Meet CMC’s new Campaign Director, Carolyn Charlton Squeri

Last month, Carolyn Charlton Squeri joined CMC’s development team as our Campaign Director. Carolyn has successfully completed capital campaigns in the Bay Area ranging in scope from $4 million to $120 million and has joined CMC at the just the right time.

I hear you are a fourth generation San Franciscan! What neighborhood did you grow up in?

I grew up in St. Francis Wood. My husband Jim and I moved onto the same block and raised our three sons there, five doors from my parents. My mom, who is 95, still lives in her house. Until recently I could walk up to her house and hear her playing In the Mood or Aloha ‘Oe on the piano. I took piano lessons for years, but wasn’t a natural.

One of our sons and his wife just had a baby, a daughter and a sixth-generation San Franciscan!

My interest in fundraising actually began when our sons went to school. I started with volunteering and planning events, and would help out with fundraising campaigns at Cathedral School for Boys, Lick-Wilmerding High School, and St. Ignatius College Prep. My “master class” training in fundraising and campaigns came at Stanford University, where I was an active alum and served on the Parent Advisory Board while our sons were there . . . and where they really know how to raise money! I became very involved and found that I really enjoyed it.

What do you like about fundraising work?

The mission is what it’s all about. Fundraising enables everything else. It’s very aspirational. You enable dreams and visions of the future to come to fruition.

Building a strategy to help a place get to the next level is challenging, but so rewarding. I’ve found that fundraising is all about relationships and connections. You meet people along the way and find common interests that enrich the community around you. Events are great because they are fun and also serve as “friend-raisers.” It is really very satisfying to introduce friends to a place you love and then watch their engagement grow.

I like to engage as many people as possible. It takes everyone pulling in the same direction to get the best results. In our case, here at CMC, that means everyone: students and faculty, musicians and singers, alums and families, the board and committees, staff and volunteers, young and old, foundations and corporations, the local neighborhood and greater Bay Area community, longstanding supporters and new friends – all working together to ensure that CMC will continue to provide high quality music instruction to everyone . . . for generations to come!

It’s important that people feel like the institution is their place, that they have a sense of ownership, that they bring friends so that they can experience it, too. As their engagement increases, the community grows.

Tell me what it’s like to see facility expansion campaigns through.

I was able to experience the effects of facility renovations at Lick-Wilmerding and Cathedral School for Boys and both raised the level of enjoyment and function for students and teachers. The additions added so much more than space. They created areas that are conducive to quiet conversation and collaborations, social interaction and activities, contemplation, and inspiration.

The $120M Campaign for the Cathedral of Christ the Light on Lake Merritt in Oakland had a profound impact on the community. First of all everyone had to truly came together to raise that amount. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill did an amazing job with the engineering (ball bearings for earthquake safety) and their use of symbolism and light to create a beautiful spiritual space that glows at night.

All the hard work of a campaign pales in comparison to the pride you feel when a project is completed and you see people enjoying it.

What drew you to CMC’s capital campaign?

I have known people who I highly respect who have been involved with CMC and I see so much potential here. I find it surprising that CMC isn’t better known given the impact it’s had on our community for 95 years. The fact that CMC’s mission is so worthy also drew me to the campaign.

It was fortunate that 552 Capp Street became available, and that CMC’s long history and presence here on Capp Street will continue in the new expanded, improved, and re-imagined campus.

I was mostly drawn to CMC and the campaign because I felt I could make a difference. I would like to be a part of bringing the buildings and facilities up to the high quality of the musical experiences that CMC offers and the beautiful music that permeates the place.

Truth be known, it was Chris’ invitation to be a “thought partner” that I found irresistible and made me want to join CMC’s development team and the capital campaign.

I look forward to helping more people fall in love with CMC.

Will you perform in our Performathon?

My husband sings; he’ll perform in the Field Day Choir at the Performathon.

I will be participating as a “virtual performer,” raising funds, which comes more naturally to me!