Award Winner Presentations - 2011
Speaking Notes for Tom O’Neill, CCAE Friend of Education Award recipient, made at the Awards Gala Dinner, Sunday, June 5 2011
Thank you very much, Scott, for that wonderful introduction. I am indeed honoured to receive this award and to follow in the footsteps of such impressive people who have received it in previous years, including Fred Eaton, John Cleghorn, and Purdy Crawford. I have worked with each of them and have always had huge admiration for their business and philanthropic efforts.
I want to thank those who took the time to write letters of support for this nomination – many of whom are represented here at the noisy tables. Bill and Claire Leggett, George and Debbie Hood, Wade Hall, Ray Satterthwaite, Sheila Norris, Kathy Arney, Paul Chesser – all of whom I worked with at Queen’s and who played a critical role – not only in the successes that Queen’s enjoyed – but in making my time there so much fun and so meaningful.
The CCAE Friend of Education Award is special for me as Quebec City is my home town. I was born and raised here with my brothers David and Grant, not far from here in Sillery.
It was my aunt who gave me some great advice. She said: “Tom, better to give with warm hands than cold hands” – advice that helped guide my involvement and investment in philanthropy. It took me a while to realize, but eventually I did learn that maxim that many of us have come to learn: A living is what you make; a life is what you give.
I’ve been lucky enough to have some successes in my career, which enabled me to give back to organizations to which I have strong ties. It is people like you in this room who make it possible for me, and others like me, to get involved and have such fulfilling volunteer and philanthropic experiences. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
I have three significant philanthropic experiences in my life: The Stratford Festival, St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and Queen’s University. Queen’s has a special place in my heart – it is where I met many of my life-long friends, met my wife, got an excellent education, and learned many, many lessons (lessons like how to pay for your rent through bootlegging beer out of a pop vending machine in your living room … but I digress).
Becoming a volunteer and donor at Queen’s gave me the opportunity to give back, but also to stay connected with some old friends and make new ones, and to help future generations enjoy some of the benefits that I received as a student. As volunteers, we worked hard and we played hard. As a donor, I felt respected and was made to feel like I was part of the team. I feel good about giving back to a place I am so connected with.
My experiences with Stratford and with St. Mike’s have also been extremely rewarding. At each place I learn and have the opportunity to work with interesting people and to contribute to organizations that play vitally important roles in our society.
I have received far more from my involvement than the organizations have received from me.
Which brings me back to the people in this room.
Generally, you do not work in advancement to get rich. If you do, then you are in the wrong line of work. There is a higher purpose here. Of course, everyone needs to make a living, but your work is more than that. You are directly making a difference. You are channeling the best of humanity to do good works for society. You are the best that our country has to offer, and volunteers and donors like me are in your debt. We need you and we thank you for your dedication, professionalism and commitment.
It’s not an easy job. The bar keeps getting raised; expectations both from your institutions and from donors and volunteers continue to grow. I want to you to know that as volunteers and donors, we know that, and appreciate it. Keep up the good work!
While I don’t want to keep you from the bar, I want to take this opportunity to share three pieces of advice that have always stood me in good stead in my career:
- Ask for advice and listen. There is nothing more engaging than to be asked for your input or opinion. All of us are smarter than some of us. It’s okay if you don’t use the advice, but it is important that you listen and consider it. When you do that, we are engaged. If you ask but don’t listen, it’s worse than not asking in the first place.
- Be honest with yourself and with others. For your closest volunteers in particular – don’t sugar-coat the facts. We have been around – we might have been born at night but it wasn’t last night. We know that nothing is perfect; it wasn’t for us, and it isn’t for you. Everyone has challenges, and we want to help. But we can’t if you don’t talk about them. Be positive, yes, but also honest … and sometimes we can really help.
- Keep engaging with your colleagues outside of your organization. Continuing education – through conferences like this, for example – is so important to you individually and to your institution. It helps you to be competitive, to understand best practices and benchmarks, to give you new tools and ideas, to understand that you are not the only one facing a particular issue. And it helps advance your industry. By improving the ability of advancement professionals across the country, it enables us all to help education in our country. I’ve been around for a while and still make it a priority to attend professional development activities. You do not have to be sick to get better.
In conclusion, I thank you all for this honour and the opportunity.
Remarks by Tony Storey, CCAE 2011 Outstanding Achievement Award Winner, made at the Awards Gala Dinner, Sunday June 5, 2011
Bonjour tout le monde. Il ma fait grand plaisir d'être ici ce soir. La qualite de mon francias est lamentable. Mais avec l'aide de un de mes amis, je vais essayer de dire quelques mots en français. Plus tard!
A number of weeks ago, in preparation for the search to appoint my successor, I was asked to quantify how many evenings and weekends I worked in a year, and how many kilometres I travelled in my car. The search committee, I was told, wanted to ensure that candidates for the position had a clear understanding of what might be expected of the new alumni director.
I had not actually thought about this before, but I went through my 2010 daybook. There was an unintended consequence to this exercise, however… when I saw the results, I was aghast. 57 weekday evenings, 16 weekends and thousands of kilometres in the car with far too many drive-through meals on the seat next to me. What have I done with my life, I wondered? Those colleagues who are close to me can attest that I was a bit “cranky” for a few days.
I am reminded of a scene in the movie, The Godfather Part 2. The mobsters Hyman Roth and Michael Corleone are doing business in Cuba. A colleague has been murdered, without the usual permissions. Hyman Roth comments: “When I heard about it, I shook my head. I wasn't happy but I did not ask any questions, for this is the work we have chosen!”
Advancement…this is the work we have chosen. To stand here in front of a national audience and be recognized for the work I have chosen over the past 27 years is pleasing and humbling.
I want to salute Manulife Financial for their inspiring sponsorship of this award. Recognition of achievement is potent…I have seen it repeatedly in my work as we have recognized deserving individuals. I have also seen the impact that our affinity partner programs have made on the resources available to elevate the quality of our activities. At a time of great fragility in operating budgets, affinity incomes transform good initiatives into exceptional ones. Thank you to our partners and in particular, thank you, Manulife Financial, for your commitment.
Je voudrais dire “merci” a Manulife Financial pour leur grand engagement.
And I would not be standing here if a group of wonderful, cherished alumni friends had not taken the trouble to nominate me, with touching and skilful articulation. I thank them… they are at my table or in my thoughts tonight.
Nor would I be standing here without CCAE's commitment to professional development and recognition. I suspect I may be one of the few people here who can recall CCAE's predecessor organization, known simply as Alumni, Information and Development professionals of Canada. When I think of the colleagues I have met across Canada at CCAE conferences and workshops since 1984 and the insights gained and lessons learned, I am indeed grateful for our organization.
I also would not be standing here tonight if I had not been supported over the past 23 of those years by a dear and valued colleague. I am sure that in all our offices and departments there are people like Kathleen Easson at Trent University, who deliver results time and time again; who are smart, creative, loyal and resourceful. And who never, ever seek the spotlight. They just want things done well, without mistakes.
As part of my departure from Trent, I have been embarked on a Thank You tour, which has allowed me to thank many of our alumni and friends for their thoughtful support. I have been treated very, very well and been subject to some lovely and personal tributes. I described some of these moments to my External Relations & Advancement colleagues at Trent recently, not to shine a light on my own work but to be sure they knew that I am simply the thin edge of the wedge. When I walk into an alumni reception or a donor's office, my colleagues and their work walk with me… stewardship, donation processing, research, event organization, marketing & communications… all the comrades of advancement are with me when I do the work I do.
Last Friday I had the privilege of escorting Craig Kielburger, the founder of Free the Children and co-founder of From Me to We, at Convocation as he received an honorary degree. I reminded him of his keynote speech at CCAE in Ottawa a few years ago… he recalled his last day as a scholarship student at Trinity College at the University of Toronto. He described thanking the provost, the bursar, the porter and others. But as he left the college, he realized that there were people he had overlooked, the staff who ensure that such scholarships exist, who enrich opportunities for students at our institutions, who report to donors about the status of their funds, who see that supporters are invited to take part in the lives of our schools, who manage the information systems we rely on.
He thanked us in Ottawa that day, and I did feel as if I had been personally thanked on behalf of all the students who benefit from the work we have chosen to do.
Mes collègues, pour moi, et j'espère pour vous, c'était le meilleur choix. Je vous salut et je remercie le CCAE pour ce congrès dans cette ville magnifique.
Colleagues, for me, and I hope for you, advancement has been the best choice!
I salute you all and commend CCAE for this assembly in this brilliant city. Have a tremendous conference.