Trustee Alison “Sunny” Breed Dies

Former Alumni Association president was devoted to Tufts
Sunny Breed with honorary degree recipient at the 2012 Commencement
Alison “Sunny” Breed, left, with Cecilia Ibeabuchi, supervisor of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, who received an honorary degree at Commencement in 2012. Photo: Matthew Modoono
December 18, 2013

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Alison M. “Sunny” Breed, J66, G72, a member of the Board of Trustees and longtime active alumna of the university, passed away unexpectedly on Dec. 17 in Long Beach, Calif. She was 69.

Breed was elected a trustee in 2010, and served on the board’s Advancement Committee and the Committee on Trusteeship. She was president of the Tufts University Alumni Association (TUAA) from 2006 to 2008—the first leader in the history of the association to live west of Washington, D.C.

She received TUAA’s Distinguished Service Award in 1979, and just last week, on Dec. 11, the Tufts Alumni Awards Committee voted to honor her with a Lifetime Service Award.

“Sunny’s enthusiastic devotion to Tufts was matched only by her ability to make friends,” said Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco. “I will always be grateful that when I first arrived here, she generously shared her insights on the university and how to build strong connections with our alumni community. I looked forward to the warmth and good sense she brought to every Board of Trustees meeting, and will truly miss her.”

“Sunny was a warm and energetic trustee whose institutional memory and talents ran deep,” said Peter R. Dolan, A78, A08P, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “She was eager to serve on any trustee committee where she was needed. And she did not let the miles between Medford and California stand in the way of participating fully. Sunny set the bar very high, and I and my fellow colleagues will feel her absence greatly.”

After graduating in 1966 with a degree in sociology, Breed stayed on at Tufts, working for 13 years as assistant director of undergraduate admissions. During that time, she earned a master’s degree in education and counseling from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Breed left her job at Tufts in 1979 for the Alaskan island community of Ketchikan. She worked as director of tourism at SouthEast Alaska Airlines, the regional airline she and her husband owned. Living and working in such a remote place, Breed said, was a formative experience, because there were no other Tufts graduates nearby. “That stint in Alaska helped me value my connections with Tufts even more, because in Ketchikan there weren’t any connections to the university,” she said.

Breed was a third-generation Tufts graduate. Her grandfather, Wilfred Ringer, a professor of education at Tufts, graduated in 1908 and received an honorary degree in 1951. Her mother, Beth Ringer Moran, graduated from Jackson College in 1932. Breed’s two uncles, her father’s sister and her husband, and two cousins also are Tufts alumni.

A member of the Alumni Council, the governing body of Tufts University Alumni Association, since 1972, Breed kept active in alumni affairs. When she became TUAA president, she emphasized initiatives to keep other far-flung alumni connected. “That’s the challenge—to keep people connected to Tufts when they live far away,” she said. She also focused on getting more young alumni involved in the association, noting that they represented the future of TUAA.

“Sunny was a beloved friend and inspiration to so many members of the Tufts Alumni Council as well as alumni everywhere,” said Brian J. McCarthy, A75, A07P, current president of TUAA. “Her love of Tufts was infectious, and her vision and leadership over the years leaves an indelible mark on the Alumni Association.”

An extraordinary achievement of her tenure was the Alumni Council’s pledge to raise $20 million in support of Tufts’ $1.2 billion Beyond Boundaries capital campaign. The pledge, which was successfully met, was the largest ever undertaken by the elected leadership of TUAA.

“Sunny was an extraordinary leader in so many ways, stepping up to serve as president of the Alumni Association without the benefit of two years of preparation in the role of president-elect,” said Timothy Brooks, executive director of Alumni Relations. “She did so with great skill and poise. Sunny’s election to the Board of Trustees in 2010 was a signal of the high regard in which she was held by all alumni and an appreciation for her dedication to Tufts. We will all miss her wonderful smile and strong friendship.”

Recently, Breed had transitioned from the position of vice president of training and affiliate relations at Executive Consulting for the Nonprofit Sector Inc., an organization that provides management consultation services, and was assisting the company president with his books on nonprofit leadership. Previously, she was senior career counselor at Women’s Focus/Career Focus.

Her extensive experience in nonprofit leadership included work as a member of the corporate board of directors of United Way of Greater Los Angeles and chair of its Agencies Services Committee, president of the Greater Long Beach Girl Scout Council and president and treasurer of the Tongass-Alaska Girl Scout Council in Juneau.

Breed’s husband, Paul Hobart Breed, a retired U.S. Coast Guard commander, died in 2012.

A memorial service will be held at Tufts at a later date; details will be announced.

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