Syracuse University Magazine


Angela LaFrance

Dedicated Dynamo

Angela LaFrance embraces life with gusto. On most weekday mornings, this petite grandmother of five is up before dawn, goes for a run with her dog, Lilly, and is at her desk on the second floor of the Women’s Building by 7:30 a.m. “I’m almost always the first one at work because I love my job, I love Syracuse University, and I’m so committed to what I do,” says LaFrance, director of alumni and donor records in the Office of Development. “I’m a high-energy person—my husband says I make him nervous because I move too fast.”

LaFrance was born in Albania to an Italian father and Italian American mother, who had left their home in Italy to find work. They returned to Italy when World War II erupted and later settled in Syracuse in search of a better life. She credits much of her personal and professional success to her hardworking parents, Isabella and Gaetano Pisciarino, who taught her self-discipline and a strong work ethic.

After marrying and raising four children, LaFrance began working as a key punch operator at Syracuse University in 1978. Back then, everything was stored on index cards. “I did data entry and processed checks manually,” she recalls. “I knew all of the account numbers by heart. I slept with them and thought about them all night. Now data entry is all done on computers.”

During her 36 years on the Hill, LaFrance has relied on her boundless energy and can-do spirit to get through three data entry conversions—from 3x5 cards, to microfiche, to computers—when not all of the transitions went smoothly or according to plan. “Something went wrong when we converted to a new computerized database system in the ’90s,” she says. “So we had to decide whether to scrap the whole project or correct the problem. I said, ‘Let’s move forward,’ so we went through 10,000 records manually and made corrections.”

Today, LaFrance oversees a nine-person staff of data, biographical, and gift specialists. She is responsible for processing all charitable donations, maintaining biographical records for more than 300,000 alumni and friends of SU, and ensuring that all allocations in the system correspond with the University’s policies and procedures. She also mentors work-study students. “I always hire first-year students so I can train them and work with them for four years,” she says. “I’m demanding of myself, so I’m demanding of my students because they represent Syracuse University, and I want perfection. The students are like my children, and I still keep in touch with many of them after they graduate.”

According to Dona Schuman, senior director of advancement services, LaFrance treats all donors and alumni with great respect. “The University received a substantial gift from one donor because Angela had taken the time to listen to his needs and they became good friends,” says Schuman, who supervises LaFrance and her staff. “Angela also is our matching gifts administrator, and she works very hard to get as much revenue for Syracuse University as she can.”

 Although she never intended to work at Syracuse for more than three decades, LaFrance says she has stayed on all these years because she enjoys the variety of her work and the opportunity to learn new things and touch people’s lives. “As someone who came from another country, I’m so thankful to have a job I love and take such pride in,” she says. “Syracuse University is a great place to work, and I cherish every moment.” —Christine Yackel

Photo by Steve Sartori