Vice President for Advancement

Saint Mary's College
Indiana, United States
Salary Not specified
Jun 08, 2021
Jul 07, 2021
Employment Type
Full Time

A trailblazer in the education of women, Saint Mary’s College seeks as its next vice president for advancement a mission-driven, innovative, and experienced fundraising professional to provide bold leadership for its development, alumnae relations, and marketing and communications initiatives. The vice president will join this Catholic liberal arts college at a pivotal moment in its history and partner with dynamic new president Dr. Katie Conboy early in her tenure. Saint Mary’s is positioned for significant expansion under the next vice president and recently completed a strategic planning process that will set the foundation for an ambitious comprehensive fundraising campaign. This is an exceptional opportunity to partner with a new and evolving college leadership team and to play a central role in enhancing the visibility and fundraising capabilities of a remarkable institution with a highly engaged alumnae base and a powerful legacy of empowering women through excellent academic programs and spiritual support.


Saint Mary’s has a unique place in American higher education. Founded in 1844 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s is the only women’s college in the state of Indiana and one of only three dozen in the United States. As a Catholic institution, Saint Mary’s promotes a life of intellectual vigor, aesthetic appreciation, religious sensibility, and social responsibility. The college fosters an inclusive, transformative, and welcoming academic community where students discover and develop their talents as they prepare to make a difference in the world. The college provides financial aid to 100 percent of its 1,600 students and has upheld its core values of Learning, Community, Faith/Spirituality, and Justice for more than 175 years. Educating students in a wide range of liberal arts, professional, and STEM disciplines, Saint Mary’s has demonstrated exceptional strength in the health sciences, particularly nursing, and was recently awarded a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to create the Center for Integrated Healthcare Education. The center will build off Saint Mary’s existing areas of excellence and create significant strategic growth opportunities for the college. 


The current environment demands that Saint Mary’s expand its constituents and understand their aspirations, differentiate its approach, and articulate its outcomes in new and compelling ways. This differentiation must emerge from the college’s core values, as well as from its historic identity as a primarily undergraduate, Catholic, women’s, liberal arts college that is guided by the enduring work of its founders and ongoing sponsors, the Sisters of the Holy Cross. To that end, President Conboy and Saint Mary’s trustees seek an accomplished and high-performing leader capable of building upon the existing program to strengthen and transform the advancement function into a philanthropic and communications enterprise of unsurpassed effectiveness through the implementation of creative and entrepreneurial strategies.


Guiding a 35-person team, the vice president is responsible for designing and executing a comprehensive, integrated advancement strategy and the necessary infrastructure to further elevate a high-performing operation to best position Saint Mary’s to respond to the evolving nature of philanthropy and to more deeply engage the college’s multi-generational and increasingly diverse alumnae and parent populations. The vice president will report to President Conboy and work in concert with her, leveraging her experience with and commitment to advancement-related activities. The vice president will work with the president and trustees to ensure the effective use of their time and maximize their success, serving as the principal advisor on advancement at Saint Mary’s, and partnering with the president and senior leadership in the cultivation of high-level donors. As a member of the president’s executive staff, the vice president will be expected to provide meaningful input on the full range of issues facing the institution, and thus a person with a contemporary and comprehensive knowledge of higher education and the liberal arts is much desired. The vice president will be an active partner to the president and the executive team in generating and evaluating the fundability of new ideas, effectively operationalizing the most promising.


Success for the next vice president will be, in part, defined by an ability to educate and engage all members of the Saint Mary’s community—faculty, staff, students, alumnae, parents, volunteers, and senior administrators—in advancement efforts, and to lead and inspire the team to meet aggressive goals. Key charges include elevating communications and messaging activities to drive reputational growth and ensure that internal and external audiences alike have an increased awareness and refined understanding of Saint Mary’s and its ambitions; expanding the major gift pipeline and broadening the donor base to new and next generation contributors; increasing the number and size of annual fund gifts, thereby enhancing participation; better leveraging and sustaining an active and successful cohort of volunteers and senior leaders in philanthropy; and strengthening a sustainable infrastructure to support increased philanthropic revenue and future fundraising efforts, including growing the endowment and planning, launching, and executing a comprehensive fundraising campaign.


The vice president must be a superb storyteller with extraordinary skills that include crafting multiple compelling cases for support and engaging and building authentic relationships with the college’s diverse community—connecting individuals not only to the unique Saint Mary’s Catholic legacy, but also to its ambitious future. The successful candidate will reflect and embody the core values of Saint Mary’s College, leading advancement efforts and serving the college with warmth, humility, humor, and a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. The candidate must be a self-starter who advances a clear set of priorities with efficiency; demonstrate a high level of integrity, trust, and resourcefulness; adapt in a dynamic environment; and exhibit the credibility, emotional intelligence, judgment, and sophistication to effectively engage and partner with internal and external stakeholders. The candidate must possess the ability to build bridges and strong collaborative relationships across the college and demonstrate a deep appreciation for Saint Mary’s mission as a Catholic women’s liberal arts college.


A minimum of 10 years of leadership experience in advancement, constituency engagement, and staff management is required, as is a knowledge of strategies employed in all major development, communications, and alumnae functions, including expertise utilizing social media and modern technology to advance a program. The vice president must be able to create a metrics-driven, financially prudent, and results-oriented work environment that promotes collaboration and achievement. Experience leading all aspects of a complex team, including managing, mentoring, motivating, retaining, and evaluating staff is essential. Demonstrated experience enhancing professional development and career planning opportunities for advancement staff as a means of retention is highly desirable. A bachelor’s degree is required.


Saint Mary’s College has retained the services of Jack Gorman and Rachel Ellenport of the national executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to conduct this search Inquiries, applications, and nominations for this position should be directed to the search firm at


Saint Mary’s College, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, an order of the Roman Catholic Church, was chartered as an institution for women as a Catholic witness in higher education. It has continued to adhere to that focus and mission. As a Catholic institution, the College reaffirms its mission and philosophy which call for a modeling of social justice and Christian principles in our personnel policies and practices.


All College policies, practices, and procedures are administered in a manner consistent with our Catholic identity. With the foregoing understanding, Saint Mary’s College will not engage in discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion (except where religion is a bona fide occupational qualification), age, disability, citizenship status, genetic information, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. Based on our Catholic values, the College also prohibits discrimination based on sexual or political orientation.