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Sam Samuels

Smith Staff

Sam Samuels with his dog.

Office of Alumnae Relations and Development

Director of Gift Planning

What brought you to Smith?
When I was looking for the next step in my development career, I had the incredible fortune of being hired by Cam Kelly '84, who was the director of both planned giving and major gifts. Cam taught me the ropes, and we've remained friends in the years since she left our office. I've been at Smith for 17 years, and I pinch myself daily that I now have Cam's former job.

What do you do here?
I work with generous Smith alums and friends on gifts through their estates, such as making Smith a beneficiary of their will or funding a charitable gift annuity.

Please share something you are proud of about the impact of your work at the college.
Since I do planned giving, most of the gifts I work on will benefit the college far in the future. Sometimes, though, it's different. I will never forget the call I received from a relatively young alumna telling me that she knew she had only one year to live and that she wanted to make a difference to Smith when she was gone. She ended up endowing a scholarship fund during her final months, just in time to see the scholarship awarded to one student during her lifetime. She then left a bequest in her will that multiplied the scholarship several-fold, magnifying the impact on students for the future. It was deeply moving and a privilege to help her realize this dream. 

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The Smith College Museum of Art. The collection is stellar, and the curators do an amazing job of mounting special exhibitions. Plus, it has the most amazing artist-designed restrooms!

How has your background prepared you for your current job at Smith?
Past careers have included acting, writing and editing publications for universities and freelance writing, including some science journalism. A theater background is amazing preparation for development work (and vice versa, incidentally), and science journalism is great preparation for gift planning. Science journalism is all about taking highly technical information and making it understandable—dare I say exciting—to the general reader. In gift planning, a specialized corner of philanthropy, we often work with complex types of giving vehicles with special financial and tax implications. It's really fun to talk with someone who has generous intentions, explain something like a charitable trust, and see their eyes light up.

When you’re not working or traveling for Smith, what are you most likely to be doing?
Watching classic films, hiking up a mountain with my dog, or fishing for trout in the rivers of western Mass.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
The Amalfi Coast of Italy.

What’s a project you are passionate about?
Raising funds and securing gifts of artworks for the Smith College Museum of Art.

What’s a fun fact about you?
I came in second on Jeopardy!

About Sam

Pronouns: he/him