In our recurring Spotlight blog feature, we chat with CASE members from around the globe their advancement careers.
The best part of working in development, says Pedro Govantes, is seeing the joy on donors’ faces when they make an impact. Here, this senior director of development at the University of Michigan (and incoming chair of CASE’s Multicultural Advancement Professionals) shares his insights on today’s higher education challenges.
How did you find your way to advancement and your current institution?
It seems most of us have taken the long way around the barn to arrive in advancement. I’m no exception. I currently work for the University of Michigan as the senior director of development for the Tri-State and Eastern Pennsylvania region.
Prior to coming to Michigan, I worked for Villanova University, first in planned giving and then as director of development for their College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Before Villanova, I served as a Presbyterian minister for about 25 years. During those years, and even today, I teach philosophy as an adjunct professor at The College of New Jersey. In addition, I also co-founded and was executive director of an educational nonprofit.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is sitting with donors and reflecting with them on the impact of their philanthropy. Seeing the joy and satisfaction in their faces is priceless.
What’s one work achievement that you’re particularly proud of?
I am very proud of the role I played in the founding of The Albert Lepage Center for History in Public Interest located within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. It was a dynamic team effort with an absolutely wonderful donor at the heart of it all.
What’s a professional lesson you’d pass along to professionals just starting out in advancement?
The most valuable lesson I have learned over the years is to remember that the story is not over. There is another page to turn, another chapter coming. It has helped me in putting my professional trajectory in perspective and it has served me very well in working with donors and helping them achieve their philanthropic goals.
What do you see as a key challenge facing educational institutions today?
There a number of serious challenges facing higher education today. Among those challenges is certainly equality of access across all population groups, in terms of reaching a higher education institution, retention rates, student debt load and career opportunities after graduation.
More generally, what are some ideas you’ve learned from your involvement with CASE?
The most significant influence that CASE has had on me is in offering me a place as a minority where I can be at home. CASE, and in particular the Multicultural Advancement Professionals committee, has encouraged me to reflect deeply on my experience as a minority serving in advancement and to consider both how this impacts my own work and how I can help others who are like me. I am thrilled to be part of a group that is actively thinking about ways to draw and nurture traditionally underrepresented people into our profession.