Phil Bonfiglio, Director of Development for the College of Engineering and Computer Science

Which of these is true about Phil?
A) He won two NCAA team championships (track and cross-country)
B) Fan of Bruce Springsteen
C) Three-time cancer survivor

Read further to find the answer.

In his role as the Director of Development for CECS, Phil is responsible for identifying strategic opportunities, developing and implementing initiatives to identify, cultivate and solicit high-net worth donors and planned giving prospects to ensure a strong base of perpetual financial support. Gifts that he solicits start at $25,000. What Phil enjoys most is getting to know and work with a wide range of fascinating prospects and donors. Let’s get to know more about Phil.

Where have you lived?
PB: I was born and lived the first two years of my life in in Brooklyn NY. We moved to south shore of Long Island (just outside NYC), and lived in the same house through HS. Then on to Knoxville TN and UTK for a bachelor’s and master’s degree. After college, I worked in Knoxville for four years, and then moved to Atlanta for the next 33 years. The next two years I was in Pasadena CA and then back to Atlanta until Nov 2017, when I came to Chattanooga and UTC.

What did you want to be when you were small? What was your first job?

PB: When I was small I wanted to be a NYC subway motorman (train engineer).
My first jobs were actually when I was HS age as a dishwasher at a Kosher Restaurant and Deli and at a bagel store- I baked the bagels. Later I worked with local volunteers for the American Cancer Society covering East Tennessee as Field Representative.

Word on the street is you received a highly prestigious award this year: 2021 University of Tennessee Foundation Board of Directors Staff Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements. Congratulations! Can you tell us more about this award and what it means to you?
PB: The award recognizes outstanding performance and accomplishments in development (fundraising) across the UT System and I was the selection for UTC. It is certainly a great honor but credit is given to the CECS students, faculty and staff, as well as my UTC Development and Alumni Affairs colleagues, who inspire me every day to achieve the very best in support of the UTC mission. I am so very grateful to all of them.

Tell us about your family
PB: I met my wife, Toni, at a gym in Atlanta 14 years ago and we’ve been married 5 ½ years. I have two younger sisters, five nieces and nephews, and three great nieces. My father worked most of his career in the garment business in NYC, and my mother was a “stay at home mom.” As a tailor, my father made our winter coats.

My grandparents came to the US from Sicily as very young children in the 1890’s. My family is very proud of our Italian heritage (really its Sicilian). My mother would always remind us that we are not Italians but Sicilians.

What do you like doing in your spare time?
PB: Cycling (either single bike or on the tandem with my wife), hiking, gardening, and cooking Italian food from my mother’s recipes.

What’s one thing about you that surprises people?
PB: Being a scholarship student athlete at UTK and my history as a nationally ranked long-distance runner, having won two NCAA team championships (track and cross-country) while at UTK.

After college, I finished in the top five in almost all of my 20 competitive marathons (26.2 miles), as well as winning the Atlanta marathon.

When my 25-year running career concluded, I got into cycling and road racing. Thanks to my teammates, I won four Individual Georgia State Age-Group Road Racing Championships.

Are you a sports fan and if so, which sports/teams?
College football: UTK and UTC
Professional Football: Atlanta Falcons, NY Giants, NY Jets
Professional Baseball: NY Mets and NY Yankees
Track and Field
Professional Cycling

This and That:
Pet? We have a puppy and her name is Elsa, a one-year-old very sweet rescued black and tan/Plott hound mix breed.
Your go-to Karaoke song? Anything by Bruce Springsteen and his E Street band. Favorites are Born to Run, Thunder Road and Badlands.
A favorite restaurant in the Chattanooga area? El Metate on Signal Mountain. The food is good and Carlos the bartender is the best in the Chattanooga area!
Do you collect anything? Wine, craft beers and bourbon.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve been involved with?
PB: Still to this day, it is winning the NCAA Cross Country and Track and Field Team Championships and earning two NCAA Championship rings.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
PB: Having a very successful and most enjoyable 45-year career in development and fundraising. I love people and couldn’t ask for a better “gig.”

For what are you most grateful today?
PB: In this order, I am most grateful for my wife, Toni, my siblings and parents, and my doctors who helped me be a three-time cancer survivor.

What advice would you give to someone in their 20s?
PB: Put the phone away and engage in a face-to-face conversation. You are missing life!

During my interview with Phil, he stated “I am grateful for my role with CECS, proud to represent the college and appreciate the CECS students, faculty and staff.” Phil, we lucky to have you going the ‘distance’ on our team and we’re thankful you are leading the charge as we grow our college.

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