Sheryl Blair's Impact in the Donor Relations Community and Beyond

In 2007, ADRP lost a very special friend, a woman whose visionary leadership and service are still felt today by the donor relations community. For those who travel great distances, across borders and even countries, to attend this conference: Sheryl is one of the people you could thank. Sheryl, along with other early ADRP volunteers, were strong advocates of expanding the group to become an international professional organization. They had the forethought to see the tremendous potential for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and community building that would come from such an expansion.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1948, Sheryl was a woman whose life was defined by her love of stories and services to others. For many years she was an advocate and fundraiser for a number of educational and healthcare institutions, including the Fay School, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she served as the Director of Stewardship. In her over 15 years in the field of development, she often said that stewardship was her favorite piece of the development puzzle— so it was no surprise that she became a champion for ADRP. Her son Jesse particularly noted that she completed her volunteer service “tirelessly for people she would likely never meet, in countries when she’d never be able to visit, and did so happily with very little fanfare… it was her passion— the endless work of connecting people together.”

Generously sharing her time and talents, Sheryl worked with many organizations beyond ADRP including serving over 16 years as a board member of Chewonki, a summer camp and year-round organization in Maine, devoted to environmental education. Sheryl first came to know Chewonki in 1987 when her oldest son Justin came to camp there for the first time. It was the beginning of a wonderful family relationship, one that to this day continues through her children and a named endowment. She joined their board of trustees in 1991 and soon after took over leadership of Chewonki’s development committee where in her 16-year tenure helped expand their $400,000 endowment tenfold.

A surprise to some, Sheryl also had a true love of live theatre that dated back all the way to the 6th grade. She loved to act and did so in a number of productions, including a production of The Sound of Music that was honored to have Maria Von Trapp see. From the time she moved back to Concord, she became an active member and producer with The Concord Players, a nonprofit theatre company with a long history in the community. She worked on a number of productions including Cinderella, Chicago, the Bad Seed, and even the Concord Players’ signature Little Women production, a play that the theatre company remounts every 10 years in honor of its famous author and Concord resident, Louisa May Alcott.

Tireless in her passions, Sheryl didn’t even want to stop helping others when she became ill. She continued to volunteer and work as long as she could. Sheryl passed away peacefully in 2007 in her home in Concord. Her sons Justin Reich and his wife Elsa Olivetti, and Dr. Jesse Reich and his wife Alene, continue to support many of the same causes she loved.

Sheryl’s friends and colleagues remember her as a lifelong friend -- someone who was truly passionate about creating communities built on knowledge and support. Her oldest son Justin particularly noted that his mom “had tremendous confidence in people's abilities. For a while, while watching our teammates wrestle in high school, she'd cheer "I have perfect confidence in your abilities!" This was a ridiculous-sounding cheer, but pretty much perfectly captured her beliefs. She had no distinguishing talents beyond what she believed we all possess: the capacity to always choose to do right and to always strive to be of service to others.”

Sheryl truly believed that storytelling was central to stewardship and she believed the most powerful way to connect donors to institutions was to tell the story of lives changed by a person's gift.

Sheryl Blair Scholarship