Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, January 28, 2019

Alan Paberzs (MPA ’05)

Alan Paberzs Alan Paberzs

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in social welfare, UW–Madison, 2004

Employer
DePaul University College of Law

Job title
Executive Director of Development

Start date
October 2018

Primary job responsibilities
I manage the day-to-day and strategic fundraising operations for DePaul Law. My primary goals are to more deeply engage our 13,000+ alumni by 'asking': for philanthropic support, for thought leadership, to participate in events and programming, or (in a perfect world) a combination of all three.

How do you use what you learned at the La Follette School on the job?
The two transferable skills that the La Follette School trained me to embrace revolve around writing and data. At La Follette, I learned how to analyze policies and write clear, concise recommendations for high-level constituencies. In fundraising, the goals and outcomes are similar. Whether I am requesting a visit or setting the table for a conversation about a special gift, you have to cut to the chase; the La Follette School provided me with the training and skills to understand this. With regard to data, most fundraisers have access to large data sets that contain countless variables on your alumni/donor/volunteer base. The statistical analysis skills I gained at La Follette helped me feel comfortable when diving into data sets and thinking about different ways to set strategy, experiment, and meet our fundraising and engagement goals.

If someone told you in 2005 that you would have a career in development, what would have been your reaction?
I would have laughed. I always knew I wanted to work in higher education, but I never gave a second thought to fundraising. My first exposure to development was through UW–Madison while serving on the WAA-Chicago Chapter Board of Directors in the late 2000s. We manage a special endowment that distributes scholarships to outstanding Chicagoland students who are admitted to UW. I received a similar scholarship as an undergrad from the Motor City Badgers alumni chapter. Life is a series of choices and moments. Looking back, I can point to a number of choices and moments that paved the way to a career in development. If any La Follette School students or alumni are intrigued about a career in development, I would encourage them to reach out!

What prompted your move from Northwestern University to DePaul?
I heard about the job and was recruited via LinkedIN. It was hard to leave Northwestern. I developed so many wonderful relationships over the years, and my wife and I met while working at Northwestern Law. DePaul is a very special place. Similar to UW–Madison, the DePaul community lives and breathes its mission every day, and its commitment to social justice and experiential education align with my core passions and values. The opportunity to help take DePaul Law to the next level was very compelling. I'm proud to be a part of an institution that is so important to the city of Chicago.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
It's impossible to pick one. Several memories stand out: serving as a research assistant for Professor Carolyn Heinrich. Working on and presenting our capstone project (Analyzing the Feasibility of a Local Sales Tax in the City of Milwaukee) to the mayor of Milwaukee. Our graduation ceremony at the Wisconsin State Capitol building was awesome.

Most challenging La Follette School experience
Professor Wallace's Intro to Statistical Methods (PA 818) course. It was a bear.

Volunteer activities
I serve on two boards: the Crossroads Fund, a public foundation that provides grants to new and emerging organizations that are in the trenches working on issues of racial, social, and economic justice; and the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, which advocates for fast, frequent, and dependable passenger rail service in the Midwest. Both organizations are working on big, challenging issues that I care about deeply.

People would be surprised to know that I …
as a student, I was a diehard Wisconsin hockey fan. The year after I graduated (2006), the men's team made it to the national championship in Milwaukee. I went to the game, and toward the end of the first period, I got kicked out of the game for sitting in the wrong seat (that's all – I swear!). I watched the rest of the game from a bar across the street from the Bradley Center, and the Badgers beat Boston College, 2-1. It was a surreal experience.