Penn GSE welcomes Laura Tepper as Vice Dean of Development and Alumni Relations

September 23, 2022
Laura Tepper headshot

This summer, Penn GSE welcomed Laura Tepper as its new Vice Dean of Development and Alumni Relations, a critical role in securing financial support for the school, sharing its impact, and engaging the alumni community.

Laura comes to Penn GSE from Penn Carey Law School, where she oversaw the school’s fundraising program as the Executive Director of Development, managing a frontline team that supported one of America’s top law schools. Under her leadership, the school raised two of the largest gifts made to an American law school. She brings an accomplished development track record to the country's top-ranked graduate school of education. 

Laura joins Penn GSE on the heels of the school’s highly successful fundraising campaign that concluded in June 2021. The Extraordinary Impact campaign raised nearly $100 million to expand scholarships and fellowships that support a robust and diverse student body, to hire and retain leading faculty, to expand university-community partnerships through programming and research, and to dramatically renovate facilities and update technology. One sign of this success can be seen in the expansion project currently underway on campus.

After growing up in New Jersey and then attending Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, Laura graduated from Brooklyn Law School and worked in child welfare litigation in New York City. There she learned how to work within a complex system without losing sight of the individual. "You are dealing with many levels of bureaucracy, but your work also impacts an individual life at a time that is critical, personal, and vulnerable for that person. You have to remember that these are people who have their own feelings, and challenges."

Laura brings a similar motivation to her work in development, a field she transitioned to shortly after moving from New York City to Philadelphia. "In my development work, I'm working in a large organization like Penn, but I'm also thinking of the individual donors, what they’re passionate about, and the ways they can make a direct and meaningful impact."

Laura remarks that she has been inspired by the passionate engagement of Penn GSE’s diverse community. “I am enjoying getting to know leaders across GSE, from Dean Grossman and our Board of Advisors, to faculty members and alumni volunteers. Their admiration for GSE is matched by their shared desire to advance change and innovation around education. Our community members are constantly contributing to the national and international influence of the school’s research, programs, and initiatives.”

The work of development and alumni relations involves more than fundraising of the largest gifts to an institution. “At GSE, it's about anyone who wants to contribute to the advancement of education and shares a passion for ongoing innovation and attention to the needs of all varieties of learning environments," Laura said. "This is Penn GSE’s story and I'm excited to tell it to donors, to the partners across Penn who do this work with us, and to the broader education community so they can see the true scope of what is being accomplished here."

Over the course of the next year, Laura looks forward to celebrating Dean Pam Grossman as she completes a transformative tenure at Penn GSE. "I’m excited to showcase the deep impact she’s made here, and to give our community the opportunity to offer thanks for the great legacy she leaves behind." Laura said. The celebration of the Dean will include a series of national events that bring together alumni and other supporters around important topics in the field of education. 

When reflecting on the trajectory of her career, from practicing law to raising millions to expand access at Penn, Laura emphasizes the value of outcome-oriented work.

 "It has always been important for me to do mission-driven work that improves outcomes for others, especially for children and communities that have not historically had access to certain opportunities,” she said. “I’m inspired by the breadth of work happening at Penn GSE: the research topics, the areas of influence, the wide variety of degrees that people pursue. There are so many people coming from so many different backgrounds, and they are united by their desire to lead change and innovation in education."

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