New director's focus on strong alumni network

Veteran fundraiser currently on staff at children's home

CHAMPAIGN — The new executive director of the Parkland College Foundation says she hopes to build a strong alumni network to help expand the college's fundraising efforts.

Linda Myette, a veteran fundraiser and educator with experience at other universities, was appointed this week by the Parkland College Foundation board.

Currently director of development and leadership gifts at Cunningham Children's Home, Myette will assume her new post Sept. 3. Her base annual salary will be $115,421, according to Parkland College.

"I have always been interested in education," Myette said Friday. "Being around young people who have the whole world ahead of them, knowing you can do something to help them see their dreams and their visions come true, is just really inspiring. It's a way to keep you connected and make you feel like you're making a difference."

Myette said she was attracted by Parkland's small size and strong feeling of community, similar to a liberal arts college.

"The fit at Parkland feels right," she said.

Myette has been part of the Champaign-Urbana community since 2004, working in development at Cunningham Children's Home, the Carle Development Foundation and the University of Illinois.

Before that she spent four years as vice president of university development for North Park University in Chicago and 15 years in fundraising and administration at Greenville College in Greenville. She was also a high school English teacher in Indiana for 10 years.

Parkland College President Thomas Ramage said Myette's background as an educator and her fundraising experience, both locally and in higher education, is a good match for the foundation.

"It's appealing for us to have someone with a higher education background who understands faculty and the institution and shared governance and how it operates," he said.

Myette succeeds Carl Meyer, who had held that post since 1997. During his tenure, the foundation raised $25.5 million for scholarships, programs and equipment and created more than 70 partnerships with businesses and academic departments.

"Carl's done an excellent job, taking us from 0 to 100 miles per hour," Ramage said.

The college now would like to engage the foundation board more in the fundraising process, he said.

Myette has experience in board development and said she was impressed with board members' "passion and desire to be more engaged."

Myette will lead Parkland's development efforts and be a member of the college's executive team. She will direct both alumni and fundraising programs.

Parkland is planning an annual campaign and has several new buildings that offer naming rights, such as a theater addition and student services center, Ramage said.

"Those present fantastic opportunities for the right individual or organization to put their name on it," he said.

Myette said she will take some time to "get my feet on the ground" and study best practices at other community colleges. But she's also interested in strengthening Parkland's alumni connections and building up its alumni association.

Research shows that most people who attend community college stay in the same community, she said, but those who go on for higher degrees also tend to develop loyalties to those institutions.

"If we can find ways to begin to connect them to their experience at Parkland as a starting point, I think there's a lot of potential there," she said.

Myette has a bachelor's degree from Greenville College and a master's degree from Indiana University and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive. She has given presentations on women in leadership and women in philanthropy.

After spending her first 13 years in the Philippines as the daughter of a missionary, Myette attended high school in Warsaw, Ind. She serves on the Salvation Army Advisory Board and is a member of the Mattis Avenue Free Methodist Church. She and her husband Phil have two children and seven grandchildren.

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