Danielle Kehoe ’07 has helped Daemen secure millions in academic grants funding
When she was in high school, Danielle Kehoe, ’07, wrote down a list of the career choices that most interested her. College professor was at the top of the list. While her career path ended up taking her in a different direction, she nevertheless has made a significant impact in higher education. And Daemen College has greatly benefited.
Back in 2001, Kehoe was hired as Daemen’s first academic grants coordinator. During her 14 years at the college, she was instrumental in shaping the office responsible for helping faculty, staff and administrators obtain external funding for academic initiatives. Such funding includes private, state and federal grants to support everything from academic programs and faculty research to institutional collaborations and community partnerships.
Kehoe was ultimately named executive director of what is now called the Daemen Office of Academic Grants and Sponsored Program Services. She was also appointed grant management specialist for Daemen’s Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant, a program of the U.S. Department of Education aimed at helping colleges better serve historically underrepresented students.
Over her tenure at the college, Daemen secured more than $22 million in external funding, including more than $5 million in competitive awards. In 2014 alone – Kehoe’s last full year as executive director – Daemen’s sponsored program portfolio consisted of 28 awards totaling more than $2.5 million. She is quick to emphasize that, while she helped facilitate significant growth in grants funding during her time at Daemen, the successes were always a true team effort.
“From the time I started, Daemen’s president and vice president for academic affairs had a clear, strategic vision for bringing in external funding,” she explains. “This type of work is very collaborative and the leadership at Daemen has always been inspired to keep improving. Our office essentially helps to implement their vision for the college.”
Introduction to Fundraising
The youngest of three children, Kehoe grew up in Kenmore, N.Y., and received a significant financial aid scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College, located just north of New York City. It was there that she also got her first taste of fundraising.
“During my senior year, I joined a group of students who were calling on alumni of the college to ask for donations,” Kehoe recalls. “I found that I really enjoyed the experience of connecting with alumni and raising money as a way of giving back to Sarah Lawrence. That planted a seed.”
After graduating, Kehoe participated in a cross-country bike trip to raise funds for an organization now called the Overseas Development Network, an association dedicated to global environmental sustainable projects. With this endeavor, the fundraising seed planted in college continued to grow.
Hooked on Grant Writing
Kehoe served as associate director of alumni relations at Sarah Lawrence College for a time before returning home to Western New York and accepting a position as development director at Buffalo Prep.
The school’s executive director invited her to work on a grant application, her first foray into grant writing. She wrote and submitted a proposal to a foundation offering a $5,000 grant. A month later, Buffalo Prep received a grant for $10,000 due to Kehoe’s compelling proposal. “I will never forget the joy, thrill and excitement of receiving the grant and realizing the impact that much money could make for Buffalo Prep students,” she says.
A desire to return to the higher education environment led Kehoe to apply at Daemen for a new position as academic grants coordinator. She was hired and hit the ground running.
One of the first grant proposals she worked on was to establish Daemen’s Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement (CSCCE). The proposal spelled out the college’s plan to provide education and resources to Daemen and the community-at-large on issues of social, economic and environmental sustainability. The college secured a grant of $600,000 from the John R. Oishei Foundation for the CSCCE, which continues to thrive today.
Kehoe enrolled as a student at Daemen at the same time she worked at the college, earning a master’s degree in executive leadership and change.
“I did not at first see myself as a leader, but the program at Daemen was incredibly transformative for me,” she says. “We all have leadership potential and the program helped me identify those skills and put them to work in my career. I became much more aware of how other people work and how to be effective and supportive with one another.”
Leaving a Legacy
Kehoe’s career at Daemen included plenty of successes, awards and recognition. She helped to procure competitive grants from organizations such as the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the William Randolph Hearst Foundations, and the New York State Education Department, to name a few.
In February, Kehoe started a new position as a grant writer at Middlesex Community College. She had relocated to Massachusetts when her husband, a biochemical engineer, took a position at EMD Millipore after earning his Ph.D. She currently resides with her husband, their one-year old son, and a golden retriever in Chelmsford.
“While I am excited to now be a part of this community, Daemen will always be my second home,” says Kehoe.