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Arts on view
Meet the Friends of the Presidents
Established in 1966, the Friends of the Presidents Society recognizes the colleges most generous donors, who set an example of leadership in annual giving (the gift level for membership is $2,000, with a sliding scale of lower levels for the most recent classes).
When Marisa Behnke 99 graduated with a degree in business, she assumed shed find a place in the corporate world and settle in. She tried planning trade shows for Microsoft in her hometown of Seattle, but found that she hated itthere simply wasnt any satisfaction in that realm for me.
In 2001 she became a fundraiser and publicist for Childhaven, a Seattle nonprofit that provides comprehensive care to battered and abused children. There she helped realize a $15 million campaign goal. At the same time, she became a member of Skidmores national Friends of the Presidents committee and served as FOP co-chair for her classearning a nomination for Skidmores David H. Porter Award for Young Alumni Volunteerism.
I come from a philanthropic family, Behnke says. Even when I was in high school, my dad was telling me, You have to give back to the community that raised you. That idea was embedded in my thinking. I know that a lot of recent graduates who have just paid tuition for four years wonder why they should consider making a gift. But tuition doesnt cover extras, like financial aid. We cant forget about all the kids who arent able to go to college without taking out loans or working two jobs.
Behnke also points out that strong alumni involvement can strengthen a school and enhance its reputation. When I say I graduated from Skidmore, I want people to say, Wow, thats a great school, she says.
For Behnkewho is now community development coordinator for Seattles Northwest Center Foundation, which operates on-site businesses that employ individuals with disabilities and also facilitates off-site employment at local stores and restaurantsSkidmore helped shape the life she lives today. Giving something back to the college, she says, was just something I knew I would do from the first moment I arrived there. MM