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Gjaja Named Interim Vice President for Advancement

By Greta Petry (September 10, 2004)

Interim Vice President for University Advancement, Vesna GjajaInterim President John R. Ryan has announced the appointment of Vesna Gjaja to the position of interim vice president for University Advancement, effective September 13. Ryan said, “Vesna has the ideal background to take our Bold.Vision. campaign to the next level. Vesna is looking forward to returning to UAlbany, where she held key positions. I’m sure the alumni and friends of UAlbany will welcome her return.”

Gjaja, a UAlbany alumna, returns to the University at Albany from Towson University, the second largest institution in the University of Maryland System, where she was associate vice president for development and executive vice president for Towson University Foundation, Inc.

From 1993 to September 2000, Gjaja was prominent in the University at Albany administration, first as director of community relations, then as interim assistant vice president for Alumni Affairs, and finally, as assistant vice president for University Advancement and director of Marketing and Special Events, until taking a position at Towson University. From July 2001 to March 2002, she also served at Towson as interim vice president for University Advancement and provided strategic and entrepreneurial leadership for all philanthropic, communications, and marketing activities. She managed a $7.5 million budget.

Since 2000, she has been responsible for the goals and direction of the Development Office, including major gifts, planned giving, corporate and foundation relations, annual fund, alumni relations, and special events.

Gjaja led the fund-raising team at Towson to the successful completion of its first capital campaign, raising $21.5 million, exceeding the goal by $4 million. In addition, she established a university-based planned giving effort, increasing the donor base and gift revenues. She also developed a strategy to increase alumni volunteer participation and giving, and cultivated and solicited major donors and corporations. Gjaja initiated and successfully completed conversion of the manual phone-athon to an automated system, increasing annual fund revenues by more than 30 percent.

She attended the University of Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia before transferring to UAlbany, where she graduated summa cum laude.

Prior to joining UAlbany, she was a marketing project manager for Ed Lewi Associates, owner-manager of ZiZi Eton, Inc., and was manager of public relations for Macy’s.