Case Study 

Michele Wanner, Associate Vice President of University Advancement, Chapman University

Cohort Coaching and Building a Culture of Philanthropy



Located in the city of Orange in Southern California, Chapman University is a mid-sized private university with a total undergraduate and graduate enrollment of 8,305 students. Chapman’s comprehensive and personal education attracts students from different backgrounds and countries from all over the world, with students from 49 states, the U.S. territories and more than 60 different countries.

In May 2017, Michele Wanner, Associate Vice President of University Advancement, worked with KDD Philanthropy to help Chapman achieve two key goals. The first was to enhance a culture of philanthropy and provide tools to support the growth of their fundraising pipeline, assuring its fundraising team was following best practices with respect to managing their portfolios. The second was to provide mid -level managers additional tools to support the cultural growth.

Process of Working with KDD Philanthropy

In order to accomplish these goals, Chapman enlisted Kathy Drucquer Duff’s help to run two cohorts for the university: one for a group of mid-level managers, and the other was a philanthropy pipeline strategy cohort. This process included six meetings for each of the two cohorts where they each met as a group and explored different topics. The management cohort was focused on building up as managers and working with the teams they supervised, as well as how to work better together and be more collaborative. The cohorts included monthly coaching calls for approximately 20 people.

Additionally, Kathy led six 90-minute trainings for the broader Advancement staff. These workshops helped to establish a culture of philanthropy, and covered topics such as best practices; coaching up, down and across; high performing teams; and best intentions. The workshops always had extremely high levels of attendance and participants walked away extremely satisfied with the experience.

Michele praised Kathy knowledge of philanthropy, as well as her energy, adaptability and flexibility.

Together we would build agendas and topics, and the more Kathy got to know the Chapman people and our team and where we were, she knew exactly what our next steps and next topics should be. She has high energy and endless amount of ideas. For any topic, she’d have suggestions and recommendations and would get back to us with articles or tools related to topics. She is great to work with and so inspiring.


Michele continues to hear positive comments from Chapman’s team members who enjoyed working with Kathy. As a result, those individuals have been inspired to invest more time and energy into the cohorts.

She very quickly got to know not only our team, but the individual members of the teams and built relationships with them and that allowed for a stronger result and effectiveness. The team trusted her and looked to her for counsel, advice and recommendations, and how to improve upon themselves and their team.

Working with Kathy has allowed for a shared language and understanding of how we all want to operate as a team, which was a main goal for us. She took us all on this journey together. I look at this as the foundation and I look forward to continue to work with her on the next level and where we go there.