Leadership in the community and leadership at North Central College—those two passions are united in the dedicated trustees who shared the vision for a world-class fine arts center for a world-class city.
That vision first took shape nearly 18 years ago when Life Trustee Rita Harvard challenged President Harold Wilde and the College to build a 21st century Pfeiffer Hall for Naperville. In 2003, the lead gift of $10 million from Dr. Myron Wentz initiated a fundraising campaign that would ultimately result in another $20 million to build the Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center.
In 2006, College leaders enlisted Harvard as honorary chair of the community fundraising, primarily to reach the $7 million goal needed for the $1 million Kresge Foundation Challenge Grant. “The charge was given to raise the funds so the building would have little or no debt,” says Harvard. “Then I was teamed with two highly respected and effective community leaders who knew how to get the job done.”
Harvard was joined by Trustee Ray Kinney, principal of Minuteman Press in Naperville, and Trustee David Kelsch, President and CEO of Advanced Data Technologies, also in Naperville. Despite busy schedules filled with family, work and community commitments, the team mustered enthusiasm in the community through the Maestro Society—garnering pledges from donors to find additional donors to reach a goal—and by meeting with service clubs and potential corporate donors. They also hosted dinners at local restaurants.
“We each made our own contacts, followed up with prospects and celebrated as word was received that funding was coming in,” says Harvard.
Kelsch explains that providing leadership meant the trustees had to first make their own financial commitment. “If your own support isn’t there, it’s tough to ask
others,” he says. “You had to believe it was a great cause and make your case.” His case often involved explanations about the demand for Pfeiffer Hall and the benefits to the community of building the fine arts center. He also frequently answered questions about parking.
Kinney knew that he had to communicate the benefits of the facility to decision-makers who had to carefully consider their charitable giving. “No one thought that the fine arts center was a bad idea,” he says. “But there are many other local organizations with great causes.”
His most rewarding moment came when the Naperville Jaycees pledged $100,000. “As a Jaycee and past president, I understand how hard they work for the funds they donate to the community,” he said. “And I knew we would be successful in the campaign when the Jaycees stepped up.”
The final reward came at the Gala Preview night when the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis took the stage. “There was sense that you couldn’t believe this was actually North Central College and Naperville,” says Kinney. “And the most exciting part is that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of understanding what this facility will mean to the College—and Naperville.”
North Central Now Annual Report 2008