19th Avenue / Campaign Donor Profile

Building a Safe Haven: A Board Member’s Vision for CAIS

The Dennis Family

Alda Leu Dennis, mother of 7th graders William and Amelia and 4th grader Fiona, is a guiding force at CAIS as both a devoted board member and a leadership donor. Her commitment is fueled by a profound belief in the school’s mission and a vision for a vibrant, inclusive future.

Alda’s journey with CAIS began with a simple yet powerful aspiration — to provide her children with an educational experience where they could thrive without feeling like outsiders. She envisioned a space where cultural diversity and language learning would be seamlessly woven into the fabric of academic excellence. “I chose CAIS for my family because I wanted my children to have the skill of learning another language and a feeling of belonging,” she shares, highlighting her initial motivation for joining the CAIS community.

Central to Alda’s support for CAIS is her unwavering belief in the strength of the community and the school’s commitment to inclusivity. “The value of the school goes beyond the language and educational components and is really about the community,” she emphasizes. This dedication to fostering a supportive environment aligns with CAIS’s vision of being a safe haven, not only for the Asian American community but also for those who feel an alliance with different cultures. Alda sees the new campus as a catalyst for achieving this vision, envisioning it as a place where new programs can flourish and a stronger sense of community can take root.

As sixth graders in 2023, Amelia and William were part of the Lion Dance at Mass Greeting 2023. This special tradition honors the fact that each Lunar New Year coincides with the same Zodiac animal from the birth year of most sixth graders.

Alda is particularly enthusiastic about consolidating all the grades into one location. “Having the three campuses united in one large and spacious campus will do wonders in facilitating kids at different ages interacting and building a stronger community,” she affirms. Her commitment to creating an environment that encourages engagement among students of all ages reflects her deep understanding of the importance of close ties in a school setting.

In her support for the capital campaign, Alda has become a vocal advocate for the importance of philanthropy in schools. “There is education required around philanthropy,” she notes. “For example, I didn’t know that tuition at independent schools only covers a portion of the operating costs, and the remainder is left for the community to fill in with donations. I now understand that tuition is structured this way, in part, so that those who have the inclination and the means to fill in the excess budget gap for their children’s education, can do so in a tax-advantaged way.” Alda recognizes the need to demystify the financial aspects of independent schools, urging the community to understand the crucial role that donations play in enriching the educational experience for every student.

“I’m super excited about the new campus. I’m already there all the time at the gym because my kids are very active in after-school sports.”

Alda Leu Dennis, Board Vice Chair (First)

Alda’s involvement extends beyond financial contributions; she actively engages in the life of the school, utilizing the new facilities even before their official unveiling. “I’m super excited about the new campus. I’m already there all the time at the gym because my kids are very active in after-school sports,” she shares.

In her reflective moments, Alda contemplates the motivations behind giving back to the school. “It’s important for us to understand what motivates people to give back to the school,” she emphasizes, recognizing the diversity of reasons that drive individuals to support the institution.

Alda Leu Dennis’s commitment to CAIS is a testament to the transformative power of education and the profound impact it can have on individuals, families, and communities. As a board member and a leadership donor, Alda stands at the forefront of CAIS’s journey towards creating a nurturing and inclusive educational haven that extends beyond language and academics — a place where the vision for the future comes alive, empowered by the generosity and dedication of individuals like her.

If you’re interested in learning more about leadership giving to the campaign, please contact Berkley Summerlin at b_summerlin@cais.org.