Vince Lombardi once said that “Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” For 20 years, Jancy Tonken’s individual commitment to her job made the Sidwell Friends development and alumni relations efforts stronger, more successful, and so much more enjoyable.
Jancy’s position as a data coordinator was rarely recognized for the incredible benefit she provided to the school--but everyone who worked in Zartman House knew that she was among the unsung heroes in the Advancement Office. Each and every day, Jancy came to SFS and made sure that the rest of us could do what we needed to do. Her tasks were endless and required immense patience, skill, and concentration. Whether she was entering gifts, updating parent or alumni records, handling stock transactions, or running financial reports, there was never any doubt that Jancy’s work would be thorough and accurate. Because of her immense dedication to her job, we were able to raise more money than ever before in the Call Us Friends Campaign, engage more alumni in creative programming, and strengthen the student experience at Sidwell.
Doing a job admirably is one thing, but doing it with immeasurable kindness and joy is altogether another. Jancy was truly the heart and soul of our office. When people speak of Jancy they use adjectives like thoughtful, selfless, endearing, delightful, compassionate, and gentle. She always offered a smiling face, put a good light on tense situations, and made sure that new employees felt welcome. Jancy took a special interest in the young people on our staff. She gave them confidence and inspiration as they tackled new tasks and stepped out of their comfort zones, a safe space and a welcome spot in her office when they just needed to chat, and the kind of gentle guidance that everyone entering a new community should be lucky enough to receive. Jancy is admired--indeed, beloved--by so many members of the Sidwell community: students, alumni, faculty, and parents. No matter who Jancy met, whether visitors or friends, strangers or long-time members of the SFS community, she put them at ease with her pleasant demeanor and caring ways. When her 20th anniversary at Sidwell came around, people visited every hour on the hour to bring her a rose and express their appreciation for all she had done for them and for the school.
Sidwell Friends is stronger because Jancy Tonken was a member of the staff. Her legacy at SFS lives on in all the people she helped and encouraged, the millions and millions of dollars her work enabled us to raise, and the countless laughs and smiles she brought to those who know her and call her friend.