In the Spotlight • Katy Frey
Fund-raiser committed to giving

Katie FreyKaty Frey ’99 began her work in development as a student at Calvin. A social work major, she knew that she wasn’t as interested in clinical social work as she was in helping others by working for a not-for-profit organization.

While at Calvin, Frey worked in the college’s Service-Learning Center. The center’s director encouraged her to apply for internships off campus through one of the many nonprofit organizations with which the Service-Learning Center worked. Through these internships, Frey realized that she had a lot of success doing the everyday tasks required in a development office: writing correspondence and publications and coordinating other fund-raising initiatives.

“I realized that some of the people who were the executive directors of nonprofits were social work practitioners who were promoted but didn’t necessarily want or enjoy the function of fund raising, though fund raising is so vital to organizational stability,” she said. “I didn’t find the work that terrifying and thought, ‘Well, maybe I can do this.’ So I continued with social work, but with the thought that I would like to work in development.”

Chicago Lights at Fourth Presbyterian ChurchNow Frey is the associate director of development at Chicago Lights, a community service and educational organization that comprises the longtime mission programs of Fourth Presbyterian Church. Situated within the wealth and glamour of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, Chicago Lights serves more than 7,000 people in many of the near north, not-so-glamorous neighborhoods of Chicago.

Though best known for its cornerstone program — a tutoring program that pairs nearly 400 children per year with church members and other Chicago professionals in a one-on-one tutoring and mentorship capacity — Chicago Lights also reaches adult community members through emergency food services, housing seminars, technology courses, health and wellness services, and a daytime activity and gathering place program for seniors.

Frey and four others are responsible for reaching the organization’s $1.7 million annual fund-raising goal.

It’s because of her firsthand experience with fund raising for nonprofits that Frey looks at Calvin now in a different way. “I think it’s hard for a lot of alumni to believe that tuition doesn’t cover everything because it’s such a significant chunk of money,” she said. “But the reality is it doesn’t. As a student you want a fantastic educational experience with great labs and top-notch professors who actually teach and give you personal attention; once you graduate you want that for those that come after you.”

Her own journey through Calvin was marked by wonderful friendships, stimulating classes and some formative travel experiences to Greece and Italy. But it’s perhaps the community of support that surrounded her while Frey was at Calvin for which she is truly grateful. “My parents split up when I was at Calvin,” she said. “And the only reason I stayed in school and successfully made it through four years is because I was at Calvin; I was surrounded by so many friends, and people who cared about me. They didn’t let me get lost.”

Since graduating from Calvin, Frey has been giving back to her alma mater and helping Calvin’s students today through committed monthly gifts. “I understand how important regular committed giving is,” she said, “because I know what it means to be on the other side and wonder, ‘Is he going to give again this year? We need his support.’” Because she’s set up her commitment to Calvin as a regular gift, she also says it is easier for her to give more.

“This is a way for me to give back to a school that has given me a lot: great academics, great experiences and wonderful friends,” she said. “It’s the least I can do.”