The History of the Association of Development Officers (ADO)
Thirty years of promoting excellence in fundraising and philanthropy

In the summer of 1980, six development directors, at the urging of Peter Gallagher, began meeting regularly at the Bengal Tiger in White Plains to chat about their agencies and fundraising issues. The group included Joe Cooke from the Boy Scouts, Dick Kennedy from the American Red Cross, Ed Steward from Lenox Hill Hospital and Peter Gallagher from Marymount College. The group recognized the need for an organization in Westchester that would promote the field of fundraising and support its fundraisers. The group decided on the name, Westchester Association of Development Officers (WADO). Dick Kennedy drew the short straw, and became WADO’s first president.

At first, the group met in the large conference room on the top floor of National Bank of Westchester in White Plains, now the Arts Council Building. The first official luncheon meeting with a speaker was in the fall of that year. It met at such places as The Wartburg in Mt. Vernon; Pace University in White Plains; Hudson River Museum in Yonkers; The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry; and The James House at Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow. “ADO Afternoons,” starting around 1983 and were held annually at the Edith Macy Conference Center, and later at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry. Membership dues were $60.00 per year for 10 meetings, including lunches and the ADO Afternoon! ADO forefathers (and mothers) were so fiscally sound that they even had enough money left over in 1982 and 1983 to make $1,000 gifts to the White Plains Public Library to help support their link with The Foundation Center. Throughout the 80s and 90s, ADO communicated to its members by a mailed newsletter, which also included meeting and industry news, employment opportunities and member events.

On December 16, 1993, the Westchester Association of Development Officers incorporated as a membership corporation, with its mission being to enhance and promote the business of fundraising, to encourage members to enhance their education in the field of development, and to provide members with information about the far-ranging and ever-changing facets of their profession.

By the late 1990’s, ADO was also disseminating information through its website. In 1999, the Ossining Breakfast Club was formed, giving fundraisers in northern Westchester a chance to informally meet and network. In July 2005, we held our first Breakfast meeting in Putnam County to provide another convenient opportunity for Putnam and Dutchess County members to meet. Today, we regularly hold Northern Westchester-Putnam and Sothern Westchester Breakfast meetings.

A pivotal year in the history of ADO was 2003. It was the year that the board of directors evaluated and redefined ADO’s mission, goals and programming. “Westchester” was dropped from its name to reflect the growing number of members coming from agencies in Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess counties.

Just as significant as its widening geographic reach, ADO was becoming more than just a membership organization. It was evolving into a charitable organization dedicated to the advancement of fundraising and philanthropy in the Hudson Valley region. ADO’s new mission statement, logo, newsletter, brochures and website now better reflect the organization’s commitment to raising public awareness and interest in philanthropy and charitable giving; to promoting high ethical fundraising standards; and to providing educational opportunities for those involved or interested in the field of fundraising.

As the Association of Development Officers began to establish itself as THE organization for fundraising and philanthropy in the Hudson Valley area, the volunteered organization developed programs and events that better helped it fulfill its newly defined purpose. ADO held its first National Philanthropy Day event in 2003, called Face the Funders. In recognition of the national day that celebrates fundraising and philanthropy, over 150 funders and fundraisers were brought together to meet and learn from each other. In 2003, ADO also launched a mentoring program, where individuals who are new to the field of fundraising or thinking about changing careers into fundraising are linked with seasoned ADO members, who are experts in the field of development, special events, etc.

In 2004, ADO presented its first fundraising and philanthropy awards, and brought heightened awareness throughout the Hudson Valley to the importance of philanthropy and fundraising with NYS Attorney General Elliot Spitzer as its Face the Funders Day 04 guest speaker. ADO Day 04 had record attendance with close to 200 development directors, executive directors, board members and consultants attending the full-day educational conference.

The organization continues to redefine its programming in 2005, launching a Scholarship Program that provides free full and partial memberships to individuals who meet the program’s criteria of need. ADO entered into collaboration with SUNY Purchase to offer a 12-week course on fundraising and board development that will launch in September 2005. The course featured a rotating faculty of distinguished professionals in the field and covered board responsibilities, annual giving, major gifts, planned giving, special events, fundraising and technology, donor and funder research, capital campaigns, grant writing, strategic/development plans, and corporate strategies. Today, the program is a full year with four required courses and a choice of 2-5 electives.

ADO officially amended its incorporation papers in 2005 to reflect its three-fold purpose: the advancement of fundraising and philanthropy, the promotion of high ethical standards, and the education of those involved or interested in fundraising. With the official change in its incorporation papers, ADO submitted an application to the IRS for status as a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization and in 2008 becomes a charitable organization.

In November 2005, ADO held its first National Philanthropy Day Awards Breakfast, presenting awards to individuals, a foundation and a corporation that exemplify outstanding commitment to nonprofit organizations, and who take leadership roles in fund raising, philanthropy and community service. Since then, the day has become known as Philanthropy Awards Breakfast and 60 individuals, organizations and corporations have received our highest honor.

Recent years have seen many communication changes such as the use of e-newsletters, e-blasts and social media. However, the foundation of ADO lies with its extraordinary volunteer leadership. Twenty-five Presidents have answered the call and have served the ADO organization well.

The years 2010-2012 marked a time of continued growth and increased vitality for the Association of Development Officers, with an active board working diligently behind the scenes to develop, refine and deliver new and exciting programming such as our new Peer-to-Peer Resource Directory and an expanded scholarship program that includes internships, an improved website with easier navigation, and greater community outreach to match its mission. And in August 2012, ADO took a mega leap by hiring their first-ever director, Lydia Howie, whose enthusiasm and work ethic is sure to take the organization to new heights.

Thank you for your continued support and hope you will be around to celebrate our 35th Anniversary!



Co-Founder & President:
Peter Gallagher

Past Presidents:
1980-82
Richard Kennedy, American Red Cross

1982-87
Peter Gallagher, Marymount College

1987- 89
Mary Ann Winters, School of the Holy Child

1989-1991
Jodi Horton, St. Joseph’s Medical Center

1991-1993
Judith Arner Brown, Causeworth

1993 - 1994
Nancy Mathiasen, Concordia College

1994-1995
Nancy Mathiasen, US Merchant Marine Academy Foundation
Sandy Matthews Oxx, Hudson River Museum

1995-1996
Nancy Mathiasen, US Merchant Marine Academy Foundation

1996-1997
Carol Gerstein, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
Nancy Mathiasen, College of Mount Saint Vincent

1997-1998
Carol Gerstein, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
Beryl Hay, United Way of Westchester and Putnam

1998-1999
Beryl Hay, United Way of Westchester and Putnam
Katrinka Walter, Franciscan Friar

1999-2000
Susan Auslander, "Carpe Diem"
Pat Braja, United Way of Westchester and Putnam

2000-2001
Pat Braja, Northern Westchester Center for the Arts
Rick Boynton, Scenic Hudson

2001-2002
Pat Braja, Northern Westchester Center for the Arts
Pat Nicolais, Lighthouse

2002-2003
Shawn Cribari, Ossining Children’s Center
Pat Nicolais, Lighthouse

2003-2004
Shawn Cribari, Ossining Children’s Center
Diana Campos, Food-Patch

2004-05
Lydia Howie, Grant Marketing Solutions

2005-06
Lydia Howie, Grant Marketing Solutions
Sue Cole, Cole Communications

2006-07
Sue Cole, Cole Communications
Linda Karesh, Directional Training Assoc.

2007-08
Linda Karesh, Directional Training Assoc.
Diane Tabakman, The People Straetgy Co.

2008-09
Diane Tabakman, The People Straetgy Company
Alison Paul, Alison Paul Grantwriting & Consulting

2009-10
Alison Paul, Alison Paul Grantwriting & Consulting
Toni Boelsen, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital

2010-11
Toni Boelsen, New Rochelle Humane Society
Lucille Geraci-Miranda, Dominican Sisters Family Health Service

2011-12
Lucille Geraci-Miranda, Dominican Sisters Family Health Service
Paula Barbag, Richmond Community Services

2012 – 13
Paula Barbag, Richmond Community Services
Deborah Wilson, Family Services of Westchester

2013-14
Fran Higgins, Westchester ARC

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