Case Study

Rebecca Newman, Vice President for External Relations,
Salk Institute

Team Transition Retreats and Major Gift Training

Published: January 2019


Salk Institute is one of the world’s preeminent basic research institutions where renowned scientists make groundbreaking discoveries by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology and related disciplines. The Salk Institute embodies Jonas Salk’s mission to dare to make dreams into reality. Be it cancer or Alzheimer’s, aging or diabetes, Salk Institute understands that every cure has a starting point.

In spring 2017, Rebecca Newman,Vice President for External Relations, was contemplating retirement. She had built a strong development team at Salk and wanted to assure they were transitioned well into new leadership. Kathy Drucquer Duff was hired to facilitate a team retreat that focused on transition and goals. Due to changes in senior management at the Institute, Rebecca opted not to retire, and continued utilizing Kathy’s expertise for two additional team retreats and a training focused on major gift solicitation.

Process of Working with KDD Philanthropy

Rebecca appreciates Kathy’s solution-oriented and direct approach to training. The two of them built the retreats and trainings that focused specifically on the strengths and needs of the team. Rebecca notes that working with Kathy is a very different experience than that of working with other fundraising consultants. 

“I’ve worked with so many advancement consultants over the years. Kathy brings real experience and situations to the table. She is not afraid to talk about how she’s struggled, and to bring that honesty, directness and reality to the training. She doesn’t set herself aside from the group. She comes in as the teacher, but she comes at it from a collegial place where the individuals can see her being on the team. That’s very different from most consultants.”

Rebecca also values Kathy’s knowledge of the philanthropic industry and sense of integrity.

Kathy has great integrity. If she didn’t feel like the personalities and mission of an organization would be a good match with her skill set, she would not work with them. Kathy wants to approach each organization with passion and that’s why she chooses each job carefully.”


With significant fundraising initiatives on the horizon, Rebecca plans to continue working with Kathy on future major gift training and strategy. Additionally, she will be utilizing Kathy’s services to work with Salk Institute faculty so they understand the importance of, and their role in, fundraising.

As a result of working with Kathy, Rebecca has seen her team’s morale grow considerably and many of the officers have commented they are grateful that Salk invested in their success by hiring Kathy.

“Kathy inspires trust and that is the most important quality in assuring that the people she trains will actually incorporate her teachings into their daily work practices. Her training style is hands-on and realistic, and so much more productive than investing in expensive conferences that frequently lack practical substance. It is affirming to see that many members of my team have already incorporated her practices into the way they strategically approach their donor prospects and I am confident that the training experiences they have with Kathy will contribute to their future success.”