Alumna Melissa Calvert, GED’00, was drawn back to Penn GSE by the opportunity to jumpstart fundraising under Dean Pam Grossman. The School’s new Vice Dean of Development and Alumni Relations, Calvert has spent a good portion of her professional life at Penn—nearly fourteen combined years—and is an expert at engaging alumni and friends to support the University’s goals as volunteers and donors. For the first time, Calvert will be building support for her own alma mater—having earned her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education at GSE while working full-time at Penn.
“I am excited to support the tremendous work of the School’s students, faculty, and staff,” Calvert said. “Their work is truly transformative, and is changing lives locally, nationally, and globally through education. My personal connection to GSE, and the ability to share the extraordinary learning and leadership that permeate the School, make this a particularly exciting opportunity.”
Calvert knows firsthand the benefits of a Penn GSE education. “Over the past fifteen years, the knowledge I gained as a GSE student has been a powerful asset and touchstone in my professional life,” she said. “My studies at GSE strengthened my personal passion for education and its social impact.”
Calvert brings nearly twenty years of development experience to her role. Past positions at Penn include director of development at Morris Arboretum and director of the Wharton Fund at the Wharton School. Prior to joining GSE, she was chief advancement officer at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, an independent college preparatory school in Philadelphia.
“Much of my career has been characterized by building and growing teams and programs,” she said. “I came to Penn because I believed it was the best university in the world. I saw how Penn empowers people to think creatively, take smart risks, challenge themselves in ways they never thought possible, and ultimately make the world a better place.”
At GSE, Calvert is working to galvanize the participation of alumni and friends for the next chapter—and second century—of the School. “I look forward to building from the strong foundation of fundraising at GSE to strengthen the engagement and philanthropy of alumni and friends in support of Dean Grossman’s vision,” she said.
Calvert sees GSE’s social impact as the single greatest reason for alumni and friends to support the School. “Penn GSE has an incredible and multifaceted social impact that is shaping the opportunities available to students of all ages worldwide—through our collaboration with The School District of Philadelphia, our expertise in national issues in education, our partnerships in Latin America, Kazakhstan, and India, and our innovative programs in entrepreneurship, to name just a few examples. When you support Penn GSE, you support stronger, more accessible education around the world,” she said.
Calvert notes that support can mean many different things. “Whether offering your time as a volunteer at an Education Alumni Association (EAA) event, sharing your expertise as a member of the EAA Board, participating in the Penn GSE Annual Fund, or contributing scholarship aid that enables a student to build a future in education, each individual can be a part of the future of Penn GSE,” she said.
As she begins her work, Calvert perhaps most looks forward to listening to the voices of the Penn GSE community. “Alumni and friends are the backbone of Penn GSE,” she said. “Your stories are integral to our identity, and with your commitment and partnership, GSE will reach new heights.”