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Maria Held

Smith Staff

Office of Alumnae Relations and Development

Senior Director of Class Engagement & Philanthropic Support

How long have you worked at Smith?
I started at Smith as a program assistant in the annual fund office in August 2001. I was looking for administrative support work and thought it would be nice to work at a college. It turns out that it was a great fit for me and I’m now in my fifth position!

How would you describe what you do here at Smith?
I manage a terrific team of 10 staff members. We work with classes to engage them with Smith today and with each other as classmates, and we ask them to financially support Smith with donations to the college’s key priorities, which includes The Smith Fund. I also wear the hat of smith fund director, and I oversee our direct marketing program.

Please share something you are proud of about the impact of your work at the college.
I am a huge supporter of gifts through The Smith Fund. Donations can be large or small—any amount helps us meet our fundraising goals, including our donor participation rate. I believe in Smith’s mission and am proud that many of the gifts my team and I help raise directly support the college’s operating budget and therefore Smith's top priorities. Of course, I am also so pleased that Smith has been able to go “no loan.” It's truly thanks to generations of generous alums, parents and friends that Smith was able to make this important change.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
I love walking the corridors and exploring the plants in the Lyman Plant House. I particularly like the area with ferns and the succulent room. It’s wonderful to be able to walk through and easily enjoy the amazing plants during a lunch break.    

How has your background prepared you for your current job at Smith? 
I have an undergraduate degree in finance and a master of business administration. My education was hugely beneficial in my career. I would encourage more people to consider nonprofit organizations for their careers—working at mission-driven organizations can be so meaningful. My hands-on years of experience was also essential—in particular, the mentorship I've received over the years from my supervisor (who has worked at the college even longer than me).    

When you’re not working or traveling for Smith, what are you most likely to be found doing? 
I’d probably be at home with my husband and two cats, or out at a local restaurant or perhaps at an art museum. We also regularly visit wineries and breweries. I also love traveling and do so whenever my schedule allows!    

What are you reading/watching/digging into these days?
Right now I’m in the middle of the second season of Only Murders in the Building, which is terrific. There is just so much good TV these days, it’s hard to keep up! My husband and I always watch the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, so that takes up a lot of summertime viewing. We were actually able to go to Italy to see a few stages of the Giro a few years ago, which was amazing.    

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
This is an almost impossible question! There are so many places I would love to go. If I had to list a few places, I would say Sweden and Norway would be near the top. I would also go back to Iceland, as I was only there for a few days, and I only scratched the surface of what there is to see. My ideal vacation destination is somewhere not densely packed with other people, but where there is a mix of city/culture and nature, so that I can alternate quieter times with more social activities.

Favorite Smith tradition?
Ivy Day

Who would you most like to have dinner with?
My husband

What’s your favorite dish? 
Caesar salad with salmon

About Maria

Pronouns: she/her