In the summer of 1980, six development directors, at the urging of Peter Gallagher (pictured with executive director Julie Sootin), met at the Bengal Tiger in White Plains, New York, to talk about their agencies and fundraising issues. The group called themselves the Westchester Association of Development Officers (WADO) and Dick Kennedy became the first president. The first official luncheon meeting with a speaker was in the fall of that year.
In 1993, WADO incorporated as a membership corporation, with a mission to 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. In 2003, “Westchester” was dropped from the name to reflect the growing number of members located in Putnam, Rockland, and Dutchess counties.
In 2004, the Association of Development Officers (ADO) presented its first awards ceremony to heighten awareness throughout the region of the importance of philanthropy and fundraising. Over the years, the organization has implemented various educational events including full-day conferences, breakfast clubs, Meet the Funders events, and Ask the Experts roundtables. Programming has included a mentoring program, scholarship/internship program, and a fundraising and board development certificate program with SUNY Purchase. In 2008, ADO became a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to promoting philanthropy and providing educational enrichment.
Dozens of presidents have served the organization well, along with hundreds of volunteer board members. ADO has been the lower Hudson Valley's premier philanthropy and fundraising association for 40 years.