Debra Aliano, a fundraising executive for Colorado Public Radio and former g.m. of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s radio and television stations, died in October after a six-month battle with cancer. She was 57.
Aliano joined CPR in late 2007 as executive director of development and major gifts. Under her leadership the public radio network’s major giving revenue grew by more than 50 percent, according to CPR. She also managed a 2008 donor event featuring NPR journalist Robert Siegel that raised more than $100,000 toward operations expenses.
Aliano was a native of Omaha, Neb., and began working at the University of Nebraska’s KVNO classical radio and UNO Television in 1992. She rose through the ranks to become development director, assistant g.m. and later, g.m., a post she held for 10 years. She also was an adviser for the Minneapolis-based public radio fundraising and marketing association Development Exchange, Inc. In 2006, Aliano was named manager of the year by the Midlands chapter of the National Management Association.
“She loved public radio; she loved classical music,” said John Aliano, her husband of 35 years, in a recent Omaha World-Herald obit. “She felt that it wasn’t influenced by advertisers and that it was there for the public. She was always trying to improve things.”
While working at CPR, Aliano commuted to her home in Omaha on weekends.
In addition to her husband, Aliano is survived by her sons Jeff and Nick, daughter Lauren Aliano Mueller, two grandsons, mother Rosalie Tessin and sisters Susan Bruning and Pam Klusaw.