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Donor Spotlight: Lia Dawley

A photo of Lia and her husband Patrict

At French International, we are proud to have devoted parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and grandparents committed to positively shaping our school and enriching the student experience. LaGazette features families who choose to donate to the Annual Fund and why they support French International. 

Lia Dawley's journey at French International began in 1993 when she first joined as a student and graduated Middle School in 2004. She was part of the generation of students who witnessed the then-named Gilkey Middle School open its doors in 1998. 

As an alumnus, Lia's connection with French International has remained strong over the years through memories, experiences, and lifelong friendships. 

What person, course, or experience most influenced you at French International? How?

“I enjoyed the fall and spring ACE weeks. It was a privilege to have renowned artists from France and the Portland area teach us several art forms- from puppetry to capoeira to aerial. I got hooked on aerial and joined the youth troupe Pendulum Flyers; we performed pre-professionally throughout the Portland area.” 

A photo of Lia doing aerial acrobatics

When her parents decided to move from Boston to Portland in 1986, they told her, “You make your family wherever you go.” French International became and remains the community they share life’s moments with, such as Christmas Eve every year and Lia and her husband Patrick’s wedding at Black Butte Ranch this past September. 

A photo of Lia and a crew of people at her wedding

Lia has been a loyal supporter of the Annual Fund, generously giving back every year since 2020! 

What contributed to your decision to support French International’s Annual Fund?

“French International is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Not only was I prepared for high school at OES, but I also formed lifelong friendships and learned two languages before the age of 15. On top of all that, my employer matches donations dollar-for-dollar – doubling my contribution!” 

The Annual Fund's impact is visible everywhere on campus. Contributions support investments in resources for the library, up-to-date technology, guest speakers and performers, professional development, innovative tools, new learning spaces, and more. The participation of our community is important for the continued success of French International!

What would you tell Alumni who are thinking about donating to French International?

“Don’t hold back! Take advantage of your employer’s matching program.”

Lia's story is an illustration of how the French international community can have a positive and lasting impact! 

On behalf of all of us at French International, we thank the countless alumni, like Lia, who have expressed their gratitude for the education and experiences they received at French International through gifts to the Annual Fund. 


What is your favorite, or proudest, French International moment?

"I’ll never forget our fifth-grade trip to France. I dreamed for the first time in French! My first French International friend, Jen Byrne, moved to California in the fourth grade, but she joined us for this exciting trip.  Jen and I now live three miles away from one another in Oakland, CA, and remain close friends."

Has something you saw from us or that we sent you inspired you to give, recently or at some point in the past?

"As a marketing professional with the Clorox Company, I was excited to see the recent repositioning of FAS/Gilkey to French International. Uniting the Lower School and Middle School under one name strengthens the brand. The key messages are clearly articulated here, so we can all be stewards of the French International brand."

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