The Virginia Institute of Marine Science honored four staff members with the inaugural Massey Medallion at its Fall Seafood Feast on September 30.
VIMS Dean and Director John Wells recognized Celia Cackowski, Abigail Hils, Carol Tomlinson, and Adrienne Washington for their efforts in encouraging student, faculty, and staff donations during William & Mary’s One Tribe One Day annual giving event on April 10. The donations support institutional activities in research, education, and advisory service.
Named for the Massey Foundation, the Medallion honors that organization’s long-term commitment to providing unrestricted financial support to VIMS, as originally inspired by E. Morgan Massey—a co-founder of the VIMS Foundation. “I am proud to be associated with Dean Wells and his VIMS’ colleagues,” says Massey. “Our family foundation has been a regular annual contributor to VIMS, and hopefully the Medallion will inspire others to contribute regularly.”
Unrestricted annual giving, such as donations to the VIMS Impact Fund, provides flexibility in VIMS’ budget to meet changing needs within the Institute. “Unrestricted funding is critical to many efforts at VIMS, such as our graduate student programs, outreach program, and more,” says Wells. Massey agrees, adding that annual giving is vitally important to the future of VIMS as it offers the Dean and Director the flexibility to address priorities.
One Tribe One Day and the “Delicious Fishes”
In its fifth year, William & Mary’s One Tribe One Day is held every spring to encourage alumni participation in annual giving through challenges, unique multimedia content, and events around the world. Since its first year, One Tribe One Day has amassed more than 25,000 donors in total and reached more than 12,000 donors in 2018 alone. VIMS’ participation in previous years has included a 2017 campaign promoting scientific research and the importance of VIMS’ mission to Virginia and beyond, as well as a multi-location scavenger hunt in 2018.
This year, the VIMS Foundation Board of Directors added an internal-competition element to the day’s activities with a $10,000 giving challenge contested by 7 teams of students, faculty, and staff. Cackowski, Hils, Tomlinson, and Washington led Team 7, nicknamed the “Delicious Fishes,” consisting of Academic Studies, Administration & Finance, Hargis Library, the Marine Advisory Program, News & Media Services, and Virginia Sea Grant.
For the four members, it was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. “VIMS is a family,” says Cackowski. “It’s a group of dedicated people working together to accomplish incredible results, and I want to see its work continue.” Tomlinson signed up for similar reasons, but the challenge of something new was particularly intriguing. Hils credits her competitive nature for taking on the task, but also echoed Cackowski’s desire to give back to VIMS. The team’s leadership quickly assigned different tasks for each team member to complete, including creating flyers and deciding who would act as One Tribe One Day team “cheerleaders.”
One Tribe One Day 2018 dawned and the “Delicious Fishes” went into action. Team leaders circulated emails, made reminder phone calls, and visited offices with candy to encourage participation. Tomlinson observes that the leaders tailored their donation “asks” to a department and unit level in an attempt to make their efforts as personal as possible. The day culminated in an inter-team competition known as “Crazy Games,” in which members battled in humorously themed activities to earn points. The “Delicious Fishes” did not disappoint, cementing their place atop the scoreboard by earning 105 points compared to the 83 points earned by the runners-up in Fisheries Science.
At the close of One Tribe One Day, the “Delicious Fishes” team achieved an 85% participation rate among its members, thus securing the $10,000 challenge set by the VIMS Foundation. More impressive, however, was that the VIMS community at-large achieved an average giving rate of 71% by students, faculty, and staff. As a result of its overall performance, VIMS received a $15,000 prize as the “most-improved” unit across William & Mary in the university’s Gerdelman School and Unit Competition.
Speaking on behalf of the group during the recent award ceremony, Tomlinson gave credit to the entire campus for helping the team reach their fundraising goals and noted how that success speaks to the broader culture of giving in place at VIMS. “They are not only a philanthropic group, but talented staff members whom we are grateful to have on our team,” said Wells.
- Celia Cackowski is a Marine Education Specialist with the Marine Advisory Program at VIMS. A biologist by training, she spent several years in field research before switching to public outreach. During the last decade, she has worked in support of several research programs, developing digital media for global audiences, facilitating professional development for K-12 teachers, and collaborating with government agencies to enhance the quality and scope of science education.
- Abigail Hils is the Project Coordinator at Virginia Sea Grant, working on program evaluation and data reporting, event planning and implementation, competitive funding administration, and special activities related to VASG’s communication office. Other daily activities include managing online proposals and projects, engaging and mentoring students, and reporting on the impacts of VASG activities.
- Carol Tomlinson is the Director of Financial and Administrative Services at VIMS. She is responsible for coordination and supervision of a wide range of administrative and financial functions including oversight of the Institute’s Risk Management Plan; Capital Outlay Program Budget; VIMS Centralized Procurement, Travel, and Postal Services Team; VIMS Accounts Payable Office; and financial management of auxiliary and private entities.
- Adrienne Washington is a Sponsored Programs Administrator at VIMS. In this role, she supports faculty and staff in managing research provided by external sources through grants and contracts. She handles both pre- and post-award activity, including funding searches, application submissions, award negotiations, and financial and compliance administration.