Jacksonville native to lead regional development at prestigious university
By Julie Gerke
A third-generation Routt Catholic High School graduate is headed to the University of Notre Dame — again following in her family’s footsteps, but this time as an employee.
Colleen Doyle, 35, of Jacksonville, will become director of regional development at the Catholic university, based in South Bend, Indiana, on Aug. 14. She has been director of development and enrollment at Routt Catholic High School for five years, and will leave the position on July 28.
“I was very blessed in that regard, even before college age, that Dad always had us up there for a football game or basketball game,” she said, explaining that her dad and four siblings are Notre Dame alumni. The university has “been a part of our family, and as scary as this transition may be, the similarities …. help me with the transition. It’s a faith-based family community with excellent academics.”
Her loss will be felt keenly at Routt, where she is credited with bringing in money, grants and students to the high school, the alma mater of her paternal grandmother, her father and his brother, and her five siblings. Community support of the school during Doyle’s time in the front office has helped fund updates to the 1960s-era building, such as windows, electric and HVAC, and a redesign of the front entrance.
Some of the money came from fundraising. Other support came from grants that ranged from national companies like Walmart to local groups such as the Jacksonville Children’s Foundation and Tracy Family Foundation. “It’s been a collaborative effort,” she said.
Her development job “wasn’t about asking people for things. It was about trying to establish connections and tell the story of our school and find a way for them to share their passion with the school,” she said. “It’s all about building those relationships.”
She’ll do the same at Notre Dame as one of seven regional development directors, part of the 300-member university development office. She’ll study portfolios based on wealth screening and various university ties, then travel throughout the southern United States to meet face-to-face with potential donors.
“I loved my time at Routt,” Doyle said. “The things I was able to do [with enrollment involved me] telling stories of the magic that was happening with a faith-based, top-notch education. While everyone has been super kind, I feel I’ve been the lucky one.”
“She’s leaving some big shoes to fill,” said the Rev. Joe Ring, pastor of Our Saviour Parish. When he arrived three years ago, he said she “certainly gave me confidence that this is an ongoing operation. She has a passion, she brings passion to the job, to the school. … She’s a great asset.”
Devin Vaughn, an attorney with Bellatti, Fay, Bellatti & Beard of Jacksonville, is a Routt school board trustee and attended high school with Doyle and her brother Michael. He graduated in 2008.
“She’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and grants for the schools,” Vaughn said. “She put her blood, sweat and tears into creating activities and organizing events, alumni events, for the schools. … It’s a really big loss for the school. She was busting her butt to get those additional funds for the schools to do capital improvement projects. They wouldn’t have been possible without her taking the initiative.”
Vaughn said discussion of a replacement likely will be the “hot topic” at the next meeting of the 15-member school board.
Routt enrolls close to 130 students, about a third of whom are non-Catholic. Our Saviour School has about 330 students, including those in a new pre-k program. Students pay tuition, and about 70% of students receive some form of monetary aid, such as a scholarship or tuition assistance. A scrip program provides student discounts to some local merchants. “We do our best to help every single family we can,” she said. “We never want finances to stand in the way.”
Before she moved to the development role, she spent time as athletic director at OSS (Our Saviour School) and helped coach volleyball and basketball. She graduated from Routt in 2006, then majored in marketing and information technology at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
When she graduated, she said she was “still kind of trying to find what I wanted to do when I grew up,”, so she worked at the predecessor to AgriSompo NA in Jacksonville and then Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville before returning to Jacksonville for stints at ILMO and the former Jacksonville Savings Bank (now CNB). She spent a term on the board of the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce, but has spent the majority of her waking hours thinking, representing and helping Routt, its students and alumni.
Her parents, Tom and Eileen Doyle, and sister Katie still live in Jacksonville. Her father continues to work at Doyle Plumbing. Her mom is a retired school teacher.
Her parents and siblings were “very excited” with her new job and move: “My siblings’ immediate reaction was, ‘We have to buy a house together,’” so Doyle could live there and have space for the inevitable visits from family.
“It’s a scary move but I’m putting my faith in God that this is the right choice for me now,” Doyle said. “I love it there. I guess it’s a jump I’ve got to make right now.”