Anoka Technical College recently welcomed Pamela Russell as its new development director. Russell came to Anoka Tech in November, after moving back to her home state from Tacoma, Wash., where she worked with various nonprofit organizations.
The University of Minnesota graduate got her start in the corporate world, working with Fortune 500 companies, but writing grant proposals for nonprofits helped her transition into a career of development work. “When I came back to Minnesota, I really wanted to work for a college, especially a technical or community college.
“They are very open and affordable to all learners. That’s really my vision—to be here and be a resource for all learners. This position at Anoka Tech was a great match for that vision,” said Russell.
It is that vision that drives Russell. She strives to keep Anoka Technical College strong and to be a leading career resource for learners of all ages and backgrounds.
“Fundraising can be hard work, but it’s also very rewarding,” Russell explained. “It’s rewarding to know that there are enough resources here. For example, I help with crisis grants. If a student starts here and something happens in their life where they can no longer meet their tuition, they can apply for a crisis grant and continue their education. Those are the kind of things that make me feel good.”
Russell’s background in nonprofits and socially responsible work is a clear foundation for the work that she hopes to expand on at Anoka Tech. As development director, her responsibilities include generating revenue for academic programs and scholarships as well as to receive annual and capital gifts from donors. Among the cash donations, Russell also seeks out in-kind, equipment donations for academic programs such as stenograph machines, examination tables and vehicles.
“Just this morning I interacted with three donors who wanted to donate vehicles, which is great for our students in the Automotive program. It’s a nice match because donors would like to get rid of their car and we would like to have them to train our students,” said Russell.
“I am still learning what the programs have and what their needs are, but if a program doesn’t have a certain type of technology that they need to teach students, I want to bring in donations that allow them to be able to use that technology. I’m looking to see where the gaps are in each program, whatever their needs may be.”
As a one-woman development team, Russell is committed to making personal connections throughout her work, whether she is out meeting with donors or collaborating with others on campus.
“I like face-to-face interaction. People like to see real faces behind the name of the college. We are a one-person shop, but I wouldn’t say that I am doing it all alone. I’ve got faculty and board members who are very much partners with me. I can see that Anoka Tech has a culture of philanthropy,” said Russell.
Russell also hopes to extend her impact beyond Anoka Tech and into the community. While she says she is still getting settled into her new neighborhood, she hopes to get involved with her neighborhood association and is already on a Crime Victim Needs Assessment committee, which is run by the state’s Office of Justice programs.
“I’d like to be an ambassador for the college. I’m very active in the community on different committees and boards. If I’m at a community meeting, I love to tell them about Anoka Tech and its programs so learners know about the great technical education here.”
For more information about Anoka Tech’s Foundation or to learn how to make a gift, visit: AnokaTech.edu/en/AboutATC/Foundation.
— Information provided by Anoka Technical College