Katie Bernie Hired as Director of Parent Engagement at SHU

Katie Beirne has recently been hired by Sacred Heart University (SHU) as the newest Executive Director of Parent Engagement and Philanthropy. She has 25 years of fundraising experience with many top universities including Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University.

The main purpose of hiring Beirne is to have her work with the parent council to expand the SHU parents’ program.

“My goals include increasing involvement/membership from Sacred Heart families in the Parent Council and enhancing their opportunities to fully engage with the university,” said Beirne.

The Villanova alumna received her bachelor’s degree in Communications and did much volunteer work with nonprofit organizations that led her to a career in collegiate fundraising. She is a current Fairfield resident and daughter-in-law of a SHU alumni.

“With more parents, we can positively impact a variety of academic and co-curricular areas within SHU through strengthening philanthropic support, as well as grow partnerships in student recruitment and career development events, that can benefit both the current and future SHU student population.”

The Parent Council is an organized group of parent ambassadors who work closely with SHU to activate parent involvement on and off campus.

“I feel that the parent involvement within the SHU community has reached an appropriate level that allows for family members to be involved in their student’s college success,” said sophomore Kathleen Vergnolle. “Having a support system within our university community is an important aspect of what makes us so successful at SHU.”

Paul Sutera, Senior Vice President of University Engagement, focuses heavily on philanthropic involvement on campus, which includes the Parent Council.

“Involving parents in what is going on, on campus has great benefits for the student body,” said Sutera. “Going away to college is an adjustment for many students and involving family from afar can make the SHU campus feel even more like a community.”

Beirne will attempt to increase parent involvement at SHU by working with colleagues in the advancement department and throughout the University.

“The Parent Council and Katie Beirne along with her colleague Caroline Owens are the curators of engagement opportunities for our families desiring an enhanced SHU experience,” Sutera said. “Think of these families as ambassadors working to advance Sacred Heart through philanthropic support and active engagement in the life of Pioneer Nation.”

According to the SHU website, the Parent Council alone raises over $35,000 in scholarships and support money to benefit the university. Along with fundraising, these dedicated families network closely with SHU alumni and partnered companies for current students.

“It is important for the students to have an incredible academic and co-curricular experience during their time at SHU. We know that to be the case by the plethora of activities and events that support the student experience,” Sutera said. “And it won’t be too long that our students will transition from productive student leaders to becoming members of the 60,000-person SHU alumni network.”

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