Perkins School for the Blind Brings on CDO to Expand Philanthropic Reach

David Whalen is Perkins first-ever Chief Development Officer

David Whalen outdoors with fall color trees behind him

David Whalen bring years of experience at a wide variety of non-profits to help Perkins expand its fundraising nationally and around the world.

December 13, 2016

Watertown, MA – Perkins School for the Blind has named David Whalen as its first Chief Development Officer. Whalen will oversee philanthropic development for the nation’s premiere school for the blind bringing new approaches and strategies from his lengthy career in human services and education. Whalen’s wide experience includes development roles with organizations from Catholic Charities, to the Union of Concerned Scientists and Partners in Health, to the New England Aquarium. For 15 years, Whalen has also been teaching philanthropy and sustainable international development to MBA candidates at Brandeis University.

Engaging potential donors in the mission forms the basis of Whalen’s approach. He explains it this way, “You’re a liaison between the incredible work of the organization, its mission and its aspirations and people who value that, who want to share in the mission.” He has worked extensively on global health issues facilitating funding to maximize opportunity for populations on the margins of society.

By understanding their interests and stories, Whalen helps potential donors participate in ways that reflect their own worldview and allow them to be a part of something beyond their own sphere, to create positive change that will outlast them. “Perkins is on a path to prepare even more students to take their places in the world and, in fact, to better prepare the world for our students. That will require an even more robust development strategy,” says Perkins President and CEO Dave Power. “David Whalen will help us get there. A teacher, a team builder, he will guide our development strategy to connect with donors whose values align with Perkins as our mission expands - nationally and internationally.”

To elevate Perkins’ fundraising profile, Whalen will take the long view. He will be charged with stewarding the school’s rich philanthropic history by growing and strengthening the Perkins Trust, already a highly respected and successful development group.

Perkins global mission is diverse, and Whalen recognizes the importance of innovating and energizing the 187-year-old institution in order to stay focused and on message with donors, while staying out on the cutting edge. “Good philanthropy is always patient and never transactional,” says Whalen. “By that I mean, if it’s to be genuine, it must be built on solid relationships and that takes time. I want my contributions to be worthy of the storied history of this place.” Whalen holds a B.A. in History from Georgetown University, a Master's in Human Services from UMass/Boston and an M.B.A. from Brandeis University.