The Team Behind the Team: Development
Casey Taylor

Nov. 1, 2013

During each week of competition throughout the cross country season, we will highlight a member of our support staff that helps the Wolverines succeed on and off the course!

Meet Annual Giving Associate for Annual Giving Programs Casey Taylor:
Casey is in her third year working with as a member of the Michigan Athletics Development team and is currently working as an annual giving associate. After completing graduate school at Northeastern University, the 2009 U-M grad was excited about the opportunity to return to her alma mater and help student-athletes who are now in the same shoes she was recently filling. Casey represented the Maize and Blue women's track and field team from 2006-09 and was a part of arguably some of the greatest teams in program history. She helped lead Michigan to the 2006 indoor and 2007 outdoor Big Ten titles, as well as the program's best finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, when the Wolverines finished third in 2007. Individually, Casey won the 2008 outdoor triple jump crown and was a member of the 2009 4x100-meter relay team. She is also the Michigan indoor and outdoor record holder in the triple jump.

Describe your position and your role in supporting current and former student-athletes at Michigan.
As the annual giving associate, I wear a number of hats that are unique to my position. I have fundraising responsibility, assisting with the execution of our Preferred Seat Donation program, our largest annual giving program, and other annual fund solicitations. I also have a donor service component to my job, helping to answer phones and questions of the many donors who call in to our office. In addition to this, I created and now manage the Michigan Athletics Student Ambassador Program, which hires about 30 student-athletes to work in Development. They serve as hospitality hosts and liaisons from the donors to Development at athletic events, donor events, and more. They also assist in the office when needed, as well as attend professional development opportunities, helping them to learn how to network and how to use their strengths with the connections they make in and out of the program in addition to educational sessions about how Michigan Athletics works and why our donors give. Finally, I have the unique responsibility of serving as co-advisor to SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee). This group is comprised of two student-athletes from all 31 teams who serve as the voice of all student-athletes, providing feedback to the department and University about their experience, as well as creating experiences that build the student-athlete community.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy watching student-athletes grow. Being 18-21 is not easy in that you have so much going on and you're trying to figure out who you are. I love when a student has an "aha moment" about anything from something they learned about themselves or something they learned that they never knew before.

What makes working for Michigan Athletics special?
Michigan Athletics is special to me for so many reasons but I think the people make it really special to work here. When you enjoy going to work because you know you have a great team you are working with and great student-athletes who want to be the best on the field and off, you really value this place even more.

What advice would you give current Michigan student-athletes?
I would tell student-athletes to take advantage of the numerous opportunities on campus. There is so much to offer and so many different types of people who are not on your team and not in the Ross Academic Center. I would suggest getting involved in groups and organizations on campus. I would advise students to get to know their classmates and professors.

How has your prospective on the athletic department and the amount of people that support our 900 student-athletes changed now that you're on the other side of the fence?
As a student-athlete, you have no clue how many people and how much time is put in to making your experience possible. I used to look at the athletic department as something separate from my experience -- as the "adults". Now being on the other side, I try to let student-athletes know that we are all on the same team. We all are trying to be the best, whether it's Big Ten championships or raising the most money possible. We all share a common goal.

What is your favorite Michigan memory from your days as a student-athlete?
I honestly can't say there is one because there were so many. Obviously winning Big Ten championships as a team and individually stick out. Traveling and being at away meets were always fun. I think building long lasting relationship with my teammates and coaches that carry on to this day is the biggest takeaway from my experience.

What do you enjoy doing away from work?
I enjoy relaxing. I love spending time with my fiancé, Branden. We love to go to church, watch and attend sporting events, crack jokes, and eat. I enjoy hanging with my best friends, who are all former student-athletes as well. I recently started boot camp at 5:45 a.m. which has been "fun". When I have a chance, I really enjoy unplugging from everything (phone, TV, etc.) and living in the moment.

What did you major in at Michigan how did you end up in your role at Michigan Athletics?
I majored in sport management here at Michigan. After graduation, I moved to Boston to purse track post-collegiately and attend graduate school at Northeastern University. As part of my graduate program, I interned at Harvard University as the athletic events and operations intern. After I finished my master's and the internship program, an opportunity opened at Michigan in Development and I applied for it and accepted the position in the summer of 2011. What initially drew me back to Michigan was the idea of working in Development and also having the opportunity to give back to those who I can relate to in so many ways.

• Past Entry:Jeff Porter