Marianne Blackwell, JD - Director of Gift Planning at Colorado State University
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.
The fears are paper tigers.
You can do anything you decide to do.
You can act to change and control your life;
And the procedure, the process is its own reward.”
- Amelia Earhart
Pro-bono legal work in Colorado Springs brought Marianne to the mission-focused work of the non-profit world. As Director of Gift Planning at Colorado State University since 2006, she has leveraged her legal expertise into a perfect mix of fulfilling donor aspirations and resourcing the vision of CSU.
Her twenty-seven year professional career has taken her from Norman, Oklahoma to Almaty, Kazakhstan to Colorado Springs and now to Fort Collins. She is respected as a strategic problem-solver who deals successfully with complex issues in a variety of venues. Three things she advocates for all who wish to pursue or to enhance their aspirations in the world of planned giving are the following:
- Constantly educate yourself on tax laws, demographic changes, marketing strategies, and philanthropic trends.
- Search out and try different tactics and cutting-edge technology to transform your current approach and mix of products.
- Always keep your organizational mission and the goals of your donors front and center on your pathway to make a difference in the world.
CPGR played an important role in Marianne’s transition from the client-focused world of legal representation to the donor-centered advocacy that we all aspire to fulfill. As a current member of the CPGR board, she feels like she is part of an exceptional group of like-minded colleagues who are elevating and enriching the profession of planned giving throughout our region. She played a key role in setting up an Outreach location in Fort Collins for CPGR’s Brown Bag and other seminar offerings.
On a more personal note, Marianne’s philosophy on life is very simple. To live meaningfully; to be forever curious; to be kind, grateful, and caring in all dealings with others and with yourself. Three values that she holds most dear are family, health, and generosity (whether of self, spirit, time, friendship, or support). She hopes she is of value to others and continues to go the distance for family, friends, and colleagues.
On a quiet evening, you might find her at home reading the book, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers or tuned into the third season of the HBO series “Homeland”. Next to her on the couch is her husband of 28 years. Perhaps they are discussing the college plans of their 19 year-old son who wants to pursue a career in Chemistry. At their feet are their 3 much spoiled puppy dogs: 2 Vizslas and 1 Lab/Vizsla mix.
Written by Jim Brozo, CFRE, CSPG
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