Alisha Hartley (BA 2018 in Psychology, Minors in African Studies and Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise)

The Pennsylvania State University – Associate Director of Major Gifts of the Smeal College of Business in State College, PA
Deacon Spotlight, Alisha Hartley, smiling at the camera

Tell us about your current job role and employer. What are you currently working on?

I am a Major Gifts Officer at Penn State University for the Smeal College of Business. In my role, I connect with key alums, friends, and parents of the College and University to help them create impactful scholarships and philanthropic support for our community.

What key personal and/or career experiences led you to where you are today?

Before I worked in Development, I was a Wake Forest Fellow and an intern with some startup companies around the world. These experiences shaped my love for travel, higher education, and the autonomy to create in a fast-paced environment. I was able to find my core interests and find a career that aligns.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job? How do you navigate that challenge?

The most challenging part of my current job is maintaining a schedule that is flexible enough to get in front of the potential and current donors, who are super busy and traveling as well. I navigate this challenge by reaching out to the alums in a timely manner, while also showing flexibility in the location. I have had quite a few office meetings and phone calls.

What advice would you give to Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college (finances, health, values, work/life balance)?

The same way you plan yearly goals for your job, make the time to plan your personal goals. Set social, financial, health, and wellbeing goals for the first 90 days post-graduation. Whether that is exploring a local market, a new gym, or downloading an app to meet other young professionals. You owe it to yourself to create adventures and moments to recharge yourself, so do it and give yourself grace in the process of it all – “adulting” life is an adjustment.

Tell us about your mentoring relationships. What impact have these relationships had on your career and life?

My mentoring relationships have created a pathway to where I am today. Patrick Sullivan, who I would consider a mentor and coach, is the person who introduced me to Development. Later, my mentor, Jacynta Brewton, helped me prep for the interview that afforded me my previous role at Penn State University. I have other mentors, Geoff Halberstadt and others within the Division, who strategizes with me and helps me to grow in this profession. Having mentors invested in the wholeness of my career and personal life has been essential to my growth.

What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are interested in working in your industry?

If you are interested in Advancement, go for it! You meet so many amazing alums who are eager to give back to the University in an impactful, philanthropic way. Also, never forget the work you are doing is supporting students all across the University who may never know who you are, but are feeling your impact on their college experience.

What’s next for your career? What future goals or plans are you pursuing?

I am not sure of the next, immediate goal. I am really enjoying my new position, but the overall goal is to start my own foundation. It is in the works, and I hope to have more to share in the next few years!

Story published in November 2023. For current updates about Alisha, visit her Linkedin.