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Finding rewards on the road

Patty McHenry knows what she likes best about her job.

"It's the people you meet and the people you work with, hands down," she says with a laugh. As Principal Gift Officer, McHenry works closely with some of the university's largest benefactors -- from individuals to corporations. Though she works closely with the Principal, the Chancellor and other members of the university's leadership team, she also spends roughly a third of the year on the road, meeting with donors and potential donors.

"People may think the job is all about asking for money, however, it is really the opportunity to develop the relationships that will lead to the gifts," she explains. "We want to prove to people that Queen's is the place they want to support, and then when they do, we thank for them for it. It's a cycle!"

McHenry, who has been at Queen's since 1987, says it was serendipity that lead her to her work in fundraising. Trained initially as a medical and legal secretary, the Kingston native has worked in a number of administrative capacities within the university. She remembers being surprised, however, when she was first recruited by a former Queen's Vice-Principal and a Dean who saw her potential as a fundraiser. "I remember saying, 'you've got to be kidding,'" she recalls. "I definitely took convincing."

Four years ago, McHenry became the Director of Major Gifts, moving into her current role in December 2010. She says it's work that she finds extremely rewarding.

"I have been humbled by the number of people who tell me they have never forgotten what Queen's did for them," she says, "and they in turn say they want to start a fund, or they want to support students."

McHenry describes herself as a "cog in the wheel, or one tire on the car" of a larger entity that works to bring students to Queen's who might not have been able to otherwise attend. "But it's not just scholarships," she explains. "Because you also have other benefactors, like the Baders (Isabel and Alfred Bader) who build centres! They build the buildings that make up our village...because Queen's is a village."

While McHenry admits that fundraising work can be challenging, it's perfect work for her. "If you like people, and you like being able to build relationships, it's a great job!" She says working at Queen's has provided her with a world of opportunity for which she is grateful.

"From furthering my career, to having the opportunity to meet wonderful people," she says warmly. "I work with the cream of the crop."

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