Kathleen Breslin retires after helping thousands to receive scholarships

By Shondalea Wollaston

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Kathleen A. Breslin, vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the Educational Foundation Board, is retiring after 20 years with the college. A party will be held in her honor on Dec. 6.

Kathleen A. Breslin, vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the DCCC Educational Foundation since 1997, will retire at the end of December.

In addition to awarding scholarships to qualified students, a large part of Breslin’s job over the last 20 years has involved listening to the stories of donors looking to make a difference in the lives of a student, while honoring the memory of a loved one.

Having read many scholarship applications over the years, Breslin knows how to pair students to donors.

“My job has been to serve as the filter to both donors and students,” Breslin said.

According to Breslin, one of her most memorable moments was that of Gilberta M. Trani, Ed.D. who, upon her death bed and unable to speak, was able to communicate her wishes to her family, with only a nod, that a scholarship be set up at DCCC.

“Her family went down a long list before she gave the nod,” said Breslin. “She was a nursing student here more than 30 years ago.”

The Gilberta M. Trani, Ed.D Memorial Endowed Scholarship was set up by Dr. Trani’s family and is offered to nursing students.

“Donors inspire me,” Breslin said.

In 2012, after the loss of Breslin’s nephew, a memorial scholarship was established to honor his memory.

The Timothy Finian Hickey Memorial Endowed Scholarship is sponsored by his family, including Breslin, and given to someone interested in the environment. Hickey, who died of adult chicken pox while visiting his son in Nicaragua, was a landscaper who loved nature, having hiked the Appalachian Trail and part of the Pacific Crest Trail.

“Tim just really loved nature and being out in the environment,” Breslin said.

Breslin has many fond memories of both students and donors over the years and can recall each one and even recount their stories.

Breslin’s career began at Villanova University, writing thank you notes for the vice president. Since then, Breslin has worked in all aspects of fundraising, and served as the director of Development for two educational and research institutes: Monell Chemical Senses Center, associated with the University of Pennsylvania, and Weston Institute.

In 1991, Breslin joined Drexel University and became the associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, overseeing corporate and foundation relations, major gifts, annual funds, and alumni relations.

After leaving Drexel in 1997, Breslin found herself at Delaware County Community College.

“When I came to work in August that first day, it was pouring down rain,” Breslin said. “A security officer pulled up, and I thought surely I would get a ticket for parking in the wrong place. To my surprise, he kindly offered me a ride to the front door. That is the moment I knew people here really cared about each other.”

Breslin immediately got to work, starting out with 22 scholarships available to students, which has since increased to 136.

Breslin’s efforts contributed to raising money for big ticket items around campus such as the new STEM Center. She continues to work, raising awareness and funds during events such as Giving Tuesday, to ensure students at DCCC have the best possible resources.

Most recently, Breslin completed a book titled Great Yesterdays, Greater Tomorrows: A Fifty-year history of Delaware County Community College 1967-2017. According to the book, it pays tribute to “the undaunted leadership of a handful of Delaware County educators and visionaries.”

When asked what she would miss the most about her time at DCCC, Breslin replied, “I will truly miss these people.”

Contact Shondalea Wollaston at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu