Spotlight on Dan Fallon

Dan Fallon worked for WFAA as a director of development from 2011 to 2014. He left to run the major and planned giving team at Wisconsin Public Radio and then had a short stint in corporate sales with Madison’s new professional soccer team, Forward Madison FC. He returned to WFAA in February and is serving as its first fulltime director of development for the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in the Midwest (four states, five cities), though my family is all from the New York City area. I moved to Long Island when I was 12, finished high school there, and received my undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire (GO WILDCATS!). After graduation, I worked in the Washington DC and New York areas for a few nonprofits and found my professional calling in development work. My wife’s graduate studies took us to the University of Idaho (GO VANDALS!) where I directed the prospect research team, and I also earned a master’s in public administration. My wife grew up in Madison (GO REGENTS!), and we were both eager to put down roots here after moving a number of times after college. I’ve now lived in Madison for almost eight years, which is longer than any other single place I’ve lived before. It truly feels like home.
What does your role at WFAA entail?
As the first full-time director of development for the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, I work closely with Paul Robbins, Dean of the Nelson Institute, to stay connected to alumni and supporters, and work to secure private financial support for the Nelson Institute and the university, with a focus on major gifts. I am very excited to join the Nelson Institute in advance of our 50th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day (both in 2020). We have much to celebrate in the coming year!
What led you to leave WFAA, and then what led you to come back?
My decision to leave WFAA was a difficult one, but was ultimately driven by the opportunity to take many of the lessons I had learned at WFAA and apply them to the task of building and managing a successful, sustainable major and planned giving operation at Wisconsin Public Radio. As a longtime supporter of public radio, it was a wonderful opportunity to combine my professional work with a personal passion. And the reason I am back is very similar. The opportunity to represent the Nelson Institute, honor the environmental legacy of Senator Gaylord Nelson, and secure private support to allow the Nelson Institute to thrive for the next 50 years and beyond, was incredibly appealing. In more practical terms, I’ve always admired WFAA’s commitment to its staff, its desire for continuous improvement, and the opportunities for career development and growth.
What three words would you use to describe WFAA?
Professional
Challenging
Spirited
What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far?
1. The more face-to-face meetings you go on, the more good things happen.
2. Do great work, and the opportunities for personal and professional growth will find their way to you.
3. Ask questions. Lots of them.
What do you like to do in your spare time/days off?
I am a massive soccer fan. I am a season ticket holder for the Forward Madison inaugural season, so you will see me at most games cheering on the Flamingos. And you can often find me watching, reading about, and obsessing over Liverpool FC, the best football club in the world. Outside of that, my wife and I love going to see live music, live theater, and meetings friends for pizza at Greenbush Bar.
What is your favorite thing to do in Madison?
I know it’s clichéd, but going to the Terrace after work with friends for a beer and popcorn is really hard to beat. It is such a unique place that brings together people from all over the city. We should never, ever take it for granted.
What TV show/movie are you ashamed to admit you love?
I’ve seen just about every episode of Beverly Hills 90210. I may have given up in the last season or so (how many tragedies can Kelly Taylor go through?!?), but I was a diehard fan for many years.
What is your favorite quote?
Again, at the risk of being clichéd, I will share a quote from Liverpool FC’s legendary manager, Bill Shankly:“Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say ‘We’re Liverpool’.”

What I love about this quote is the focus on the collective — the idea that our personal efforts, both at work and at home, should be about all of those around us and seeing to it that we are all sharing in the success and taking pride in our shared accomplishments.

What would you say to someone who is considering working for WFAA?
I would tell them they will be joining a team of highly professional, committed, smart, and welcoming colleagues who work on behalf of an incredible university.