During the time of Thanksgiving, it is quite easy to be grateful for Iska Wire, our director of development. After all, she is responsible for securing the soon-to-be new roof over our heads along with more than 400 donors. Wire’s roots are well-steeped in development initiatives with her previous capacities at the University of Houston and the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council. With the Rice Centennial Campaign behind her and roof tiles being laid on our new building, the Anderson-Clarke Center, Wire shares a little history on the development of the Glasscock School.
How long have you been at GSCS, and what drew you to the school to begin with?
I have been with Continuing Studies for almost three years, during which time I have been honored to tell the story of our school to potential supporters. The compelling draw for me as a fundraiser is what the school represents – true philanthropy. Continuing Studies can trace it roots back to giving. The program itself was envisioned by Dr. Lovett as a gift to the city. The first classes were the result of corporate philanthropic support. The school came into its own with a naming endowment, the first of its kind in the country. And the home from which we will soon operate is gift from our students, staff, instructors and Rice alums in the greater Houston community. To live and work in that type of culture and space is both rewarding and challenging each day.
The more tangible reasons I came to Rice and to Continuing Studies: Rice is similar to Trinity University where I went to school and I love the small feel and the high quality of the University; I believe that Rice is essential for our city and as a third generation Houstonian, the future of Houston is of huge importance to me; I previously had the pleasure of working with Dean Mary McIntire during my Girl Scout career and had great respect for her; and I was already teaching a stewardship class for the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership and believe in what the center is doing to improve the infrastructure of our philanthropic and nonprofit community.
How has your program area changed over time?
When I started, we had the beginnings of a Capital Campaign in place and some incredible supporters that have been with us for years, but not a serious development plan or process in place. Looking back, we have completed a $24.2 million capital campaign, started endowments for the school and generally have begun to grow a culture of philanthropy in our students, staff, instructors and the Continuing Studies community. There is so much more we can do, but we have really come a long way!
What is your fondest memory working here thus far?
The month of December 2012 – we completed the campaign, broke into the asphalt across the road to kick off the construction of the new building and had our donors, staff and many students on hand to celebrate with us. A close second would be the moment I stepped onto the concrete foundation of the new building for the first time and could see the results of more than 400 donors’ dreams.
What do you enjoy the most about GSCS?
The people – from the beginning of Continuing Studies, it has always been about the people. From the people that built this school and their willingness to take risks to the donors that believed in the importance of learning and curiosity and funded the classes, the programs and now, the building – the people are the reason I come to work and can confidently ask for support of the amazing work at GSCS each day.