DER Member Spotlight  – Dr. LizaDawn Aduviso, Director of Development at California State University, East Bay

With 20 years of development experience, Dr. LizaDawn Aduviso is sharpening the focus on diversity, equity, and access in regard to leadership roles in the nonprofit sector. Dr. Aduviso currently works as Director of Development at California State University East Bay, where she advances the university’s mission to provide academically rich, culturally relevant, and socially responsible education to a diverse student body.

She first landed in the development field during her last semester of graduate school and decided to take a job as a fundraiser for youth and family programs with a national nonprofit organization. She recalls, “Twenty years ago, I hardly ever saw anyone who looked like me – or other people of color – in the development space, whether it be the workplace, networking events, or conferences. It is encouraging to see more diversity in fundraising positions. I hope to one day see this diversity in the most senior nonprofit roles. “

“I’m now part of a fellowship with a focus on elevating and strengthening the vision, voice, power, and leadership of women of color working for social justice and racial equity. I am greatly influenced by this in my development work, shaping how I collaborate with and think about the community we serve, as well as colleagues and donors,” she explains. 

Her most notable achievements include the distinction of obtaining her Ed.D. “I decided to go back to school in my 40s. For my dissertation, I conducted research surrounding my topic, “Obstacles to Leadership Among Women of Color in Nonprofit Organizations.” And I recently earned my doctorate. I’m passionate about our sector and want to see more diversity in decision-making positions. It’s crucial for people within the communities nonprofit organizations are serving to have a (strong) voice when it comes to establishing a vision and goals.”

She continues, “I’m also proud to be a 2024 Women of Color LeadStrong Fellow. Their purpose is to elevate and strengthen the vision, voice, power, and leadership of women of color working for social justice and racial equity in the social sector, and my beliefs are strongly aligned with this purpose.”  

On the recommendation of a colleague who served on the DER board, Dr. Aduviso joined DER due to the value of the membership benefits. “I’m thankful for my DER membership. It’s helped broaden my network as well as educate myself, all while being affordable. This was really important, particularly when one doesn’t have an employer that pays for these resources. I appreciated being able to invest in my professional development without it feeling like a financial burden.”

Alongside her professional career, Dr. Aduviso also juggles a busy family life. “The work/school week is so busy that my family really appreciates the weekends together. We like to explore the Bay Area, trying out new restaurants, and often get our recommendations from “Check Please! Bay Area.” We also love visiting nearby beach towns like Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, and Santa Cruz.”