April 25, 2013Vol. 43, Issue 2

Katy Thoma: Research Foundation Is ‘Here to Serve’

Photo by Francie Divine

Photo by Francie Divine

Many people might consider “banker” and “advocate for the homeless” to be titles from two different resumes, but they haven’t met Katy Thoma, the new executive director of the CSU, Chico Research Foundation.

Thoma is well known in Chico both for 24 years in the banking industry—including serving as branch manager for Butte Community Bank—and 10 years as the executive director for the Jesus Center. She began her new position March 11.

Thoma believes her varied work experiences and skills in finance, management, and nonprofit services fit together nicely for the requirements of her new job. In every position she’s held, the emphasis has been on community—how to help people live better lives. She’s excited about applying that focus at Chico State, her alma mater. “I’m here to serve the University,” says Thoma. “What can the Research Foundation do to benefit the University, to help Chico State be a better place?”

Because the Research Foundation administers grants and contracts and other entrepreneurial activities at the University, Thoma said a great deal of her time is spent on compliance and regulations. Another duty she said is managing property and other assets the University has acquired. (For a description of the range of services provided by the Research Foundation, go to http://www.csuchico.edu/rfdn/About.php.)

Thoma has enjoyed interactions with Chico State students over the years, from helping fraternity and sorority members with canned food drives for the Jesus Center to feeding construction management students during the Blitz Build projects as a member of Chico Rotary.

She loves being on campus once again. “I have a real passion for student success,” says Thoma. “The work put in by our faculty, staff, and students, the interest in education, it’s really inspiring. You can feel it when you walk across campus.”

Thoma’s role as a community leader should be an added benefit to the University and students. She begins a term as Chico Rotary president in July and said a theme for service projects will be agriculture.

The Research Foundation’s offices are at 25 Main Street, and Thoma enjoys commuting to work on her bike. She also likes the pretty view she has of Big Chico Creek from her office. “I’m living the Chico way,” she said, smiling.

—Joe Wills, Public Affairs and Publications