It had been 15 years since graduating from George Mason University when Michael Gallagher, MBA ’94, was approached by school officials about getting involved with the School of Business Alumni Chapter. He jumped in with both feet, serving several roles including chapter president and has sat on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the past three years. His strong connection with the School of Business sparked a generous gift to Patriots in a time of grave uncertainty and extraordinary challenges. In addition to his routine giving to the school, Michael Gallagher contributed $5,000 to the School of Business Student Emergency Fund to assist students struggling with the financial repercussions of the pandemic.
Founded in 2002, The Stevie Awards is Michael Gallagher’s brainchild. He had been working at a software company in the Washington, D.C. area when he decided to quit and pursue a passion of his–award competitions. The inspiration came from his time working at New York Festivals, a series of award competitions for the top international advertising agencies. Business was a topic he enjoyed and understood intimately, being a Mason Business alum, and so, the Stevie Awards were born.
Gallagher’s company skyrocketed and quickly became the premier set of awards for businesses around the globe. His success also put him in a position where he could financially assist his fellow Patriots, current students striving to achieve degrees in the era of COVID-19. When the School of Business asked if he could give during this trying time, the long-time supporter eagerly answered the call. “It’s hard enough for those of us with jobs, savings, our own homes, and a local support system to get through this pandemic crisis,” he says. “Imagine how much harder it is for young students who don’t have any of those things. These funds will provide a lifeline for them.”
Like many of his fellow alumni, Gallagher has been putting in extra hours to keep his business afloat. “My focus has been on keeping our employees fully employed and fully paid until we can come outside the other end of this thing,” he says. It’s also been a time that he has had to become more creative and innovative, changing the way the Stevie Awards operates. With about 20 percent of their revenue derived from ticket sales to awards ceremonies, he is working on their first ever virtual event this August.
The School of Business is impacting Michael Gallagher’s life in completely new ways since he took the initiative to join alumni leadership. On the business side, he is happy to sponsor any school event he can and continues to put the name of the Stevie Awards out there. But more than that, he is grateful for all the close friendships he has made. Gallagher’s contribution will help prevent students’ dreams from being derailed, and as a result, they may be inspired to forge that same lifelong connection with the school.
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