PIEDMONT — Piedmonter Susan Terrill has been hired as the first, full-time, salaried executive director of the Piedmont Education Foundation, founded in 1975 to provide sustained financial support to the Piedmont schools, promote academic excellence and champion innovation.
Terrill, with a wide and diverse professional background, took up her post Jan. 20.
“There are a lot of adjustments, a lot of new faces, but I’m up for it,” Terrill said. “I love people management, relationship management, understanding each team member. What are they good at? What makes them thrive? Building up a comfortable trust.”
Last spring, the Associated Parents Clubs of Piedmont, representing parent clubs from each of Piedmont Unified School District’s six schools, merged with PEF to provide a more cohesive and centralized fundraising base.
Former PEF board president and retired Beach Elementary School Principal Nancy McHugh explained it was time for a full-time executive director.
“With the amount of money being raised by volunteers, it is important to have somebody managing it carefully,” McHugh said. “Who was who and what was what. We needed a management piece, a business model.”
Before the merger, the different parent clubs staged fundraisers for their schools, all run by volunteers. Donations also were made to PEF, which was run by three part-time salaried people, who are still with the organization. The different fundraising arms could be confusing and complicated to donors.
“Now we have an executive director and can do things according to a plan,” said outgoing Piedmont High School Parents Club president and PEF board member Katie Korotzer.
“We have a professional manager in place (to develop) a long-term strategy and direction, run our campaigns, have accounting and taxes done properly, oversee the endowment fund. Our volunteers are bringing in $2 million a year.”
Terrill is certainly up to the task in managing an endowment fund of about $6 million and annual donations averaging $3 million. PEF’s financial statement for 2014-15 reflects that management and general expenses are less than 8 percent of contributed and earned revenue. Revenues come from families, Dress Best for Less, corporate matching, business partners and investment income.
Terrill will be earning a salary, but declined to state the amount. She has worked in every aspect of marketing, fundraising, sales and strategy, branding and account management. Her most recent job was as the team leader developing fiscal strategies for Chabot Space & Science Center.
Before that, she worked for Kaiser Permanente for five years as director of event marketing, developing marketing research and design. She served as event and production services senior manager for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. from 2004 to 2009.
She worked in corporate relations for the Commonwealth Club of California for two years; a year in a similar capacity for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; and two years as public relations coordinator for the San Francisco Ballet.
She is also a youth basketball coach for the Piedmont Recreation Department.
She graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology.
“I had a sorority sister who said ‘Come on board,’ working for Camp Counselors USA,” she said. “I traveled all over the world for 10 years. It set me in a different direction.
“I have worked for some great institutions around the Bay Area. I learned from the best early on.
“It is strategically opportunistic to change jobs. It is very common in nonprofits to move out and move up. It is the nature of organizations. I like change, thrive in change, an upward trajectory.”
Terrill learned about the job and applied, competing with about six other candidates. She was delighted to be hired “because I grew up in Piedmont and now I can see my sixth-grade son every day.
“An exceptional education isn’t free. I want to develop ways to message that, target different audiences.”
Korotzer is pleased as well.
“She is awesome. We are so fortunate she chose to join our organization. We are excited about the job and the community is in her bones. An organization of this caliber needed to have another layer,” Korotzer said.