Franklin College Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Dana Cummings, received the inaugural 2022 Woman Leader of the Year Award from Aspire Economic Development + Chamber Alliance on Sept. 30.
The award was presented during the Aspire Women Leaders Workshop, an event offering support to women of all ages and in all stages of their professional journey. A variety of panelists and speakers shared personal stories, life lessons, knowledge and advice throughout the event. The awards presentation rounded out the day.
Cummings’ nomination form included comments of high praise from her peers on the Franklin College President’s Cabinet, Institutional Advancement team members whom she oversees and others in her professional network. Cummings began her position with Franklin College in 2018. In addition to overseeing institutional advancement and alumni engagement activities, she has oversight for the college’s communications functions. She represents all these interests in her role on the President’s Cabinet, helping advise the president and others on the best course of action for a successful future for the college.
Cummings has nearly 20 years of experience as a development professional and a proven track record of success. Specifically, in the last 12 months at Franklin College she has been instrumental in leading and collaborating to accomplish many milestones, including:
- A very successful 2021-22 fiscal year, with a total of $9,081,085 in total progress from 3,322 donors. The $700,000 goal for the Franklin Fund was exceeded by $50,015. It is important to note that prior to 2019-20 the college had never surpassed raising $700,000 for the Franklin Fund. The college has now done so for three consecutive years. This is a significant achievement that bears directly upon the financial equilibrium of the institution. During the 2021-22 fiscal year, the college also received a $3.9 million bequest, the largest ever in its history.
- The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recognized Cummings and the Institutional Advancement team this summer for outstanding performance and programming. From 4,510 global entries, CASE selected only 173 for recognition with GOLD Circle of Excellence Awards; Franklin College received two of them. One GOLD award was for pivoting a traditional golf outing fundraiser to a highly successful virtual day of giving better known as #GRIZTuesday. The inaugural #GRIZTuesday raised $179,912 from a total of 1,283 donors compared to $82,089 raised in the previous year’s traditional golf outing. The other GOLD award was for automating a metrics reporting system and using that data to drive alumni engagement work.
- More recently, Cummings co-led efforts that resulted in Franklin College being awarded a $50,000 planning grant, and subsequently a $489,480 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of its Indiana Youth Programs on Campus (IYPC) initiative. The grant funds will support the launch of “Camp GRIZ” for rising sixth – ninth graders with programming that includes STEM, creative writing and fine arts. In line with the goals of the initiative, special recruitment efforts will ensure students from underrepresented backgrounds will have access to the camp. Camp participants will explore interests, learn new skills and be inspired to envision a future for themselves in college, potentially at Franklin.
- Still ahead, Franklin College will host the Inaugural National Trauma Journalism Symposium, Oct. 21-22. The symposium centers around helping support journalists and care for their mental health before, during and after they go into harm’s way to cover a variety of stories that can take an emotional toll over time. As a Planning Committee member, Cummings has been highly involved in collaborating with external partners across the nation to develop seminar topics, arrange speakers and gain funding support.
“All of us at Franklin College are excited about this recognition of Dana’s leadership,” said Franklin College President Kerry N. Prather. “Dana enjoys the respect of her colleagues throughout the campus because of her abilities to mentor and empower her staff while collaborating successfully with both internal and external constituencies. Our recent fundraising success is reflective of that leadership and collaboration. Dana is also generous with her time in supporting other women on and off campus in pursuing their professional ambitions. The Aspire award is very well deserved.”
Cummings’ Franklin colleague Kristin Flora, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, also was nominated for the Woman Leader of the Year Award. Flora has been employed at the college since 2007 and served in a variety of roles, including professor of psychology prior to her appointment to vice president. Along with Cummings, she co-led the effort to secure a $50,000 planning grant and a nearly $500,000 implementation grant for the Indiana Youth Programs on Campus initiative from Lilly Endowment Inc.