(From left to right) Mindy Danovaro, Sally Pereira, Casandra Fernandez, and Dianna Martinez are pictured on the McGeorge School of Law campus. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

It is at this time of year that we give thanks and share our gratitude for our teams, colleagues, coworkers, donors, alumni, and community members. With the spirit of giving and of gratitude, I write to share the honor I have of working with the most amazing advancement team a dean could ever ask for. Each and every one of them shines through their work, their commitment, and their passion for legal education. The making of a great team does not happen without focus and hard work. Below are my personal 10 Commandments for developing a strong team.


Advancement is not known as a high paying job! Those of us that work in higher education do it because we believe in our mission and in our students. We believe we can make a difference in the world through educating future generations. So giving big raises or big salaries is not an option, but being flexible with your team is possible. This also applies to being able to adapt and change when priorities do, as well. Embracing the changing landscape of the legal profession and legal education is key to the Advancement Department.

Professional Growth

Providing ways to advance their career (pun intended) or learn to be more effective leaders is always appreciated. Investing in your team’s growth is an investment in their future a benefit to their career and your institution.


Open communication is key. Sharing what you can with your alumni relations, fundraising, events, marketing, and communication staff is important. Making sure that your team knows you have their backs. Clear, honest, demonstrating empathy, engaging in active listening and building meaningful relationships through your communication with them makes them feel valued. (See Honesty)


As a leader of a team, it is so important to demonstrate confidence in order to instill motivation. Showing confidence in the law school, the programs offered, and the students helps build the teams confidence, as well.


Embracing new ways of thinking and strategies that give the team new perspectives, new ways to do things, and ways to stretch as team members. This can spur innovative and new ways to engage alumni, create events, and raise funds for your law school. Design Thinking and Journey Mapping are two tools that we have used to facilitate innovative approaches to legal education advancement.


Vision is an important quality to ensure team engagement. Knowing that the leader has a vision and including the staff in crafting that vision makes for an engaged team.  Ensuring that your events, alumni relations and fundraising staff can see the big picture of where the law school is headed, what the law school is capable of as a result of their great work, and what it will take to get there is inspiring.


The Advancement Team can convey the team’s vision to others within the law school, and get them excited about it. That is inspiring. Maintaining a positive yet realistic vision for what amount of money can be raised, how many events can be conducted, and how much alumni can be engaged with the organization helps team members with their motivation. This reinforces their purpose.


Be honest with your team about when, as a leader you can do something and when you cannot do something. Ensure that each team member knows you have their back, but do not shower them with insincere praise or commitments to things you cannot do. Be honest with your team when things go well and be equally honest when things could be improved.

Kindness and Patience

Leaders cannot always give good news. Leaders cannot always make work easier. But one should always be kind. Looking at the big picture and knowing it will take a while for your team to move through the steps from alumnus to major donor is important. Patience is kindness over time.


Be grateful to your team.  Be grateful for your team. Alumni Relations, Events, Fundraising, Marketing and Communications take hard work and commitment. Those that work in legal education are dedicated to making the world a better place. The best way to build a strong team is to be grateful for their work.

Thank you to Casandra Fernandez, Sally Pereira, and Dianna Martinez … You make me #McGeorgeProud. You help to ensure that your work is promoting #McGeorgeRising. In the coming weeks you will see features from each of them on their specific areas and how they are able to accomplish great things on behalf of our alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community.

Happy Holidays!