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Embracing Change: Ann Merriam Feinberg Alumni Profile

Ann Merriam Feinberg ‘68 (Government), counsel at Connecticut Community Foundation, attributes her success in part to a willingness to take some risks and make changes in her life, even if those changes might be uncomfortable at first.

In the 7 years after graduating from UMass, Feinberg taught elementary school in Massachusetts and Hawaii, received a M.Ed. at University of Hawaii, and taught in North Carolina. Then her family settled in Connecticut where she taught for 10 years. Embracing the unexpected is critical, she says, “it’s important to take advantage of things you haven’t necessarily planned.”

Being open to change and new opportunities led her to post-teaching careers. After 17 years of teaching, Feinberg enrolled at the University of Connecticut School of Law. With a family and an active agenda of community commitments, such a move seemed risky to many. However, Feinberg believes law school was easier as a 40 year old because of her life experience and better being able to put things in perspective.

Feinberg practiced estate planning and elder law in New Haven and Waterbury, but soon had an unexpected opportunity to try a career in fundraising which had been a big part of her volunteer activities. She became the director of planned giving at Wesleyan University, where she utilized her law degree and helped reinvigorate the planned giving program with alumni across the country. In 1998, she became the director of development at the University of Connecticut School of Law. For Feinberg, helping the school that had helped her was a treat. Eventually, Feinberg’s love for community led her to take a job closer to home in Waterbury as director of advancement at St. Margaret’s-McTernan School (now Chase Collegiate). And for the last 10 years, she served as director of development and then vice president at Connecticut Community Foundation in Waterbury.

Throughout her career, Feinberg cultivated a passion for working with non-profits. Their missions aligned with her personal philosophy. It is challenging and sometimes low-paying, she acknowledges, but “for those who choose non-profits, there is much to be learned and gained.”

It is this outlook that has fueled Feinberg’s involvement in many community organizations over the years. Currently, she is a member of the board of directors of Ion Bank and Ion Bank Foundation, Gift of Adoption CT, Friends of the Middlebury Library, Connecticut Estate and Tax Planning Council, and the local advisory board of Women’s Business Development Council. Having served on the board for 6 years, Feinberg is still involved at Simply Smiles, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of impoverished children in Oaxaca, Mexico and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. This semester, she also joined the advisory board for the Department of Political Science at UMass. Giving back is at the heart of Feinberg’s sense of self. As a family, she says “what we have, we like to share.”

And she thanks UMass for giving her a good start: “what I learned at UMass is important to who I am today,” she says. She encourages today’s students to appreciate all that UMass offers. College goes by quickly, “…try not to feel pressured to make life decisions right away, you have time to figure it all out. Change is good!”

News Type: 

  • Alumni News