President's Perspective: Better Together
One of my great joys as president and CEO of CASE for the past six years has been visiting so many of you across all our regions. On my learning tour shortly after I started, I received a memorable welcome from the U.S. District III leaders. Not only did I discover a group of dedicated and inspiring CASE volunteers, but I also came away with an array of generous gifts representing the diversity and personality of this vast district, from my very own Mickey Mouse ears to a special bottle of Kentucky’s finest bourbon signed by the distiller. This is but one of myriad kindnesses shown to me by CASE members. I have met you in Dubai, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Singapore, Brisbane, Birmingham, Boston, and so many other places. You have been incredibly welcoming.
There is an energy at a CASE convening that is palpable. It is the energy of old friends coming together. The electricity of meeting new people who are part of your professional world. The inspiration of learning from your peers and being in a supportive community that is happy to share. It is the thrill of learning new approaches and gaining insights and perspectives. It is a vitality that recharges and delights.
Lacking that in-person connection and togetherness, I am buoyed by the ingenuity with which people are connecting online under the CASE banner, and the creativity of volunteers and staff alike. We have seen, as 2021 has progressed, some incredible successes through CASE meetings and convenings.
More than 6,000 advancement professionals have attended CASE ToGathers, online member forums to talk about key challenges and opportunities. We launched Diplomado, our Spanish language programme for those new to the fundraising profession, in partnership with Santander Bank. We anticipated 50 registrants. Instead, nearly double are participating in this six-month course. Similarly, our first CASE Academy, an eight-month leadership program led by a global faculty, has attracted a level of participation significantly greater than we had anticipated.
We experienced amazing collaboration in February in our first All Districts Conference, drawing more than 19,000 participants from 680 institutions in an online conference with the theme “Better Together.” I believe this to be the largest engagement in a single conference that CASE has ever seen.
Each of these initiatives has been an innovative response stemming from our determination to be together and to learn. I am inspired by the conversations and networking that have taken place at each of these and many other CASE convenings over the last few months.
I am proud to lead CASE at this moment, after a challenging year for us all. The CASE mission has never been more vital: As a catalyst for advancing education worldwide, we inspire, challenge, and equip communities of professionals to act effectively and with integrity to champion the success of their institutions. We do this together. Thank you for all you give to your institution, your community, and your CASE family. We are better together.
About the author(s)
Sue Cunningham is president and CEO of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), which supports more than 3,600 schools, colleges and universities worldwide in developing their alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing operations in order to advance their institutions. As CASE president and CEO, she provides strategic and operational leadership for one of the largest associations of education-related institutions in the world with members in more than 80 countries. She became president of CASE in March, 2015.
Cunningham engaged CASE and thousands of its volunteers in a comprehensive strategic planning process resulting in Reimagining CASE: 2017- 2021, an ambitious and comprehensive framework for serving CASE’s members and championing education worldwide. This volunteer and member engagement extends into a comprehensive effort to refine CASE’s governance structure to more effectively support CASE’s global reach and service to members.
Under her leadership CASE acquired the Voluntary Support of Education survey and created AMAtlas. CASE has reinvigorated its global advocacy agenda and is engaged in reviews of the curriculum across all advancement disciplines and an update of CASE’s management and reporting standards and guidelines, which operate as the industry-leading set of standards. She is most proud of CASE’s efforts to diversify the advancement professions and CASE’s commitment to talent management, within the organization and across CASE’s membership.
Cunningham serves on the steering committee of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, is a member of the Council of Higher Education Management Associations, the International Women’s Foundation, and serves on the fundraising committee for the Aurora Foundation.
Prior to CASE, she served as vice-principal for advancement at the University of Melbourne and as the director of development for the University of Oxford. She served as director of development at Christ Church, Oxford, and as director of external relations at St. Andrews University.
She is an honorary fellow of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a recipient of the CASE Europe Distinguished Service Award, and is a CASE Crystal Apple Award recipient. She holds a master’s degree from Oxford University and a bachelor’s degree in performing arts from Middlesex University.
Article appears in:
Community, Celebration, and Change: How traditions bridge past, present, and future. Plus, understanding how equity is central to institutions’ pursuit of social and racial justice, engaging alumni of color, and investing in alumni during trying times.