Four Questions for Phil Mazzara
"We'll have about as much time to raise the funds for the Memorial as the U.S. had in the field 'Over There.'"
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
This week, we have the remarkable good fortune to introduce to our new Director of Development, Mr. Phillip Mazzara. He is a seasoned professional in the fundraising community, with a long history of success. He will lead the campaign to raise the money for construction of the National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC. We had the chance to ask Phil a few questions about his background, the challenges of his new position, and why remembering the service of America's World War I veterans is important to him.
Welcome! Tell us about yourself. What is your background?
I have four decades of comprehensive advancement experience with a special focus on capital campaigns for a variety of projects, e.g., endowment, construction, programs, etc. I have worked for a variety of non-profit organizations, including hospitals, medical centers, colleges and universities and NGOs.
Working as chief development officer for The Carter Center in Atlanta, GA, gave me a unique opportunity to work with President and Mrs. Carter on planning and implementing a $150 million endowment campaign. Not many fundraising professionals get the opportunity to work with a living former President and First Lady. It was an amazing experience.
During my career I have consulted with numerous other organizations on board development, organizational fundraising effectiveness, and campaign planning studies.
I contributed a chapter in a publication of the Association of Governing Boards on The Trustees Role in Capital Campaigns.
I am a graduate of Lynchburg (VA) College and served as president of its Alumni Association and on its Board of Trustees for 12 years. I attended the Henry W. Grady Graduate School of Journalism after a two-year stint in the Naval Security Group.
Why is this effort important to you? Are you connected to WWI?
Both my father and son were Navy officers. My father served in the Pacific during WWII and my son graduated from the United States Naval Academy, Class of 2000. A step-daughter is a Colonel in the USMC currently stationed in Okinawa.
While a college student majoring in English literature, I became interested in the prose and poetry of WWI and studied the history of the war to better understand its impact on language.
In 2013 my wife (Dee Daly) and I established The Mazzara-Daly Great War Special Collection at my alma mater and donated approximately 200 books, including many that were first editions. The core of the college are first editions of the works of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. We will make another book donation in 2021.
What will your duties be? What are your chief goals for fundraising?
My duties will focus on ensuring that the funds necessary for building the Memorial are in hand or pledged in a timely manner and developing new fundraising strategies to raise funds after the Memorial is completed for ongoing upkeep and maintenance and education.
What obstacles do you face? Can we raise the funds?
Unlike natural college or hospital constituencies, such as alumni or patients, our campaign for the National World War 1 Memorial has no natural constituency. The last living Doughboy died several years ago. Our biggest challenge is developing a cohort of donors who have some connection with or interest in the Great War.
I believe we can meet our goals and objectives, but it will a "full court press." In a sense, we'll have about as much time to raise the funds for the Memorial as the U.S. had in the field "Over There."