People of SU

Leading with Vision

Written by Tina Potterf

March 29, 2023

Portrait of Norma Fuentes

Image credit: Yosef Kalinko

University Advancement welcomes Norma Fuentes as its Assistant VP of Development. 

Norma Fuentes calls her new position in University Advancement “the role of a lifetime.” 

Coming to Seattle University from the Swedish Medical Center Foundation, where she was the senior director of philanthropy, Fuentes will bring her considerable experience and leadership to her work as the Assistant Vice President of Development. 

As first-generation and the first in her family to graduate from college, Fuentes says higher education is an “uber passion” of hers and she is looking forward to working with colleagues and the campus community as a whole to support and amplify the vision that positions SU for future growth and progress. 

“This is an opportunity to return to a university setting where I can contribute toward delivering on the vision of (President) Eduardo Peñalver and (Vice President of University Advancement) Edgar Gonzalez,” she says. “Layer onto that the fabulous team and Seattle University’s renowned reputation … and I am profoundly grateful.” 

In this Q&A, Fuentes shares what she’s most looking forward to in this new role, her priorities for the first six months, what she does for fun and what a perfect Pacific Northwest day looks like. 

In what ways will you bring your past experiences professionally into this position as AVP of Development for University Advancement? 

“We are whole people when we bring our whole selves to work. If we learned anything during the last three years it is that we have to show up for one another, support one another and be thoughtful and intentional about what success feels and looks like. I have always thought of colleagues as my second family. We often spend more if not the same amount of time with our colleagues than we do with our loved ones, so this space we call work has to feel and be meaningful, safe and trustful. I will partner with Edgar to continue his work in creating a thriving and welcoming work environment.”

What do you see as the importance of a role like this at Seattle University?

“(It’s about) expanding the scope and the role of this position in support of Edgar’s vision and the University Advancement team. This is a very exciting time to join SU and this role will support the scaling of fundraising efforts with the goal of sustaining and expanding academic excellence across the institution. The ultimate goal for any role within UA is to leverage resource development in support of the students, faculty, staff and our Seattle University family.”

Looking ahead, what are your priorities in your first six months?

“To learn as much as possible about the university, our colleagues, donors, volunteer leadership and community partners. I will be intentional about learning, listening, building relationships and supporting a highly polished team of professionals.”

What three words or phrase would your friends and/or colleagues use to describe you?

“I asked a few colleagues today and this is what they said: I am ‘approachable, strategic and focused on getting things done.’ One more descriptor is, ‘you make coming to work fun.’”

On both a professional and personal level, what inspires and motivates you? 

“I am deeply motivated and inspired to mentor the next generation of development professionals. I carry a lot of pride in my track record of championing and supporting professionals and connecting people’s passion with opportunities.”

Shifting gears, what do you like to do for fun or hobbies?

“Getting outdoors, reading, NBA basketball—HUGE fan of the Golden State Warriors—and all sports, theater and spending time with my family. I am really excited about becoming a Redhawk and can’t wait to get out there to cheer on our women's and men’s teams.”

Finish this sentence: “A perfect day in Seattle (or the Pacific Northwest) is …”

“Any day with sunshine is a great day in the PNW.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

“I have been so inspired and delighted by the warm reception I have received from Edgar and the UA team. You all have made my first week so special with the kind words of welcome and best wishes. Thank you and Go Redhawks!”