Talent and dedication working in harmony
Nancy Handrigan (’92)
As a musician, Nancy Handrigan (’92) has experienced the magic that happens when a group of talented, dedicated people work together. After receiving her BM at Acadia, she earned an MA in Music Criticism at McMaster University and continued her path in the arts as General Manager of the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Now, as Acadia’s Executive Director, Philanthropy and Campaign Director since 2012, Handrigan sees the same kind of talent and dedication in the people who support Acadia.
“We’re really fortunate at Acadia to have a great variety of donors from our alumni group and beyond,” she says. “The gifts that range from $25 a year, or a month, right up to the million-dollar gifts make a big difference to our students, to our faculty and to our campus. Every gift counts. And the participation of our alumni in particular is really important to us.”
“Our alumni are passionate people, and we love to see them giving back to the university that has given them so much.”
From her conversations with alumni and current students, Handrigan has learned that their experiences are remarkably similar, whether they graduated 50 years ago or yesterday. “The values of the University and what our University delivers is the same – that personalized rigorous education is still there,” she says.
Handrigan developed her skills in alumni relations and fundraising at McMaster University, followed by a position in major gifts and gift planning at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Foundation in Burlington, Ontario. Before joining Acadia, she served as Executive Director, Philanthropy, at Appleby College in Oakville, Ontario.
Even as her career progressed, music has never been far away. She has enjoyed a part-time career in music since her summer job as organist at St. Andrew’s Church in Wolfville. For nearly two decades she was Music Director at East Plains Church in Burlington, Ontario, and has played violin in the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra and volunteered with Opera Hamilton. Today she combines her love of music with her other skills by volunteering with Sunday Music in the Garden Room concerts, church groups, and Symphony Nova Scotia’s Foundation Advisory Committee.
Studying music at Acadia is an experience Handrigan has never forgotten. “Acadia was an amazing experience for me,” she says. “The one-on-one with professors was really important – the personal approach the professors have with all of their students. Classes are small. Everyone knows each other well, and it really felt like family and a community. When the opportunity came to come back and to come home I had to take it.”
The Campaign for Acadia is happening at exactly the right time, she believes. “We want to build on the momentum that we’ve experienced over the last decade or so,” she says. “Our alumni group is ready to give back to the University that gave them so much. This Campaign will help us achieve amazing things for our students. We have exceptional students, exceptional programs, and we want to transform it for them and take it to the next level.”