Member Spotlight: Valerie Schutz, Sr. Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, Cal State East Bay

Valerie Schutz is the Sr. Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Cal State East Bay, where she’s worked for three years.  Her job is focused on raising philanthropic support from private foundations and corporations for priority projects and programs across their Hayward and Concord campuses.  She collaborates with fundraising and development colleagues, as well as deans, faculty leadership, and staff across campus. 

Her fundraising career started 20 years ago, after a short career in business development in the for-profit sector.  “I was seeking personal and professional fulfillment from my work, and I was driven by wanting to make a difference,” she explains, “I managed to get a job doing PR for a grassroots auxiliary for Children’s Hospital Oakland. My short stint there led to landing my dream job writing grant proposals and web copy for the hospital’s newly formed foundation.  Making that transition was a combination of having a fierce desire to make a difference and getting lucky. Every job after that was guided and landed with the help of my network.”

Cal State East Bay is wrapping up a 10-year, $60 million Rising in the East Campaign.  When she started, University Advancement had been without her position for six months and prior to that the position had been filled sporadically for about 3 years. “At that time, many external relationships needed nurturing and trust among internal partners restored,” she said. 

The campaign will close having raised more than $77 million to modernize facilities; reinforce existing programs and launch new ones; expand learning opportunities; and grow much needed scholarships (80% of students rely on financial aid and 60% are first generation).  “I’m proud to be part of this success, helping to deepen relationships, and contributing to the university’s most successful three years of fundraising in its history,” she says.

Over the years, Valerie has seen donors approach philanthropy differently, “They seek a more genuine connection with the organization and to see the return on their philanthropic investments through real and immediate impact. This requires fundraisers to use data to tell compelling stories. It requires us to take the time to really understand our donors’ values and the real impact they hope to achieve.”

“I also see that companies pursue philanthropy in a way that is more aligned with their business mission and supports the bottom line. The days are over when companies give based on emotion – instead giving is completely linked to meeting business goals.”

Outside of work, Valerie enjoys spending time outside exploring nature. “I’ve become a birder,” she shares, “and most recently took a class on birding by ear. The learning is really endless and the process is meditative. It takes great focus to be still and to listen to all of the birds around us, whether in the mountains, at the beach or in our neighborhoods.”

Valerie joined DER early in her career and it’s been an important part of her professional growth ever since.  She was on the DER board for 5 years. She co-chaired a now-defunct program called Major Gifts Magic and also served as Governance Chair. She says,“Many valuable relationships, both professional and personal, have grown out of DER, and I love this profession even more because of those relationships and the community I find with DER. I’m deeply grateful for all that DER has given me.”


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