John is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University (Political Science ’05) and George Washington University (Political Management ’07). Having spent six years learning the ins and outs of politics, he immediately dropped all of that, taking a position at Philadelphia University as a Prospect Researcher. John remained with PhilaU through their merger with Thomas Jefferson University, leaving in 2018. He joined Shipley in May of 2019, and is still getting used to having an office with windows.
Q. Describe your job at Shipley.
The Director of Advancement Services position is mostly inward-focused, though I’m always happy to help with anything. Within the department, I have oversight responsibility for our database, making sure we’re using it to the fullest potential, and that our information is as accurate as possible. I provide prospect research and portfolio management for our major gifts and annual fund teams, I write many of our acknowledgment letters, I pull information out of the database and run analytics, and I oversee the gift entry and acknowledgment process as a whole. Beyond that, after scrupulously avoiding math for years in school, I maintain our internal budget.
Q. What do you like most about working at Shipley?
Ever show up somewhere and just know, immediately, that you belong? I had that happen to me three times in my life: When I visited Devon Prep the first time, when I toured Johns Hopkins, and when I came to Shipley for my first interview. The community here was open and welcoming, the position offered me the chance to develop a broader base of skills in my field, and I knew I was somewhere I could make a difference. Everything I liked about the institutions that shaped me, I could see reflected at Shipley, and that feeling never left.
Q. What is your favorite Alumni event and why?
I’ll be honest, my answer could very easily change since there are a good number of important events that I haven’t had the chance to experience yet. Of the ones I have seen, though, I quite enjoyed Alumni Weekend. It was great seeing people have the chance to connect after, in some cases, dozens of years, and from a purely selfish perspective, being able to listen to a presentation on our history before I even got started was a huge help to me in recognizing the names of people who were critical figures in Shipley’s development.
Q. What do you wish that Shipley alumni knew about the Shipley of today?
Shipley has changed over the years, obviously; I’ve only been here a few months, and already I’ve been through a Head of School change. One thing I’d want people to know is that we know not only who we are, but who we’ve been, and the work we’re doing today builds on what’s come before. Specific policies may change, elements may require greater or lesser focus over time, but the core goals never change: developing students who are proud of their school and are well-equipped to face the challenges to come.
Q. Over the past 3 years, Shipley has embarked on a school-wide Positive Education initiative. Students and colleagues alike were asked to complete the VIA Character Strength survey to recognize their top 5 strengths. What are some of your top character strengths and how do you use them to enhance your well-being?
Of my top 5 character strengths, four are pretty clearly tied to my work life directly: Honesty, Kindness, Teamwork, and Humility (I could probably crowbar Fairness in there, too, but that’s a bit more abstract; the others are quite directly applicable.) Honesty, in this context, is more than simply not lying: it’s about being who you are and acting in a genuine manner. I tend to function well in a supporting role, helping provide others with the tools they need, and as long as I’m willing to put in the work to get those tools for my teammates, that covers Kindness, Teamwork, and Fairness. Do my part, help others, and don’t try to make it all about me: if I’m doing those things well, I feel pretty good about myself and where I’m going.
Q. Give us one fun fact about yourself.
My immediate instinct is to be snarky and say “no,” but I suppose I can give it a shot. I’ve been involved in music and theatre for as long as I can remember; one of the groups I still perform with today, the Notre Dame Players, I started with when I was 3. I’ve also done musicals with the Players Club of Swarthmore, and am a member of the Kelly Street Chorus, a men’s chorus founded in the 1880s by Victor Herbert, the composer of Toyland.