Community / School Spotlight

School Spotlight — Pamela Winthrop

Pamela Winthrop
Director of Institutional Advancement Pamela Winthrop

Director of Institutional Advancement Pamela Winthrop

Over her nine years at CAIS (nearly a quarter of the school’s lifetime!), Director of Institutional Advancement Pam Winthrop has overseen an explosion in parent participation in philanthropy at CAIS, from 73% when she arrived to consistently high nineties over the past many years. Annual Fund 2021-2022 has been no exception, except that the results are all the more heartfelt because they come even in the midst of our families facing significant challenges due to the global pandemic. As she shared with the 60(!) Annual Fund volunteers this year, Annual Fund has officially finished “Ninety-Gr8” with 98% of families participating, along with 100% of faculty, staff, and trustees! Though she won’t rest on the Annual Fund success and is already diving into preparations for ShowCAIS on May 7, 2022, we caught a few moments with her to reflect on her experiences advancing our remarkable community.

Q: You’ve worked in Advancement for more than 20 years. What keeps fundraising fresh for you?

A: To borrow a line from Jeff Bissell, “come for the program, stay for the people.” It’s enormously gratifying that CAIS continually innovates, so the “what” that we support through Annual Fund, ShowCAIS, and capital campaigns is ever-evolving and inspiring to me. I’ve worked at and consulted with a dozen schools, which gives me a special appreciation for how distinctive, life changing, and world changing CAIS’s mission truly is. It’s our community, though, that makes this work in particular so fulfilling. I relish the privilege to be able to connect such big hearts in support of the fantastic cause that is CAIS. Our auctioneer always teases me about it at ShowCAIS, but I genuinely get teary at the outpouring of love our community shows for teachers and the school through their gifts. I also have had the honor of working with some Annual Fund volunteers since their children were in what was then called Pre-K…and who are now in Middle School! It’s jaw-dropping to look back and think about the school’s growth in lockstep with these little ones who have sprouted up in what feels like the blink of an eye.

Q: How have you seen philanthropy change over your time at CAIS?

A: In addition to how much more inclusive our participation has become, I have been excited to see how our community publicly celebrates the shared spirit of support. Whether it’s seeing faculty and staff at different campuses have good-natured rivalries to be the first to reach 100% or seeing the smiles of recognition that the balloon arches signal Annual Fund starting up again, giving has become a community tradition at CAIS. Families have a greater awareness of what they accomplish by supporting the school. Recently a trustee thanking a donor for their Annual Gift was told, “We increased our gift because of the way CAIS has been handling the pandemic.” The fact that donors know the impact their giving has means everything.

Q: If your dogs Maple and Lui could be Core Value Firedragons, which ones would they be?

A: Ha! What a fabulous question. I adopted my now 10 year old cockapoo, Maple, from a shelter following her life on the “mean streets” of Dublin, CA. She had birthed several litters before she came home with me, and she’s my old soul. I think Maple most embraces the Perseverance firedragon, especially now that she’s plagued with arthritis. She keeps moving, and plays with her little brother, Lui, even though he often steps on her or bumps into her. She’ll also do anything to steal food from anyone! Lui, a 5 year old Yorkshire Terrier mix, came to us as a tiny puppy, and he doesn’t realize he weighs 8 pounds. He is fiercely protective of Maple, and loves everyone! He definitely embraces the Inclusion firedragon.