For more than two decades, Shaké Sulikyan has worked in nonprofits. She started in the finance office of an organization that was just beginning its fundraising efforts and because Shaké was interested in development, she decided to take this role on top of her regular responsibilities. “The organization was unable to create a full-time position for development/fundraising,” she explains, “So they paved the way for me to take a role with another nonprofit, and the rest is history.”
Her career has included development work for social service, education, and healthcare organizations in New England and California, as well as providing consulting services to nonprofits throughout the United States.
Shaké has seen many changes in the field of development over the years. She’s witnessed a change in volunteerism, as well the recognition that staff members need to be paid a living wage. As a result, she feels nonprofits have become more “professionalized.” She has also seen an increase in professional associations/organizations and in the number of consultants. “As the profession grows and the sector begins to operate more like a business, so do the opportunities to learn from each other through professional associations and to engage consultants in our effort to become more efficient and effective.”
As Executive Director, Shaké is responsible for all aspects of the ValleyCare Charitable Foundation (VCCF), which is the fundraising arm of Stanford Health Care – ValleyCare hospital in the Tri-Valley. “I provide long-term vision and strategic leadership for the organization while also overseeing the day-to-day operations, programs, and activities of the Charitable Foundation to raise funds in support of our local hospital and its innovative medical programs and services,” she explains. “It is an interesting position that combines many of my previous experiences and positions, both in the nonprofit and the corporate sectors.”
In December, VCCF completed the Campaign for Stroke Care, raising an unprecedented amount for the Hospital in the shortest amount of time, a fact of which Shaké is especially proud. She shares, “The Campaign provided funds to launch a stroke program and receive certification as a Primary Stroke Center, which allows us to accept ambulances carrying stroke patients. With stroke, every second counts, so being able to treat patients close to home or work and having helicopter access to Stanford Palo Alto is an incredible addition to the healthcare offerings in our community. I am proud to have played the role of funding this project and making a difference in the lives of people I’ve come to know and care about in my community.”
Outside of work, Shaké enjoys spending time with her husband and 8-year old son. She’s a big reader and recently started a Kids and Parents Book Club with her son and his friends. When not reading, she likes to work out at the gym, to go on runs with her son, hike with her family, and to take classes. “I am a natural leader, so I enjoy taking on leadership roles as a way to fulfill my mission in life, to make the world a better place.”
About DER, Shaké says, “Attending DER presentations is a great reminder that I’m on the right track. In addition, as a transplant to the Bay Area, DER has helped me meet other professionals in the area.”