It’s important to stay connected to each other. It’s about synergy, and we need to connect the Fairfield generations,” said John Pagano MBA’04, MS’06, who was sworn in as president of the Alumni Association on July 1, 2016. Pagano is the first graduate school alumnus to ever serve in the role and he is ready to lead: “This is a great responsibility and I’m honored to have the role,” he said with a modest smile.
Pagano, who recently moved back to Fairfield with his wife, Orsi, will serve for the next two years, replacing previous president Shannon (Barry) Siwinski ’92, P’16.
During his tenure as president he hopes to continue initiatives recently launched by the Alumni Association, such as the successful Job Shadow Program, and to bring even more graduate students into the cultural fold of the University.
“As working professionals, graduate students are amazing resources and they are local,” Pagano said. While a graduate student at Fairfield and with support from then Dean Norman Solomon, PhD, Pagano co-founded the Dolan Graduate Business Student Association which led to an invitation to Bridgeport’s Chamber of Commerce meetings, and served as a platform to engage in community service. He’s since participated in the University’s Fairfield 2020 strategic planning process, and has been active with the Alumni Association on the advancement committee and in scores of University events.
An experienced tennis pro and fluent Spanish speaker, Pagano graduated magna cum laude from Fairfield University with both a master of business administration degree and a master of finance degree in 2004 and 2006. He’s currently the owner and director of Tennis Programs at The Tennis Club of Trumbull, a business his father Edmond Pagano ’64 started more than 30 years ago.
Pagano chose the University of Connecticut for his undergraduate degree where he also played Division I tennis, but his strong childhood ties to Fairfield’s campus ultimately called him back.
“Growing up, Fairfield was always a part of things because we lived in Easton and my dad often had us coming to campus for one reason or another,” Pagano said, easily recalling many drives through the campus, Glee Club Christmas concerts and museum tours with his father’s favorite professor, Walter Petry, PhD.
Pagano had been working for Skandia Global Funds as a chief compliance officer of the Americas Division when he envisioned accelerating his career by earning a graduate degree. “Fairfield offered exactly what I needed,” Pagano said, referring to both programs he completed through the Dolan School of Business while working full-time.
Pagano found his coursework to be interactive, collaborative and thought-provoking, and appreciated its focus on ethics.
“In management you have choices — you have to recognize that there is value in doing good things,” Pagano said of the lessons he learned in a leadership class taught by Lisa Mainiero, PhD. “Doing the right thing may have short-term costs, but in the long run, it’s worth it.”
In 2011, the facilities of the Tennis Club of Trumbull collapsed under the weight of snow and ice during a record-breaking winter storm. No one was injured, but much of what was a community cornerstone was demolished. It was then that Pagano stepped in to help his father lead the business and rebuild.
Marrying his love of tennis with his background in finance, Pagano helps drive the family business with a focus on the company’s core values, sportsmanship and future growth. He also still manages to coach tennis lessons for both juniors and adults.
When asked what it means to be a Fairfield graduate, Pagano said: “Fairfield alumni are very driven, always looking to do the best they can do — passionate in their work and entrepreneurial spirit and they have a kind of welcoming warmth.”
Pagano sees his new role as president as an extension of his longtime enthusiasm for Fairfield and seeks to share it with as many people as possible. “If I can help promote Fairfield in any way, then I’m happy to do it,” he said. ●F