Since Cass Gaiennie took over as chair of the LSU Foundation Board of Directors in January, one word keeps ringing out to him like a mantra: transformation. It’s a word that also resonated with his predecessor, Gary Laborde, who helped lead the Board and the LSU Foundation in implementing a four-year strategic plan designed to double annual fundraising and grow the endowment.
“We have a critical role to play in establishing a stable, growing base of philanthropic support for LSU,” Gaiennie explained. “I’m looking forward to continuing Gary’s work to engage the Board more fully in those efforts.”
Over the past year, the Board has worked with a consultant from the Association of Governing Boards, the industry leader in board development for higher education. Subcommittees have explored how to integrate the recommendations of the consultant (a former foundation president and CEO); conducted extensive research on peer foundations; and developed a plan to measure their own success as a board.
“The Board of Directors has been, and continues to be, paramount to the LSU Foundation’s success in raising funds for LSU,” Gaiennie shared. “It’s growing in number, strength and diversity by recruiting passionate LSU alumni and friends with a wide range of knowledge and expertise. We’re also redefining the board’s role in achieving fundraising and heightening our engagement in that area.”
Gaiennie noted the important role Lee Griffin has played in his four years as president and CEO, and that he will continue to play as he returns to the Board of Directors. “Lee has truly transformed the LSU Foundation,” Gaiennie said. “It’s his leadership and vision that are to thank for our success doubling annual fundraising, growing our development team, bringing structure to our development efforts, making our Center for Philanthropy a reality, and achieving significant headway in benchmarking our efforts against those of our most successful peers.”
Griffin recently returned to the Board of Directors after welcoming Stephen Moret, former secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, as his successor.
Gaiennie said, “It will be a tremendous asset to us to continue to have Lee’s expertise, but now as a Board member. It’s a unique opportunity to have a president and CEO join the Board, and we’re grateful for it.”
The LSU Foundation’s fundraising efforts began in earnest 25 years ago, compared to many successful university-related foundations that have been engaged in major gift fundraising for several decades longer. “But that only makes us even more excited about what we can accomplish for LSU in the years ahead,” Gaiennie shared, adding that he’s confident in Moret’s ability to continue the transformation Griffin began.
“Stephen brings a unique blend of cross-sector experience, coupled with a strong passion for LSU that he has channeled into leadership roles since serving as Student Government president 20 years ago,” Gaiennie explained. “The Board is excited to work closely with him as we move toward a transformational level of philanthropic support for LSU.”
Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2015.