New Staff Spotlight
Name: Patton Vo
Title: Director of Campus Development
Department: Development and Alumni Relations
Patton Vo began his career at Penn State Brandywine in October, bringing his exemplary background in fundraising, operations and strategic planning. He graduated from Widener University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and obtained a Discipline of Frontline Fundraising certificate in 2018 from Plus Delta Partners. With previous experience at other institutions including Arcadia University, Swarthmore College, and Widener University, Vo comes to Brandywine with a goal to create innovative philanthropic opportunities that connect disciplines, open doors, and, ultimately, advance the student experience on and off campus.
Brandywine: What is your background and experience?
Vo: At the Venn diagram of my career, you’ll see me at the intersection of philanthropy, healthcare and education. Very early on in college, I learned the impact of philanthropy because I'm a first-generation student, and it was because of a scholarship that I received at my alma mater that I was able to complete my four-year degree.
During that time, when I was engaging with the donor that started my scholarship, I realized the impact that philanthropy has, and I decided to chair the senior class gift. This experience allowed me to realize that I have a really profound knack for building, creating, and sustaining relationships – a vital and fundamental aspect of fundraising. After I graduated, my alma mater offered me a full-time position as an assistant director of development. From there, I catered to higher education and philanthropy. During the pandemic, I took a break from education to contribute towards supporting K-12 schools address chronic absenteeism and learning loss exacerbated by the pandemic in additional to behavioral, social, and emotional issues related to student development. I took a year off to work for a healthcare startup that focused on mental health and telepsychiatry services, which was where I was before coming to here.
Brandywine: What was your deciding factor in coming to work at Penn State Brandywine?
Vo: For me, it’s about the values. It's the ethos of the community. I’m extremely inspired by Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi’s vision as a new leader of the university. Brandywine Chancellor Marilyn Wells has a huge role in why I wanted to be here as well, recognizing that I'm a Delaware County resident, and I've seen the impact that Penn State has had to our community. To be a part of the sensation that's giving back in such transformative ways has been extremely inspiring.
Brandywine: What are you looking forward to most during your time at Penn State Brandywine?
Vo: I look forward to building the culture of philanthropy that is reliant on principles of collaboration, impact and really assessing where our student needs lie and how to better support them. We're in a very sensitive space with higher education where its value is being challenged. The shifting demographics of college students are very evident in how we are teaching and engaging these types of students in and out of the classroom. I'm eager to learn from different constituencies and see how Penn State Brandywine continues to become a source for social mobility.
"The shifting demographics of college students are very evident in how we are teaching and engaging these types of students in and out of the classroom. I'm eager to learn from different constituencies and see how Penn State Brandywine continues to become a source for social mobility."
—Patton Vo , Director of Campus Development
Brandywine: What are some of your fundraising goals for Brandywine?
Vo: For me, it's obviously positioning us to be in a place where we are really thinking about impact philanthropy. I want us to move away from transactional philanthropy and really think about how donors can transform the lives of our students, our programs and our faculty in a way that will make Penn State continue to be a leading institution from a numbers and metrics perspective. And then eagerly, my goal is to hopefully secure the largest gift in Brandywine's history.
Brandywine: As you know, diversity, equity and inclusion are very important values to Brandywine. How will you build onto these efforts in your role?
Vo: I think that they're not mutually exclusive. I actually would even add justice, because you lead with justice with all of these things. It's embedded in all of our scope of work and our everyday lives. It’s one thing to not only talk about it but another on how you eat and breathe and live it, and so for me, it's about cultural competency and being aware of the differences that people have and how you can come together and find common ground, so that's one lens. I’ll also say, as a person of color, a first-generation college student who also identifies as queer, part of my commitment to Penn State was the fact that I saw myself in leadership and the student population. To me, I see that there's a commitment to foster inclusion, and that's something that I want to be a part of and continue advancing.
"I’ll also say, as a person of color, a first-generation college student who also identifies as queer, part of my commitment to Penn State was the fact that I saw myself in leadership and the student population."
—Patton Vo , Director of Campus Development
Brandywine: What are some of your interests?
Vo: I love to cook. I’m someone that actually cooks a lot. I love entertaining, and I have a deep, deep appreciation for the arts. I just love music. I love dance. A lot of my experiences have been supporting liberal arts institutions because I definitely see and I'm a byproduct of the impact of a liberal arts education. I'm also a lifelong learner. I enjoy reading and then I'm quite athletic. I love playing sports, specifically volleyball and soccer.
Brandywine: Anything else to add? Anything you would like people to know about you?
Vo: I think the biggest thing that I want everyone to know is that the value proposition of higher education is still there. My family and I have always said that education is your gateway to social mobility. To see the type of alumni and students that Penn State is producing to where they are not only contributors in their own respective fields, but in society, in communities and thinking about ways to really build and lift up marginalized voices and underrepresented populations is extremely important. That is something that I find very aspirational for Penn State because of their true commitment. Penn State is really a place that values different voices, opinions and perspectives.