“The Academy has long been a leading urban prep school, and it has bold plans for the future. I am so excited to be joining the team at this transformational moment in the school’s history.”
Jennifer DiFranco, New Director of Development
WORCESTER, Mass. (JUNE 16, 2022) — Worcester Academy today announced it has selected College of the Holy Cross alumni and parent giving director Jennifer DiFranco as its next director of development, effective Aug. 1. Ms. DiFranco, a Sutton resident and current Worcester Academy parent, has been a leading higher educational advancement professional at Holy Cross for the past 18 years. She held prior roles in advancement at Boston College and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The move takes Ms. DiFranco from Worcester’s Pakachoag Hill, known as Mount St. James or College Hill, to Union Hill, so named because of the Civil War Hospital formerly standing on the Academy’s 81 Providence Street campus.
According to Worcester Academy Head of School Kevin Breen, Ms. DiFranco will lead the Academy’s fundraising and engagement efforts in anticipation of a capital campaign that will revitalize facilities, grow endowment, provide additional scholarship aid, and support faculty at the 188-year-old Academy. These plans are designed to take Worcester Academy into its third century in 2034 as a top American independent school, he says.
“Jen loves and gets our school community and our city,” Mr. Breen says. “Given her skills and background as an experienced fundraiser and leader, combined with her natural ability to celebrate who we are and where we are coming from, she will be an excellent partner in our efforts to elevate the impact we make for Worcester Academy students and families.”
The fact she is a current Worcester Academy parent adds to her value, he says, noting, “she is uniquely positioned to help realize the Academy’s ambitious goals in support of its mission.”
“Worcester Academy is a very special place,” Ms. DiFranco says. “I have been exceedingly impressed with every aspect of our son’s freshman experience, he’s grown in ways we couldn’t have imagined.
“The Academy has long been a leading urban prep school, and it has bold plans for the future,” she adds. “I am so excited to be joining the team at this transformational moment in the school’s history.”
Ms. DiFranco succeeds Worcester Academy Development Director Kim Stone of Worcester, who announced in December she would retire after 16 years at the Academy. Ms. Stone’s last day at the school is July 31.
Narwhal Talent Partners led the national search to find her replacement.
“I'm especially grateful for ongoing support from Kim Stone,” Mr. Breen says. “I also want to recognize trustees Larry Gordon, Worcester Academy Class of 1972, and Peter Cronin, Worcester Academy Class of 1980, as well as Director of Admission Meg Bennett and incoming assistant head for finance and external relations Marnie Kut, who, along with Narwhal Talent Partners, provided me with thoughtful perspective throughout this process.”
WORCESTER ACADEMY ADVANCEMENT EFFORTS
Worcester Academy is a good neighbor and a major stakeholder in the city of Worcester and is committed to making significant human, financial, and physical investments to foster community success and sustainability.
Through its development efforts, Worcester Academy has invested robustly in its historic Worcester campus and has been an active partner in the city of Worcester’s renaissance in recent years. The renaissance is reinvigorating many quarters of the city, including the Canal District, just a short walk from Worcester Academy. The Canal District is home to Polar Park and the Triple A Red Sox. Worcester Academy is the official independent school partner of the Worcester Red Sox, known locally as the WooSox. The Academy is also a founding tenant of nearby Fidelity Worcester Ice Center, the home ice for Worcester Academy’s boys and girls ice hockey programs.
Worcester Academy has made many physical improvements in the last two decades. Construction projects include Rader Hall and the renovation of Kingsley Laboratories and Walker Hall on its 81 Providence Street Campus as well as the addition of 15 acres of land formerly owned by St. Vincent hospital. Now called South Campus, the parcel is home to Morse Field, a synthetic turf field, and the Worcester Academy Performance Center. The Academy has also developed New Balance Fields on Stafford Street.
In 2001, a $31.5 Million capital campaign, Honor the Legacy, Achieve the Vision, was successfully completed. In 2015, a $52.5 Million campaign, ONWARD: The Campaign for Worcester Academy, was completed successfully. The campaigns helped finance property acquisitions, new construction, renovations to existing buildings, and increases to endowment, including scholarships. The program, facilities, and curriculum of Worcester Academy continue to evolve in exciting directions to this day.
JENNIFER DIFRANCO BRINGING EXPERIENCE, LEADERSHIP
Jennifer DiFranco becomes Worcester Academy development director effective Aug. 1. she is perhaps best known locally for having spent the last 18 years as director of alumni and parent giving and president’s council at the College of the Holy Cross. In fiscal year 2021, she and her team raised a record $11M for Holy Cross. Ms. DiFranco has served in roles of increasing responsibility at the college over the years, including leadership giving.
A graduate of Holy Cross, she earned a B.A. in history there in 1999. In 2003, she earned an M.A. in administrative studies from Boston College, where she worked as associate director of the Boston College Fund. She later served as director of annual giving at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She is an independent school alumna having graduated from the Brooks School in North Andover.
Ms. DiFranco’s son, Bobby, joined Worcester Academy as a freshman last year and plays baseball and hockey. Her daughter, Ellie, will enter the Middle School at Worcester Academy as an eighth grader this fall. She and her husband, Jarrod, and their children make their home in Sutton.