The purpose of the President’s Council is to collaborate with the President, University Advancement staff and the University’s leadership in identifying, cultivating, and soliciting individuals and organizations for private support of the University’s mission and its vision for the future.
The President’s Council, established at Plymouth State University in 2001, is a volunteer advisory group that provides leadership and support to the President of Plymouth State University regarding development and fundraising.
The Council’s initial charge was to raise $4.5 million in the “Expanding Our Reach” campaign, focusing on support for the Boyd Science Center, endowments, the performing and visual arts, and campus beautification-notably, the George Lundeen bronze sculpture of Robert Frost in front of Rounds Hall. Meeting and exceeding that goal, the Council was instrumental in raising over $7 million; including the University’s first million dollar gift for scholarships.
Currently, the President’s Council is working on raising financial support for student scholarships and the Human Performance Center’s Strength & Conditioning Lab. The Council’s leadership and experience are vital to connecting the University to our supporters, and their own generous, thoughtful philanthropy sets both the examples and the pace for building a culture of support at PSU.
Ann Thurston retired in the summer of 2021 after a forty-year career at Plymouth State, most recently as the University’s first Director of Planned Giving, a role she stepped into in 2016. She started by working in Lamson Library, and served as manager of campus services, bursar, and associate vice president for academic administration and finance.
“I realized I had been training my whole career to be a Planned Giving Officer,” she says. “I am delighted when I speak with alumni who graduated in the 1940s and 50s who never thought about leaving Plymouth State in their legacy, but who speak about their great experiences at Plymouth. So many people credit Plymouth State with their successes in life. There is tremendous value in continuing to raise awareness that planned giving is an option and the different opportunities that exist to give.”
Through her thoughtful stewardship of deferred gift donors, Thurston inducted over 40 new members to the Holmes Heritage Society, an honorary society for alumni and friends who have included Plymouth State in their financial and estate plans through a will, trust, retirement plan, life insurance policy, or life income gift. New members are honored and inducted every year by Thurston at the University’s annual connections event between students and their scholarship donors.
In addition to her role as a steward, Thurston has been a generous donor to Plymouth State for nearly four decades. She and her late partner, Betsy Cheney ’89,’99G, set up their own significant planned gift to the University more than ten years ago.
Anthony Oglesby has over seventeen years of experience in developing, marketing and managing operations of Planet Fitness health clubs. His experience began during the infancy of Planet Fitness where he worked to develop the brand and Planet Fitness model with the founders. As a key employee in the Planet Fitness creation, the founders leveraged Mr. Oglesby’s operational expertise and his problem-solving skills to convert unsuccessful gyms into thriving facilities by using the specific operational policies and procedures he helped develop.
After Planet Fitness, Anthony went on to help set up the Tap Out Fitness Franchise company, making an exit once it was purchased by the WWE. From there he started the idea and concept for All Out Fitness with the help and guidance of mentor Michael Grondahl, the founder of Planet Fitness. All Out Fitness currently has one location in Penacook, New Hampshire, with plans for an additional center in Augusta, Maine.
Anthony played basketball while a student at Plymouth State, where he received his degree in business administration with a minor in social work. He is married with three children and resides in Penacook, New Hampshire.
Now focusing exclusively on small and middle-market business owners, David advises clients on reducing their personal and business risk, building their business’ value, and transitioning that value to serve their personal goals after business. David is a member of the Exit Planning Exchange of Boston and Small Business Association of New England.
Originally from Dexter, Maine, David played football at Plymouth State and graduated with a B.S. in Physical Education in 1985. He is a founding member of Friends of PSU Football. He lives in Wayland, Massachusetts.
David is very active in youth sports and other charitable activities in Wayland. He has coached football, softball and baseball for many years and was the former Vice-President of Wayland Weston Pop Warner Football. David is also a yearly participant in the Pan Mass Challenge bike-a-thon raising money for the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber Cancer Institute where he rides in memory of the many people he knows effected by cancer.
Donald L. Birx, Ph.D., became the 15th president of Plymouth State University on July 31, 2015.
Dr. Birx served as the chancellor of Pennsylvania State University, Behrend College, and was responsible for the quality of the college’s academic programs in teaching, research and service, and its overall operations, including strategic planning, human resources, enrollment management, fundraising, marketing, alumni and community relations, intercollegiate athletics and outreach.
Before joining Penn State Behrend, Dr. Birx served as vice chancellor and vice president for research for the University of Houston System (UH). His accomplishments there included the initiation of systemwide, multidisciplinary clusters that spanned UH’s colleges and campuses, focusing on strategic collaboration in the areas of nano-materials, energy and natural resources, biomedicine, complex systems, community advancement and education and arts and human enrichment. At UH, Dr. Birx founded the Center for Industrial Partnerships, a joint endeavor to translate research to practical applications and increase interplay between the business community and the university’s research faculty. In addition, he held the appointment of full professor of electrical engineering.
Prior to his work at UH, Dr. Birx was interim vice provost/president for research and professor of physics at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Dr. Birx began his career in academia following industry experience with Systems Research Laboratories, Inc., in Dayton, Ohio, where he advanced from senior scientist to principal investigator, then general manager of the company’s intelligent systems division, and finally vice president and team leader of technology and new ventures.
Dr. Birx holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from the University of California, Berkeley; a master’s degree in physics and an MBA in finance, both from Miami University of Ohio; and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Dayton. He and his wife, Linda, have four children.
Prior to joining Omnicom Group, Eric was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of True North Communications, another strategic holding company in the industry, with financial responsibilities for a portfolio of marketing services companies. Eric was a member of True North’s Pension Investment Committee.
Eric’s extensive experience as a banker provided him with executive opportunities at Omnicom and True North. Eric was a Managing Director of Global Relationship Banking at Citigroup where he was responsible for marketing a full range of corporate and investment banking products to clients in the media and communications sector, including advertising agencies, marketing services companies, professional sports leagues, cable broadcasting and programming, television and radio broadcasting, telecommunications, and publishing. Eric has over 25 years experience in areas such as strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, rating agency management, foreign exchange, cross-border investments, hedging, credit risk, leasing, and financial reporting.
Eric serves on the Finance Committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the industry’s trade association, and on the Board of Directors of AAAA Benefits Inc.
Eric is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Economics, majoring in accounting and a Master of Business Administration, majoring in management. Eric and his wife, Paula, reside in Princeton Junction, NJ with their three children. Their son, Jared, graduated from Plymouth State University in 2006.
Mary Anne Hyde Saul grew up with Plymouth State. Her dad, Harold Hyde, was the President of Plymouth Teachers College, then Plymouth State College, from 1951 to 1977. She considers PSU to be family and frequently shares its story.
Mary Anne was a History and Social Studies educator in Massachusetts for almost forty years. She graduated from Tufts University and received a doctorate in social studies education from Boston University. She taught students of all skill levels at North Reading High School for 33 years. She taught college through post-graduate students in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and in numerous other courses and workshops. She has served on many committees for the Massachusetts Council of the Social Studies and the Massachusetts DOE. Her focus on cross-cultural education has led to continuing involvement as a board member of Documentary Educational Resources, a nonprofit documentary film company that promotes thought-provoking media about the people and cultures of the world. She has also served on the board of Cultural Survival, an organization dedicated to advancing the rights and cultures of indigenous peoples.
This year Mary Anne and her husband, Bert, have moved back to New Hampshire. They live in Holderness. Mary Anne has maintained her connections with Plymouth friends over the years. She wrote a book, On the Edge – Growing Up in Plymouth, NH 1951- 1969 in conjunction with the town’s 250th anniversary in 2013. She currently serves on the Program Committee for the Plymouth Historical Society.
Nick Vailas ’76 played football for Plymouth State, and was a cum laude graduate majoring in physical education. Nick is founder and CEO of the Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center, and president of the Fitness Network. He also founded and manages Apple Therapy Centers, a network of rehabilitation centers that specialize in sports injuries. Nick is a wellness and healthcare consultant and former director of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
Out of his commitment to injury prevention Nick made a major gift to Plymouth State University last summer for the construction of a properly equipped strength and conditioning facility at the PE Center. An additional gift for this purpose is being offered as a challenge to the Hall of Fame athletes and the TKE fraternity, for their fund raising projects that will fund the completion of phase II of the facility this summer.
Nick and his wife Mary Ann reside in Bedford where they are raising their five children. Any spare time is devoted to coaching football and raising buffalo in New Hampshire.
Patti was active in the campaign to raise support for the Silver Cultural Arts Center, the Silver and Gold effort to renovate the soccer field, the advisory committee to develop a new university logo, and most recently with the PSU Welcome Center Committee, part of the new Ice Arena. She also represented the local business community in the interview process for the presidential search.
As a civic leader, Patti has been active in Plymouth’s Shop Local initiative, the Main Street Program, and with the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce where she also served as president. She has been a board member for the Holderness Central School and school board representative for the Town of Holderness Budget Committee.
In 2008, Patti and Scott were honored with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award. They are sponsors of the “Biederman Zamboa,” which made its debut in November 2010 at the new Plymouth State University Ice Arena.
Yet the accomplishment Patti is most proud of is that of mom to her daughter, Kerri, who works as a senior communications associate at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and her son, Bryan, an ’07 Plymouth State University graduate and co-owner of Poleish Sport Outdoor Games.
Sam is currently a Senior Development Officer for Major Gifts at Habitat for Humanity International, a global charity headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Working primarily with individual donors and family foundations to develop engaging relationships, Sam helps align and strengthen philanthropic resources for Habitat’s global programs in 70 countries. Sam travels frequently to support and work with donors residing in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, and the state of Florida. In addition, Sam has traveled with Habitat to Cambodia, South Africa, Malawi, Honduras, and Guatemala.
Prior to joining Habitat in 2016, Sam worked in the Plymouth State University Advancement office as a Major Gifts Officer and Annual Fund Director. Increasing donor participation amongst the alumni network and working with alums to establish endowed and annual scholarships are among Sam’s most memorable experiences as a University employee.
Sam is a double alumnus of Plymouth State University having received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2012 and a Master of Business Administration in 2016. Sam and his wife Savannah Fitzpatrick Wisel ’12, reside in Tilton, NH.
Suzie grew up in Nashua, NH, and graduated from the University of Vermont. She then attended Dartmouth Medical School (a 2 year program at that time) and Harvard Medical School where she received her MD degree. She then trained in pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her practice and teaching career included 25 years in pediatric practice in Concord, NH, as part of Hitchcock Clinic followed by 13 years as pediatric faculty at the NH Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency. She is currently retired from clinical practice but remains an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics and of Community and Family Medicine at Geisel Medical School at Dartmouth.
In addition to her clinical practice, Suzie has also been involved in many child and adolescent advocacy activities at both state and national levels serving on many boards and committees. She has been a pioneer nationally in the integration of preventive oral health into primary care clinical practice. Locally she is currently vice chair of the North Country Advisory Board of the NH Charitable Foundation and a board member of the NH Dental Society Foundation and in addition she serves on several national boards and committees and is an editorial board member and reviewer of pediatric publications.
Suzie lives with her husband Phil in Waterville Valley half the year and Moultonborough the other half. She enjoys many outdoor activities including all kinds of skiing, hiking, boating, biking, pickle ball and tennis. She has 2 children and 2 grandchildren.
Wayne is a realtor with Olde Port Properties in Portsmouth N.H. He previously spent 35 years in the medical device and orthopedic industry, where he founded two successful orthopedic supply companies and later helped reorganize and manage distribution for Wright Medical Technology, a major orthopedic manufacturer. Throughout his career he has been involved in the rehabilitation and development of numerous commercial and residential properties in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. Most notable was the restoration of The Custom House, a historic Portsmouth landmark built in 1860. As a 1972 graduate of Plymouth State University, he was part of the first class to major in Plymouth’s new business administration program. He was the President of Kappa Delta Phi fraternity and co-captain of the varsity track and field team, where he set individual records for the shot put and discus. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Boston’s New England School of Law in 1982. Wayne has been very active in the Portsmouth and New Castle communities, sitting on various boards and serving as the New Castle School District and Town Moderator for 30 years. He is the former chairman of the New Hampshire State Republican Party and later served as Rudy Giuliani’s chairman during the 2007 primary campaign. He is a former member of the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority and is a past commissioner of the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission. In addition to founding two popular local scholarships, Wayne has been a corporator at Piscataqua Savings Bank since 2000. Wayne met his future bride, Paulette Darcy Semprini ’72, at Plymouth State when both were undergraduates. Paulette arrived at Plymouth State from her home on Long Island without ever having visited campus but knew of its strong program in teacher education. Wayne and Paulette now live in New Castle, NH, near both their sons, one a graduate of University of New Hampshire and the other of Providence College.
April 2017 Wayne was principally drawn to the President’s Council as an ambitious advocate of Plymouth State University’s Academic Clusters endeavor. This program provides students with an opportunity to integrate real world learning, research and service opportunities across academic disciplines. This unique approach provides an enhanced educational opportunity, combined with actual experiences that greatly benefit the student, as well as the community at large.
Bill has owned and operated the Inn On Golden Pond in Holderness, NH for the past 25 years. Over the years Bill has served his community as Budget Committee Chair and Selectman. He founded and chaired a local, community based non-profit, Holderness 2000 Inc., which was responsible for constructing a recreation path in town and purchasing land and constructing a town common in Holderness village. He has served on numerous non-profit Boards including the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center (Chair 2 years), the Whole Village Family Resource Center in Plymouth (Treasurer 2 years), and the NH Charitable Foundation – North Country (Chair 3 years). He currently serves on the board of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and as President of the Grafton County Economic Development Board.
Bill is a graduate of Colgate University. He and his wife Bonnie live in Holderness, NH and have two grown children.