Letter from the Head of School

Leaving a Legacy

Dear Friends,

By now you may have heard the news that Captain Robert Gifford, Class of 1940, left more than $3 million to The Albany Academies through a planned gift. I want to share Robert’s story with you and how we will honor his legacy and reflect a bit on the transformative power of such gifts.

Robert Longueville Gifford was 95 when he died of natural causes in Sarasota, Florida in 2018, after a life well-lived. A Troy native, he graduated from The Albany Academy, received his undergraduate degree from Harvard, and his MBA from Dartmouth. He then enlisted in the Navy, proudly serving his country until retiring as a captain 30 years later. Captain Gifford was married to Helen Louise Flynn for 61 years until her passing in 2017, living outside of London for almost 40 years and traveling extensively.

Ann Wendth and I had the opportunity to meet Robert’s sister-in-law, Peg, who graciously told us the story of why he wanted to support the Academies, even after so many years away from Albany. She said that he spoke about his desire to give back to the school that gave him the academic foundation for success in the Ivy League and developed his character in preparation for a life of service in the Navy.
“As he reflected on his life,” Peg said, “Bob talked about his parents’ commitment to sending him to The Albany Academy and how positive this experience was.” As he planned his legacy, “he wanted to honor his parents and give back to the School,” she said.

Captain Gifford’s gift was directed to the School’s endowment, where it will grow in perpetuity. Some of the endowment’s annual investment proceeds will fund The Gifford Faculty Innovation Awards, supporting five teachers each year who wish to create or explore new or innovative curriculum. Another traunch will provide an annual budget for professional learning opportunities for faculty and staff.

These two initiatives are directly linked to our 2020 strategic plan and have tremendous potential to transform how we serve our students and realize our mission. They would not have been possible without Robert’s generosity. Peg believes that he would have been delighted by this impact. “Bob was a lifelong learner,” she said, “and I think he would have loved the fact that he’s supporting the teachers at the Academies.”


While a seven-figure gift to the School is extraordinary, legacy gifts of all sizes add up to a more secure future. Out of necessity, much of the money the School raises is designated for operating expenses (the Annual Fund) or campus improvements (Capital Gifts), and we are forever grateful for this ongoing support. But legacy gifts like Captain Gifford’s are almost always invested in the School’s endowment, with annual income partially designated to a particular operational need or educational purpose.

Every dollar The Albany Academies can invest in our endowment is a dollar that doesn’t have to be realized through tuition or fundraising. This allows us to continuously improve upon the tradition of excellence that inspired Captain Gifford to make his gift while further strengthening our overall fiscal sustainability.

I am hopeful that, as you think about your own legacy, you will consider supporting The Albany Academies with a planned gift. I’ve provided some information about this below.
    • Head of School

      Chris Lauricella P'20, '22

      Head of School


As this letter was going to press, we received word of the passing of Mr. Matthew Bender IV ’49, who has been an iconic fixture at The Albany Academies. As I reflect on the idea of “Legacy,” I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Matthew’s indelible impact on our School.

Mr. Bender’s legacy was created through continuous, personal interactions with The Albany Academies over the course of 70 years, and we will sincerely miss his thoughtful presence and generous spirit.
As he reflected on his life,
Bob talked about his parents’ commitment to sending him to
The Albany Academy and how positive this experience was.
As he planned his legacy, he wanted to honor his parents and give back to the School.
    • Introducing Head of School Chris Lauricella

List of 1 items.

  • Transition Committee

    Chris Bender '78, P'15, '20, Co-Chair of Transition Committee
    Eileen Considine P’08, Trustee, Co-Chair of Transition Committee
    Jennifer Amstutz P’19, ’21, Trustee
    Dave Ashton P’17, ’21, ’21
    Nancy Carey Cassidy P’13, ’15, Trustee
    Tom Cassidy P’13, ’15
    Adam Collett P’32
    Karin Epstein P’18, ’21
    Anna Flik P’18, ’20, ’23, ’26
    James Hart P’09, ’10, ’13
    John Hayes ’87, P’16, ’18, Trustee
    Donna Keegan P’06, ’10
    Robert LuPone P’24
    Sandra Miorin P’10, ’12
    Wendy Muhlfelder ’67, P’94, ’98, ’99, ’00
    Timothy Owens ’83, P’15, ’19
    William B. Picotte ’67, P’01, ‘04
    Jim Poole ’68, P’02, ’14
    Shelly Reid P’12, ’23
    Susan Sneeringer '72, P’01, ’04, ‘08
    Kaari Stannard P’20, ’23, Trustee
    Ann Wendth
    Vince Zabinski P’99, ’03, ’04, ’04

The Albany Academy

Albany Academy for Girls

Schellenberger Alumni/ae Center