For Andrea Glanz ’74 and James (Jim) Irish ’74, giving back to Cornell is just doing what comes naturally. Though the pair were Cornell students on campus at the same time—and both moved to the Bay Area for graduate school—they didn’t meet until 1984, through a Cornell fundraiser.
As a young lawyer living in New York City, Jim volunteered for his first Cornell fundraising phonathon ahead of his 10th class Reunion. During that pledge drive, he not only earned the most pledges and a bottle of wine, but also soon gained a lifelong partner when he called his classmate, Andrea.
“We had a nice conversation, a very long conversation, realizing the number of things we had in common,” Jim said. They exchanged phone numbers, and the rest is history.
Jim credits Jean Emery ’54, who oversaw Cornell Annual Fund phonathons in the New York area for sparking his interest in volunteering for the university. (Jean received her own Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award in 2020.) Jim and Andrea chaired many phonathons together over the years both in New York City and in Westchester.
“Having met as part of a fundraising effort for Cornell, it was natural for us to begin volunteering [together],” Andrea said. “What could be a more worthy cause?”
In 1988, they joined the board of the Cornell Alumni Association of Westchester (CAAW) and spearheaded rejuvenating the club’s speakers committee. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they regularly brought Cornell faculty to Westchester for professor dinners with crowds of 100-300 people.
Jim said he loved hosting these professor dinners because they were so meaningful for the attendees, describing how “people who are working or raising kids come out for the night and all of a sudden they’re back on the Hill, relaxing and listening to a lecture.”
CAAW continues to be a huge part of their involvement—Jim is co-president and Andrea is vice president—and they organize cultural, educational, and social events such as behind-the-scenes tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sunset jazz concerts, and historic preservation projects at Lyndhurst.
Andrea and Jim have also done extensive work forging relationships between CAAW and botanic gardens in the New York Metropolitan area. This has included holding CAAW tours of gardens like Wave Hill in the Bronx, and hosting annual service projects with Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers to help restore the historic gardens to their former glory.
Jim and Andrea exemplify the model of freely giving their time, talent, and treasure as university volunteers.
In addition to chairing regional phonathons, the pair became national co-chairs of two Cornell Annual Fund giving societies, they both have done fundraising for the Class of 1974, and are now co-chairing their 50th Reunion Campaign.
Andrea and Jim are also life members of the Cornell University Council, and active on both the Botanic Gardens Advisory Council and the Library Advisory Council. Andrea is also a sustaining member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women (PCCW).
After earning a master’s degree from Stanford University, Andrea started her career as a museum curator at the San José Museum of Art. She then moved to New York City to create and run the country’s first executive education program for museum directors. She subsequently became head of marketing at two corporate training and development firms, ran her own marketing consulting firm for 10 years, and served as vice president of worldwide marketing at Mastercard for many years.
Andrea has used her not-for-profit background and extensive business and marketing experience to strengthen the Cornell Botanic Gardens, where she and Jim have funded the future Rain Garden. She also designed the logo for PCCW, which is still in use today.
Jim earned a law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, now called the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco. He practiced law in New York City for over 25 years before opening his own law office in 2008. He has brought a deep knowledge of fundraising and a lawyer’s perspective to identify and address needs across the university, such as creating and funding the Caribbean Studies Collection in the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library.
Most rewarding for the pair has been building strong relationships with other Cornellians and having the chance to support people and places that mean so much to so many.
“I really believe in what Cornell does, and what it did for me,” Jim said. “And there’s something eternal about campus. You feel like if you were ever there, you’re kind of always there.”
Andrea agreed: “We’ve made lifelong friends through volunteering. We’ve met Cornellians of different ages that we’ve become really close to, locally and nationwide. It’s so rewarding. Cornell is such an amazing place; it’s a privilege to volunteer.”