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Say Yes Alumna Spotlight: Bailey Pfohl

Bailey Pfohl, a 2015 graduate of Corcoran High School, exemplifies the impact of Say Yes Syracuse on her educational journey and professional success.

Bailey Pfohl, a 2015 graduate of Corcoran High School, exemplifies the impact of Say Yes Syracuse on her educational journey and professional success.

While in high school, Bailey participated in a variety of extracurricular activities such as Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), soccer, rowing, singing in the chorus, and pursuing her passion for theatre.

Bailey was introduced to Say Yes Syracuse in middle school. She recalls the widespread awareness of the program within her community, “Ultimately, the Say Yes opportunity convinced me to go to Corcoran. In the end, the Say Yes program convinced me to go to Syracuse University, too.”

Bailey pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Art History at Syracuse University, where she actively participated in extracurricular activities such as Main Squeeze a cappella, musical theatre with First Year Players, and the University 100 ambassador program. After completing her undergraduate studies, she continued her academic journey at Case Western Reserve University, where she earned a Master of Arts degree in Art History & Museum Studies. However, her transition into the museum field after graduation proved to be a challenging endeavor. Bailey applied to over 150 jobs and reflected on her experience, saying, “Through a friend I had met through networking, I was connected to a temporary position at Near West Theatre, which eventually turned into a full-time fundraising position.”

She fondly remembers her three years of employment there, and her position changed as she learned about herself, and the organization’s needs shifted. Because of that flexibility, she got a lot of experience. She is grateful for that period of her career. She notes that Near West colleagues are still her family, and she goes back to volunteer often.

Upon her arrival in Cleveland during graduate school, Bailey escaped from her studies temporarily by attending concerts at The Cleveland Orchestra. Recalling the experience, she reminisces, “They offered steep discounts to students, making it possible for me to attend as often as I wanted. It was incredible.” Unbeknownst to her at the time, this orchestra stood among the Big Five Orchestras in the country, making accessibility to such world-class performances rare.

Inspired by her time there, Bailey is now a communications manager in fundraising for The Cleveland Orchestra. Reflecting on her role, she notes, “That drive to maintain exceptionality is behind everyone who works here.” Surrounded by seasoned leaders with decades of experience, Bailey’s passion for her work stemmed from the new opportunities to explore ideas, engage in innovative designs, and foster teamwork. Grateful for the supportive environment, she acknowledges, “I’m lucky to have an incredible manager who embraces my energy and creativity.”

In addition to her professional endeavors, Bailey remains actively engaged in political advocacy through her involvement with the Matriots. She dedicates her time supporting women candidates for political office in Ohio, where only 28% of elected officials are women. This commitment to effecting change keeps her both passionate and busy.

Recently, Bailey and her colleagues embarked on unionizing the administrative team at The Cleveland Orchestra. Recognizing the significance, she shares, “We believe it’s important for a reputable organization like the Orchestra to set the bar and show other nonprofits what is possible.”

Anchored in research showing the benefits of union representation for staff and organizational wellbeing, Bailey is committed to promoting salary equity, enhancing retention rates, and fostering racial equity within the institution. She notes, “With the AFL-CIO, we’re steadily working toward an ideal that centers community care.”

When asked about the role of Say Yes Syracuse in her journey, Bailey reflects, “It is very simple: Say Yes enabled me to make smart financial decisions when I decided to pursue a college education.” Grateful for the opportunities afforded by Say Yes, Bailey acknowledges its pivotal role in shaping her path.

Offering advice to high school students and young professionals, Bailey emphasizes the importance of research, perseverance, and gratitude. She encourages individuals to pursue their passions, seek mentorship, and negotiate for what they deserve in their careers. She noted a helpful tip:  “ALWAYS write a thank you note to people who help you along the way!”

Bailey reflects, “My education at SCSD and the support I received from Say Yes taught me that community care is paramount. How we care for folks, regardless of their circumstances, says a lot about us. And through programs like Say Yes, which offer young adults the ability to attend college without incurring significant debt, we enable them an opportunity to chart their own course in life. It is the gift that keeps on giving.”

Grateful for the opportunities she has been given, Bailey remains committed to giving back to her community and inspiring others to pursue their dreams.