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Vanessa Messan

Smith Staff

Office of Alumnae Relations and Development

Philanthropic Officer for Leadership Gifts

How long have you worked at Smith?
I joined Smith in June 2022. The mission of women’s education, leadership and empowerment is so important to me, especially because I attended a women’s college. I wanted to mesh my work in philanthropy with a mission I care deeply about, and I felt I could naturally influence others and speak about the topics with enthusiasm.

How would you describe what you do here at Smith? 
My work at Smith is about building relationships with alums and friends of the college, and finding good matches between personal interests and what is happening on campus that needs philanthropic support.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The Reflection Room on the second floor of Neilson Library is already my favorite place on campus. It's a rarity for a library to have such a space for meditation, contemplation or similar activities.

When you are not working or traveling for Smith, what are you most likely to be found doing? 
Singing at a karaoke bar or trying new foods at a restaurant.    

What are you reading/watching/digging into these days?
I love the show Manifest on Netflix, which is about the strange lives of people who return years after a plane takes off and disappears. I recently read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. Most importantly, I'm disappointed that Oprah's show Greenleaf ended, but I've been watching the seasons again.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
I can't wait to go to Marrakech, Morocco, and Santorini, Greece. I've always appreciated North African culture and food, and Marrakech seems like a place where I would eat great authentic dishes. Santorini is a place my favorite YouTuber just traveled to, and I would love to experience it for myself.                

Who would you most like to have dinner with?
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and singer-songwriter Chloe Bailey.

What’s your favorite dish? 
Anything with flavor and spice. 

About Vanessa

Pronouns: she/her