Peggy Spear grew up listening to the Metropolitan Opera on the radio with her grandmother while they sewed together every Saturday. Peggy became familiar with all the opera stories, developing her early love for the genre. She also attended free concerts in New York City by the NBC Symphony, led by Arturo Toscanini during the war. At Smith College, she sang in the Glee Club under the esteemed choral conductor Iva Dee Hiatt. “It was a really outstanding opportunity- we sang great music and got to experience the joy of singing. I have always loved singing and have sung in choirs much of my life.”
In the mid-1970’s, Peggy accepted her first job in fundraising at Pacific Oaks College. Barbara Martin, who later worked as PCM’s first Director of Development, hired Peggy as her Development Associate. (Barbara played a key role in launching Mansions & Music — now Musical Interludes — PCM’s signature concert series that has helped grow our donor base and fundraising capacity.) While working for Pacific Oaks, Peggy also met Olin Barrett who was on the Pacific Oaks board and was another key figure in PCM’s institutional growth.
When Peggy eventually met PCM’s Executive Director, Stephen McCurry, she remembers connecting over their both being “third culture kids” (people who have grown up in a culture other than their own). She was further impressed by his calm demeanor and leadership style. Shortly after, Peggy joined the advisory board.
In 2001, Peggy served as consultant for PCM’s first ever capital campaign, Music Matters. The $3 million campaign allowed PCM to purchase the two buildings on what is the south property of our current campus. The campaign established a permanent home and positioned the school for continued growth – in programs, faculty, and students. “To see the school move from the cottages into this big building was exciting — it was pretty thrilling.”
Peggy then served on the board from 2003 until 2010, continuing to attend Mansions concerts. She enrolled in a number of Priscilla Pawlicki’s music history classes, which PCM introduced in 2006 thanks to the new campus. Additionally, she recalls always being very impressed by the students. “Students at PCM play music, not just notes. No matter how young they are. I have always loved that.”
As a professional fundraiser who worked at established institutions like the Huntington Library, the Art Center, and the Pacific Asia Museum, Peggy felt it was important for PCM to have a planned giving program. During her tenure on the board, she worked with Barbara and Stephen to introduce the Legacy Society. Inspired by her long and close association with PCM and a personally-held belief to lead by example, Peggy became one of its first members.
Peggy additionally shares that, “As a legacy donor, you want to be sure your planned gift is used well and that it isn’t just going to be used to meet a deficit or an emergency building problem. You want to be sure that it’s used for the future. And I’m totally confident that my gift will be invested to ensure the future of the Conservatory.”
Donors like Peggy who remember PCM in their estate plans create a legacy and make a powerful and lasting impact on tomorrow’s musicians, audiences, and patrons. Visit our website for more information or contact Melissa Froehlich, Director of Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org about how you can become a member.