Executive Director of External Relations and University Events, UMass AmherstNancy Buffone likes to say that she owes a lot to UMass Amherst. She met her future husband, Mark, there, and has three degrees, including a master’s and a doctorate in education, from the university, which has also been her employer since she earned the first of those diplomas in 1995.
But to say that she’s repaid that debt would be a huge understatement.
Indeed, as executive director of External Relations and University Events, Buffone is playing a large role in improving the university’s relationship with Amherst and helping the school increase not only its visibility, but also its influence across the region.
In this job, she keeps one eye on the present — and initiatives such as the Gateway project, a joint economic-development initiative between the town and the university to develop a parcel on North Pleasant Street — and another on the future and events large and small.
Often that future is months down the road, with celebrations such as commencement, which Buffone has helped redesign into a two-day event, or Founders Day. But sometimes it’s years off, and milestones such as the school’s 150th anniversary, coming in 2013.
“We’ve already started planning for it, and the background research work began a while ago,” she said. “It’s going to be a fun year; we’re planning a lot of things and still working out many of the details.”
Buffone’s career at UMass started while she was still a student, in the provost’s office. A month after she graduated, her boss retired, and the provost hired her to fulfill some of that role. “I remember thinking, ‘this is great … I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life, so I’ll do this for a year until I figure things out.’ Soon, I’ll mark my 16th year — I love it.”
Her involvement in the community reflects her current job description — she’s on the steering committee of the Amherst Business Improvement District, a board member of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Amherst Future Committee.
She balances all that with work at home, and especially her two sons, Jack, 9, and Ben, 7.
— George O’Brien