SHU Hires Three New Directors for Advancement Plans

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University has hired three new, experienced professionals for its advancement department to lead the University in expanding fundraising initiatives and philanthropy.

Melinda Formica has taken on the role of executive director of advancement for the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology (WCBT); Jill Meister is the executive director of advancement services; and Stacy Velarde is executive director of advancement for the College of Health Professions (CHP) and the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing. Formica and Velarde will report to the assistant vice president of major and planned giving, and Meister will report to the assistant vice president of annual giving, stewardship and advancement services.

“Sacred Heart’s philanthropic future is bright,” said Paul J. Sutera, CFRE, senior vice president of University advancement. “These three executives are high-performing and results-oriented professionals. They add depth and breadth to our team. Whether it is ensuring data integrity, creating meaningful relationships for our institution, or telling the SHU story, I am extremely proud to have Melinda, Jill and Stacy on our team. They believe in what we are building and will be important participants in our future philanthropic successes.”

Formica’s position 

Formica will drive broader awareness and philanthropic support for the WCBT as it continues to hone the integration of business and technology education. This includes building a development program that supports its entrepreneurial and fast-paced approach to preparing students for work in a global economy. She will assist the dean in working with key partners,  board of visitors and department advisory boards, which are constituted of alumni, parents, corporate partners and community members. 

An experienced advancement professional, Formica is a certified fundraising executive with 30 years experience in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining SHU, Formica spent 16 years at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, where she was senior director of parent and family development, president’s council executive director, regional gift officer and director of development and alumni affairs for the business school. She also worked at Cheshire Academy and the American Red Cross. Formica, who lives in Cheshire, holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a master‘s degree from the University of Hartford.

“I am excited to join Sacred Heart University during this time of unprecedented growth and success,” Formica said. “The University’s student-centered education, which focuses on career readiness, along with SHU’s spirit, is inspiring. I look forward to collaborating with the amazing team of professionals at the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology and across the University to further develop strategic partnerships with our alumni, parents and corporate communities to support education.”

Meister’s role

Meister’s responsibilities include leading the advancement services program within the University’s advancement division. She will lead a team charged with the day-to-day activities and operations for data integrity, management and maintenance of the University’s fundraising database. A vital part of her role will be data analytics and campaign reporting, prospect development, gift and pledge processing, records management, fund management and stewardship reporting. She will ensure adherence to internal policies and procedures and will institute best practices that will be the backbone of the fundraising and alumni engagement enterprise for SHU. Meister earned her bachelor’s degree in management with honors from Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH, and her master’s degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She lives in Ansonia.

With 20 years of experience, Meister has served as director of advancement services at King School in Stamford; executive director of advancement services at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY; director of prospect research and management at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH; director of advancement services and research at The Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, MA; associate director of prospect development at Brown University in Providence, RI; director of development research at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, and manager of development research services at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has contributed to the success of seven multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns.

Meister has designed and developed protocols, procedures and systems for tracking and reporting fundraising activities and results and is skilled at assessing the best use of data for future fundraising strategies. She also has given back to the prospect development profession by holding numerous positions in Apra and the New England Development Research Association, serving as president for both organizations.

“I am thrilled to join Sacred Heart at such an exciting time for the University, in terms of the campus growth and the increasing prestige of its programs,” Meister said. “SHU has great philanthropic opportunities, and I am looking forward to employing a data-driven and donor-centered approach to increase philanthropic investment.”

Velarde’s goals

Velarde is a seasoned advancement professional with more than two decades of experience in higher education, nonprofit organizations and industry. At SHU, she will oversee the strategy and growth of the development program that supports the fast-growing health-care programs. She will enhance the reach and philanthropic investment in the health-care industry and will build a robust donor pipeline for the CHP and the Davis & Henley College of Nursing.

Velarde’s previous roles include director of development for the Global Lyme Alliance; associate dean of development and alumni relations at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and director of development for the University of Connecticut Foundation. She also spent time as a regional director of major gifts for the March of Dimes. Velarde has extensive for-profit experience in the banking industry, working on trusts and estates, planned giving and business development with high-net-worth clients. A Stamford resident, she has worked as a vice president for business development at Putnam Trust/Bank of New York and Bank of America/Fleet Bank.

“I am thrilled to be part of this vibrant community,” Velarde said. “It is a tremendous and meaningful opportunity to support the College of Health Professions and the Davis & Henley College of Nursing as they transform health education by enabling students to utilize our state-of-the-art clinical practice labs, Pioneer Performance Center, and our audiology and simulation centers to improve patients’ lives. I look forward to building internal and external partnerships that will invest in SHU’s stellar education and vision.”

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As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education & Human Development; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 387 Colleges–2022 Edition, “Best Northeastern” and Best Business Schools–2022 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre. www.sacredheart.edu


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