Vice President for Advancement

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Vice President for Advancement | Foundation and

Chief Executive Officer of the NAU Foundation


Northern Arizona University (NAU) seeks a proven and dynamic, metrics-driven, results-oriented fundraising and operations leader to serve as Vice President of Advancement | Foundation and Chief Executive Officer of the NAU Foundation (VP AF/CEO NAUF). The successful candidate will have strategic oversight and management of a comprehensive development effort to effectively promote and secure internal and external support for the priorities of Northern Arizona University. The VP AF/CEO NAUF is responsible for the success of institutional advancement operations, including a budget of approximately $4M annually, and the development of a team of more than 50 talented development and alumni engagement professionals. This dynamic leader will also be responsible for progressive leadership as CEO of the NAU Foundation Board—which has approximately 20 members and an endowment of more than $225M—and the Alumni Association Board—which has an increasing role in expanding engagement among NAU’s 200,000-plus living alumni. A top priority of the VP AF/CEO NAUF will be to develop, launch, and lead a multi-million-dollar campaign, aligned with NAU’s strategic vision of serving as the nation’s preeminent engine of opportunity, vehicle of economic mobility, and driver of social impact by delivering equitable postsecondary value in Arizona and beyond.


About the University

Founded in 1899, NAU is a higher-research institution providing exceptional educational opportunities and outcomes in Arizona and beyond. NAU delivers a student-centered experience to its nearly 30,000 students in Flagstaff, statewide, and online through rigorous academic programs in a supportive, inclusive, and diverse environment. As a community-engaged engine of opportunity, NAU powers social impact and economic mobility for the students and communities it serves. The university's longstanding history of educating and partnering with first generation and diverse students and communities throughout Arizona, including Indigenous Peoples, is enhanced by its recent designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). Dedicated, world-renowned faculty and staff help ensure students achieve academic excellence, experience personal growth, have meaningful research and experiential learning opportunities, and are positioned for personal and professional success. Located on the Colorado Plateau, in one of the highest-ranked college towns in the country, the NAU Flagstaff Mountain Campus is truly a jewel of the Southwest.


Position Description  

The VP AF/CEO NAUF will report to the Senior Vice President of Engagement and Public Affairs at NAU and serve as a member of the External Affairs and Engagement team advocating the university’s priorities and successes. This talented and motivated leader will serve on the President’s Cabinet, the University Advisory Board, and create a culture of philanthropy throughout the university in collaboration with the Executive Vice President and University Provost’s Deans’ Council, university leaders and academic colleges for a cohesive campaign.


The successful candidate will have significant and demonstrated prior experience developing and managing highly effective teams in institutional advancement, development, and alumni engagement; managing operations for a large and complex development operation; and integrating and leading an institutionally affiliated foundation.


This is an exciting time for a new Vice President, as NAU plans for its most ambitious campaign yet powered by a reenergized mission and vision outlined in the university’s new strategic plan – NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence – which articulates a clear mission and vision for the university’s future. While the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the launch of a new comprehensive campaign, the incoming VP AF/CEO NAUF will be expected to develop and lead this effort that will propel the university to new heights and allow NAU to truly realize its mission as a national leader in equitable postsecondary value.  In partnership with the Senior Vice President of Engagement and Public Affairs and the University President, this will be a transformative leadership opportunity to build the campaign from day-one, rather than simply fine tuning or stewarding to completion an existing campaign. The new VP AF/CEO NAUF has a unique opportunity to elevate the university with an already well-established cadre of loyal, passionate, and generous donors and alumni, as well as dedicated faculty and staff who are committed to making NAU a national leader in equitable postsecondary value and supporting transformative outcomes for students.


The NAUF offers an extraordinary opportunity for the CEO to recruit and enhance a well-established and evolving Board of Directors. Working with this highly committed group to move the campaign forward and managing the growing endowment will be an integral part of the candidate’s success.


The VP AF/CEO NAUF will be responsible for a broad executive leadership portfolio, that includes the following:


  • provide hands-on, visionary leadership and utilize interpersonal relationship building skills to recruit and retain a highly qualified, mission-driven Development and Alumni Engagement team;
  • establish systems and operational excellence to engage and motivate the team and drive outstanding performance to achieve goals aligned with university-wide priorities;
  • serve as a strategic leader and chief fundraising officer to develop and successfully lead NAU’s multi-year, multi-million-dollar capital campaign;
  • demonstrate a strong commitment to diversity and broad-based access to higher education in alignment with the ethos of NAU and its mission as articulated through NAU 2025 – Elevating Excellence;
  • lead the ongoing development of NAU’s institutionally-affiliated Foundation Board, including operations management, budget leadership, a capital campaign, and cultivation of an exceptional Board of Directors;
  • lead the transformation and growth of the Alumni Board, including operations management, budget leadership, and enhanced national outreach efforts to alumni and friends of NAU;
  • ensure all Development and Alumni Engagement units and support functions are integrated and coordinated effectively in support of the university’s priorities and mission, and serve as a strong partner with the External Engagement team to advance the university’s mission cohesively with all external partners;
  • continuously increase fundraising through progressive initiatives in major gifts, capital support, annual giving, project and special event programs, planned giving, and alumni giving;
  • effectively manage the Foundation Board’s charter, including effective management of the endowment fund, Board succession planning, and all pertinent day-to-day Board operations;
  • develop and manage a multi-unit budget and effectively manage financial resources;
  • interact closely with the President, Senior Vice President of Engagement and Public Affairs and other leaders, both within the President’s Cabinet and beyond the university, focusing on the alignment of key donors’ philanthropic objectives with the university’s vision, strategies, communication, resources, and operational plans;
  • support the university’s philanthropic activities, managing engagement of prospects for signature university priorities, providing leadership in prospect management, and preparing university leaders and partners to secure philanthropic commitments;
  • engage as part of the university’s leadership team and participate as a member in the President’s Cabinet to effectively promote and achieve the university’s priorities and mission;
  • develop and lead the comprehensive advancement strategies toward fulfillment of the university’s priorities;
  • maintain collaborative partnerships with academic affairs, enrollment management, athletics, student affairs, finance, marketing and communications, and other university partners whose active participation and engagement is essential to an effective institutional advancement agenda;
  • work closely with university marketing and communications units to employ communication and social media strategies to maintain a strong online and print presence to engage current and potential donors, as well as the university alumni community;
  • manage a portfolio of leadership gift prospects, developing and executing strategies directed toward a leadership gift solicitation for prospects and donors, leveraging the maximum philanthropic potential of each prospect;
  • develop personal relationships with key stakeholders and high-net-worth benefactors and potential donors; and
  • serve as exemplary advocate for NAU in building external relationships that closely link the community with the university.



  • Bachelor's degree is required; master’s degree preferred; and
  • Significant progressive experience in a large, complex advancement unit or organization.






Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

The successful candidate for VP AF/CEO NAUF should have the following qualifications and qualities:


  • a strong understanding of executive level skills in strategic planning and implementation of advancement priorities with effective operations and performance management;
  • strong leadership and communication skills that demonstrate the ability to coach and develop staff to enhance excellent fundraising and operational performance;
  • proven success in identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gift prospects through stewarding, maintaining, and leveraging professional relationships with high-net-worth individuals;
  • demonstrated success in consistently securing philanthropic investments at the leadership ($1M+) level;
  • knowledge of the legal requirements and best practices of fundraising stewardship with donors and the ability to apply them in innovative ways;
  • a highly flexible nature, sophisticated and professional demeanor, and the ability to think quickly and react professionally and effectively to unanticipated circumstances, opportunities, and complex situations;
  • demonstrated success and the desire to work in a collaborative, team-based environment;
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills;
  • an ability to navigate complex environments with evolving priorities and communication plans;
  • an ability and willingness to travel and work a flexible schedule when required;
  • an ability to apply innovative approaches to the university’s development and institutional goals through fundraising practices and systems;
  • proven experience working with diverse constituencies, high-level volunteers, and senior leadership;
  • demonstrated experience leading complex organizational operations and effectively building and deploying teams;
  • a demonstrated record of results-oriented action and leadership;
  • a demonstrated ability to assess fundraising performance and implement strategies for improvement;
  • a proven track record of cultivating highly engaged alumni, university friends, and donors;
  • experience in community involvement and institutional representation on community boards and organizations; and
  • demonstrates characteristics complementing NAU’s mission, vision, and values.


Working at NAU

NAU offers an excellent benefit package including generous health, dental, and vision insurance; participation in the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) or the Optional Retirement Program (ORP); 22 days of paid vacation and 10 paid holidays per year; and tuition reduction for employees and qualified family members. In addition, in early 2022, NAU launched a robust New NAU Workplace initiative, that expands opportunities for hybrid and remote work, a True Blue Summer Fridays program (4/10s during the summer), and other innovations to put the university at the forefront of work-life balance and an employee-first workplace. More information on benefits at NAU is available at



This position is located in Flagstaff, Arizona, with expected travel throughout the state to manage NAU’s statewide footprint, including a branch campus in Yuma, NAU North Valley and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in Phoenix, and other co-located and leased partner sites throughout the state.


Diversity and Inclusion

NAU is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ). From equitable access for students, to the policies and practices in recruitment, retention, and development of its staff and faculty, to its service and partnership with local communities, NAU’s commitment to DEIJ infuses all of its work, as the university strives to leverage the power of diversity for a more just, equitable, and sustainable future for all.


For information about diversity, access, and equity at NAU, visit


EEO Statement

NAU is a committed Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution.  Women, minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. NAU is responsive to the needs of dual career couples. NAU is an Employer of National Service. AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other National Service alumni are encouraged to apply.


Application Instructions

The Search Committee invites nominations, applications (a letter of interest, comprehensive curriculum vitae, and the names and contact information of five or more references) to be submitted to the search firm assisting NAU. Confidential review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. The Search Committee prefers that all nominations and applications be submitted to the search firm website prior to August 15, 2022 to:


Porsha L. Williams, Vice President

Grant Higgison, Principal

Parker Executive Search

Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 2875

Atlanta, GA 30328

Phone: (770) 804-1996 X 109, X 118 ||