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WCSU Foundation Board welcomes new members

Three highly qualified women, Sarah Ribeiro, Kathleen Romagnano and Jane von Trapp, have joined the WCSU Foundation Board promising to bring fresh perspective, representation and expert advisement throughout their terms.

A non-profit sector of Western Connecticut State, the Foundation Board accepts donations on behalf of the university for scholarships, faculty innovations and program support. The Board has the fiduciary responsibility of investing the monies prudently and guiding the Office of Institutional Advancement in their long term goals.

Members of the Board are comprised of Danbury area community members, the Student Government Association president, alumni, WCSU parents and former parents, a faculty representative, a dean, the associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, the president, and the director of development. Coming from distinct backgrounds, the three new members are devoted to being university ambassadors.

Sarah Ribeiro

Having moved to the area six years ago, Sarah Ribeiro is a Western “newcomer.” Her resume though, includes extensive work for public schools, city government and university administration. Such experience and knowledge will be a great resource for Western and the Board.

Ribeiro, a Florida native, is a full-time mother of two. Prior to settling in Connecticut with her husband and children, she was Deputy Mayor for Schools and Policy for the city of St. Petersburg, Florida. Before that, she taught at both the high school and university level. “I was a high school administrator and teacher before becoming Deputy Mayor,” said Ribeiro.  “I also worked as an adjunct professor at The University of South Florida teaching graduate level courses in School Administration.”

Interest and involvement with Western began a year and a half ago when President Schmotter invited Sarah Ribeiro and her husband, attorney Agostinho Ribeiro, to a Director Dinner at the home of Thomas and Lois Crucitti. “The purpose of the dinner was to inform the guests about many of the unique and significant programs and advancements happening at Western,” she explained.  “Surprisingly, I came away from the evening feeling like we have this great gem in our community and wanting to be more a part of it.”

Over the past year and a half, Ribeiro attended different events hosted by the university in an effort to learn more about its culture. During this time, she remembered repeatedly stating to herself, “I can’t believe I’m just now realizing how great this school is.” Her dedicated commitment to learning about Western, those associated with the school and their goals did not go overlooked. After several discussions and meetings, Sarah Ribeiro was voted on to the Board in December 2012. 

During her term, Ribeiro wants to help in showing the community what a vital role Western plays in the culture of the area, and she wants to continue to help advance university goals.

“I see my key role as a board member as that of an ambassador,” she said. “I will continually support the school as it focuses on its mission to serve as an accessible, responsive and creative intellectual resource for the people and institutions of Connecticut.”

Kathleen Romagnano

Current EVP/Chief Operating Officer and soon to be President /CEO of the Savings Bank of Danbury, beginning on March 1, Kathleen Romagnano hopes to bring fresh perspective to the Foundation Board.

Romagnano is an esteemed executive that first became interested in the Foundation Board at a city leadership event. “I attended Leadership Danbury with Jane von Trapp where she provided me with great background on the university,” she said. “After helping me better understand the Foundation’s objectives, she invited me to meet with the university leaders and the Foundation nominating committee.”

Also voted as a new member of the Board in December 2012, Romagnano prepared for the role by reviewing Foundation materials of past work and current goals. Such knowledge enabled her to get up to speed quickly and begin contributing from the start. Romagnano ensured that appropriate preparation before all meetings and events will be an essential part of her term.

Coming from a financial background, Romagnano will be an active participant in the various fundraising activities of the Foundation and university. “I have been impressed with how the university has worked diligently to improve the services available to students,” she said. “I want to continue that by offering the support of an organization [Savings Bank of Danbury] that understands the key role the university plays within the Danbury community.” Romagnano hopes to do this by offering internships when appropriate and ensuring that her employees are aware of the outstanding offerings and success at Western.

A firm believer that “the university is a hidden gem,” Romagnano’s enthusiasm and commitment will be a great asset to the Board and their continued mission of spreading the good news of Western.   

Jane von Trapp

Jane von Trapp, current director of development in the WCSU Institutional Advancement office, is well seasoned in all aspects of the Foundation Board’s activities.

Von Trapp’s membership was a result of a bylaw change made to ensure that the director of development would sit on the Board as a non-voting member. Also serving as the Foundation’s campaign director, von Trapp felt it was a prudent move to include the director of development on the Foundation Board because the expertise brought to the table by the person in this position can help guide the Board’s decisions on fund raising, investment and community partnerships. The Board voted and approved the amendment in September 2012.

As a member, von Trapp hopes to prove that the amendment was a worthwhile change for the Board. “It is quite common in non-profits for the director of development to serve on the Board,” she said. “I hope to use the opportunity to educate them about fund raising and their role as solicitors and supporters.”

Jane von Trapp is sure to bring a well-rounded perspective as a board member because of her work in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. She was a business owner for 18 years, a writer and editor for publishing companies for six years and a published author. Additionally, von Trapp has over a dozen years of fund raising and communications experience in private schools and WCSU, a public university. 

“My multi-faceted background gives me a 360 degree view,” said von Trapp. “As a result, I think I bring vision and forward-thinking and an innate ability to see the big picture.” Her passion for making a difference for students who might not otherwise be able to take advantage of higher educational opportunities is also a great motivator for serving on the Board. 

 It is key that Board members participate in WCSU activities, act as ambassadors for the University and are supportive of our faculty, programs, mission and vision. Above all else, they must possess a strong dedication and passion. Although individually unique, Sarah Ribeiro, Kathy Romagnano and Jane von Trapp, are sure to be tremendous additions to the Board and will work collectively toward continued advancement of this university.

Contact us

Office of Institutional Advancement
181 White Street, Danbury, Conn.
(203) 837-8419
vontrappj@wcsu.edu