Cheryl Brodowski Helps Alumni Establish Lasting Legacy for Wesleyan

Cheryl Brodowski, assistant director for gift planning in University Relations, helps donors develop a comprehensive plan that may include both annual and planned gifts.

Q: Cheryl, you came to Wesleyan in 2007. What were you hired in as, and when did you join the Office of Gift Planning in University Relations?

A: I was hired in as a project coordinator for The Wesleyan Fund in September of 2007.  After three years with the Fund, I joined the Office of Gift Planning.

Q: Please describe “gift planning” and how the differs from making an annual gift to the university.

A: A planned gift offers donors the opportunity to establish a lasting legacy for Wesleyan.  While an outright annual gift supports Wesleyan’s current greatest needs, planned gifts have different benefits for donors, beneficiaries, and the University and help fund Wesleyan’s endowment.  Ideally, donors can develop a comprehensive plan that includes both annual and planned gifts.

Q: What are ways donors typically make this type of gift?

A: Planned gifts come in the form of bequests, retirement plan or life insurance designations, or IRA rollovers. Other options include life income gifts such as Charitable Gift Annuities or Charitable Remainder Unitrusts that will provide payments to the donor or loved ones in their retirement years.  Together these plans allow donors to create the best situations for their families and Wesleyan. More information is available online at www.wesleyan.edu/plannedgiving by calling 860-685-5775.

Q: As the assistant director, please cite a few examples of recent events you’re working on.

A: We collaborate with other departments in many ways. At this time of the year I’ll be working closely with Reunion Committees and other Wesleyan University Relations staff members to promote planned gifts to alumni who will be celebrating an upcoming Reunion in May. Additionally, I continually follow up on 150+ gift proposals which have been presented to donors by our Major Gifts and Wesleyan Fund development offices.  We also work closely with our colleagues in Finance and the endowment to help our existing donors.

Q: How do you spend the bulk of your day? Is every day different?

A: No one day in the Office of Gift Planning is ever like another. I spend time creating sample illustrations for potential donors as well as corresponding with those who have already established gift plans.  I also work on various marketing materials and am in contact often with Kaspick & Company, which manages our funds. To date, I have not traveled much in this role, but now that I have gained a better grasp on all the various gift concepts I will be hitting the road to visit with Wesleyan alumni.

Q: What is your role with Reunion & Commencement Weekend 2011? What class years are you overseeing?

A: Anyone who establishes a legacy gift is welcomed into the Olin Associates, a society which honors generous alumni and friends who have made a commitment to the future of Wesleyan University through their financial and estate plans.  This group is recognized at Reunion & Commencement Weekend with a special ribbon and pin and is also invited to events where I look forward to meeting them and getting to know them more. While I was in The Wesleyan Fund, I served as the liaison to the Class of 2001 10th Reunion Committee, and due to my move mid-year, I will continue to coordinate their efforts through May.  They have been an exciting and wonderful group of young alumni to work with over the past year.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of you job in gift planning?

A: I think a challenging aspect of my job is that no two gifts are ever the same and each one needs to make the most sense for a specific donor. There is a large learning curve, but we have financial, legal and gift planning professionals both internally and externally who are extremely helpful.  However, this challenging aspect is also one of the most rewarding. I enjoy getting to know donors, their families and their connections with Wesleyan. It is gratifying to create an ideal charitable plan best suited to them and Wesleyan.

Q: Where did you grow up, and what led you east to Wesleyan?

A: I grew up in Michigan and attended Michigan State University (Go, Spartans!).  It was there that I planned events for all of campus and worked with the Office of Admission as well as the MSU Alumni Association. By the time I graduated I realized just how much my college experience had changed my life, shaping who I am today, and I knew I wanted to be in a position to support that endeavor for other young people. While I had never been to Connecticut, I could tell Wesleyan was going to be a great place to start a career and a new life adventure!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I like everything that this area has to offer!  Some hobbies include running, hiking, live music, photography, golf, eating good seafood and visiting N.Y.C.  I also enjoy the beaches, Cape Cod and Acadia National Park up in Maine. I’m an animal-lover and a bit of a car enthusiast. High on my wish list of travel destinations are Istanbul and Greece!