Dustin Todd cites myriad of experiences, importance of athletics for regional economy as motivators
NOVEMBER 4, 2023 BY BILL DABNEY
A young University of Mississippi graduate’s desire to give back to his alma mater was borne from a myriad of experiences, including memorable football games he attended, involvement in campus politics and family ties to Ole Miss.
Dustin Todd, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history in 2007, has made a major gift to CHAMPIONS. NOW., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s campaign to improve facilities for student-athletes.
“College sports and college football are going through a sea change at the moment,” Todd said. “Ole Miss is lucky to have leaders like Coach (Lane) Kiffin and AD (Keith) Carter who understand we have to evolve if we want to compete and continue on our strong trajectory. I want to support their efforts, ensure we have best-in-class facilities, recruit and retain top coaching talent, and build a base of student-athletes who know when they come to Ole Miss, success on and off the field will be a part of their legacy.”
A Tupelo native, Todd lives in Potomac, Maryland, and is vice president and head of government affairs for Synopsys, a leading software firm and enabler of microelectronics, or “chip” design. He and his wife, Andrea, met while working on Capitol Hill.
“With respect to the continued longevity of competitive athletics programs at Ole Miss, it’s encouraging to see young alumni like Dustin who already understand the importance of private support,” said Quinn Kavanagh, associate director of development for OMAF. “We are so grateful for his gift and hope it will inspire many of his contemporaries to give back as well.”
Todd said he believes his gift will benefit the university on many levels.
“Ole Miss is home; it’s a community where people can come together – job stress and politics go to the wayside,” he said. “Athletics makes that easy and fun. It’s also a huge economic generator for Mississippi that often goes unnoticed.
“Ever try to find a hotel within 100 miles of Oxford on an SEC game weekend?”
Todd’s affinity for sports at Ole Miss began early. He remembers exciting times attending games with his father, Bart Todd – a UM accountancy graduate – and with the family of childhood friend Stephen Downing, a 2010 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts.
Todd’s sister, Elizabeth, is a dentist and graduate of the university’s Medical Center and brother, Keegan, attended Ole Miss before becoming a pilot. Additionally, his mother, Christy, worked for Ole Miss while her husband finished his degree.
“Being a die-hard fan made it next to impossible for me to think rationally about going to any other university,” Todd said. “However, the allure of Ole Miss’ outstanding liberal arts school, an environment to learn and challenge traditional thinking, proved to be the right fit.”
After graduation, he began working for former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove’s 2008 Senate race. Musgrove and Todd met on campus in 2006 and struck up a like-minded affinity that continues.
“While that race in 2008 didn’t go how we wanted, it affirmed my desire to work in politics and at the intersection of government and public service, with a strong desire to enable innovation and job creation – something Mississippi still needs,” he said.
In 2009, he began working on Capitol Hill, serving as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-New York, who would jokingly tell colleagues that Todd was from “way down state.”
Todd later spent six years at Amazon, working on public policy for the company’s online marketplaces, Amazon Studios, Alexa and Ring businesses before taking his current position at Synopsys.