Case Study

University of California, Santa Cruz
Strategic Talent Management Training


Published: October 2017


University of California, Santa Cruz was founded in 1965 as a new transformative movement swept the United States. The founding faculty, administrators, and students embraced and embodied this change. They were open and revolutionary in their thinking—more than mere radicals, they dared to imagine a living and learning environment that would foster a community whose passion came from a deep sense of social justice. The UC Santa Cruz story is one built on courage—the courage to be different, to question the accepted, and dare to make the world a better place.

Jeff Shilling, Associate Vice Chancellor of Philanthropy, identified a challenge among the Development team: declining morale and employee retention. In order to develop a framework for addressing the issues, Shilling hired KDD Philanthropy to conduct a daylong Strategic Talent Management Bootcamp for the Philanthropy team leadership and other managers in University Relations in spring 2017.

Process of Working with KDD Philanthropy

Kathy Drucquer Duff and Jeff worked together to identify the opportunities that often come with the end of a successful campaign: drop in staff morale, retention issues, declining productivity, and potential structural changes needed to support the next phase of philanthropic success for the institution. They created a Strategic Talent Management training curriculum that included an easy to understand continuum for managers that was specific to UC Santa Cruz, and would help them develop the infrastructure and culture to improve those areas.

Jeff had this to say about working with Kathy:

Kathy is a very gifted presenter. We spent a full day with her. The training was intense, but we didn’t tire from hearing from her speak. She has lots of content to deliver, but she does it in a compelling way.

Often times at conferences, the presenter has great ideas, but then you leave the session with no idea how to start implementing. With Kathy, it was different. She gave us the big picture framework of strategic talent management as well as a specific understanding of the components — and the tools we needed to act. Kathy gave us exactly what we needed to build a plan and then implement it right away.

Jeff noted that what makes Kathy different from other consultants is her first-person understanding of higher education development work including the nuances of a public educational environment like the University of California.

We both came from the same place (with Kathy serving as Associate Vice Chancellor of University Development at UC San Diego). She is very knowledgeable and credible – recognized as an expert in this space. The value-add with Kathy is she has done this work. She does a great job of bridging the model and reality.


Kathy provided UC Santa Cruz development managers with the big picture of Strategic Talent Management along with a “deep dive” into the components. They did exercises to identify those critical elements of the framework and determined which strategies to implement right away.

While the team is still implementing the strategies they learned from the workshop, they were all in agreement that inspiring employee success was a priority in Philanthropy. This objective coincides with the larger University Relations divisional goal of being an employer of choice in an environment that retains talent and nurtures a supportive team. According to Jeff, that commitment has sent a positive message to staff and a feeling that the organization cares about their well-being.