Faces of Fundraising

Last year, we celebrated Chico State’s best fundraising year on record.

We generated more than $14.8 million in private support for educational, applied research, and public service programs across campus. We also surpassed the $50 million mark in our first comprehensive campaign, Transform Tomorrow, which aims to raise $100 million by 2020.

Here we share a little about the people who traveled near and far to help us achieve this milestone—the University’s frontline fundraisers, known as directors of development. Embedded in each college, intercollegiate athletics, and the central University Development team, development directors work closely with academic leaders; meet face-to-face with more than a thousand alumni, parents, and friends each year to share our stories of success; and serve as ambassadors and advocates for the outstanding work that students, faculty, and staff across campus contribute to the University’s excellence.

Kristine MazzeiKristine Mazzei, Executive Director of University Development

Who is your hero? My husband, Tag Engstrom. He has somehow discovered the way to be the perfect calm balance to my busy self. He makes parenting small children look easy, while also being a great mentor to Chico State’s emerging scientists.

What motivates you to do this work? I love seeing our students take risks to stretch themselves and grow through their campus experiences. And I love to hear their conversations in the lunch line at the BMU.

What is the best gift you’ve ever received? My parents really, truly convinced me that I could achieve anything I set my mind to.

Robert TalleyRobert Talley, Director of Development—Athletics

Who is your hero? Martin Luther King

What motivates you to do this work? I am motivated because I want to help our student-athletes be successful. The best part of my job is meeting alums and hearing their stories.

Is there anything you wished would come back into fashion? The high-top fade

Dustin BushDustin Bush, Associate Director of Development—Agriculture

Who is your hero? My Mother, MaryAnn. She is honest, hardworking, and a simple kind of lady.

What motivates you to do this work? Northern California and the Chico area is such a rich agriculture area, and building a strong agriculture program is important for this community and region. Engaging our alumni to be part of this journey is empowering to our faculty, staff, and students.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite quote? “The goal is to die with memories not dreams.”

Lise Smith-PetersLise Smith-Peters, Director of Development—Behavioral and Social Sciences

A fun fact: I have a 19-foot sailboat (Flying Scot) that I enjoy taking out on Lake Oroville and Black Butte Lake. I recently raced her (and will not report what place I got!), and I may decide to take it up again (I raced competitively from age eight until my early 30s and do so on visits to Texas).

What is your favorite thing to do in Bidwell Park? I live two blocks from Lower Bidwell so I am very lucky to walk daily with my dog, Rosalyn. I worked for the Chico Park Division as park services/volunteer coordinator for eight years, and I still absolutely enjoy studying the flora of the park and leading volunteers in weeding and restoring areas of the park.

Who is your hero? My hero is Margaret Sanger, a nurse, and early women's rights activist of the early 1900s. She coined the term "birth control" and worked toward its legalization as well as increasing women’s access to health care for decades.

Ben WittBen Witt, Director of Development—College of Business

Who is your hero? The actor James Earl Jones. We grew up in the same small town in Northern Michigan, generations apart. He was able to overcome a childhood stutter and racial prejudice to grow up to be one of the finest actors in the world. When I was in second grade he read to our class, and I will never forget the excitement of going into the gymnasium to hear “Darth Vader” read to us. We were skeptical of the middle-aged, heavyset man sitting there—until he spoke.

What was your first job? My first job out of college was working for the US Secret Service in Washington, DC. I was posted at the White House during the early years of the administration of George W. Bush. It was an awesome experience and I loved spending time there at night. Feeling the history and being allowed to walk around the grounds was an experience I will never forget.

What would you sing at Karaoke night? I would sing “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey—and it would be awful.

Steven LoyaSteven Loya, Assistant Manager—Phonathon/Annual Giving

Who is your hero? I have two heroes. They go by Mom and Dad. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support from my parents and my family. My dad has been working hard his entire life to support myself and my brothers. My mom had children at a young age and dropped out of high school to raise us. Once we were older, she returned to school to not only get her GED but her bachelor's and her master’s degrees as well.

What motivates you to do this work? I truly believe that EVERY single problem facing our society can be solved by investing in education. When you invest in education, you invest in our students. When you invest in our students, you invest in the leaders of tomorrow.

What's your favorite holiday? Thanksgiving is hands down the best day of the year. I can sit around all day, stuff my face with unlimited food, and nap. Then wake up the next morning for leftovers and it all starts again, for at least another day. Does it really get much better than that?

Allen LundeAllen Lunde ('94), Assistant of Director—Annual Giving

As an alumnus, who or what at Chico State had the biggest impact on you? David Winsenz and Eddie Vela (now the dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences) were my greatest advisors as I moved through school. Adrian Mirvish’s class on Jean-Paul Sartre/Albert Camus was the best class I ever took in college. I spent a great deal of time in Becky White’s office discussing ethics. 

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? Fried chicken, which would mean the rest of my life would probably not be that long.

What’s your proudest accomplishment so far? The influence the Calling Center has on the character of our student staff members and the resources I have helped generate for our students.

Andrew PaskeAndrew Paske ('15), Assistant Director of Development—Chico State Fund

What motivates you to do this work? I tell people frequently that Chico State helped me during some of the toughest parts of my life. I discovered who I am here, and this community helped me do that. My favorite part of development is getting people to open up to me about their fond memories and experiences. It makes it especially great when they are committed to making a difference in the lives of our students.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite quote? My mom used to encourage me when I was young by saying, “You can only fail when you give up.” I try to apply this daily.

What’s your favorite spot on campus? I’m a big fan of two places: the George Petersen Rose Garden and the University Farm. Both of these places are incredibly beautiful. I do my best to show them off as often as I can.

Erica FloresErica Flores ('07), Director of Development—Communications and Education

What’s your favorite spot on campus? Anywhere near a creek. I love water and the canopy of the trees. Having an oasis just steps away from the classroom as a student, and now from my office as a professional, gives me to have an escape that is as equally calming as it is exhilarating.

What was your first job? My first job I worked at the tiny Santa Ynez Airport in Santa Barbara County. I did everything from air traffic control on the Unicom radio, to making retired pilots coffee, taking fuel orders, and renting out a small fleet of rental cars. I wanted to be a pilot and be immersed in the environment.

What’s the farthest place you’ve traveled? As an undergrad at Chico State, I participated in Semester at Sea and spent a 75-day voyage traveling South East Asia—Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, China, and Japan.

Hope ShapiroHope Shapiro, Director of Development—Engineering

What’s your favorite part of your job? The people. There is something very special about people connected to Chico State. Alumni, students, employees, faculty, industry partners, community members—everyone has a Chico experience. I love to learn about each of them and figure out meaningful ways to engage them with the College and University.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite quote? “People will forget what you said and they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou

Three words that describe your Chico Experience? My happy place

Daria BoothDaria Booth ('09, '17), Director of Development—Humanities & Fine Arts

What motivates you to do this work? I believe in giving to others and in higher education; I was fortunate to have been raised in a household where both held a high value. A college education should be accessible to anyone who wants one—and I know that Chico State is an institution where this can happen. I truly love hearing people’s stories, why they want to give, and what they hope to accomplish. My favorite part of my job is when I feel like I’ve made a difference at the end of a day.

Three words that describe your Chico State Experience? Today, at this moment, the three words are: mellow—diverse—fulfilling. As an undergraduate student, the three words were: motivating—entertaining—meaningful. While in the graduate program, the three words were: intense—engrossing—illuminating.

What was your first job? My first job at age 13 was at my Uncle Chet’s beauty salon, Exclusively Yours, in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. I washed hair, swept up cut hair, cleaned hair out of brushes, and learned a great deal about human behavior, perceptions of beauty, and the power of women.

William DantonaWilliam Dantona, Director of International Development

Who's your hero? I have a few heroes, but one of them is Franz Boas, known as “the father of modern cultural anthropology.” Also, Abraham Lincoln.

What's motivates you to do this work? The best part of my job is creating and realizing purposeful engagements across cultures on a regular basis. I am so thankful for this.

How do you give back? I volunteer with recreational sports and the Dean’s Cup.

Want to know more about our phenomenal fundraisers? Everyone answered far more questions than what appeared here. Visit Meet our Team and click on the “learn more link below each staff member.



It is our pleasure to introduce our wonderful community, one human at a time. We may be different, but we are together. Read more

CalFresh Day, a half-ton of fresh produce was given to students and a large canned food donation was made to the Wildcat Pantry.

CalFresh Day

During CalFresh Day, a half-ton of fresh produce was given to students along with an enormous canned food donation to the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry!      Watch video