(From left to right) Mindy Danovaro, Sally Pereira, Casandra Fernandez, and Dianna Martinez are pictured on the McGeorge School of Law campus. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

It is at this time of year that we give thanks and share our gratitude for our teams, colleagues, coworkers, donors, alumni, and community members. With the spirit of giving and of gratitude, I write to share the honor I have of working with the most amazing advancement team a dean could ever ask for. Each and every one of them shines through their work, their commitment, and their passion for legal education. The making of a great team does not happen without focus and hard work. Below are my personal 10 Commandments for developing a strong team.


Advancement is not known as a high paying job! Those of us that work in higher education do it because we believe in our mission and in our students. We believe we can make a difference in the world through educating future generations. So giving big raises or big salaries is not an option, but being flexible with your team is possible. This also applies to being able to adapt and change when priorities do, as well. Embracing the changing landscape of the legal profession and legal education is key to the Advancement Department.

Professional Growth

Providing ways to advance their career (pun intended) or learn to be more effective leaders is always appreciated. Investing in your team’s growth is an investment in their future a benefit to their career and your institution.


Open communication is key. Sharing what you can with your alumni relations, fundraising, events, marketing, and communication staff is important. Making sure that your team knows you have their backs. Clear, honest, demonstrating empathy, engaging in active listening and building meaningful relationships through your communication with them makes them feel valued. (See Honesty)


As a leader of a team, it is so important to demonstrate confidence in order to instill motivation. Showing confidence in the law school, the programs offered, and the students helps build the teams confidence, as well.


Embracing new ways of thinking and strategies that give the team new perspectives, new ways to do things, and ways to stretch as team members. This can spur innovative and new ways to engage alumni, create events, and raise funds for your law school. Design Thinking and Journey Mapping are two tools that we have used to facilitate innovative approaches to legal education advancement.


Vision is an important quality to ensure team engagement. Knowing that the leader has a vision and including the staff in crafting that vision makes for an engaged team.  Ensuring that your events, alumni relations and fundraising staff can see the big picture of where the law school is headed, what the law school is capable of as a result of their great work, and what it will take to get there is inspiring.


The Advancement Team can convey the team’s vision to others within the law school, and get them excited about it. That is inspiring. Maintaining a positive yet realistic vision for what amount of money can be raised, how many events can be conducted, and how much alumni can be engaged with the organization helps team members with their motivation. This reinforces their purpose.


Be honest with your team about when, as a leader you can do something and when you cannot do something. Ensure that each team member knows you have their back, but do not shower them with insincere praise or commitments to things you cannot do. Be honest with your team when things go well and be equally honest when things could be improved.

Kindness and Patience

Leaders cannot always give good news. Leaders cannot always make work easier. But one should always be kind. Looking at the big picture and knowing it will take a while for your team to move through the steps from alumnus to major donor is important. Patience is kindness over time.


Be grateful to your team.  Be grateful for your team. Alumni Relations, Events, Fundraising, Marketing and Communications take hard work and commitment. Those that work in legal education are dedicated to making the world a better place. The best way to build a strong team is to be grateful for their work.

Thank you to Casandra Fernandez, Sally Pereira, and Dianna Martinez … You make me #McGeorgeProud. You help to ensure that your work is promoting #McGeorgeRising. In the coming weeks you will see features from each of them on their specific areas and how they are able to accomplish great things on behalf of our alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community.

Happy Holidays!

Love comes in many shapes and sizes, and no two love stories are the same. The love story that I am about to describe is no different. What is different in this love story is that out of tragedy came the transformational scholarship that is helping people now and will continue to help for years to come.

The love between Larry Levine and Jeffrey Poilé was a love between two very special humans. They met, fell in love, and sadly their beautiful relationship was cut short because of a horrible, horrible, disease, which took the life of one of the pair.  Jeffrey passed away from AIDS in 1992.

Jeffrey was a dynamic, handsome, charismatic, and caring human being who lived his short  life to the fullest.  He and Larry Levine had something special.  Love that knows no boundaries.  Love that is true and can withstand anything. Their special love withstood a devastating illness, during a time that such love was not accepted by many, which made this situation all the more difficult to endure.  Larry chronicled all of this as part of the Legends of Courage oral history project.

Jeff and Larry often had to hide what was truly a beautiful relationship. Before joining the McGeorge faculty in 1985, Larry had worked at Morrison and Forrester, a progressive law firm in San Francisco, where he was able to be his authentic self. However, moving to Sacramento from San Francisco during the mid-1980s, and working at what was then a rather inhospitable place for LGBTQ+ persons, caused him to hide too often the beautiful love between he and Jeffrey.  When Jeffrey’s condition took a turn, they realized that Jeff would not recover. 

Larry turned to his friends and to Sacramento’s small but dynamic LGBTQ+ community, for support.  This coming together of friends, in order to support each other, spurred the creation of SacLegal , the LGBTQ+ affinity group of the Sacramento County Bar Association.

Larry was compelled to come out of the closet in order to support his life partner, Jeffrey, during his last months and days.  It was this love and their relationship that compelled Larry to memorialize Jeffrey with the formation of the Jeffrey K. Poilé Memorial Scholarship, the first of its kind, to help students who desire to use their legal education to further the civil rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

Larry , along with countless other donors, have raised more than $818,000 to date in order to support this scholarship that provides approximately $30,000 annually to students who desire to make a difference for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community or who are a part of the community, themselves. “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” is a popular song with music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. The love that was shared by Larry Levine and Jeffrey Poilé was a splendid thing indeed and now Jeffrey’s memory lives on as a splendid scholarship, which will enable love of any kind to be shared and accepted!  

Because Love is Love.  Please join us for the Jeffrey Poilé Spectacular Event featuring a Zoom lecture by the ever-engaging Yale law professor Bill Eskridge on Tuesday, November 16 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. PST.  Please RSVP to the McGeorge Alumni Office at mcgeorgealumni@pacific.edu if you would like to attend and/or if you’d like to be part of the effort to get the endowment in the Jeffrey K. Poié LGBTQ Civil Rights scholarship to the million dollar mark. .

From the moment that I met Robert and Tracy, I knew they were special people.  As Robert walked onto the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law campus, his first visit since he graduated in 1988, I could feel his positive energy and his drive to make a difference for those less fortunate.  That was the start of a five-year friendship and journey that culminated in a gift that will change the lives of law students for years to come. As the consummate plaintiff’s attorney, Robert and Tracy represent clients who have been the victim of tragic circumstances that are not of their making.  Their cases span from the Hepatitis C Outbreak to the recent MGM Grand Shooting.  The results of their work are that laws are changed, healthcare practices are revisited, and ultimately lives are saved.  Their gift to the law school will enable the students at McGeorge School of Law to do the same.

McGeorge School of Law Las Vegas Alumni Reception hosted by Eglet Adams

Robert and Tracy are a testament to philanthropy.  They give of their time, talent, and treasure.  Robert speaks on the “Death of the American Trial Lawyer’” and shares that the Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is not being upheld.  Special interest groups are taking away the public’s right to a true jury of their peers, which is a right that is outlined in the U.S. Constitution.  In addition to their busy legal practice, they travel around the country speaking on this topic.  They are also generous with the space their law office, Eglet Adams, opening it up to UNLV Boyd School of Law as well as to the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, to host alumni events and do trainings for law students.  They give of their treasure by providing scholarships at their local law school and through their generous transformational gift to McGeorge School of Law, which will support our Trial Advocacy Program as well as create a McGeorge scholarship for First-Generation Law Students and Students of Color.

The smiles on their faces after we announced the gift on October 12 is what development professionals live for.  The act of giving should be an enjoyable experience for all parties.  It is more about the donors than it is about the institution.  The difference that donors make cannot be understated.  I, for one, will be indebted to the Eglets for the difference they are making for our students and their investment in McGeorge School of Law.  I am more than grateful for all that they stand for and hope they will be a model for others to follow in the future.