As co-chairs of Wagner’s new Century Leaders group, Ali Hay and Kevin Murphy are working toward a common goal: engaging young alumni in giving back to their alma mater — an effort to which each brings something different and valuable.
Ali Hay came to Wagner from Westminster, Massachusetts, attracted by the College’s emphasis on civic involvement. An arts administration major with a minor in history, she became a leader at the College through the Student Government Association (she was president her senior year), Young Democrats, Academic Honesty Committee, and Sustainability Committee.
Now a development officer at the College of Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston, she was initiated into fundraising at her first job out of college, for Jazz at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. There, she discovered that she loved telling the story of an institution — the essence of fundraising. Since then, she has also worked as a consultant and as a staff member of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.
“As someone who had to tell the stories, I realized which ones were particularly impactful. And I think that Wagner’s story is very impactful. There’s a lot of opportunity there for students to be as engaged as they want to be. And if they’re enthusiastic, then the College is really responsive to it.”
Kevin Murphy came to the College from Delaware, inspired by his grandmother, nursing graduate Clare Murphy ’49. He also came because of a scholarship that he received — a common thread between his story and Ali Hay’s; she also depended on a scholarship to attend Wagner. He was a member of the Seahawks football team, wryly commenting that he played “end, guard, and tackle — end of the bench, guard the water bottles, and tackle anyone that comes near it.”
He went on to earn an MBA in the accelerated, one-year program, and later also added a master’s in accounting to his credentials. He now works as a financial advisor and tax preparer.
As a money-management professional, Murphy sees the question of giving back in financial terms. “I got a lot out of Wagner. And if I didn’t go there, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be in the field I’m in now,” he points out. Citing the connection between large endowments and university rankings, he says, “The only way to improve the quality of your school is to make it self-sufficient. It also improves the value of your resume. The kind of gift I’m giving now is not enough to do that, but if I keep building up year after year, maybe I will.”
Ali presents the case for giving in her own way. “I’m in a position like many others, where I have student loans. I realize that I owe a lot of money, but I wouldn’t trade my Wagner experience for anything,” she says.
“My involvement in student government, my arts administration major, and my internships led me to a career I love in fundraising. Being able to support Wagner and knowing the money I give opens a door for future students to have the developmental opportunities I benefited from is very important to me.”