Q&A with Rachel D’Souza-Siebert, Director of Development

1. You seem to always be running around and meeting with people. How can the school community best support you?

Yes – my role at SLLIS does require me to be running around and building relationships with new people.  But truth be told – no one reallywants meet with the Director of Development. My title betrays my goodwill a bit and tricks people into thinking that I’m going to ask for all their money or that I’m only interested in people who might have a high capacity to give. For me, personally, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, my job is to primarily raise support for SLLIS from the community – locally & nationally. But in order to be AMAZING at my job, I need to have relationships with many who believe in SLLIS, what we’re doing and our students’ inevitable success.  I don’t want supporters just to give money to SLLIS because I ask; I want people to believe that their contribution, no matter the size, makes a difference.  If you don’t know me and I email you for a meeting – rest assured, I don’t typically ask on the first date! But, like our charter school friends at City Garden Montessori, I hope for 100% giving participation from members of our community.

2. We often hear about the Night of Celebration. Would you tell us a little more about it?

The Night of Celebration is an annual fundraiser SLLIS hosts every year in May – this year, it’s Thursday, May 8th. The purpose is to celebrate the milestones of the school year and to honor community leaders whose own efforts make our work possible.  This year, we are honoring Dr. William Danforth, The Honorable Frankie Muse Freeman, Jane Robert, and the St. Louis Mosaic Program. The goal of this year’s event is to raise $250,000; $75,000 more than last year.  The bulk of the charitable giving comes from corporate sponsorships and those gifts give us the chance to introduce our work to the local community and build new relationships with those who can help our students succeed. We have individual tickets for sale and this year, will put on a Premium Raffle during cocktail hour. We just wrapped up filming for our 5th anniversary video, which will debut at the Night of Celebration. As you can imagine, there’s alot of work (and laughter, tears and sweat) that goes into making this event a success for SLLIS, but every year the event is beautiful and we make new friends.  Plus, it’s on aThursday this year, and I’m planning to sleep in on Friday!

3. What do you envision for the future of the school?

Hmm. I’m not an educator; I double majored in Political Science & Womens Studies and earned my Masters in Public Policy Administration in 2008. It would be hard for me to articulate my thoughts from an academic perspective, but this is what I can say –

I grew up as the child of Indian immigrants in a mostly white, Catholic community.  My parents spoke English when me and my brothers were growing up, despite the fact they were schooled in five different languages in India. It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago for college that I felt a part of my culture was missing. The opportunity to give my son an experience I didn’t have is of utmost importance to me.  My office is located in our Papin building and every day, I see something beautiful – all these children going to school together who are so different but so alike.  I look forward to sending my son to a school where he’ll see and meet and befriend people who are like him and people who are not. And at SLLIS, he’ll receive a world class education that would cost tens of thousands of dollars in any other city in the US. So I envision a future where all children are successful (in every way you can define success!) because of the educational foundation they receive at SLLIS.

4. We’ve seen your cute son hanging out at SLLIS events. What does he enjoy doing at home?

Ha! My son is pretty cute, isn’t he?! Three year olds are busy little people.  When we’re home together, you can find us making dinner together (he uses a step stool!) or snuggling on the couch with a good book or watching Sid the Science Kid. He also like to turn on music to “wrestle” and “crazy-dance” with my husband. Three of his cousins attend The Spanish School, so he’s already getting a taste of language immersion from them. Living in the city, we spend many weekend hours at Tower Grove Park, the City Museum, the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the Zoo.

5. If you could have dinner with 6 other people (dead or alive) who would they be?

Just 6??!

  • Dr. Sharonne Hayes of the Mayo Clinic; she’s conducting groundbreaking cardiovascular research related to a rare condition I survived after the birth of my son. I want to hug her!
  • Chris Carabba of Dashboard Confessional; his music provided the soundtrack for my 20s (and my 30s so far!)…. I want to hug him too.
  • Gloria Steinem, but at my current age; I just want to listen to her talk about equality.
  • My maternal Grandma Winnie; she passed away when my mom was a teenager so I never knew her.  I see my son with my mom and wonder what I missed out on.
  • Myself, at age 80; because I’d love her perspective!
  • Christian Bale; I love his movies and his accent.

7. Who are the biggest supporters of SLLIS? (free shout-out)?

This seems like a trick question.  Our biggest supporters are the families who choose to send their kids here.  They make it possible for us to do this work for our students. Between their gifts of time, knowledge, talent & resources, we couldn’t be luckier to have them in our corner.

8. Where is our new campus going to be?

Ooh, you ARE tricky. I have no beans to spill – we’re planning to share information about future facilities at our April Board of Directors Meeting.

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One response to “Q&A with Rachel D’Souza-Siebert, Director of Development

  1. Great interview. Rachel is eager, organized and determined. We are lucky to have her representing SLLIS.

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