Jessica Tallman, M.P.S.
Arts and Cultural Management ’10
Director, Alumni Relations and Annual Giving
Describe what it is you do as director of alumni relations and annual giving at Pratt.
My job is to engage Pratt alumni and keep them connected to the Institute. We start with current students and continue to celebrate alumni through 50th reunions and beyond. My team of six meets with hundreds of alumni face-to-face; we host events around the country; we keep the alumni site alumni.pratt.edu fresh with new information; and we raise support for Pratt through alumni giving to The Fund for Pratt.
When did you start, and what background did you bring to this position?
I started at Pratt in 2008. I began my career in development as the assistant director of alumni and parent programs at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, where I fostered lasting relationships between the university and current students, faculty, staff, and alumni. I developed a highly successful alumni relations stewardship program and participated in strategic planning and implementation of Reunion Weekend. I was also responsible for the university’s key $700,000 annual fundraising program and served as a staff coordinator for the university’s $200 million campaign.
You earned your master of professional studies with distinction in May 2010 while working full-time in your present position. Has becoming an alumna yourself made a difference in your role at Pratt?
I am proud to be an alumna of Pratt and it gave me important perspective on the alumni experience. The Pratt community is very loyal and alumni are always happy to hear that we share a Pratt experience.
Have you taken new measures to find and involve “lost” alumni?
Finding “lost” alumni was an immediate priority when I arrived at Pratt. We worked closely with our Operations team to locate over 15,000 alumni mailing addresses, over 6,000 alumni phone numbers, and nearly 10,000 email addresses. Our first step to involve them was reaching out. The new electronic Gateway has three times the former print circulation and Prattfolio is now mailed overseas. Taken together, the annual circulation of these publications has more than doubled. We have had a great response from alumni who are happy to be reconnected.
So far, what do you consider your major accomplishment in promoting alumni relations at Pratt?
The recent launch of the Pratt Institute Alumni Association has been a major accomplishment. Alumni should check the mail for the new membership card which is free and will be mailed annually. The Alumni Association offers exclusive access to alumni.pratt.edu, free entry to several New York City museums, and more. New benefits and discounts are being added, so enjoy the new card and stay tuned for more.
What is the most challenging aspect of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at Pratt?
The most challenging aspect is reviving alumni support of Pratt through annual gifts to The Fund for Pratt. Our key message is that you don’t have to make a large gift to make a big difference, and alumni are responding. In just two years, the number of gifts from Pratt alumni has increased 60%. We are thankful that Pratt alumni are showing their commitment to Pratt’s continued success.
What can Pratt alumni look forward to next?
Pratt’s 125th Anniversary Kick-Off is October 1–2, 2011. It is a weekend for alumni, students, faculty, families, and friends. We are excited for the opportunity for the entire Pratt community to celebrate Pratt. Save the dates!
What do you do for fun?
I’m a foodie and I’m always exploring Brooklyn restaurants.
Photo: Kevin Wick