The College of Engineering is pleased to announce that Stephen Lucasi, a 15-year veteran of fundraising for non-profits and higher ed, will join the College of Engineering as assistant vice president of development in the Office of Institutional Advancement.
Lucasi, who started in June as executive director of development with the College of Computing and Informatics, will be based out of the CoE Dean’s Office and will work closely with a team of fundraising professionals to advance the mission of the College through volunteerism and philanthropy. Lucasi’s colleagues include Allison Seeley, Tom Zulewski, Bernadette McNulty, Kate McGovern, and Michelle Yurko. The team also supports the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, and the College of Computing and Informatics.
“Drexel has a lot of opportunity for some really transformational gifts,” said Lucasi. “I’m thrilled to be a small part of all the good things that are going to happen here.”
Lucasi has an academic background in the humanities, including a degree in English from the University of Massachusetts and graduate work in American Literature & Cultural Studies at the University of New Hampshire and University of Connecticut. He uses the appeal of stories to draw alumni and potential partners into an organization’s ambitions, and to help direct funds where they will serve the highest purpose.
His most formative lessons, he said, came from a “rogue” Jesuit priest who ran a gang intervention and rehabilitation program in Los Angeles named HomeBoy Industries that Lucasi worked for in 2013. “What I learned from him and what I’ve tried to apply since then is just knowing the right kind of stories to tell people to encourage their involvement, whether they’re about a particular student who’s been supported or a client who has succeeded,” said Lucasi.
Lucasi began his career as a research and development assistant at the Institute for Health and Recovery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, before taking a position at the Braille Institute of America, and eventually at HomeBoy Industries. Moving next into higher ed, he was named director of development at the Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles where he worked closely with senior administration to build a portfolio of donors to support Fielding’s priorities. He then moved on to the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, where he was also director of development.
When asked what drew him to Drexel University, Lucasi mentioned in particular the cooperative education model, which he said he has always admired.
“The co-op model was really intriguing to me. In my career, I’ve unfortunately had to see aspiring health professionals and educators not have the kind of practical experience they needed—even after $150K degree—to be prepared to go out into the field. And so, to work for a place that is preparing students in this way is a really welcome change.
“The students at Drexel are better prepared to go out and get gainful employment right away,” Lucasi added. “It’s an amazing opportunity that just doesn’t exist at other places.”