Lisa Calvert, CEO, WSU Foundation
Lisa Calvert, Vice President for Advancement and CEO of the WSU Foundation.

Lisa Calvert has served in a variety of executive development and fundraising positions during a 30-year career in higher education and the nonprofit sector. She joined the Cougar family on October 25, and will serve as WSU’s chief fundraising officer, leading efforts to build a comprehensive, integrated development and external engagement strategy that will maximize private support and investment. She will oversee the WSU Foundation and all development efforts statewide, as well as the WSU Alumni Association.

“Lisa joins us at an exciting moment in the university’s history,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “A vibrant culture of philanthropy is a critical component of WSU’s goal to be recognized as a top 25 public research university by 2030. Lisa’s leadership, experience and energy will help us strengthen the philanthropic partnerships essential for success in WSU’s Drive to 25 and to engage all of the Cougar Nation.”

In her own words, Lisa offers a glimpse into the philanthropic background that shapes her career in fundraising:

What do you see as the greatest opportunity in fundraising at WSU?

Connecting the enthusiastic and committed Coug family’s passions with our university leadership’s aspirations to support our students, faculty, and researchers. The result is changing lives and improving the state, nation, and world. That is why I joined the Coug family. We will and can accomplish this.

Do you have a favorite quote that you share with others regarding philanthropy?

“Scholarship and philanthropy are each, separately, among the most powerful forces at work shaping the future of our society. In combination, they are unsurpassed in their capacity to improve the human condition.” – Former University of Oregon President William Beaty Boyd.

Did you grow up in a philanthropic family?

My upbringing was of modest beginnings – yet a family (parents and grandparents) that focused on service to others and who volunteered their time to make a difference in our small community. My grandmothers, great aunts, mother, aunts, sister, and cousins are all teachers or involved in education. My mother raised money and support to take a school bus to the library 15 miles away, twice a week during the summer, so all children in the community had access to read books. My dad provided transportation to 4-H and FFA members to livestock shows, where they showed their animals, and he supported all students wanting to travel to the National FFA Convention, a significant leadership conference and national livestock show. Both my dad and mom raised money through the Lion’s Club to build a community pool and tennis courts to provide activities for all ages over the summer. Giving to the church was important, too, and raising funds for service projects was an ongoing activity. Philanthropy has many facets of both financial and service. I started at a very young age in securing philanthropic support.

What motivates your own philanthropy?

My family’s commitment to our small community and the legacy of five generations of farmers/ranchers protecting the land and its resources has inspired me to invest in the students of our tiny school, and activities that preserve and respect the land. It was very important to my grandparents and their children, my dad and aunts, to treasure the land, preserve the integrity of the land, and be good stewards. Portions of the ranch secured in the 1897 Oklahoma land run are virgin prairie, a rare resource. Also, a family member – General Crook – was a leader in exploring, discovering, and working with President Roosevelt in establishing National Parks in the Western United States. It runs in our family; I support and volunteer with the National Parks and The Nature Conservancy. I also invest in scholarships to support students in my small town who do not have resources to attend college. Education is key to providing access to greater opportunities.

What would you like WSU’s donors to know about you?

First and foremost, there are great opportunities ahead with the vision of President Schulz and the enthusiasm of the Coug family. Together, our work is very important and vital. At the same time, we should enjoy our time together and have fun in creating this life-changing work.

What book are you reading now?

“Mindful Leadership.”

What are your interests or hobbies?

Hiking (I recently spent nine days hiking the Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks), cooking, yoga, and music. On Sundays, I tend to cook all day and deliver meals to others. A great test kitchen for new recipes – everyone will eat a free meal and provide feedback.

Any additional thoughts or comments?

It is an honor and privilege to join the Coug family. I look forward to working with everyone. 

Read more about Lisa here.