With over 30 years of fundraising and management experience, it only seemed fitting that Claudia Stowers,’73, would take on a $150 million fundraising challenge in an effort to help bring American history to the forefront. In March 2015, Stowers joined the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Pa., as the vice president for advancement.
With the museum scheduled to open its doors on April 19, 2017, the anniversary of the shot heard around the world, Stowers took on the task of helping the museum capstone its $150 million capital campaign. Thanks to the generosity of 11,000 contributors from all 50 states and funds remaining on a challenge match, the campaign is within $5 million of achieving its goal.
“It’s the way our founding history is being told at the Museum that first drew me in,” said Stowers. “From our fifth grade history books, it’s easy to think our founding generation were all old men wearing wigs. It’s actually the story of how individuals, many of whom were ‘middle folk’, risked everything, and whose individual decisions in the face of huge consequences all contributed to giving us the country we live in today.”
The museum will tell a diverse story about the important contributions of African-Americans, Native Americans, and women, many of whom followed their men to war and others who fought alongside them.
“Even our museum itself owes a debt of gratitude to the tenacity of two women, Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee and her daughter, Mary Custis Lee, who together waged a 40-year battle to recover Washington’s headquarters tent – now the treasure of the museum’s collection – after it was confiscated from Arlington House during the Civil War,” said Stowers. “Both descendants of Martha Custis Washington, they were also the wife and eldest daughter, respectively, of Gen. Robert E. Lee.” Proceeds from selling the tent in 1907 helped Civil War widows and children.
Upon graduating from Meredith College with bachelor’s degrees in English and economics, Stowers taught high school English before working in banking and insurance. While in the banking industry, she volunteered to serve in various community roles for the bank, such as campaign chair and board chair for the local United Way, which led her into fundraising.
“I never worked a day for years afterwards,” said Stowers. “In other words, I would have done the job for no pay. That’s how much I loved it!”