Alumni Notes


Fundraiser Raises Hopes

As a junior in 1980, David Hoard was a recurring face on the front pages of Oberlin town and campus newspapers. He and eight other students embarked on a 33-day, 420-mile trek to retrace the Underground Railroad—a winter term project that would take them through the back roads of Greensburg, Kentucky, and through Ohio into Oberlin—freedom. In the interest of authenticity, the Oberlin nine dressed in simulated slave garb and made the majority of their journey at night, sleeping outside in churches or barns.

“People who escaped slavery beat the system,” Hoard told the Oberlin Observer in 1980. “They went ahead and made a new life for themselves. They were people of little resources, but they started their own towns.”

The project was a powerful lesson dotted with angry motorists, racial slurs, fatigue, and sore feet. But the weary group was also met with supporters: those offering a place to sleep and a couple who provided a pot of homemade soup, cookies, and fruitcake.
Twenty years later his journey through those dusty roads remains a source of conversation and inspiration. “Oh yeah, somehow a reporter got hold of the story and did a big article when I got here in 1999,” says Hoard, vice chancellor of development and university relations at North Carolina A&T University. “Through that experience I developed wonderful relationships with people and learned how important human interaction is.”

Months before their journey, the group, led by Hoard, received a $10,000 youth grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, perhaps foreshadowing Hoard’s career in fundraising. During his four years as vice chancellor for development at North Carolina Central University, he helped raise about 60 percent of the university’s $50 million capital campaign. At A&T, he brokered an agreement with a developer to build a $28 million, 804-bed modern student housing facility near campus. He and his staff have raised $30 million in less than two years towards an eventual campaign of $150 million.
Undaunted by even more work, Hoard was named CEO last June of the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, where he needs to raise $10-15 million for a proposed full-scale museum at a former Woolworth’s building downtown. In 1960 four A&T students sparked a national movement in the store by refusing to leave an all-white lunch counter.

“My father (the late Rev. Walter Hoard ’57) ended up being president of the NAACP chapter in New York and performed similar work in Milwaukee and Chicago, so it’s in my blood,” Hoard says. “And I’ve been lucky to have a lot of leadership opportunities throughout my career.

“I can’t accomplish these things by myself,” he adds. “I have a good group of people working with me. But I do pride myself on having good listening and fairly good people skills. I am able to provide people with what they want and also accomplish my objectives for my jobs.”

—Yvonne Gay

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