By Andrew Bagnard
From previously coordinating a collegiate community outreach program to running her own nonprofit organization, Lela Diaz has joined the Loyola staff as the new Executive Director of Advancement.
“I oversee all fundraising for the school outside of tuition in terms of generating revenue. Activities with the alumni, campaigns for buildings and scholarships are all coordinated out of [the advancement]office,” she said.
Additionally, Diaz is one of the administrators on campus who works to improve the quality and condition of the school.
Diaz works with the Rev. Fr. Gregory Goethals ’73 and Principal Frank Kozakowski, meeting with them to help with the overall management of the school.
Diaz does not work alone, for her team consists of several individuals who work to improve Loyola. She said, “On my team is Mr. [Bill] Thomason, who oversees all alumni relations, Ms. [Alexy] Coughlin, who does parent-giving, and many other members who have big goals.”
Outside of fundraising, Diaz has focused on interacting with students more through lectures to certain classes. “I am working with Mr. [Trevor] Mutch to try to teach a class intertwined with his finance class. I would talk about philanthropy, giving, nonprofit [organizations], nonprofit management,” she said. Furthermore, Diaz plans to speak with seniors about similar topics during their Magis period next spring.
Diaz has also been in communication with Student Body President Ryan Wallace to discuss activities students can participate in on campus such as the “Cub-Give” Challenge, a global day for philanthropy which occurred on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29.
“The idea [of the Cub-Give Challenge]was just a fun way for people to give back to the school and to make it accessible for students, faculty, alumni and parents,” she said.
At the University of Southern California, Diaz studied international relations and business and also engaged in community service.
Diaz ran a small nonprofit organization called Spirits in Action, USC’s version of the Special Olympics that allows special needs individuals to participate in athletic games on the campus of the university.
After her undergraduate studies at USC and prior to working at Loyola, Diaz worked in the fundraising industry for 17 years, but for the last five years, she has run her own company, an international fundraising consulting business called Carter Global.
“I had clients all over the world, notably National Geographic, but also worked with schools,” she said. With Carter Global, Diaz primarily worked with her clients to raise money for their grade schools.
“We put together tools, techniques and strategy as to how the school should go about asking people for money, how to plan for fundraising and how to get the board engaged,” she said.
Diaz’s husband Colin DeHoney ’98 spurred her interest in the job opening for Director of Advancement.
“I saw a job opening for Loyola High School and thought ‘I know Loyola very well’ because my husband is a former Cub. The rest is basically history,” she said.
Diaz enjoys interacting with the community that surrounds Loyola. “Everyone in this community is incredibly welcoming, and they all love Loyola. Everyone wants to be here and enjoys being together. It is a very generous and supportive community,” Diaz said.
Diaz is especially excited about the upcoming renovations to Xavier Center, as construction will hopefully begin in the spring of 2017.
“I think it is going to be an incredible project for the school because Xavier Center is so critical to everything we do,” she said. “I like to describe it as our ‘living room’ because it is where we welcome everyone.”
Outside of Loyola, Diaz is a sports fan who also enjoys the outdoors. “I play basketball, and I enjoy watching U.S. Men’s Soccer, USC football and basketball. I am also a big outdoors person, so I enjoy hiking, biking or hanging out with my dog and husband,” she said.
Diaz is looking forward to fundraising for Loyola and hopes to incorporate the Advancement Office into the school. She said, “I want to reconnect the student side of campus with all the exciting things going on in advancement.”