Denise Ann Clifford’s Journey – from Teacher/Administrator to Community Life Coordinator
“I’ve loved ‘learning the art’ of fundraising and connecting with our many generous friends and supporters,” says Denise Ann Clifford, as she completes 23 years as Loretto’s Director of Development and prepares for her new ministry as Community Life Coordinator at the Loretto Motherhouse. Until 1996, Denise Ann spent most of her professional years as a teacher and administrator in Denver, St. Louis, Taylorville, Ill., and Houston. She was serving as head mistress of the Lower School at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Houston when Mary Ann Coyle tapped her on the shoulder to become Director of Development, following Margaret Ann Hummel’s resignation.
Denise Ann is grateful for the help extended in the early days by Monica May, the former development director of the Notre Dame de Namur congregation. Monica shared her knowledge of the various aspects of fundraising, including solicitations, donor care, events, publications, annual appeals, etc.
One of the earliest projects was to computerize the donor records. Denise Ann solicited the help of Marion Mundy, one of her “Houston connections,” to provide computer equipment for this major undertaking. Until then, donor information as far back as the 1950s was hand-written on index cards. Denise Ann spent time traveling to meet donors personally in California, New Mexico, Texas, Missouri, Illinois and Georgia, to strengthen Loretto’s connections.
Denise Ann is particularly grateful for the members of the development team who worked with such dedication.
There followed many years of operations in place that Denise Ann created, establishing a friendly, efficient and effective Development Department. She is particularly grateful for the members of the development team who worked with such dedication, including Julie Clements, Maggie Nelan and Stephanie Medvigy in the early days and Mary Kay Brannan in the early years; Donna Mattingly, Chris Molina, the late Carolyn Dunbar, Lydia Peña, Kelly Darby and Brenda Blankenship in recent times. Over the course of 23 years, our records show that approximately $26 million was generated for Loretto’s internal and ministerial needs through the efforts of the Development Staff.
Denise Ann served as chair for Loretto’s 200th Year Jubilee Committee events and celebrations in Denver in 2012. In addition to the members of the Development Department, she recruited Loretto members, friends and donors to serve on the planning committee. Major highlights included a special Jubilee liturgy/reception, chaired by Mary Kay Widger and celebrated at Marty Lally’s parish. More than 400 participants and guests attended, including the bishops of Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colo., other clergy, religious and Loretto members, alums, family members and friends. The Jubilee Gala attracted 500 guests and table sponsors, including many out-of-towners. Judy Collins provided remarkable and memorable entertainment through a connection with Theresa Kinealy. As part of the Jubilee celebration, Lydia Peña planned, produced and presented an historical exhibit of Loretto’s history in Colorado, exhibited at the Denver Public Library.
Before Denise Ann’s 1996 arrival in Denver, Aline Dalton initiated the Loretto Golf Tournament with the assistance of dedicated alums and friends from Holy Family Parish/School in north Denver. Aline relinquished that event to Denise Ann, and it became a “tradition” that took place annually until 2017. Many foursomes were “regulars” and eagerly participated each year.
When asked in what ways her previous ministries prepared her for the new role as Community Life Coordinator at Loretto Motherhouse, she replied that spending time and effort strengthening relationships is equally important in both positions. Other gifts of her former ministries that will be assets in the new position include a strong work ethic, an ability to listen carefully, respect for confidentiality, and a desire to promote and work toward maintaining a joyful community environment. As the oldest of eight children, Denise Ann learned management skills at an early age and compassionate leadership.
Denise Ann is happy to be of service and share who she is with her Loretto family. She is grateful that Mary Ann McGivern is willing to serve as the new Director of Development and wishes her much success and joy on the journey.