Alumni Lead the Way

Who We Are

We're educators, storytellers, philanthropists, design thinkers, and higher education practitioners. We created ALUMinate because we want to offer turnkey solutions to alumni and donor engagement & major gift fundraising. Read more about how we started here.

Learn More About What We Do

What We Do

Did you know that 80% of high-potential prospects go uncultivated?* Or that each gift officer prospect visit can cost an average of $2,000?

Does your department struggle to create lasting and meaningful relationships with constituents and top prospects who live far from your institution or organization?

You are not alone. Major cities across the world are filled with supporters who yearn to connect. But the logistical challenges of managing engagement and philanthropic activities in distant regions can be prohibitive. Fortunately, ALUMinate has developed a fresh approach to solving these problems—an expert, on-the-ground team to help you engage constituents and supporters and find donors in the cities where they live.

The ALUMinate team is an extension of—not a substitute for—your central advancement or alumni association staff. We’re not trying to duplicate or replace your team. Rather, we provide a set of complementary strategic advantages that might otherwise take years of planning and investment to create. Here is why it works...

First, we're local—we're based here 24/7. Our team works and lives alongside your constituents. We’re intimately familiar with neighborhoods, venues, local cultures and even traffic logistics. Second, we’re storytelling experts. Alumni and donors need to be able to see where and how their passions fit in the institution's or organization's story. They also want to know the stories of other local constituents. We provide regular, relevant and interesting communications for and about them. Third, we are design thinkers. We use the principles of Design Thinking and data insights to create events and interactions that drive engagement and philanthropy.

Email us today to learn how we can help you supercharge your regional engagement!

*Source: EAB report.

Our Company Beliefs

  • Alumni and Donors Lead the Way We believe supporters, especially those who live far away from the institution or organization, crave connection. Our team fosters that connection by considering the needs, interests, and challenges of your supporters in all life stages. We believe they know best—their input drives our strategy.

  • Research-Driven, Evidence-Based, People-Focused We're on the forefront of discussions and research related to regional alumni and donor engagement, so our services will be cost-effective, meaningful, and evidence-based. Most importantly, our on-the ground team is an extension of—not a substitute for—your central advancement or alumni association staff, delivering the enduring personal touch that drives affinity, engagement, and elevated levels of support for your institution or organization.

  • By Donors, For Donors We believe inspired philanthropy is achieved by creating vibrant regional communities among your supporters. We ensure transparency, high-level professionalism, and accountability at all times. In addition, since ALUMinate was founded by donors for donors, we understand the unique nature of advancement, in higher education and in nonprofit organizations.

Our Team

Robert Fealy

President & Co-Founder

Phone: 877-325-ALUM

Bob has held extensive leadership roles in both not-for-profit and business organizations spanning four decades. He recently served as interim president and chairman of the board of trustees for the University of Cincinnati Foundation, which supports the University of Cincinnati, a top 25 public research university, and the UC Health hospital system. He is past chairman of the board of the Chicago Children’s Choir, the world’s largest youth choral organization, and serves as a trustee of the Morton Arboretum and was co-chair of its recently completed $70 million “Growing Brilliantly” capital campaign. Bob retired in 2014 as president, chief operating officer and director of The Duchossois Group, a $3 billion privately held operating and investment company.

Following his retirement, he founded ALUMinate, Inc., which provides regional alumni engagement and philanthropic services to colleges and universities. He founded and is managing director of Limerick Investments LLC, was founding investor and chairman of Chicago Ventures, and past chairman of the Illinois Venture Capital Association. Bob currently serves on the boards of Churchill Downs, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHDN),and Panduit, Inc., and he is a partner in Social Venture Partners.

Esther Choy

Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder

Phone: 877-325-ALUM

Moved by a life-time passion for higher education, Esther is the first in her graduating class to become an endowed gift donor to one of her three alma maters. An internationally-renowned speaker and trainer on storytelling, Esther has helped thousands of executives become more persuasive through the use of story.

Her debut book Let the Story Do the Work (HarperCollins AMACOM 2017) was the #1 New Release on Amazon and was hailed as one of the 10 Best Books for entrepreneurs. In addition to being a mother of two young children, Esther is actively involved with her own alma mater, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and is a board member of the school’s Alumni Council. She is also a director of the Chicago Public Library Foundation and a partner in Social Venture Partners.

She holds degrees from University of California Santa Barbara, Texas A&M and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Esther also lectures in Kellogg’s Executive Education Programs and the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

Samira Abderahman

Client Experience Manager

Phone: 877-325-ALUM

As our Client Experience Manager, Samira works closely with the COO in designing and executing the highest level of client experience. She is responsible for creating and implementing ALUMinate’s best practices and playbooks, as well as managing the lifecycle of our client relationships.

Samira brings experiences and best practices from a diverse range of industries, including the non-profit sector, community organizations, the music industry, and the technology field. During her time at The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, she served as a program manager, implementing and revamping procedures for an exceptional after hours program, while also facilitating relationships between students, parents, and teachers.

Ultimately, she is driven by a need to create genuine, worthwhile, and lasting relationships and communities. She is passionate about culture, wellness, and community building, and contributes to related organizations locally and nationally.

Samira is holds a B.A. in Political Science from Southern Methodist University, specializing in African and Middle Eastern Studies. She has been featured in Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and NPR’s Worldview.

Caitlin Scarano

Director of Market Research

Phone: 877-325-ALUM

Caitlin Scarano is a writer, blogger, and researcher based in northwest Washington. She recently earned a Ph.D. in English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and teaches courses in composition and creative writing.

Caitlin has an M.A. in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University, where she worked in residence life and coordinated service-learning trips. She holds an M.F.A in poetry from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Caitlin’s creative work appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2016 and Best New Poets 2016. Her debut collection of poems, Do Not Bring Him Water, was released in fall 2017 by Write Bloody Publishing.