Additions to TAC’s Development Team on Both Coasts
July 20, 2021
As Patrick Ford reflects on how he came to live in New England — a region he had never set foot in before driving a moving van to Northfield, Massachusetts, last year — the College’s director of East Coast development observes that he has truly walked by faith, and not by sight, in his journey to Thomas Aquinas College.
Born and raised in Loveland, Colorado, Mr. Ford crossed the Mississippi River for the first time in his life to attend Hillsdale College in southern Michigan. At the time a Lutheran, he describes the experience as “a really robust, four-year-long, ecumenical dialogue.” That dialogue would soon lead him into the Catholic Church. By the time he and his soon-to-be wife, Erica, graduated in 2005, they were “well on our way” to becoming Catholic.
After completing a master’s degree in Catholic theology at Villanova University, Mr. Ford worked for two years at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, followed by nine years at Belmont Abbey College, where he oversaw campus ministry and directed a Catholic leadership program. He then worked as a project and marketing manager at The Catholic Company before coming to the College’s New England campus last summer.
Now with five children, the Fords have become full-fledged members of the TAC East community. “My family was warmly welcomed from the day we got to campus,” Mr. Ford observes. “This is a college like none other. It’s a joy to be able to share such a faithful and unique institution with benefactors who want to aid us in our mission.”
Morgan (Furore ’15) Pirrall
As Thomas Aquinas College’s associate director of East Coast development, Morgan (Furore ’15) Pirrall lives in the Philadelphia area, from which she travels to meet with the College’s friends and benefactors all along the Eastern Seaboard. Though she works remotely when not on the road, she always looks forward to her visits to the New England campus in Northfield, Massachusetts.
“As an alumna, it’s amazing to see the TAC education and community — which have been such an important part of my formation — coming to life on the opposite side of the country,” she says. “When you go on campus, it’s immediately evident that something special is taking place.”
After graduating from the College in 2015, Mrs. Pirrall began working in Wilmington, Delaware, as a major gifts officer at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. There she added her efforts for nearly five years until last year, when — in addition to marrying her husband, Matt — she came to work for her alma mater, where she helps secure funds for the budding East Coast campus.
When she introduces people to Thomas Aquinas College, New England, Mrs. Pirrall finds that the excitement is contagious. “It’s a historic moment for the College to be growing in this way, especially at a time when numerous liberal arts colleges are closing their doors,” she says. “So many people out there are worried about the future of our country and the future of our church, and to be able to show them that TAC not only exists, but is growing, is a tremendous cause for hope.”
Matthew Plaisted (’18)
“I think most graduates of TAC would say that their time here was an inflection point in their lives,” says Matthew Plaisted (’18), the College’s director of annual giving. “Perhaps their daily habits, careers, or families are today shaped in some meaningful way by the exposure to the classics and immersion in Catholic culture. For me, all three are true.”
Following his graduation in 2018, Mr. Plaisted worked as an admissions counselor at the College before starting a career in non-profit fundraising and development with Catholic Charities. Having refined these skills, he has returned to the California campus, where he works to help the College meet its yearly financial aid needs.
One of the benefits of his new position, Mr. Plaisted says, is connecting with fellow alumni in support of their alma mater. In March he busily contacted old friends for the Alumni Giving Weekend, and they responded generously, contributing nearly $150,000 — more than double the previous record. “It’s been a blessing to experience more people coming together in support of the College,” he remarks. “The enthusiasm is electrifying.”
He can see why. “As someone who rediscovered the Faith at TAC and started my career here, I’m its biggest advocate,” he explains. He is amazed at the continual blessings which God has showered upon the College, and he is grateful to be part of the preparation for its next 50 years. “My professional life is filled with witnessing God’s providential work in action,” Mr. Plaisted observes. “I couldn’t ask to be in a better position than that!”