Ask any of the more than 260,000 UC alumni what their favorite part of the university is and you’ll likely get a myriad of different answers. From athletics, business, law and engineering to performing arts, design, medicine (and everything else in between), UC means many things to many people.
It can be hard to maintain these connections over time, especially when distance takes the most passionate Bearcats away from Clifton. But thanks to the efforts of alumni like Todd DeGarmo (DAAP ’82), more graduates and friends across the country are sustaining a relationship while helping current students through meaningful private support.
When Todd’s career as CEO and Principal of STUDIOS Architecture took him away from Cincinnati, his appreciation for UC led him to build a base of Bearcat supporters in his hometown of Washington, D.C. And along with dozens of great volunteers –and the inspiring generosity of alumni and friends – Todd helped raise more than $20 million during the Proudly Cincinnati campaign from the D.C. region.
As Chairman of Washington D.C. Campaign Committee, Todd knew it was important to aim high, even though there wasn’t a historically strong base of engagement in D.C. However, few people could have anticipated such an astounding level of success. “When we first got started, our goal was actually to just bring in as many people as we could, and hopefully raise $8 million over five years,” Todd says.
“In the beginning,” Todd continues, “I approached the challenge (how do we get the word out about UC, the campaign, and get people involved) in the same way I would a design problem, as an architect. I knew that building the best team possible was going to be critical, and I was fortunate to find such great people who offer a variety of different ideas.”
Having a good committee was also important due to the sheer size of the region, as well as the number of alumni and friends they hoped to engage during the campaign. “That’s actually another piece of wisdom I’ve picked up from being a CEO,” Todd says. “It’s good to set the tone as a leader, but you can’t expect to be successful by doing everything yourself.”
As the campaign unfolded, Todd and his team began holding events and meetings with alumni who were interested in getting reconnected with UC. As a sign of things to come, Todd notes that many of those early meetings ended the same way.