PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Sergio Gonzalez, currently the senior vice president for university advancement and external affairs at the University of Miami, has been named Brown University’s next top leader overseeing alumni relations and fundraising programs.
Effective Aug. 1, 2017, Gonzalez will assume the role of senior vice president for university advancement from Patricia Watson, who has decided to transition to a senior position cultivating a portfolio of principal gifts and advising on strategic initiatives as part of Brown’s ongoing $3 billion BrownTogether comprehensive campaign. She will become vice president for strategic advancement initiatives.
President Christina Paxson worked closely with Watson to conduct a national search for a new senior vice president who will advance initiatives to strengthen relationships with Brown’s alumni, parents and corporate partners and build upon the early successes of the most ambitious fundraising campaign in University history.
“Sergio Gonzalez is a dynamic, collaborative leader with an exceptional track record of success engaging university stakeholders and supporting the priorities of the university he serves,” Paxson said. “He is a strategist with the vision to move Brown through the next phase of BrownTogether, continuing the work Pat Watson has done to transform alumni engagement and drive investment in Brown’s mission.”
Gonzalez has been the architect and leader of two successful fundraising campaigns at the University of Miami that together raised more than $3 billion. In his current role, he oversees all fundraising, alumni relations, communications and community relations.
At Brown, Gonzalez will oversee advancement areas across the University, including the Office of Development, Office of Alumni Relations, Foundation Relations, the Office for International Advancement, the Brown Sports Foundation, the Brown Annual Fund and others. He will report directly to Paxson and serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet.
Gonzalez gained familiarity with Brown over the past four years while his daughter has attended as an undergraduate of the class of 2017. He looks forward to building support for the priorities outlined in the Building on Distinction strategic plan, he said.
"I am thrilled to join the Brown community under the inspirational leadership of President Christina Paxson,” Gonzalez said. “This is an exciting time at the University as Brown continues to excel under President Paxson's strategic vision. I look forward to continuing the success of Pat Watson's work in the BrownTogether campaign, which will prove transformational for the University."
Paxson is working with Watson to plan a transition that will continue the momentum Watson has built in her four and a half years leading the Division of Advancement, Paxson said.
Brown has experienced strong growth in fundraising and alumni engagement since Watson’s arrival at Brown in December 2012. The University has seen a 46 percent increase in fundraising gifts and pledges, with annual records set in new gifts and pledges, cash raised, and the size of the Brown Annual Fund. Watson was central to the October 2015 public launch of the BrownTogether campaign, which has raised more than $1.3 billion to date. In addition, she was instrumental in plans for the celebrations of the 250th anniversary of Brown’s founding and the 125th anniversary of the matriculation of women students at Brown.
Watson oversaw the development of a new volunteer management and recognition program, a major conversion of Brown’s alumni database platform, an expansion of East Coast and West Coast programming for members of the Brown community, and the development of BrownConnect, a program that engages alumni and parents in providing and supporting internships for Brown students.
“Pat Watson has done extraordinary work leading us through the first half of our campaign and bringing the Division of Advancement to a new level,” Paxson said. “I am truly pleased she’ll continue playing a leading role in building support to elevate Brown’s education and research.”
Gonzalez arrived at the University of Miami in 2001, working closely with former University President Donna Shalala and current President Julio Frenk, along with the university's board of trustees and academic deans, to implement an ambitious strategic plan. He staffs several committees of the University of Miami’s board, oversees a staff of more than 300 employees and develops strategies for major university initiatives and crises.
Gonzalez led two successful fundraising campaigns at the University of Miami, Momentum and Momentum2, which collectively raised more than $3 billion, including three separate gifts of $100 million. Gonzalez was the visionary for the implementation of a university-wide brand strategy, which has been recognized as a national model. Another of his significant accomplishments is the creation of the university’s first comprehensive parents program.
Before his role at the University of Miami, Gonzalez served as chief of staff for the Miami-Dade County executive mayor. He previously was a senior executive in Miami-Dade County government for more than nine years, and also served as the executive director of the South Florida 1999 Super Bowl Host Committee. He was the first executive director of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.
The recipient of numerous awards for his work in civic engagement and community service, Gonzalez has earned particular recognition for his efforts to help the homeless. In 2009 the Aspen Institute selected him as a Henry Crown Fellow, recognizing leadership, community involvement and professional success. The Ronald McDonald House Charities honored Gonzalez in 2010 as one of 12 Good Men of South Florida.
He is a member of the board of directors for the largest Hispanic advocacy organization in the country, National Council of La Raza, serving on the executive committee and chairing the resource development committee. In addition, Gonzalez is a member of the board of trustees for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), serving on the executive committee and the membership services committee while also chairing CASE’s international committee.
Gonzalez holds a bachelor of science in foreign service from Georgetown University (international relations, law and organizations, 1985) and a law degree from Columbia Law School (1988). He is licensed to practice law in Florida and Washington, D.C., and worked as a litigator for several law firms early in his career.