Williams to lead ASU Foundation communications and marketing team

portrait of Debra Willilams

Debra Williams, a communications and management professional who served as director of communications for Pennsylvania State University’s first billion-dollar fundraising campaign, has been appointed vice president of communications and marketing for the ASU Foundation for A New American University. She joins the foundation team immediately.

“Debbie Williams brings to the ASU Foundation great experience and success in her career as a communicator,” said foundation chief development officer Dan Saftig in making the announcement. “She takes over a team of marketing and communications professionals at an important time in our history as we focus on the advancement of ASU, its students, faculty and programs. Her background in education and fundraising communications will be of tremendous benefit to the foundation and those who support ASU through their generous philanthropy.”

Williams, who earned her master's, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees from Penn State, is an accomplished writer whose work has appeared in numerous regional and national publications. Most recently, she directed her own management consultant company, Pennyworth Associates, addressing the leadership, management and communications needs of a variety of businesses and organizations, including governmental agencies, private schools, festivals and agri-tourism enterprises.

Prior to launching Pennyworth, Williams was general manager of Woodward West Action Sports and Gymnastics Camp in Tehachapi, California, the second-largest such camp in the U.S. During a 10-year career at the camp, Williams oversaw the construction of the 19-acre, $7 million action sports and gymnastics facility that today attracts nearly 3,000 Olympic and X Games hopefuls from across the country and around the world annually.

“My background in both higher education and private industry seemed like the perfect combination for the ambitious and entrepreneurial spirit at ASU,” said Williams. “I was immediately drawn to the dynamic, visionary culture of the university, and I see proud and motivated people across ASU. I am excited to be a part of that environment, working with very talented, committed people.”

Williams was an integral part of the Penn State communications effort from 1993 through 2002, winning a number of prestigious industry awards for her writing and editorial leadership. As editor of The Penn Stater magazine – a full-color, bi-monthly publication distributed to the largest alumni association in the United States – she earned national recognition for excellence in publishing. She was tapped to direct campaign communications for the university’s Grand Destiny Campaign, a billion-dollar fundraising effort that surpassed its original $1 billion goal by more than $400 million.

As campaign communications director, Williams introduced new means of communications, worked with leadership-giving executives to provide innovative resources and strategized major gift proposals. Giving to Penn State increased every year of the seven-year campaign and resulted in a 118-percent growth in philanthropic gifts, despite a slumping economy.

“Like most people, I am driven by purpose and meaning,” said Williams. “It's a privilege to be associated with an organization like ASU, whose mission is to support good, conscientious work that is making a difference in the world. Working in development at a research university enables us to touch lives in myriad ways. That's an opportunity that I don't take for granted.”

Williams will direct a communications and marketing team at the ASU Foundation that includes editorial services, creative services, Internet marketing and social media, video production and project management.


Steve Des Georges, steve.dg@asu.edu
Senior Director, Editorial Services
ASU Foundation for A New American University