||Julie Tolan '96 (EMP-33)
Profile: Julie Tolan '96
find a way'
helps Julie Tolan keep the faith
by Deborah Leigh Wood
people talk about philanthropy. Julie Tolan '96 lives it.
vice president of university advancement at Marquette University
in her hometown of Milwaukee, Tolan works with alumni to "help
them make a difference in students' lives." As is the
custom in her family, she volunteers at a number of local
is not only a way of life, it is my life," says the Kellogg
MBA graduate (EMP-33). Engaging with Marquette's board
of trustees and alumni who want to give back is "the
best work there is," she says. "It allows me to
commit my life to helping people realize their dreams. Our
office works on creating relationships and connecting alumni
to a place they care about."
says the trick to managing a staff of 80 is to "get the
right people (employees) on the bus and give them the tools
to succeed. I help them take risks, even if it means they
fail. Falling down isn't the problem," she says, "it's
how you pick yourself up that counts."
says she's not a Pollyanna, but feels strongly that "cynicism
is one of the worst characteristics of today's culture."
She says she's grateful that her work gives her the chance
to "underscore optimism and help others find ways to
be positive. There's more right in this world than there is
"is one of the most optimistic expressions of our democracy,"
Tolan believes. "It says, 'We can do it; we'll find a
way.' It's our responsibility as managers and executives in
the philanthropic arena to work with people in the business
community in a way that tells them that we're their peers
and not merely beneficiaries."
a member of Marquette's leadership team, Tolan collaborates
with the university's president, provost and deans, and with
the school's board of trustees, to see that the university
fulfills its mission of giving students a solid Jesuit education
based on service, excellence, leadership and faith.
is an environment that cherishes faith, which is an extension
of our humanity," Tolan says. "Through a curriculum
that includes community service, we try to give students a
transformational experience that's spiritual, emotional and
intellectual. As a result, they leave as better human beings.
We have student nurses who work in Africa, student engineers
who work in Guatemala and students in other fields who help
out anywhere there's an underserved population, including
Milwaukee. We're a place with a soul."
says she started doing volunteer and advocacy work while earning
her bachelor's of arts degree in English at the University
of Michigan. "It's probably why I have a lot of empathy
for 18-to-22-year-olds," she says. "At Marquette
they find a lively, dynamic environment in which to flourish."
coming to the university 2 ½ years ago, Tolan served
as president for three years of Milwaukee's United Performing
Art Fund (UPAF), one of the nation's largest united arts funds.
While there, she helped raise approximately $10 million a
says that the Kellogg School, where she met her husband, Mark
Wiesman '96, gave her the quantitative skills to accomplish
that goal and many others in her philanthropic mission.
learned the nuts and bolts of management and how to use resources
while at Kellogg," she says. "And I learned skills
that are particularly useful in talking with donors and prospective
donors about their investments.
can help them view giving back as a personal investment as
well as a gift to higher education."