Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Return on investment

Christine ToroAs the associate director for Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Office of Leadership Giving, Christina “Chris” Toro ’89 appreciates the art of the donation.

She began giving back to her alma mater early on, donating annually whenever she could.

“I was only able to go to Wheaton because of scholarships, so I feel the need to pay back as much as I possibly can,” said Toro, who lives in Newton, Mass. “People in my family were instrumental in helping me get into Wheaton, and I’ve seen them all be philanthropic. I wanted to follow in that path to the best of my ability.”

In addition to volunteering over the years with several of Wheaton’s alumnae/i programs, Toro recently made a major gift to the Wheaton Fund for scholarships.

This year marks her 25th anniversary of graduating from Wheaton. As an undergraduate, she studied German and history and spent a year abroad at the University of Freiburg in Germany—an experience she often reflects on.

“I think my history degree gave me a sense of curiosity about the world and how things happen,” Toro said. “My career path has been accidental in some ways. I’ve taken different opportunities based on a particular need or interest I had at the time.”

Her first job after Wheaton was as associate product manager for Fleet Financial Group in Providence, R.I. She was then recruited by Visa and moved to Washington, D.C., traveling around the country as a senior account executive. After six years at Visa, she took a job as account director at Brann Worldwide in Chicago.

While she was in Chicago, a friend got Toro involved with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and Toro helped bring the event to that city.

“I raised money from individuals as well as from corporations, did event management and ran a lot of the logistics, and that got me interested in fundraising,” she said.

Looking to return to the East Coast, Toro was hired at MIT as a major gift fundraiser, working with alumni in the New York metro area. After a few years at MIT, Toro took a job as director of development at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. But she missed her team at MIT, so when a management position opened up, she applied and was hired back.

“I feel like I have the life I want,” said Toro, who is married to Bonnie Leonard and has two sons, Ian and Christopher. “The thing I like about MIT is it’s big; it’s well known. It really has an impact on the world. People are always doing new and different things, and my own job can be entrepreneurial, yet I have a big organization behind me. I’ve always worked for organizations that have amazing brands, so the strength of the brand is important to me. We have this instant credibility.”

Toro also appreciates the skills she gained as a liberal arts student at Wheaton.

“My colleagues and I talk about it all the time. What better training for this type of role than a liberal arts education, in terms of critical thinking, writing skills and emotional intelligence,” Toro said.

From Wheaton to a career in banking to her current job in fundraising, for Toro it comes down to one thing.

“It’s all about relationships,” she said. “Whether you’re dealing with an individual or a corporation, you’re dealing with people.”