“Mr. Phonathon” is “phona-gone”

Associate director of Annual Outreach and Engagement and Trinity graduate Jim Stryker stepped down from his position on Jan 17. Affectionately known as “Mr. Phonathon,” Stryker has had a long history with the university working with student ambassadors and advising the Senior Legacy Committee. Through his work with the Phonathon program — both as a student and as a graduate — Stryker has had a marked impact on campus life.

While his role at Trinity has changed over the past years, according to Stryker, the time spent both as a student and working with students as a director was rewarding.

“Working with student ambassadors is really great because as a student myself before I graduated I wasn’t super involved in anything. I worked at Phonathon as a student, and then I went to class and that was about it. It was a really great opportunity, and I really enjoyed working with students that are putting on those big campus traditions. Having a chance to be more involved in something I felt like I missed out on, and giving other students the chance to continue those traditions, so I love that,” Stryker said.

According to Kathy McNeill, senior director of Annual Giving Programs, working with Stryker resulted in lasting memories and rewarding connections.

“There are a lot of wonderful memories of my time working with Stryker. He was always willing to step up and assist when needed, and he had an amazing ability to create puns,” McNeill wrote in an email.

As associate director of Annual Giving and Outreach, Stryker invested time in building connections with both donors and the Phonathon team.

“[Stryker] put a lot of time meeting with us on the supervising team, and behind the scenes he does a lot of work such as cultivating donating lists and reaching out and personally thanking those who donate to Phonathon,” said Phonathon supervisor Pearson Randall.

According to Stryker, transitioning from being a full-time student to an employee at the university was smoother than expected thanks to supportive colleagues.

“It’s a little weird to suddenly be directing people who were my peers just a couple months ago, but really for Phonathon, the group I had then as supervisors and students – like most Trinity students – were incredible and understood that we are here to fill this role and really just pull in the same direction,” Stryker said.

While Stryker’s absence will be felt in the Phonathon office — as he played such an integral role in supporting callers and staff — the existing team will come together to fill his role in until a new associate director is hired.

“It’s going to be different without him there. He’s been there ever since I started, so it’s going to be a different environment. However, I have a really strong supervising team working with me now, as well as Kathy McNeill who is the senior director, who is going to be working in tandem with us until a new Vice Director can be found,” Randall said.

According to McNeill, the search for a new vice director is underway, and the position will likely be filled within the coming months.

“We are working on the job posting now and a lot will depend on when the candidate can start. Ideally, we would have someone this spring,” McNeill wrote.

Effectively working with a team while maintaining individuality is essential to growing the Phonathon team, according to Stryker.

“Whoever comes next is going to figure out how to do this in their own way, and I think that’s exactly what it takes to fit in, because I work with a whole team on Annual Giving, and everything I do blends in with them. Finding a way to do it that really helps boost their passion for it is kind of a labor of love to work for Trinity, and a great feeling,” Stryker said.

According to McNeill, the Annual Giving Program is searching for a candidate that shows the same dedication as Stryker to the job.

“Similar to Stryker, [we are looking for] someone who can work with students in the Phonathon program to engage our alumni in building a culture of philanthropy as well as partner with the Student Ambassadors to find the right link and activities to our efforts as students become alumni for life,” McNeill wrote.

While Stryker will be missed as Director of Annual Giving, existing staff are committed to staying true to his legacy at Trinity.

“I am really looking forward to moving on with Phonathon and keeping Jim’s spirit alive,” Randall said.