Donor Profile

Donor Profile

Photo of Patricia Comey Preston ’80 and Adrienne Johnson ’91 standing side-by-side.

Patricia Comey Preston ’80 and Adrienne Johnson ’91

Encore! Patricia Comey Preston ’80 and Adrienne Johnson ’91 will again co-chair Fairfield Awards Dinner.

Scholarships allow access to this amazing Jesuit education at Fairfield, which makes the work we do worthwhile. It can change a generation, and that’s what inspires me.

— Adrienne Johnson ’91

The event — scheduled to take place this year on April 12 — is Fairfield’s primary fundraiser dedicated to raising money for scholarships, and actively celebrates the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Adrienne Johnson ’91 admits that she and Trish Comey Preston ’80 had “such a blast” working together as co-chairs of last year’s Fairfield Awards Dinner that they volunteered to take the lead once again.

The two, who also serve together on the Charles F. Dolan School of Business Advisory Board, are passionate about expanding access to education for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the means.

“Scholarships allow access to this amazing Jesuit education at Fairfield, which makes the work we do worthwhile. It can change a generation, and that’s what inspires me,” said Johnson.

“Fairfield’s focus on cura personalis [and on] preparing young individuals to be men and women for others has shaped who I am personally and professionally,” Johnson continued. “It’s all about excellence in academics, and at the same time understanding how you can make the world a better place for others.”

She and her husband, Lee Dowling, have four teenagers. In addition to working full-time, they live on a cattle farm in Central New York. Their beef is sold locally to individuals and restaurants, and since the pandemic they have been supporting local organizations including a nearby Syracuse mission that serves the chronically homeless.

Johnson has supported scholarships through the Fairfield Awards Dinner and has contributed to the Fairfield Fund to support students’ most urgent needs.

A generous supporter of the Awards Dinner, Tricia Comey Preston is also the president of her Manhattan co-op board, on the executive committee of her neighborhood association, and she works with an animal rescue group.

She maintains close friendships with a tight circle of friends and eagerly looks forward to reunions. Still, Preston never thought about volunteering at the University until she was asked to join the Dolan School’s Advisory Board a few years ago.

“Sometimes, all it takes is an ask,” said the former accounting major who is also a member of Fairfield’s Bellarmine Society. Preston is committed to supporting Fairfield students through her continued advocacy.

Her involvement with the Dolan School has had the added benefit of bringing her in contact with students. As a mentor, she has been impressed by the emphasis placed on communication skills alongside academic pursuits.

“The practice of giving presentations, of clearly articulating ideas to a larger group, is so essential in business. You can’t be too good at public speaking,” she said. “I’ve also noticed that the students collaborate on many team projects, and that’s really what business is all about. They’ll use those skills all the time.”

The returning co-chairs agree that students and recent graduates have brought considerable energy to the Awards Dinner. “I have been inspired by their commitment to supporting access to higher education and I am in awe of their media savvy!” said Johnson.

“Our roles are to build excitement, to reach out to friends and corporations, and to bring passion and commitment to the committee so that they’ll also reach out to their contacts,” said Preston. “I loved my time at Fairfield, and want to ensure that future generations of students can have that same opportunity.”

The 2023 Fairfield Awards Dinner, slated for April 12, will once again be held at New York’s Cipriani 42nd Street. Since its inception in 1988, the event has raised more than $20 million for the Alumni Multicultural Scholarship Fund and other endowment scholarships. This year, 18 students received awards of nearly $31,000 each from the endowment fund.

Other Articles in the Winter 2022 Issue

Letter from the President

Read the Article

The Fairfield Distinction

Read the Article

Stags Basketball & Volleyball Come Home

Read the Article

A Beacon of Access

Read the Article

Search Results