Making sure the Office of Advancement operates smoothly on a daily basis is an essential task. These senior executives handle this job, providing general oversight to the operations of all the various offices within the office.
The team works closely with University President to set the goals and further the mission of the office. They also plan and implement high-level institutional events, such as the President’s Dinner.
St. John’s University has a strong foundation thanks to the generous support of its alumni and friends. The Office of Advancement makes sure it stays that way.
Our Offices collaborate to cater to all the needs and concerns of this important group of the University family. Sponsoring regional Alumni Chapters, hosting reunions and gatherings are just some of the many ways we keep alumni and friends informed and connected. We also encourage alumni to stay involved with today’s campus life by inviting them to mentor current students through a variety of programs.
Take your time to explore the different Offices of Advancement to get a better understanding of how we operate. From gift planning to reengaging with campus life, Advancement offers a variety of services to keep all of our alumni and friends involved.
Office of Advancement
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, New York 11439
Fax 718-990-6785[email protected]
Christian P. Vaupel, Ed.D.
Vice President for Advancement and University Relations
Assistant Vice President Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations[email protected]
Scott is responsible for the departments of Advancement Communications, Advancement Services, Alumni Relations, Annual Campaigns, Donor Relations, and Research and Prospect Management. Scott has more than 20 years of experience working in higher education advancement, including time spent at Allegheny College, Washington and Jefferson College, and American University. He joined the staff at St. John's University in 2006.
James Hogan '14CPS, '16MBA
Assistant Director, Advancement[email protected]
James is responsible for the planning and execution of the annual President’s Dinner, the University’s premier fundraising event. He also assists with the University’s Alumni Convocation, The Jubilarian Society Dinner, certain alumni events, and other Presidential-level programs and initiatives.
Prior to this position, James served as a Graduate Assistant for St. John’s University’s Office of Advancement. As an undergraduate student at St. John’s, he worked as an Intramural Supervisor for Campus Recreation. He also interned for the Director of Athletics at SUNY New Paltz.
James received a B.S. in Sport Management from St. John’s College of Professional Studies and an M.B.A. in Marketing from The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.
Donna R. Cirigliano
Senior Executive Secretary[email protected]
Donna is responsible for all administrative duties for the Senior Vice President and the Associate Vice President for Leadership Gifts. Her duties include assisting with the planning and organization of Presidential-level alumni events and private gatherings and overseeing the preparation and coordination of all materials for meetings of the Institutional Advancement Committee of the University’s Board of Trustees. She also prepares materials required for cultivation/solicitation appointments and prepares high-level correspondence for alumni, donors and prospects.
Prior to her current position, Donna served as Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Athletics. Before coming to St. John’s she was Secretary to the Director of Production at Joseph E. Seagram and Sons.
Director, Advancement Marketing[email protected]
Stephanie Bakirtzis creates, develops, and executes multichannel communication campaigns and strategies for the University’s Office of Advancement and oversees the daily operations of the department’s communication office.
Prior to joining St. John’s, Stephanie worked in the Advertising and Publications, and Philanthropy and Fundraising departments at New York University. Stephanie holds both a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a master’s degree in Graphic Communications Management and Technology from New York University.
Gift Processing Assistant[email protected]
Althea is responsible for processing donations to St. John’s University. Her duties also include updating the University’s various alumni and donor databases and taking reservations for specific St. John’s events.
Associate Director, Research and Prospect Management[email protected]
Tracy assists the Director of Research and Prospect Management regarding the strategic vision and planning for the University’s fundraising efforts. She is responsible for providing daily management to the Research Analysts and works with the Office of Development to identify prospective donors interested in making gifts. She also provides information on potential and current donors.
Prior to her current position, she served as Assistant Director of Research and as a Donor Relations Specialist in the Advancement Services department at St. John’s.
Tracy holds a B.A. in History from the State University of New York at Purchase.
Director, Advancement Services[email protected]
Lisa prepares financial reports and maintains all donor databases for the Division of Institutional Advancement. She strategizes best practices for Advancement Services processes and reporting tools and trains members of the division to use Banner Advancement and Banner Advancement Self-Services.
Prior to this position, Lisa was Database Manager for Institutional Advancement and Senior Assistant to the Director, St. John’s Development. She also served as Sales Associate and Office Manager at Carolina Amato, Inc. Lisa holds a B.A. in Communications from Cornell University in New York.
Adriana Dino '02TCB
Supervisor, Gift Administration[email protected]
Adriana oversees the daily operations of the Office of Gift Processing. She is responsible for tracking and accounting for donations and pledges to St. John’s University, the distribution of special Gift Processing projects and the training of current and new staff members. Her duties also include the ongoing review of all gifts to St. John’s at The Loughlin Society level.
Prior to her current position, she was employed at a private accounting firm.
Adriana earned her B.S. in Accounting from St. John’s The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.
Director, Gift Administration[email protected]
Carmen is responsible for overseeing the Gift Processing staff and all gift entry functions for the Division of Institutional Advancement including tracking and accounting for pledges and donations, proper designation of funds as specified by the donor, reconciliation of funds and donor tax receipts. She is also responsible for following, enforcing, reviewing and revising departmental policies and procedures and following appropriate CASE and IRS guidelines as they relate to gift entry functions.
Prior to her current position, Carmen served as Associate Director of Advancement Services, Assistant Director of Advancement Services, Staff Accountant at the St. John’s University School of Law, Comptroller at Zetlin and DeChiara LLP and Reconciliation Department Manager at Republic National Bank. She holds a B.A. in Accounting and Information Systems from the City University of New York, Queens College.
Gift Processing Assistant III[email protected]
Patricia’s duties include the processing of donations to St. John’s University. She is also responsible for updating the most current information for the University’s alumni and donors and for maintaining the database of deceased alumni and friends.
Prior to her current position, Patricia served in the Office of the Bursar.
Director, Alumni Relations[email protected]
Mark oversees alumni programming and engagement opportunities for St. John’s graduates as well as the daily operations for the alumni office.
Previously, Mark held the position of Associate Director for Alumni Relations managing activities and events for special constituencies. He began at St. John’s as Assistant Director in the Office of Annual Giving. In this capacity, Mark helped maintain and cultivate relationships with alumni and friends in support of a variety of annual giving initiatives at St. John's.
Prior to joining St. John’s, Mark was Development Associate at the Academy of Mount St. Ursula in the Bronx. He also held the position of Regional Director in the Cardinal’s Appeal at the Archdiocese of New York.
He graduated from Iona College with a B.A. in Journalism and his M.A. in Public Relations/Corporate Communications.
Associate Director, Alumni Engagement and Volunteer Programs[email protected]
Rita Torsney-Sullivan is responsible for fostering relationships with alumni, affinity groups, and regional chapters through the St. John’s University Alumni Volunteer Program. She joined the Office of Alumni Relations in 2021.
Prior to Alumni Relations, Rita became part of the St. John’s community in 2016 as an Assistant Director for the Office of University Events, where she worked closely with Alumni Relations to plan events. She later became an Associate Director for the Office of University Events, which involved planning presidential events including Convocations and receptions. Rita is also a founding member of the Racial Justice Conversations Committee, and a member of the Equity and Inclusion Council.
Prior to transitioning to St. John’s, Rita worked in the market research industry for six years and gained experience in event management by working with non-profit organizations on fundraisers and as a founding member of RetroGameCon.
Rita received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from SUNY Oswego and a Master of Business Administration from St. John's University.
Assistant Director of Alumni Communications[email protected]
Kalliopi Gatzoflias develops and manages a robust and complex communications strategy and calendar for events and programs, as well as purposeful alumni engagement for the alumni affinity and constituent groups within the Office of Alumni Relations. She monitors communications needs to ensure print and digital collateral are completed appropriately. She assists with the alumni electronic newsletter, coordinates social media postings, leads the new Institutional Advancement podcast, and promotes various ways for alumni to stay connected with their alma mater.
Kalliopi joined St. John’s in 2019 as Communications Assistant in Advancement Marketing. In that capacity, she was responsible for assisting the various Advancement departments with the creation and execution of the their marketing collateral including print, digital, and social media.
She received her Bachelor’s in Management from Sacred Heart University in 2019.
Office of Alumni Relations
Director, Annual Giving[email protected]
Maryanna is the new Director of Annual Giving for St. John’s University. In this role, she will be focusing on new strategies for annual giving fundraising efforts. She feels fortunate to work with such a cohesive group in the University’s Advancement Office and looks forward to working together with everyone in this new position, furthering the University’s mission.
Prior to this role, MaryAnna was a business analyst in the advancement services group, researching, updating and improving alumni data and developing avenues for new special projects and programs introduced for fundraising efforts. She was previously the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Communications and then the Director of Annual Giving for St. John’s Law School from 2007-2018, producing Law School alumni and fundraising publications and communications, and successfully introducing new multi-channel fundraising initiatives and strategies for gift officers and annual giving.
Previous to St. John’s University, she worked in Marketing and Economic Development and in Government and Community Relations over an 11-year career with the New York Power Authority, specifically on federal and state legislative initiatives pertaining to energy efficiency and renewable energy resources; bid programs that increase the number of jobs in NYS from cheaper and cleaner energy sources, and one of the first electric/hybrid propulsion vehicle transportation projects introduced in the NYC MTA Fleet.
She holds a B.A. from the City University of New York, Queens College in Sociology with a minor in Urban Studies.
Associate Director, Annual Giving[email protected]
Stacey Philips Varghese '99C
Director of Leadership Annual Giving and Engagement[email protected]
Stacey manages all facets of administration for The Loughlin Society, including the acquisition and renewal of memberships, creation of solicitation strategy, and stewardship of prospects.
Stacey was formerly a Financial Analyst at Bear Stearns. She holds a B.A. in English/Government and Politics from St. John’s University.
Phone Program Coordinator[email protected]
Donald is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the St. John’s Student Phonathon, overseeing shift management and caller evaluations. He also assists with hiring and training new student callers, reporting program progress, and interacting with software support to ensure that the Phonathon runs efficiently.
Prior to coming to St. John's, Donald worked for the Gettysburg College Phonathon, serving as a Caller and Call Monitor.
Donald graduated from Gettysburg College with a B.A. in English.
Tara Sanon '10C
Coordinator, Advancement Programssanont[email protected]
Tara works in conjunction with the Phone Program Coordinator to handle all data requests and analysis for the St. John’s University Student Phonathon. She also assists in overseeing the daily operations of the Phonathon program, managing demographic updates, and supervising student workers. Tara also is responsible for a number of administrative tasks, including preparing reports and confirming events and meetings. Additionally, she collaborates with other offices within Institutional Advancement to help develop new programs to engage particular constituencies.
Tara graduated from St. John’s University in 2010 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Business.
Nick Vendikos '91SVC
Senior Director, Athletic Development[email protected]
Nick is Senior Director of the Office of Athletic Development at St. John’s University. He is responsible for the department’s fundraising activities, including annual, major, leadership, and planned giving, and special events in support of the Office of Athletics’ mission and goals.
Prior to working at St. John’s, Mr. Vendikos was Director of Development for the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens/Futures in Education. He served on the senior management team of Generations of Faith, a fundraising initiative which raised a total of $130 million—the most successful capital campaign in the diocese's history.
Mr. Vendikos also served as President and CEO of the Cabrini Mission Foundation. As president, he was responsible for guiding development for global institutions.
Mary Pat Beirne '81C,'85GEd
Director, Athletic Alumni Relations[email protected]
Mary Pat reaches out to members of the St. John’s community to solicit support for the University in general and the Athletic Programs in particular from former student athletes.
Mary Pat has served in various roles at St. John’s University for the past 26 years including Associate Athletic Director for Student Development, Associate Director of Athletics for Development, Assistant Director of Athletics, Assistant Director of Intramurals and Assistant to the Athletic Director. She also sits on NCAA and St. John’s University committees including the NCAA Fencing Championships Committee and the Women’s History Month Committee, and was the Co-Chair for the Women of Distinction Award Committee.
She holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Education/School Counseling from St. John’s University.
Paul Sclafani '08CPS, '10MBA
Major Gift Officer, Athletic Development[email protected]
Paul Sclafani was named Associate Director of Athletic Development in March of 2017, after serving as an Assistant Director in the same department since August of 2013. He is responsible for fostering internal and external relationships for the Office of Athletic Development and for the management of special events, major gifts and strategic planning with the Senior Director of Development. Sclafani coordinates and executes a wide variety of events that target donors, alumni and other constituent groups.
Sclafani also oversees the cultivation and solicitation of major gift prospects, as well as assisting with communications, social media, marketing, direct mail and other solicitation methods.
During his three years as an Assistant Director of Athletic Development for St. John’s University, Sclafani was responsible for the planning and execution of a wide variety of events relating to the University's Athletic program. This included Red White Club Men's Basketball pre-game receptions, Athletic fundraising dinners, golf outings and events for former student-athletes of each of the University's 17 NCAA Division I sports teams. He collaborated with other members of the Office of Athletic Development, while managing event logistics, coordinating outside vendors and internal University services and helped in the timely production of communications materials.
Prior to this position, Sclafani served as Assistant Director in the Office of Advancement Services. As an undergraduate student at St. John's, he worked as the head men’s basketball team manager and associate director of the Norm Roberts Basketball Camp. He later served as a graduate assistant for the Department of Athletics.
Sclafani received a B.S. in Sport Management from St. John's College of Professional Studies and an M.B.A. in Finance from St. John's The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.
Rino Grzinic '77SVC
Director of Development, College of Professional Studies[email protected]
Rino is responsible for fundraising for the Athletics Department. He previously served as Associate Director of Development for Athletics cultivating support for student-athletes through special events, alumni relations, team reunions, annual giving (Red White Club), planned giving and campaign gifts.
Rino comes to the University with more than 20 years of consulting experience in institutional development helping non-profits raise over $240 million for their capital and endowment needs. He holds a B.S. in Athletic Administration from St. John's.
Nicholas Legakis '97SVC, '07MPS
Director of Development, St. John's College[email protected]
Nick is responsible for identifying and soliciting donors living in New Jersey and Staten Island. He establishes relationships with these prospects and keeps them engaged with St. John’s, ultimately seeking their support for the University.
Prior to St. John's, he worked at Staten Island Cable/Time Warner Cable as the Production Specialist/Sports Producer and a Play-By-Play announcer. Nick previously worked at St. John’s as Director of Institutional Advancement for the Staten Island campus and also currently serves as an Adjunct Instructor within The College of Professional Studies. He holds a B.S. in Communications and an M.A. in Professional Studies from St. John's.
William Lipson '12MPS
Director of Development, The School of Education[email protected]
Bill is the Director of Development and is responsible for all fundraising for The School of Education. Previous to this position, he was a Loughlin Society Gift Officer for the Annual Fund, where he identified and solicited potential members for the Society while continuing the stewardship of current members.
Before joining the St. John’s family, Bill worked at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA, in the Office of Development, organizing special events for various groups including alumni. He also held the position of Alumni Relations Associate at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he managed a full range of local, national, and international programming for more than 80,000 alumni.
Bill holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Northeastern University and a Master of Professional Studies degree in Sport Management from St. John’s University.
Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Rachel establishes and strengthens relationships with corporations, foundations, and alumni to raise the visibility of and secure support for the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Prior to joining the Advancement team at St. John’s, Rachel spent nearly 17 years raising funds from foundations and grateful patients for Hospital for Special Surgery. Her professional experience also includes two years as a research technician in a microbiology laboratory at New York University’s School of Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of New Hampshire.
Bill Schaeffer '73CBA
Director of Development, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business[email protected]
Bill is responsible for reviewing the University’s local and regional alumni and identifying prospective major donors. He works closely with other administrators in the Division to engage these potential donors and to solicit them for their support.
A former New York Nets basketball player, Bill returned to alma mater as Director of Alumni Relations in September 2003 to lead the University's efforts in engaging and serving alumni and friends. In that role, Bill was responsible for outreach to and coordination of activities within the University’s Regional Alumni Chapters, focusing his efforts on Chapter engagement.
From 1971-1973 during his student days, he played on the men's basketball team setting two individual season records for highest scoring average and highest field goal average. As the 1973 recipient of the Haggerty Award, he was recognized as New York's Most Outstanding Player and in 1990 was inducted into the University's Athletic Hall of Fame. He played for the New York Nets from 1973 - 1976 and most recently enjoyed a successful career in equity research sales at various Wall Street firms including Jefferies & Co., McDonald & Co. and Price Waterhouse & Company.
Bill earned his B.S. in Accounting from St. John’s College of Business Administration
Major Gift Assistant
Director, Donor Relations[email protected]
Dionne oversees the Office of Donor Relations and is responsible for the continuing development and administration of stewardship activities including significant interaction with leading donors and potential donors. Dionne manages all reporting and tracking relative to leadership gift acknowledgement and stewardship of endowed and restricted funds, including scholarships, fellowships, awards, prizes, professorships and chairs, as well as the drafting of donor agreements. She works as a liaison to other departments including the Office of the President, Dean’s offices of each college, Directors of Development, Annual Giving, and Alumni Relations. Her interactions with these offices aid in the development of new stewardship opportunities.
Prior to her current position, she served as Associate Director of Donor Relations and Assistant Director of Financial Reporting and Database Management in the Office of Advancement Services. Dionne joined St. John’s with relevant experience and skills gained from previously held positions at Del Laboratories Inc. and Sterling National Mortgage Company.
Dionne holds an M.A. in Sociology from St. John’s University and a B.A. in Communication, Rhetoric, and Persuasion from the State University of New York at Albany.
Sammantha McCalla ’99CBA, ’01MBA, ’20Ph.D
Associate Director, Donor Relations[email protected]
Sammantha manages and assists with various aspects of the Office of Donor Relations including the production of stewardship reports for endowed and expendable scholarship funds. She assists with acknowledgements and stewardship by writing, editing, and proofing leadership gift acknowledgements. She serves as a liaison between various other departments including Annual Campaigns, Alumni Relations, Student Financial Services, the Treasurer’s Office, General Counsel’s Office, and the President’s Office to resolve issues, complete required tasks, and to help identify new stewardship and solicitation opportunities.
Prior to her current position Sammantha served as the Assistant Director of Advancement Services and Advancement Services Liaison. Before joining St. John’s, she was a sales assistant in a brokerage firm and transaction coordinator for the subsequent broker dealer. She retired from the U.S. Army as a Sergeant after 12 years of service.
Sammantha holds a B.S. in Finance, an M.B.A. in Executive Management, and a Ph.D. in English from St. John’s University.
Susan Damiani '87CBA
Director, Gift Planning[email protected]
Susan is responsible for the management of planned gifts that incorporate the University into the estate and financial plans of alumni and friends. She reaches out to graduates from our historic Schermerhorn Street and Lewis Avenue campuses, hosting events designed to keep them connected to St. John’s and to each other. Susan also handles marketing, solicitation and cultivation efforts for The McCallen Society whose members have included the University in their will. She also focuses on the stewardship of all activities and initiatives pertaining to the Notre Dame College alumnae.
Susan, formerly an Associate Director with the Futures in Education Foundation/R.C. Diocese of Brooklyn, comes to St. John’s with more than 15 years of fundraising and marketing experience. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from St. John's.
Shu Zhen Bernardin '07CPS, '10G
Associate Director, Gift Planning
Shu manages the day-to-day administration and operations of planned giving's marketing and stewardship efforts. She works closely with the Director of Gift Planning to seek and secure major and planned gifts for St. John’s University. She also serves as Gift Planning’s liaison with the University’s Finance, General Counsel and Advancement Services units to manage trust and estate administration and related matters.
Prior to this position, Shu served as the Stewardship Office/Project Manager in Stewardship and Events at New York University; Assistant Director of Donor Relations at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University and previously worked for the Advancement Office at St. John's University in various roles.
Shu received a B.S. in Communication Arts from St. John’s College of Professional Studies and an M.A. in Sociology from St. John’s Graduate School of Arts and Science.