The Office of Institutional Advancement serves Williamson College of the Trades through Alumni Relations, Annual Giving, Capital Campaign, Corporate/Foundation Relations, Development Support Services, Planned Giving and Public Relations. Advancement Office staff work collaboratively to build relationships among Williamson’s alumni and friends. Through these contacts the Advancement Office secures the partnerships necessary to ensure the future success of Isaiah Williamson’s vision.
The purpose in Alumni Relations is to coordinate efforts which engage alumni in the college’s mission through effective constituent relations, communications, programs and special events.
Our goal in coordinating an annual giving program is to encourage consistent financial support from alumni, friends, past parents, corporations, foundations and organizations, to be used for the purposes of current operations.
A capital campaign is a concentrated, usually multi-year effort to promote financial support for larger capital projects and programs that fulfill a much broader, life changing mission than annual giving, ensuring a secure foundation for the future of the college.
The goal of public relations is to manage the college’s image, both internally and externally, through effective communications, media relations and publications; to communicate the overall qualities of Williamson to all of its relevant publics.
Arlene A. Snyder, CFRE
Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Arlene Snyder was appointed Vice President for Institutional Advancement in November of 2015. She is responsible for developing successful programs, motivating staff and volunteers, establishing productive donor relationships, and achieving goals. As vice president, she is the chief architect and strategist for all advancement efforts including: annual, major and planned gifts as well as campaign planning and implementation. She oversees and coordinates the marketing, communications, and event planning that supports the work of Advancement. She previously served as president of the Sibley Memorial Hospital Foundation in Washington, D.C., a supporting foundation for Sibley Memorial Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, where she was responsible for strategic leadership and executive management. Earlier, she was senior vice president and chief development officer at MedStar, Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.; vice president of development at the Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh (formerly West Penn Allegheny Health System); president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Hospital Foundation in Pittsburgh; and executive director of Vintage, Inc., in Pittsburgh.
She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and holds a bachelor of arts degree and a master of arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2010, she received the Brava! Women Business Achievement Award, which recognizes Washington’s top 25 female leaders who have helped grow successful companies and are actively involved in giving back to their community through philanthropic acts.
Director of Alumni Relations
Laura has seventeen years of experience in the nonprofit sector, with eleven of those years in alumni relations in an educational institution. Laura has a BA in English and a Masters in Theatre Arts from Villanova University. Laura lives in Downingtown with her husband and her young son and daughter. She has known about Williamson for years. Her uncle is an Alumnus!
Lee Anne Cassidy
Grants & Sponsored Programs Coordinator
Lee Anne Cassidy joined Williamson in August, 2020 with three years of non-profit experience and over 33 years of corporate research experience. Most recently she worked at the University of Delaware as a Research Development Specialist helping find grant opportunities for faculty conducting academic research. Prior to that, Lee Anne worked for the DuPont Company in a variety of research-related roles including Laboratory Technologist, Chemistry Specialist, Technology Transfer Liaison, and Business Development Consultant. In 2018 she became a director at STEHM, a non-profit transitional women’s shelter in Wilmington, DE, and serves as the Grants Chair for their all-volunteer board.
Lee Anne holds a B.S. in Medical Laboratory Science and an MBA from the University of Delaware, and more recently earned a Project Management Certificate from the same university.
Elizabeth Marafino Fiola
Elizabeth Marafino Fiola joined the Advancement Department in December 2020 as Advancement Officer. In this role, she’ll be responsible for developing and sustaining relationships with alumni, friends, and other types of supporters of Williamson’s mission in a major gifts capacity.
Prior to joining the Williamson Advancement team, she most recently served as Development Officer with a focus on grants and corporate relations at Gemma Services, a nonprofit focused on the behavioral health needs of children and families in the Philadelphia region. She also held the positions of Senior Development Coordinator and Development Coordinator at Gemma Services; both positions offered her the opportunity to gain experience in the full spectrum of fundraising and development activities in supporting an organization’s mission. She also has worked at the Lantern Theater Company in Philadelphia; Villanova University’s Department of Theatre in Villanova, Pennsylvania; and the Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth holds a M.S. in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, M.A. in Theatre from Villanova University, and B.A. in Communications from Villanova University. She is also member of programming committee of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and a volunteer at the Players Club of Swarthmore.
Database and Office Manager
Denise Schlake brings to Williamson years of experience, strong organizational skills, and an ability to work well with people. She decided to come to Willliamson because she likes the school’s mission and values. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management at Penn State University. In addition, she has successfully completed the required exam and has earned Blackbaud Certification in Raiser’s Edge® at the level of PROFESSIONAL 2020. Denise grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from West Philadelphia Catholic High School. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and reading.
Mary Jane Taylor
Director of Grants & Research
Mary Jane Taylor joined Williamson’s Office of Institutional Advancement in January 2019, after spending 25 years working in museums. She has broad experience in program and exhibition development and outcomes-based assessment, and more recently has focused on grant writing and research. Just prior to coming to Williamson, Mary Jane served as Interim Grants Manager at Please Touch Museum. Earlier, she was Director of Learning and Engagement at the Museum of the American Revolution for 3.5 years. Throughout her career, writing has been a key component of her work. She is a published author and a three-time winner of the American Alliance of Museums award for Excellence in Exhibition Writing. Mary Jane holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where she was a tutor in the Writer’s Workshop. She also has post-graduate degrees from James Cook University of North Queensland, Australia and the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture at the University of Delaware.
As Director of Grants & Research, Mary Jane is responsible for researching and writing grant proposals to secure corporate, foundation and government funding.
Kelsey comes to Williamson with more than seven years of nonprofit development experience. Previously, Kelsey worked in development at Cabrini University and Philadelphia University (now Jefferson University) managing alumni relations. Prior to her alumni engagement experience, she coordinated special fundraising events at Big Brothers Big Sisters and annual fund initiatives at Mercy Career and Technical High School—where she first learned about the important mission of Williamson and the trades industry. Kelsey earned a bachelor of arts degree in communication at Cabrini University where she is also currently pursuing her masters of science in leadership.
As Major Gift Officer, Kelsey is responsible for engaging in meaningful relationships with alumni and friends of Williamson to support the major gifts program and the advancement of the college’s mission.
Director of Public Relations & Communications
Carl Vairo came to Williamson in 1988 and is responsible for the alumni publication, The Williamsonian, as well as media relations, news releases, photography, and advertising. He is involved in Facebook postings and the electronic publication, Trademarks. He is also involved in such publications as the school calendar and course catalog and assists in many special events. He is the adviser to the student yearbook, The Mechanic, and provides assistance to the Alumni Association.
Prior to coming to Williamson, he was university relations assistant at Penn State’s Brandywine Campus and began his career as a reporter at The Quakertown Free Press, Quakertown, Pa., and Pocono Today, Stroudsburg, Pa.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Penn State.
Jeff Zajac is a design and marketing professional specializing in web, print and digital design, collaborative production and marketing effectiveness. He serves as the creative lead, working across multiple departments to execute and oversee all design and marketing communications needs of the college, with an emphasis on Institutional Advancement. He provides brand oversight and implementation, and executes projects in traditional and new media.
Prior to coming to Williamson, Jeff was the Marketing & Communications Manager at the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, an independent contractor providing creative design and marketing services, and spent over a decade as the Publications Director at NEWS-Line Publishing, a healthcare communications company in King of Prussia, PA.
Jeff earned a bachelor of fine arts degree with a concentration in Graphic Design from West Chester University.