Eileen Bertsch Donahue

Senior Consultant


Eileen Donahue joined WASHBURN & McGOLDRICK in 2019 after a successful career as an attorney, probate judge, and senior advancement director at Yale University. She is respected for her straightforward, creative, and personalized approach to philanthropy and gift planning for donors at every level of giving, as well as for her strategic contributions in closing significant, multifaceted gifts.

Eileen was named Yale’s Director of Planned Giving in 2003. During her sixteen years in that role, she was responsible for all aspects of the university’s planned giving program, including the marketing, solicitation, stewardship, and administration of bequests, life income gifts, donated securities, real estate, and other non-cash assets. Eileen guided the design and implementation of a highly effective marketing and communications strategy for planned gifts and led the expansion of gift planning training opportunities for advancement staff across the university. She launched Yale Legacy Partners, the university’s first recognition society for planned gift donors, and grew its membership to 2,300 donors. She also oversaw the creation and management of Yale’s donor advised program and established and administered a registered charity in the United Kingdom with dual tax benefits for Yale donors in the U.S. and U.K.

Under Eileen’s leadership, Yale’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, libraries, museums, and athletics department doubled the number of new bequest intentions and raised over $700 million in planned gifts during the 2004–2011 Yale Tomorrow campaign. In 2012, Eileen was appointed Yale’s Senior Philanthropic Advisor and assumed additional responsibilities for working closely with university leaders, donors, and their professional advisors in providing key support for the structuring and closing of Yale’s most generous and transformative gifts.

Since joining the WASHBURN & McGOLDRICK team, Eileen has provided planned giving counsel and training to numerous clients including Princeton University, Imperial College London, Syracuse University, St. Lawrence University, Vassar College, Providence College, University of Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, United States Golf Association, Denison University, Rollins College, University of Rhode Island Foundation, William and Mary, Miss Porter’s School, and Fairfield College Preparatory School, among others.

Prior to her work in educational advancement, Eileen served for ten years as Probate Judge for the District of North Haven, Connecticut, presiding over cases involving decedents’ estates and trusts and a wide range of sensitive matters affecting children, seniors, and individuals with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities. During her tenure at the Probate Court, Eileen assumed increasingly progressive leadership positions within the Connecticut Probate Assembly, the statewide association of probate judges. She began her legal career as an attorney in private practice, focusing on estate planning, probate, real estate, and civil litigation.

Eileen received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of New Rochelle and her Juris Doctor degree from Boston College Law School. She has served as a member of numerous non-profit and civic boards and commissions.