Pearl Street Collective Seeks Two CDOs for University of Massachusetts Amherst Foundation

August 14, 2023 – Boston-based executive search firm Pearl Street Collective has been enlisted to help fill two key roles for the University of Massachusetts Amherst Foundation (UMAF). The non-profit is seeking chief development officers for the university’s Elaine Marieb College of Nursing and its Commonwealth Honors College. Leading the assignments are Adele Mezher, co-founder and managing partner, and Esmina Perdiew, search consultant.

The Elaine Marieb College of Nursing role presents “a unique opportunity to leverage the fundraising potential that exists and to follow multiple pathways towards collaborative, interdisciplinary, and thematic giving opportunities that will significantly increase private support for the university and the college as it serves as a force for innovation, learning, and discovery in preparing culturally proficient nurses for leadership in health for a global society,” said Pearl Street Collective.

In addition to frontline fundraising responsibilities, the CDO will manage an associate director of donor relations, partner with and guide an active and engaged volunteer board, and actively pursue collaborations with colleagues across UMAF that benefit interdisciplinary programs such as the Elaine Marieb Center for Nursing & Engineering Innovation.

A Destination of Choice

The Commonwealth Honors College role is “a unique opportunity to partner with UMAF leadership in ways that promote the college’s role as a centerpiece of the university’s rising national stature and a destination of choice for academically accomplished students who want to define their life’s work in ways that create positive impact in the world,” said Pearl Street Collective.

Beyond frontline fundraising responsibilities, the Commonwealth Honors College CDO will be expected to hire and manage a team member focused on donor engagement and annual giving, partner with and guide an active and engaged advisory board, and actively pursue collaborations with colleagues across UMAF towards interdisciplinary and thematic giving opportunities that will significantly increase private support.

In addition to evergreen priorities within the Commonwealth Honors College for research and endowments, a vital need exists to increase student scholarships. This will provide students who are passionate about learning with the foundation and stimulus they need to create new knowledge, increase their capacity as innovative and independent thinkers, and deepen their facility to develop solutions to pressing problems.

Entrepreneurial Leaders

The CDOs for both colleges will be expected to create a compelling case for support, create strategic plans, proposals, and marketing materials to advance the development agenda for this college; stretch to close gifts and meet established goals; and initiate joint solicitations with the vice president of development and UMAF colleagues, as well as college faculty, staff, and volunteers as appropriate, said Pearl Street Collective.

UMAF wants entrepreneurial and results-oriented executive directors of development for both colleges who can create, plan, advance, and implement a wide range of fundraising activities, strategies, programs, and priorities, as part of the university’s next comprehensive campaign and in support of their college’s strategic plan.

Related: Is an Executive Hiring Crisis Approaching?

The CDOs will join UMAF at a time of transformation and growth as it prepares for the public launch of Accelerate: The Campaign for UMass Amherst, which has a working goal of $600 million. The CDOs will be expected to  assume and build out a national portfolio of individuals, corporations, and foundations rated at the major and principal gift levels ($50,000 to $1 million) with likely geographic emphasis on prospects and donors in the Northeast and Florida.

Key Qualifications

The ideal candidates for these roles will be relationship-driven and donor-centric with a track record of fundraising success at six-figure gift levels and above as well as showing an ability to think and act strategically while exhibiting diplomacy, creativity, and initiative, said the search firm. The CDO must demonstrate cultural fluency, empathy, and high emotional intelligence along with the skill needed to handle complex organizational details and project manage a variety of tasks.

Established in 2003, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Foundation’s mission is to support private fundraising on behalf of the faculty, students, and facilities of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The foundation is an independent, privately governed non-profit located on the Amherst campus. UMAF provides a bridge between donors and the schools, programs, faculty, and students that make up the university.

Serving Non-Profits

Women-owned and operated Pearl Street Collective, founded in 2019, provides high-touch executive search and talent strategy services to identify purpose-driven leaders for the non-profit sector. Operating out of main offices in Boston and San Diego, CA with team members around the country, the firm supports organizations in higher education, arts and culture, social justice, human services, philanthropy, health, and more. Pearl Street was named by Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy as the Top Search Firm for Women of Color for two consecutive years.

Ms. Mezher brings nearly 30 years of leadership in executive search to her role as co-founder and managing partner of Pearl Street. Highly skilled in strategic marketing and business development, she began her search career implementing programs that supported new market entry and practice expansion before assuming a search portfolio of CEO and vice president-level engagements on behalf of the Fortune 500 and venture/private equity portfolio companies in technology and industrial manufacturing.

Ms. Perdiew, who is based in Chicago, brings strong project management and relationship building skills to her work at Pearl Street Collective. She executes tailored recruiting processes to quickly identify talent for clients across non-profit sectors with a focus on higher education and social justice. She has been instrumental in the successful launch of several boutique firms during her 25-plus year career in executive search.

Related: Talent Shortages Reach Highest Levels in 16 Years 

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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