Cindy Link to Head Institutional Advancement

by Adam Renn Olenn

In November 2011, Cindy Albert Link succeeded Debbie Bieri as Berklee's senior vice president for institutional advancement. A graduate of Princeton University and the Yale School of Management, Link spent 10 years in marketing before moving to development. "I went into development for what I thought would be a very short stint," she says. "I love the university sector, and I believe in the wisdom of giving to higher education, so two years stretched out to two decades."

Link says that Berklee's mission and leadership brought her to the college. I've always been attracted to mission-driven, innovative places," Link says. "When I learned that Berklee was searching for a new senior vice president, I thought, 'This is my dream job.'"

After 20 years in the field at Yale, MIT, and Princeton, Link brings lots of fundraising experience to Berklee. "We are raising money in arguably the worst financial crisis in the last 70 years," Link says. "And there is no shortage of worthy causes for donors to support. Those are twin challenges that can be very daunting, and the only way I know to meet them head-on is to have a worthy mission and a visionary leader like Roger Brown. So my bets are on Berklee."

Over the next two years, Link will focus her efforts on the successful launch of Berklee Valencia and the 160 Massachusetts Avenue building. "The 160 building will be glass encased. So, for the first time, Berklee College of Music will be more visible to the public," Link says. "People walking by will be able to see students rehearsing and performing. I think that's going to increase Berklee's visibility locally and include the Boston community in new and positive ways."

Link envisions future opportunities to build on recent momentum. "Giant Steps was an extraordinarily successful capital campaign," she says. "It's a tribute to the entire community with Roger's and Debbie Bieri's leadership, and serves as the foundation for building towards the future with a global outlook."

Specifically, Link hopes to increase Berklee's visibility on the world stage. Music is one of the ways to establish bridges among cultures, and I think Berklee can play an important and meaningful role in that," she says. "The Women of the World a cappella group and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute look at music across cultures. Especially compelling is the [Valencia-based] Mediterranean Music Institute, which integrates musical traditions from around the perimeter of the Mediterranean-Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. In effect, it's a Judeo-Christian-Islamic cross-cultural collaboration. It's inspiring that Berklee is thinking about ways to peacefully bring those cultures together through music.

"Berklee is also playing a leading role in developing new models for liberal arts education," Link adds, "and in finding ways to make it possible for students with enormous talent to come to Berklee even though tuition, room, and board are expensive."

Link is sanguine about the fundraising challenges Berklee faces. "Berklee has a remarkable ability to involve people who are otherwise unrelated to the college," she says. The generosity of these people will have a transformative effect on Berklee."