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I listen to Michael Moore’s podcast, Rumble with Michael Moore. Two weeks ago Moore paid tribute to Tony Bennett, the great interpreter of the American songbook, upon his death at age 97. Moore considered Bennett a mentor and at one point asked the singer his secret to such a long life and productive career. Bennett’s response was, “I do not engage nostalgia; I live in the present and look to the future.”

Living in the present and looking to the future is the ministry of people who work in advancement or development. Last week I shared in this column that our Endowment Board was assisting in funding the position of the Director of Development at St. Stephen’s School. I was unclear in my communication about the why of that decision. Our Endowment exists to further the mission of St. Stephen’s Church and to ensure its ministry into the future. Planned giving is an essential component of fundraising to grow our ministry beyond our individual lives and tenures. The Endowment Board recognized that it needed professional expertise to enable us to expand our endowment. A portion of the School’s Director of Development’s time will be shared with the Church to enable the parish to deepen its mission now and into the future by assisting us with fundraising for both the endowment and the operational and capital needs of the Church.

I am delighted to introduce to you Avis McCray who joined St. Stephen’s Episcopal School’s staff on August 1 as the Director of Development.

Avis has over 30 years of experience in the non-profit sector, including roles as Director of Development at The Briarwood School, Development Officer at Houston Public Library Foundation, and Executive Administrator at the Susan G. Komen, Houston Affiliate. She holds a BA in Professional Writing and an MPA in Nonprofit Management from Grand Canyon University, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from Rice University. Avis also serves on the Board of the Community & Family Historical Preservation Association in Jasper, Texas, where she has created and implemented all fundraising campaigns and obtained grants for major building renovations.

She said, “I am honored to be joining such a prestigious institution and look forward to working with the exceptional team to advance the mission and vision of St. Stephen’s. Together we will accomplish many great things!”

I join Dr. Troy Roddy, our new Head of School, in welcoming Avis to our St. Stephen’s community.

The Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector