Special Evening for Elon event marks launch of Elon LEADS Campaign in New York

Alumni, parents and supporters of the university gathered in David Geffen Hall in the Lincoln Center in Manhattan on Thursday, Sept. 5, to learn more about Elon’s historic fundraising effort.

Nearly 1,000 alumni, parents and friends of Elon University filled David Geffen Hall in Manhattan on Thursday to celebrate the impact that Elon and philanthropy have had on countless lives, and to rally around the university’s historic fundraising effort that is now underway.

The special Evening for Elon event at the Lincoln Center marked the launch of the Elon LEADS Campaign in New York. The public phase of the campaign began in spring 2019, with supporters setting their sights on raising $250 million by May 31, 2022.

“We need you to continue to invest in your university throughout this campaign and beyond,” James B. Piatt, Jr., vice president for university advancement, told the crowd. “Each of us can play a role in the success of Elon LEADS and take pride in knowing we are moving Elon forward, together.”

Ginna Claire Mason ’13, now starring as Glinda in the Broadway production of “Wicked,” performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to open the event.

The event showcased a few of the many stories about how Elon has been changing lives for 130 years. The top priority of Elon LEADS is increasing funding for student scholarships that will increase access to an Elon education for many, like recent graduate Dora Muratovic ’19, now working in New York as an analyst at Goldman Sachs.

Originally from Kosovo, Muratovic took the stage Thursday to talk about how her Business Fellow and Odyssey Program scholarships provided her the chance to see firsthand the global impact of business today through study abroad programs in Argentina and Chile.

“Elon and scholarships gave me the tools to understand what the world needs and to discover what I can offer the world,” Muratovic said, “and that is my leadership and my passion to make a difference in my work and in my community.”

Elon parent and Board of Trustees Chair Ed Doherty P’07 took a selfie with Dora Muratovic ’19 during the event.

The Elon LEADS Campaign is a seven-year effort that has completed its planning and leadership phases and moved into its public phase in the spring. The goals of the Elon LEADS Campaign are to raise $140 million for student scholarships, $10 million to increase access to engaged learning programs on campus, $10 million to support faculty and staff mentors and $90 million to enhance Elon’s iconic learning environment.

Emmanuel Tobe is a junior majoring in media analytics and cinema & television arts. He told the crowd Thursday that being a Communications Fellow and a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship has changed his life. “Being a Comm Fellow has given me a lot, but I think the biggest thing it has given me is confidence,” Tobe said.

Tobe noted that he was the executive producer of the Phoenix Weekly sports show during his sophomore year and works at Live Oak Communications, the student-run PR and marketing agency, as a media analytics account executive. This summer, he was an intern at STARZ Entertainment in New York, which he described as one of his favorite experiences.

“When you give to Elon LEADS, you’re showing students like me that you believe in us,” Tobe said. “And 

you’re helping students like me graduate without significant debt, which is so important as we move on to become proud alumni able to give back.”

James B. Piatt, Jr., vice president for university advancement

Elon parent and Board of Trustees Chair Ed Doherty P’07 explained the impact the university has had on him and his family since his daughter, Kerry Doherty Gatlin ’07, arrived as a first-year student in 2003. Among the things Doherty said he loves about Elon are the people and the “can-do” culture, with all members of the university community investing in Elon and its incredible students.

President Connie Book thanked Ed and Joan Doherty for generously hosting the Evening for Elon event in New York for close to a decade. She also recognized their devoted philanthropic support of Elon, including helping to build a vibrant alumni network in New York and around the world.

Trustee Dave Porter, whose sons graduated from Elon in 2011 and 2019, is chair of the first year of the public phase of the campaign. Porter told the crowd that his family invests in Elon because they believe education is vital to success, and the university is positioned to produce the courageous, hard-working leaders the world needs. “This is our university campaign and together we will keep Elon strong today, and for generations to come,” Porter said.

Nearly 1,000 alumni, parents and friends of Elon University filled David Geffen Hall in Manhattan.

Porter also recognized members of the New York Regional Campaign Committee, co-chaired by alumni Heather Middleton Ellersick ’99 and Jack McMackin ’08, for their enthusiastic support of Elon LEADS in the region.

President Book said the name of the campaign — Elon LEADS — underscores how the university is leading the way in higher education, such as the way the university integrates high-impact engaged learning practices that promote student success into an Elon education.

“Our leadership position here is significant because it illustrates what sets Elon apart from other institutions when it comes to preparing students to succeed in their careers and their communities,” Book told the crowd. “The Elon LEADS Campaign represents a historic opportunity to solidify our leadership position in higher education and to drive our university ever higher to new levels of national prominence.”

Fergie Philippe ’17, who just concluded nearly two years playing the roles of Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the national tour of “Hamilton,” performed “Go the Distance” to close the event.

The event showcased the talents of Elon music theatre alumni, with Ginna Claire Mason ’13, now starring as Glinda in the Broadway production of “Wicked,” performing the iconic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to open the event, and Fergie Philippe ’17, who just concluded nearly two years playing the roles of Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the national tour of “Hamilton,” performing “Go the Distance” to close the event.

Prior to the event, campaign donors and volunteers attended a pre-reception at the Lincoln Center with President Book and others. The evening concluded with a Loyal Alumni Celebration honoring current alumni donors and the university’s most active alumni volunteers.

This Evening for Elon was the first of six special Elon LEADS launch events across the country this fall. Upcoming Evening for Elon events will be held in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 18), Boston (Oct. 2), Charlotte (Oct. 17), San Francisco (Nov. 12) and Raleigh (Dec. 4). Campaign launch events were held in Chicago and Los Angeles in April and June, respectively.

Learn more about the Elon LEADS Campaign.