September 2, 2013

2013 40 Under Forty: Eric Gustafson

Gustafson

Title: Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Framingham State University

Company location: Framingham

Residence: Holden

Favorite movie: "Office Space"

Favorite book: "In Cold Blood"

Career highlights: I have nearly 15 years of experience in development and institutional advancement, having worked primarily in higher education. I started my career with the YWCA of Western Massachusetts, handling marketing and communications. I then transitioned into higher education at Anna Maria College, serving as director of alumni and college relations. I then relocated to Ohio to work at Muskingum College as director of annual giving and as associate director of major gifts. I returned to Massachusetts in 2008 to re-join Anna Maria College to serve as director of advancement. In 2012 I took my current position at Framingham State, where I am providing leadership for the university's first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign.

Community involvement: I am very active with the YMCA of Central Massachusetts, serving on both the endowment committee and the Greendale Branch Board of Governors. I also serve as a corporator for Children's Friend in Worcester. Previously I served on the board of directors for Rainbow Child Development Center in Worcester.

Biggest success: I feel blessed to have both an amazing family and a career I enjoy and am passionate about. I have been able to work for outstanding educational and non-profit organizations throughout my career, helping each raise additional funds to further advance their missions. At each of my institutions, I have helped produce significant increases in both dollars raised and alumni participation rates. At Muskingum College, I was proud to have been part of the team that raised $65 million for the school's capital campaign, finishing $10 million over goal.

Biggest challenge: The philanthropic climate becomes more challenging each year, as more worthy organizations compete for the same donors. It pushes all of us to be more effective in our work with donors, helping them see firsthand the positive outcomes their gifts have on students and their ability to earn a college degree.

Mentors: In addition to my parents — who have provided immeasurable inspiration and support to me throughout my life — I have been fortunate to have had exceptional managers at each of my jobs. All of them have been mentors and have helped me grow both personally and professionally.

Hidden talents: I competed in inter-collegiate forensics (public speaking) while in college.

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