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Leadership Spotlight: Thomas C. Atwood, Vice President of Institutional Advancement

“I have been blessed to work for 30 years for missions in which I believe — dedicated to the defense and restoration of the American cause, our founding principles, our civilization built on our inalienable rights endowed by our Creator, and the defense and restoration of faith, family, and freedom in our society and our nation.”
-Thomas C. Atwood, IWP Vice President of Institutional Advancement

Tom Atwood 444x718Throughout the course of his career, Thomas Atwood has been responsible for virtually every aspect of nonprofit policy organizations — including research, publications, events, media relations, government relations, coalition relations, administration, and development.  He has testified before Congress five times, appeared on major media (TV, print, and radio), and led international delegations to Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Ukraine.

He served as president and CEO of the National Council for Adoption for six years.  Prior to joining IWP, he was a development consultant to IWP and other nonprofit clients; over the years he has consulted with more than 20 nonprofits in various capacities.

Joining IWP

With this experience, Mr. Atwood is uniquely positioned for success as the leader of IWP’s Institutional Advancement team.  Tom first learned development by being part of the management team at the Heritage Foundation where he worked for 11 years.  He also led and participated in a hands-on way in fundraising efforts as president at the National Council for Adoption.

While serving as a consultant to IWP, Tom and his consulting partner realized that IWP really needed a Vice President of Institutional Advancement before the school could proceed further with success in fundraising.  Tom was ready to take on the challenge.  

Inspiring others

“The essence of fundraising is having an important mission, believing in it and articulating it well, and finding others who want to participate in it,” said Mr. Atwood.  “That is what we do.  We don’t try to wrestle contributions from anyone — we inspire them to be a part of this great mission of The Institute of World Politics.”

And many people are being inspired.

IWP has supporters at all levels, who are largely inspired, according to Mr. Atwood, by a recognition of the Institute’s uniqueness and feeling that they want to be a part of developing principled and patriotic leaders to defend American liberty and the free world through work in national security and international affairs.

“Our supporters don’t have to be involved with IWP — they do it voluntarily,” noted Tom.  “There are no special interests involved.  It is a cause.  Many of our supporters are highly accomplished people who have built companies or served our nation at high levels, and recognize the importance of IWP as their opportunity to give back. They see IWP as a vital part of helping our country and defending and restoring our founding principles. It is truly a joy and pleasure to work with IWP supporters.”

Much of what attracts IWP supporters is what attracted Mr. Atwood to furthering the mission of the school: the “utter uniqueness of the Institute in the nonprofit movement dedicated to the defense of freedom.”  Indeed, there are few academic institutions that teach American founding principles, and, in the process, inspire an informed patriotism and a commitment to the principles of morally ordered liberty.

“There are so few colleges, universities, or graduate schools with this commitment that it just seemed to me to be vitally important to make sure that IWP made the transition to being as permanent an institution as any institution can be,” said Mr. Atwood. “That is what we have been working on.”

Tom and Eileen AtwoodGrowing the development office

Since joining IWP as Vice President, Tom has been building a development department from the ground up, and has structured development programs that will be essential to IWP’s growth.  He and his team created and fostered the growth of the Chancellor’s Council, created annual Chancellor’s Council events, and supported the development of regional Chancellor’s Councils. They conducted a high-level assessment study of IWP’s strategic plan, and determined, based on its results, to launch a Silver Anniversary Campaign.

During this campaign, Tom and his team tripled the amount of funds raised by IWP in any previous two-year period.  This campaign, of which IWP trustee John Lovewell served as Chairman, enabled IWP to purchase its campus in September 2016.  

“Tom’s leadership and the outstanding work of his development team — Michelle Knight, Liliya Bychuk, and Kathy Carroll — have made a historic contribution to the welfare and progress of the Institute,” said IWP president John Lenczowski.  The Board of Trustees has also been very committed to IWP’s development efforts, and has been assisting them, not just with their own contributions, but by introducing new potential supporters to IWP.

Dr. Lenczowski continued: “Everyone at IWP — students, faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni — owes a great debt of gratitude to Tom for his tireless, dedicated, and extraordinarily professional work in raising the funds that allow the school to function on day-to-day basis, as well as successfully completing our Silver Anniversary Campaign.”

Looking to the future

“I am pleased with how far we have come,” said Mr. Atwood.  “But we are still building.  We still have a lot of work to do to get to the point where we are satisfied that we have fully developed Institutional Advancement programs.”  For instance, Tom and his team are launching a planned giving program, and they plan to test direct mail prospecting in the current fiscal year.  

Ultimately, Tom would like to have a full spectrum development operation that encompasses every way possible of enabling supporters and potential supporters to participate in the IWP mission.  

It will also be essential to build a development program that can support the long term Strategic Plan goals of the Institute.  One of these goals is to double the student enrollment. Eventually, there will be a need for more campus facilities.  IWP would also like to increase its general endowment, endow chairs, increase its scholarship offerings, and add academic programs.  This will all require additional funding.  

“We are thinking creatively and ambitiously about how we will get there,” said Mr. Atwood.  “Thanks to the help of many of our supporters and trustees, we are being introduced to more and more people who can help us achieve these long term goals.  Our supporters are part of the IWP team, and we cannot thank them enough.

“For my wife Eileen and me, it’s a blessing to be part of this inspiring mission. When the IWP community achieves the full vision of the Institute, it will be truly great for our country.  For those of us who are making it happen, it will be a great experience to be part of it.”