profession and with fundraising, because our office of gift planning our individuals, many of whom are actually attorneys. They have a lot of degrees and their role is to help us, help the donors make the best decisions they can make about how to make their gift. Sometimes that might be they want to leave of the quest in their will or their state plan that says, when I die, Penn state will get some money for a scholarship. Some Times it's just figuring out how to structure a gift in the most tax advantageous way. There are lots of rules in that space and we want to help people make the best decisions they can. So did that for a year. I really enjoyed it. I likely would have stayed a little longer, but by that point I think I was ready for leadership and the institution recognize I was ready for leadership. So a position became open to lead the team in the College of the Liberal Arts and I decided to step into that role lead one of the larger and more complex teams here at the institution. That was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed working with that team very much. We raise a lot of money and and kicked off this current campaign together and then the opportunity opened to take a vertical promotion. So I kept the college as part of my portfolio but to add all those other units into my portfolio and and lead centrally manage those units and help them through this campaign. So I took that opportunity after a few years. So I've been here going on, I guess, twelve and a half years if I'm counting correctly, and I've had I've been in four different offices. I think I've had five different titles. Maybe I'm proud of that. It makes me a very, I think, well rounded member of our division. I can speak to both unit based work and central work. I know what it's like to work in it at a central unit, what we sometimes refer to as central support units, units that are supporting the teams in the colleges, like the opposite gift planning. So I understand that work very much. And then I also understand what it's like to be in a college like you are, Shaman, and and know that you work for both the division of developmental in my relations, but you also, vary directly, work with and for and support an academic leader like your dean, and that's important work, so very complex work that we do. Can you speak a little bit too? And I know you're going to say every day is different, but what is the day in the life of your job really like? One of the challenges is you, I think, advanced in leadership, is that much of your time is spent, and I'm sure everybody's try this, in meetings. Right. What does that? What does that mean? So a big part of my day is spent in one on one meetings with my director reports. I meet with them once a month there are fourteen of them. We try, and and when I say we, it's myself and my assistant who manage is my calendar and it is really an important part of not I don't say my personal success, but I she and I work together for the success of what I see is, you know, my office, me and her. And how are we successful together? So we try very hard to keep my one on once to one week a month, so it all happens in one week.

That's a busy week. So a day might have a lot of one on ones, maybe two or three. It also will have meeting centrally and and they'll be hopefully and a good day. There's a block of maybe three hours that is set aside for me to do work. In reality, that time gets eaten up, even when it's all my calendar with you know, I need fifteen minutes of your time. Can we talk today? Type of meeting. So spend a lot of time doing that. I get up at five am every day. I start my day with email and coffee and and take care of anything that I couldn't get to the day before and anything that might feel like an emergency that morning. I usually then go for a run and so that's that's where a lot of that work happens through all those meetings are in the day that I've described. Have some someone off conversations and then usually I leave the opposite about six. Another piece of my day that I have to find time for and that is really important. I do continue to fundraise for the institution and that's really an important part of my role, and so carving out the time for that. And again, this is a leadership puzzle and challenge that that every everybody, as they move into leadership, will face, which is you tend to be promoted because of your success as as a technical expert in something and nobody wants you to give that thing up necessarily, but it becomes the thing that you have less and less time for as you become a leader, and so balancing that is part of the job. Figuring it out as part of the job. So I spend time on that every day and and I spend a lot of time thinking about how to develop the next leaders in our division, how to support them, how to how to help them be successful. And I'd also like to throw out that you are probably working on your weekly email that you send out to all of your teams, giving them a full rundown every Friday of what is going on and making sure that we are staying communicative as a cohort of units. And to that point I'm curious. So you manage fourteen teams. So how you know you're not just managing fourteen directors, but you're managing fourteen team so how how do you manage a portfolio that broad, especially when there's, you know, small commonal campuses, large colleges that you parked, the libraries and this real diverse portfolio? How do you approach that as a leader? So I when I took this role, one of the things I did was I went to my volunteer so I was still in the College of Liberal Arts when I was being promoted into this role and I was very close to our volunteers. We read a baseball game in a box, you know, pre covid, many, many years pre covid, and I went to one of them in particular, I remember, and said what I really care about is leading a team. I think went had previously been the model for people in this position had been that we had individual directors who reported us but they had nothing in common other than that they reported us, and so you met with them individually and you just went about your business. And and I knew that I liked to lead teams and and that implies that there's a common purpose, that were working together to get to a common goal and that we're supporting each other and helping each other. We're not just looking at a goal off in the distance and individually running after it. We're a team, we're trying to get there together. So I asked this volunteer what did he think I could do to create a team out of these disparate directors who we're going to report to me, and he gave me some good advice about finding tasks that they could work on together, identifying some senior leaders among them and and pulling them together. So I took that advice, I took some other best practice that I knew existed, and and I also asked the people I was going to manage what did they think was important for me to do. So we started pretty quickly with that group of directors having regular meetings, and this included getting on conference costs. What's a month? Because some of my directors did not work here. We originally that group was only nine. Said two directors in that group who did not work at university park. So we do conference calls once a month and...

...then on the other month we would get together in person for anywhere from two to three hours, where we would usually have lunch and unpack some big topics. I might send readings ahead of time. We might have some big, big things to talk about and we would really spend that time talking about ideas and deciding how we were going to continue to move this idea of our co work forward. At some point during that period I started this weekly email. It was an idea I took from a colleague at UNC and it was a great idea, I'm sure. I'm sure emails look nothing alike because they're all about us and our personalities and how we show up, but just the idea that you communicate to your team and writing once a week and capture the week. So I started that. I think that is about building this team culture as well and and the purpose of the email. So I was building this culture with the directors, but I realize I wanted a culture that included the whole teams, as as you point out, and to the email was the way to get to everybody and to make everybody feel like they were on one team. I focus on good news. I want to highlight the work that our teams are doing. That really is is notable and and worth noting. We are all always looking at the goal of dollars race as a division, as an institution. So I include all gifts to our units in that email. But one of the decisions I made was to include, with everybody's name, their title and the unit they work for, kind of in parentheses after their name, and that was really meant to start to have individuals recognize who their colleagues were. By May really start to understand that. So kick that off. It was hard initially to find enough content. Over time that has not really been an issue. It is gotten easier and easier. We're time to really have plenty for that email every week. What happened organically from that, though, is those team members started saying to me we want to meet in person. We see all these names, I hear about all this great work that my colleagues are doing, but I want to meet them. How come we do this? So that's where Karen again, working with me as cool so as she does, Karen and I scheduled what we called are all cohort meetings. The only one we've ever had in person. We have another one planned for this December because it was it happened in the fall of two thousand and nineteen, so we would have had a second one in the spring of two thousand and twenty eight, but the pandemic stop that from happening. So we has big meeting and we found space in the university libraries. Everybody came. I think we maybe had two people from our whole team that couldn't attend, and we created activities that were team building in nature and we put people together in groups by what they did in their units. So we wanted all of the alumni relations team members to sit together and get to know each other and all of the Administrative Support Team members the same. Same with the major gift officers and the directors, and it worked really well. And when we went into remote work, the first thing that happened was that our administrative team, who during that all cowort meeting work team purple, we all had a color, started meeting every week on zoom and they called it the purple team meetings and I hear about those meetings from all reaches of this institution and how much they have impacted that group. Held them together, support them through remote work and and they supported each other. There's no no one else in that room. I don't say there's no leader there, because they're their leaders for making it happen, but no organizational leader, nobody with that title stepped in to say Hey, do this. They did it on their own and it's been tremendous to successful o. Their cohorts have since kind of modeled meetings after that. So those are the ways I think we really built that idea of team. I how do I manage? I mean I I look at data all the time. I think anyone who is part of my cohort knows that I am constantly looking at the data. I can usually tell you where you how your unit's doing. Is Your College going to make goal? What your percent I usually have that somewhere in my head and I think it's a great way to both inspire a little bit of positive competitiveness among our units and...

...also help us how up each other. So you know, we've had five of our units of already hit goal in our campaign. We have another basically the rest of this fiscal year through the June thirty in this campaign. But those units are prepared to help their colleagues get to their goals and I take a lot of pride in that part of what our co work has created. Absolutely and as a one of the hundred plus folks who are in team Tina, certainly we have latched onto all of these things and you know I'm always like, oh, they're going to be pictures of the bees this week in the weekly email, and we can talk about that in a little bit. But I want to go back you were talking about. You kind of pulled from some best practices putting this email together and much earli in our conversation you mentioned that you went and got an MBA and obviously we are a nonprofit institution. So how do you find that degree in particular, to be helpful in your current role? When I was hired in the College of Engineering, the directory they are actor was pleased that I had an NBA because so many of their alumni I went on to business degrees. I in particular supported industrial engineering, which is is a degree that that went into industry and business. So to some extent and help me, you know, have a common language. Some of my prospects and understand in the concept that they're talking about. Bigger than that, though. I think the MBA helps me understand teams. We studied Harvard Business Case studies around or what makes a good leader, how to manage teams. It helps me understand this giant institution because in some ways, although we're nonprofit, the idea that we have these separate colleges is much like a business unit in a large company, and I understand that very much. I understand those funding models. It helps me think about them in ways that makes sense and makes me look at the decisions our leaders make very positively. I might think our leadership is exceptional, but I also have a sense of why that's important. So I know. The other thing, and I am comfortable talking about this with with individuals, to education is positive just for education sake. Having a master's degree and having read things and studied, we went on two international trips as part of my MBA and spent a week in other countries learning about their economic models and their businesses, their business industry. It makes me somebody who can talk about those things with anybody and, and I think you know, the same is true for our undergraduate degrees. Many of our students and our young alumni will not necessarily work in a space that lines up directly with the degree they get, but the degree is important just because it makes us smarter, well rounded, intelligent people who can speak about what's happening in the world, what's happening in current events, in ways that helps us connect with other people. It is about connection. So you know, I wanted a master's degree because I really did want to master's degree. The NBA interested May and probably those two things were more important than whether or not it was going to directly benefit me professionally. If I hadn't been interested in it, I may not have done as well. And earlier you mentioned that when you were recruited to Penn State for your initial major gift officer role, that there's kind of a glut of positions and not enough staff to fill them, just in the industry. Beyond that, just knowing that there are lots of jobs available in this space, why should a student consider a career in philanthropy, and particularly in university advancement? I think we can. We can pause before we even go beyond that. The opportunity is except and know and for students who are looking for ways to get into a career that has a lot of opportunity for advancement working in higher education fundraising and as a fundraising anywhere. Hold that promise. It's not just our fundraising, it's the whole as showns of the whole advancement operation, that operation of a nonprofit and and in...

...higher education that kind of looks out at the world and engages people with our institutions on that board between the two. So there's lots of opportunity and I think that alone should be interesting to some of our people who are considering young people are considering what to do after they graduate. In addition, though, it is fulfilling work working closely with people who care about our care about Penn state. So I'll speak specifically about Penn state. We get to work really closely with Penn state alums who have really warm memories of their time here and want to use that positive emotion in a way that benefits our institution and our students. And much of that is about fundraising, but not all of it. We need alumni who are going to mentor our students. In a lot of our spaces. We need know, really vibrant alumni base to help us get internship and coop opportunities for students. That matters a lot and so that engagement really does have positive impact. We're doing work that positively impacts the institution that we love. Our students who need it and and you know, are going to be launched into the world it better way if we can support them because of the work that we do. They'll be launched a better way. That feels great. I think a lot of pride in that. So I think for somebody thinking about a career that is meaningful. It's different all the time. You know, there's lots of events, there's lots of people to meet. If you are going to be a frontline fundraiser, even some of our alumni relations team members, you're going to travel a lot. That was appealing to me, honestly, when I started doing this work and I know it's appealing to some of our other team members as well. And if you if that's not what you want, Tho's lots of work and stewardship sorts of other work that we do that is still rewarding in all the same ways that maybe doesn't have that travel component, that other piece. So you mentioned mentorship and obviously that's the goal of this podcast is mentorship. So how do you approach Mentorship, both as a mentor who is successful in your career and two different careers, and how, also, do you still be a mentee at your point in your career? So I approach mentorship, you know, I I want to help people who I'm working with get to the next level for themselves. Where do they want to get to and how can I help them? So I do look at my mentorship as an opportunity to have conversations where I bring honest stories about my experience to the table to help others move through spaces that may be challenging for them. I'm really comfortable talking about my career, my history with people that I'm mentoring in ways that hopefully helps connect them to a story that they see a path forward for themselves. So I really want to support that. I want to I want to see things in them that maybe they don't see in themselves and help them achieve their goals at that level. As as a mentee, I I am really comfortable and I think this is a space that for my entire career will be true for me and I'd suggest other people, you know, do some reflection about this and try and capture it, which is I want to continue to learn. I want feedback. I want to know how I can be better at what I do. I know my boss, Dave leave. He I worked with him and directly for him for many years. I go to him all the time with questions, you know, hard questions, things that I can't quite figure out and I want, I genuinely want, his guidance on that. And there are others. I went through a leadership program a few years ago for, you know, advancement professionals in the large public institutions in the country and somebody I met through that program he and I struck up a regular conversation by zoom during the pandemic and I felt like he was able to mentor me around how do I help my staff through this period of time, and you know, he was somebody with not a lot of fundraising experience. Ultimately, he's just taken up position as a vice president and so I was able to give him...

...some advice it in that space as well. So we felt like we were both helping each other, which is always nice. But I I don't feel that I am done being mentored. I know that I can use lots of insight. I met an age where where the people who first mentored me, some of them have have passed, some of them are retiring and and that causes a lot of reflection to whether I want my my legacy to be as somebody who helped others achieve their goals professionally and sometimes personally as well. Is there any suggestions that you would have for a student as they seek out mentors to get their career started? You'll be creative, think about where do you want to be? Maybe and and you can help you talk through that process. Your mentors not necessarily the person who's going to get you there, and I'm not sure you should pick a mentor. Do you think they can get you a job? You don't know that that will necessarily bring you exactly what you want. You want somebody who's going to be able to talk to you about the things that are important to do and help you make decisions that are difficult and challenging. One of my first mentors at Penn state gene songer. She was an amvp of the time and I was an Mgo and in engineering gene still an AVP, and now we're colleagues and we're good friends. And at the time somebody asked me did I want to mentor and who would I wanted to be and gene was the only woman I saw at that level at the time and she was in the central organization, so that was different too, and I asked if she would mentor me and she said yes and and so, although it didn't directly affect my job, because Jane was never a fundraiser and many steps after that here at Penn State, you know, had nothing to do with whether or not Jim could make the decision about promoting me. That was never the case, but it was a great opportunity for me to learn from her experience and to understand this organization better and it seemed like I'm kind of a non traditional decision, but it was right one. There was a formal monthworship. Informal monthworships every every supervisor. I've had a lot of my academic leaders. They're so smart a lead giant teams and I really enjoy talking to them about what they do and hearing their insights and manage leading teams. So yeah, I think being open to mentorship is important. Is Important for your entire career, absolutely and I hope that you take these pieces of advice seriously as you listen to this podcast, as you seek out other opportunities, both in the Honors College and at Your Home College or campus here at Penn State. Obviously, mentors are people and, Tina, I'd love to know if there's anybody from your scholar days or anybody that you work with now that you would like to give a quick shout out to hear the tail end of our conversation. Okay, who would I want to give a shout out to? Obviously my team, my I can't say enough about my team and how much they inspire me and they're the reason I do what I do. I'm proud of the work we've done, especially during the pandemic, and proud of our says. I am moved all the time by the work way do to support students, so that's really important. There were lots of professors that I remember from my days. One Who's retired now. He goes by our Thomas Burner, Tom Burner, or is those of us who went through the journalism program called I'm just burner. He's still in this region and I think of him often. To somebody who really had an impact on my my care as a student. And you know, I think people like you shown people who are doing good work for our students. It's really important. It's what we need to be doing. So I give you a big shoutout for doing this podcast and and for giving me an opportunity to talk like this. It's been a lot of fun and you know I enjoy, enjoy anything I can do just for our students and I appreciate that you've made space for that. I'm glad that you were able to join me on it. So, are there any last pieces of advice that you wanted to share with said students before we wrap up with the last kind of close out questions? I'd like to tell the students that you know they taking risks. Is Good. You know there are challenges at every stage, but you USS Those challenges and you take a calculated risk. Sometimes the really hard choice, the thing that's making...

...you feel uncomfortable, is going to be the best choice. It's going to be the thing that you should say yes to, and I'd encourage them to be conscious of that when they're doing things that might push them beyond their comfort zone. You know, taking a job that maybe is outside their study area or outside the geographic area where they thought they were going to land, but maybe they need to really understand that feeling and decide if that's something that maybe they should be looking at an and when it comes to mentors, you know, I think some students have a lot of natural mentors and those individuals who tell them what it's like to be a professional, you know, what does it look like to get dressed for a job interview and and all of that, but many of our students don't have those natural mentors. Don't be ashamed of the fact that you don't have them and you don't know the answers to those questions and find somebody to ask. That's what mentors all about. That's the type of thing that, honestly, I enjoy doing more than anything and eventory relationship is helping people answer the questions that they they might be afraid to ask, and so don't be afraid of that. Find Somebody to help people with that and and you'll be surprised. Nobody, nobody is going to to be unhappy that you've asked on that question. They're going to be excited to help you with that that is really, really good advice, especially if you identify as the first generations student, or maybe you don't even know that you identify as the first generation student. Tina. If they want to connect with you, to have these conversations, what's the best way to reach out to you? They can definitely reach me on Linkedin. You can find me as Tina Hennessy, Tina Flint Hennessy. My Flint is my maiden name and kind of has become my default middle name, and so I'm happy to connect their you know, I welcome and the email of somebody wanted to send me one. My email is tina ti na at PSU DOT EV. So it's pretty simple and I'm always open to allowing individuals to do that as well, and as this tradition on the show. Our last question is if you were a flavor of Burkie creamery ice cream, which would you be in most importantly, as a scholar Alumna? Why? That flavor? All right. Well, so I would have to be wpshue coffee break. There is no better ice cream in the world to bring together coffee, which is one of my favorite things, with little bits of chocolate in an ice cream that at the Bergie curlery is, you know, giant, too much but so delicious. I just I can't think of a better I know, I know, that's not scholarship. Yeah, but it is my favorite and I love it. I have not been keeping track, but W PSU coffee break is a very popular response among our alumni. I think it might have something to do with those late nights writing the thesis and the Coffee Element, but always a great choice. Tina, thank you so much for joining me today and offering really, really great advice for our students, for our young alumni who are listening. We really appreciate it. Thank you so much. Thank you, shy. Really really appreciate this opportunity. Thank you, scholars, for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shire Honors College Emergency Fund Benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays dot PSU DOT edu, forward slash shreire. Please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like or follow button. On whichever platform you are engaging with us on today, you can follow the college on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin to say up to date on news, events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at PSU DOT ETU. Until next time, please stay well and we are.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (34)