Heidi Irving Naughton ’88: Opening Doors for Students and the Community Through the 1813 Society

Heidi Irving Naughton ’88 grew up in Troy, Maine, a small town about 25 miles from Waterville. After being recruited by Colby’s track coach, financial aid played an important role in Naughton’s college journey, which is why it remains a philanthropic priority for her today.

“Colby offered me the chance to be a part of a community and do things well beyond track,” Naughton said. “And the academic opportunity excited me. As a Maine girl, the thought that I could find all this in my own backyard made Colby super appealing.”

After graduation, Naughton worked as a sales associate for New England Business Magazine, part of the Yankee Magazine publishing group, in Boston; in admissions at the University of Rochester; as an MBA graduate student advisor at the NYU Stern School of Business, and as dean of students at School of the Holy Child in Rye, N.Y., where she also taught American history. Today Naughton is focused on running a few real estate projects, as well as doing some design work.

As a member of the 1813 Society, Colby’s loyal network of annual leadership donors, Naughton stays connected to her alma mater and does her part to make sure today’s students get the same opportunities she had. In addition to being a member of the 1813 Society Committee, she is a former Colby Fund Class Gift Committee co-chair and Class Gift Committee chair.

Naughton at 1813 event in Darien, CT in Dec. 2019.

Why Colby?
I attended a small rural high school in Maine where we didn’t receive a great deal of college counseling. As a stand-out athlete, I received a lot of recruiting attention from schools all across the country. Rick Bell, the then-women’s track coach at Colby, sent me a handwritten note commenting on a picture he had seen of me in the Morning Sentinel newspaper where I was jumping to high-five a teammate. Coach Bell commented on how high I was jumping and asked if I had ever considered Colby. The next thing I knew I was being interviewed for a spot in the Colby College Class of 1988.

I was amazed that this place existed in the town of Waterville. The campus, curriculum, athletic facility, students, and faculty that I met on my visit left me impressed and excited that I could find a place in such an environment. I had visited much larger Division I schools on recruiting trips, and those places had left me feeling disconnected to the specific college. I felt like my experience at a larger school had the potential to be one dimensional and that everything I did would be dictated by my involvement in track. In the end, it was easy to choose Colby. During my time there I excelled in my sports but did so much more—from writing for the Echo to being the chief justice of the Student Judicial Board—all things that I didn’t see myself doing at a larger university.

How did Colby prepare you for your professional career? 
My Colby education made me a well-rounded individual who was curious and confident. It exposed me to charismatic professors who inspired me to connect with and entertain a crowd. As an American studies major, I loved the cross-discipline approach and combination of literature, history, religion, sociology, and more—it influenced who I am today in terms of engaging across mediums and subjects.

You are currently a member of the 1813 Society. Describe the importance of giving annually and what it means to you to be a part of this group?
I could not have attended Colby without the generous support of financial aid through an endowed gift to the College by an alumnus. It gives me great joy to think that I could be opening a whole new world to a student who otherwise might not have had the chance to attend Colby—particularly if that student is from Maine. In addition to financial aid, I support the counseling programs at Colby as well as the Colby College Museum of Art. Walking past the Alex Katz painting in the library had a profound impact on me. Today, for Colby to have such a world-class facility in central Maine is a gift to not only those on Mayflower Hill but to the greater Maine community.

I appreciate that the members of the 1813 Society have made sustained giving at leadership levels a priority. I look forward to seeing this group work to increase participation as well as encourage others to consistently support the College.

Drone shot of The Alfond Track, where today’s Track & Field team competes, a team that helped shape Naughton’s Colby experience.

How does the 1813 Society benefit today’s students and the College in general?
By encouraging sustained giving at leadership levels, the 1813 Society is supporting the amazing groundwork that Colby is building on for a future that seems limitless. I am in awe of what is happening at the College both in the academic arena and outreach to bring the most qualified students to Colby regardless of background and need. The 1813 Society helps make it all possible.

Colby’s Dare Northward campaign supports major initiatives that enhance the student experience. Which initiative(s) are you most passionate about and why?
I can say without a doubt that I am most proud of what Colby is doing for the community of Waterville. As a child, Waterville was my “big town.” We would grocery shop in Waterville, dine out in Waterville, and attend theater at the Waterville Opera House. Over time, like many Maine industrial towns, it was disheartening to see Waterville change. I am thrilled that Colby is taking such an active role in working to revitalize the downtown, attract employers to the area, immerse students in a downtown-located dorm, and work with local communities to offer art, academic, and athletic opportunities to schoolchildren. 

I love the connection that Colby continues to grow and develop with its home base and know that this will impact central Maine for decades to come. I firmly believe that Colby is setting an example for its NESCAC cohorts in working with its hometown—an example that other schools should carefully study and strive to emulate.

If you are interested in joining the 1813 Society or would like to learn more, contact Byron Glaus, director of the 1813 Society and leadership annual giving, by emailing [email protected]