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Becca Thomas To Receive ‘2020 Emerging Leader Award’ for Southeastern U.S.

Becca Thomas

Becca Thomas, a director in Stetson University’s Office of Development and Alumni Engagement, has been selected for the 2020 Emerging Leader Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Southeast region.

The Emerging Leader Award will be presented to Thomas, director of Outreach & Transitions, at the CASE District III annual conference in Orlando on Feb. 9-12.

The award is one of CASE’s six major individual awards for the nine-state region. It recognizes individuals who demonstrate achievement, innovation, professionalism and leadership qualities that stand out among their peers. 

“Her unique and successful approach to all facets of her position stood out,” the awards selection committee wrote about Thomas. “We were impressed with her ‘outside-the-box’ thought process with several of her initiatives. Strong organizational skills to help lead students into the next phase of alumni.” 

Thomas joined Stetson’s Office of Development and Alumni Engagement in 2016 as the assistant director of sustainable giving.

portrait outside
Rina Arroyo

Rina Arroyo, assistant vice president for Development, credited Thomas for her insightful approach when she first arrived in the job. Thomas identified students on campus who were “social influencers,” respected, well-liked and deeply engaged in campus culture, Arroyo wrote in her nomination letter.

“She reached out to those students and asked which of them would like to create a legacy at Stetson, and the student movement began,” Arroyo explained. 

The students and Thomas started Green, White & YOU, which fosters a spirit of philanthropy and engagement among Stetson students that can carry over when they become alumni. The group also educates other students about the impact of donors through campus events like “Thank-A-Donor Day,” when students write Thank You notes to donors.

“When she started as the Assistant Director of Sustainable Giving, we had attempted for years to cultivate an active student alumni/philanthropy group on campus,” Arroyo wrote. “Little did we know, we just needed to hire someone with Becca’s love for students and personal drive to be successful.”

Among the many events hosted by Green, White & YOU each year is “Thank-a-Donor Day,” above, when Humble Hatters thank donors for their contributions for scholarships and other gifts to the university.

In February 2019, Thomas was promoted to director of Outreach & Transitions, where she now works with students and young alumni across the country. She is also extending the reach of Green, White & YOU to young alumni.

Before joining Stetson, Thomas worked for Orlando City Soccer. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 2010 and a master’s degree in sport and exercise science in 2012 from the University of Central Florida. 

Green, White & YOU, including Becca Thomas, far left, organized a Dunkin’ for Donors event in fall 2019 at the Templeton Fountain to educate students, faculty and staff about the fountain gift from Stetson alumnus Troy Templeton and his wife Sissy.

“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award; it came as such a surprise!” Thomas said. “I am thankful for colleagues, like Rina Arroyo, who took the time to nominate me.

“In a larger sense, though, this award is more appropriately deserved by all the students who have been a part of Green, White & YOU and those students who have connected with our office, along with our staff, who have collaborated in achieving our vision,” she added.

-Cory Lancaster