Rising Stars - 2012

Rising Star Awards are designated for professionals with three to five years’ experience in educational advancement who demonstrate achievements, accomplishments, early success and commitment in the advancement field. A $2,000 Presidents’ Scholarship is presented to each Rising Star and is used to support further professional development in the year following their receiving the award.


The two 2012 Rising Stars are:

Jessica Fisher, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Tania John, Associate Director of Annual Giving, Wilfrid Laurier University.



Jessica FisherJessica Fisher


Jessica Fisher joined the advancement team at Memorial in 2007, and since then has become a well-recognized face on campus. Jessica spends her days planning major events on campus, such as “MUNdays”—the university spirit week—Convocation, various funding announcements, presidential dinners, and everything in between.


Jessica was first introduced to Memorial as a student when she completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry. During her student career, she excelled on the women’s varsity soccer team and also coordinated student initiatives such as Orientation, the Student Ambassador program and other programs within Student Affairs and Services. For Jessica’s outstanding involvement and proven contribution to campus life, she was nominated for the Chancellor’s Award of Excellence, The David Kirkland Student Leadership Award and Student Volunteer of the Year.


Early elements of Jessica’s career were directly related to her understanding of and commitment to the student experience at Memorial. Jessica spearheaded the creation of an information fair for graduating students called “Grad Street Festival”; she was instrumental in streamlining the convocation ticket and academic dress process at Memorial; she has recreated and refreshed the MUNdays program to attract a record number of attendees, as well as engage all three Memorial University Campuses.


Said Victoria Collins, Executive Director, Marketing & Communications, Memorial University: “Jessica’s exceptional negotiating skills, intensive and comprehensive planning abilities and caring attention to detail mean that Memorial's events are exceptionally well-run, effective and memorable, helping to build strong relationships with diverse stakeholders.”


Jessica’s work has been recognized by CCAE before, when MUNdays was awarded the CCAE Prix’Excellence Gold Award for Best Special Event, and again in 2008 when the Memorial University Habitat for Humanity build (co-chaired by Jessica) received a Gold Award for Best Community Outreach.


Jessica’s commitment to Memorial doesn’t end at the office, it also moves right onto the soccer field. Jessica has just committed to her 5th year as the Assistant Coach of the Sea-Hawks varsity women’s soccer team. Her passion for soccer and her ability to lead show both in training and on the field.


Jessica’s can-do attitude and her commitment to success often make her the go-to person for anything Memorial. She has a wealth of institutional knowledge and experience, and is equipped with a skill set and passion that frequently impresses.




Tania JohnTania John


Tania John is “an exceptional employee” whose creativity and passion for her work have led her to develop collaborative strategies and new programs, both in her current position as Associate Director of Annual Giving at Wilfrid Laurier University, and previously at Queen’s University.


Tania joined Wilfrid Laurier University’s annual giving team in 2008 after discovering her passion for university advancement as a third-year student caller at Queen’s where she. She overcame her initial shyness about “making the ask” for gifts to assumed a number of leadership positions in the call centre eventually leading to Annual Giving Officer, Telefundraising. Tania actively sought out new challenges in this role, including the development of a planned-giving appeal that raised $12 million.


From implementing new recognition programs for Queen’s student callers, to developing and executing Laurier’s first-ever Tag Day—placing tags on items that have benefitted from donations—to reinvigorating the Graduating Class Gift program, Graditude, at Laurier, Tania prides herself on bringing true innovation to her annual giving campaigns.


According to her past supervisor and mentor, Lisa Woodcock: “Tania knows the core business of annual giving extremely well, but is unfettered by the ‘traditional’ way of doing things and is open to creative, new approaches to maximize the funds raised while ensuring fiscally responsible spending.”


Said Bridget McMahon, Director, Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, Wilfrid Laurier University: “While Tania’s track record of raising funds is, without question, outstanding, even more significantly, the impact of her time here is felt through her leadership style, collaborative approach, and genuine interest in and respect for the advancement function as a whole.”


Tania values the important contribution of her colleagues and teammates—both past and present—who’ve helped her not only to generate donations, but also to raise awareness about the value of philanthropy among students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Her recent 2012 CCAE Rising Star Award is a testament to her ongoing commitment to excellence, and also to her good fortune to work with so many exceptional advancement professionals.