|By Ret Boney
RALEIGH, N.C. — With a background in teaching and fundraising, Roger Kaplan is brinGing all his expertise to bear as the first director of development for The Fletcher Academy in Raleigh.
The accredited private school, established in 1981, serves about 105 first through 12 graders who have learning disabilities or attention-deficit disorders.
The A.J. Fletcher Foundation in Raleigh, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal, is a supporting organization for the school, which so far has operated on tuition revenue and foundation funds plus a few private donations.
“We want a top school and the time has come to have a development officer,” says Barbara Goodmon, president of the Fletcher Foundation. “He seemed the perfect fit. We’re very excited.”
Kaplan worked as a fundraising consultant for various groups before joining the academy, and served as campaign director and director of operations for the Raleigh-Cary Jewish Federation.
Before that, he was the founding executive director for Duke University’s Freeman Center for Jewish Life for four years.
“I’ve always been involved in education and I worked with special education in Israel,” says Kaplan. “Special-education teachers deserve special gold medals. It’s a calling.”
While Kaplan says the school has not set any formal fundraising goals, Goodmon hopes the additional source of funds initially will cover improvements to the school’s gym and track field.
Job: Director of development, The Fletcher Academy, Raleigh
Education: B.A., Near Eastern studies, University of California, Berkeley; M.A., Near Eastern languages and literatures, and Ph.D., Hebrew and Judaic studies, New York University.
Born: 1960, Los Angeles
Family: Son, Lorin, age 6
Hobbies: Playing with son and dog; swimming
Currently reading: “Charlotte’s Web,” by E.B. White; “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” by J.K. Rowling
Little-known fact: “I’m a TV junkie and a chocoholic.”
|“Then we can put our money toward scholarships to allow kids to be there,” she says, noting that many families of children with learning disabilities cannot afford private-school tuition.
While a parent’s group at the school has held catalog sales and yard sales, the Fletcher Academy has done no formal fundraising, Kaplan says.
Originally from Los Angeles, Kaplan moved to New York after college to study Hebrew, then taught at Ohio State, Emory and Duke universities.
“I always thought of myself as a teacher,” he says, adding that being passionate about his work is important. “I have to wake up in the morning and feel good about what I’m doing.”
He also spent three years working in Israel, two of them with the Jerusalem Foundation, before returning to the U.S. to join Duke’s Freeman Center.
Building relationships with students, parents, alumni and trustees is at the top of his to-do list, he says, followed by creating alumni and donor databases and evaluating the school’s needs through the creation of a strategic plan.
“We need to be very strategic,” he says. “So we know where we want to take the school.”