Director of Development and Corporate Relations
University of Missouri College of Engineering
JOB DESCRIPTION: Fund-raiser and corporate relationship manager
YEARS LIVED IN COLUMBIA: 23
ORIGINAL HOMETOWN: Sedalia
EDUCATION: University of Central Missouri, bachelor’s degree in geography; University of Missouri, master’s degree in public administration
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Columbia Regional Airport Advisory Board, chair; Columbia Chamber of Commerce, past board member, past chairs of economic development, business showcase (co-founded), governmental affairs, agri-business, small business, and education committee, ambassador. City, past board member of economic development, risk management, Convention and Visitors Bureau. Missouri United Methodist Church, candidate for City Council 5th Ward (1987).
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Assistant director of economic development, City of Sedalia; executive vice president of Abilene, KS, and Sedalia chambers of commerce; account manager Wausau Insurance Company, CEO of Corporate Insurance Management of Columbia; assistant section supervisor, Missouri Department of Insurance; senior executive director of development, Columbia College; development officer, MU College of Business; and director of development, MU College of Education
A COLUMBIA BUSINESSPERSON I ADMIRE AND WHY: Sabrina McDonnell, because she has moved up through the ranks at First National Bank from a teller to president. That is quite remarkable. Sabrina’s experience over the years with the bank has enabled her to understand and appreciate the culture of the bank and she can use her knowledge to provide a great work environment that achieves the bank’s goals.
WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: There is a huge need for engineers and for young people to consider becoming engineers. My job allows me to meet many people from all across the country and learn about their lives and their university experiences. I talk to alumni about their experiences at MU and growing up in their hometowns in Missouri. I get to ask them to financially support the great University of Missouri and really make a difference in a student’s life or provide support to renowned faculty member to keep them at the university. Gifts to the university can have a transforming effect and can accomplish results that cannot be done with funding from the state or other resources. Our donors get to see what a difference that they make.
IF I WEREN’T DOING THIS FOR ALIVING, I WOULD… be governor.
BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME AND HOW: Starting Corporate Insurance Management from “scratch” was fun and challenging. I secured partners and agreements with major insurance companies and was able to compete with the largest commercial insurance brokers in the country. Making calls and being knowledgeable about coverage enabled me to gain trust with customers and prospects. This practice serves me well in fund raising. It is important to gain the trust of anyone I am working with.
A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: I have two projects that stand out: working with the nephew of an alumnus of the College of Business to establish the first endowed professorship in civil engineering, and working with Mr. and Mrs. Hook to establish the Hook Center for School and District Renewal and the Joanne Hunt Hook Dean’s Chair in Educational Renewal at the College of Education, which was the first such chair established at the university.
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFESSION: It is a relationship-based job and it is necessary to have as much contact with alumni and corporate representatives as possible. There is a great deal of travel involved and scheduling can be difficult at times. One needs to pay close attention because opportunities for involvement with alumni and corporations can present themselves and you have to be ready to “ask for the order.”
WHAT I DO FOR FUN: I enjoy traveling to destinations in Maine, Colorado, Wyoming, California, Oregon, Florida and western Canada. Around Columbia I like to run, especially with my trainer Jamie Mondello, bicycle, cook and play guitar.
FAMILY: My spouse is Michelle Cecil, the William H. Pittman Professor of Law and Curator’s Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri School of Law. Michelle is the best law professor at the law school.
FAVORITE PLACE IN COLUMBIA: My back yard and kitchen.
ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: Saving Boy Scout Troop 5 from losing its charter and at the same time watching the troop produce two Eagle Scouts. Establishing the Michelle Arnopol Cecil Award in Tax and the Michelle Arnopol Cecil Scholarship at the University of Missouri School of Law that honors my wife and her success as a law professor.
MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT I… am into artisan cooking. I also am a big Jimmy Buffett fan and can play many of his songs on guitar.