Bernadine Douglas Appointed Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations

July 17, 2023

Grinnell College is pleased to announce the appointment of Bernadine Douglas as the next Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise in all areas of leadership, with a particular focus on fundraising and operational objectives within higher education. Douglas will start in her new role at Grinnell on Monday, August 7, 2023. 

Grinnell College President, Anne F. Harris, said, “I have full confidence that Bernadine’s leadership, strategic vision, and extensive experience will greatly contribute to the continued success of our development and alumni relations efforts at Grinnell. Her appointment marks an exciting chapter for Grinnell as we shape and secure our position as a distinguished global leader in liberal arts education, dedicated to fostering a dynamic and inclusive future for our entire community.” 

“With great enthusiasm, I am joining Grinnell College to contribute to its esteemed legacy. I have intentionally chosen to work in places that exemplify the belief that education is not merely a commodity but a force for real change. Grinnell’s commitment to academic excellence and fostering a vibrant, inclusive community resonates deeply with my own values and aspirations,” said Douglas. “Collaborating with Grinnell’s exceptional faculty, staff, students, and alumni, we will embark on an inspiring journey of growth, innovation, and global impact. Together, we will harness the transformative power of education to forge a bold and caring future for the entire community.” 

Throughout Douglas’ distinguished career, she has consistently demonstrated her exceptional leadership and a deep commitment to advancing the missions of the institutions she has served. As Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Barry University, she successfully rebuilt the fundraising operation, resulting in significant growth from $2 million in 2019 to over $5 million in 2022. Douglas’ efforts included establishing a phonathon, implementing direct marketing strategies, and developing a mid-level donor program. Under her leadership, Barry University experienced tremendous success in board governance, philanthropy, and planned giving. 

Prior to her role at Barry University, she served as Vice President for Alumni and College Relations at Berea College, where she led a team of professionals and oversaw an annual operating budget of $4 million. During her tenure, Berea College achieved consecutive years of fundraising growth, raising over $41 million in 2018, the highest in the College’s history at that time. Douglas’ strategic initiatives included executing a successful campaign for a $72 million science building, implementing a multichannel marketing plan, and expanding the College’s planned giving program. 

Before joining Berea College, Douglas served as Vice President of External Relations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and as Director of Major Gifts at the University of Central Florida. Her accomplishments in these roles include securing substantial gifts, establishing corporate and foundation relations programs, and engaging with various stakeholders to advance the institutions’ missions. 

Douglas’ educational background includes a Master of Business Administration from Webster University and a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from the University of Florida. Furthermore, she is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), demonstrating her commitment to professional excellence in the field of fundraising. 

In addition to her impressive professional achievements, Douglas possesses a deep understanding of the transformative power of a liberal arts education and the importance of creating a more just and equitable society. Her experiences at Barry University and Berea College have reinforced her belief that education is not merely a commodity, but also a force for real change. 

“I look forward to working closely with her and witnessing the profound impact she will undoubtedly have on strengthening our relationships with alumni and supporters. Together, we will continue to cultivate a vibrant and engaged network, fostering strong connections that support the success of our students and the mission of Grinnell College,” added Harris. 

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