Kathi Dantley Warren, currently the senior executive director of development for Duke Cancer Institute, has been named associate vice president of development at Rice University, effective July 10.
Kathi Dantley Warren
With more than 17 years of experience at higher education and medical institutions, Warren will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of individual fundraising programs and also oversee various departments within the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, including gift planning, major gifts, school-based fundraising and annual giving.
“All of us at Rice are incredibly excited that Kathi will be joining the Development and Alumni Relations team,” said Vice President Darrow Zeidenstein. “Educated as a scientist, Kathi brings incredible smarts and a wealth of development experience from her work at Cornell and Duke, two of the best development programs in the country. I have zero doubt that both faculty and staff will enjoy working with Kathi as we seek to secure resources to enhance Rice’s mission.”
In her development role with one of the original eight comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute, Warren transformed the fundraising program from a yearly $18 million enterprise to a $30 million enterprise and successfully completed a $200 million campaign.
Before joining the Duke Cancer Institute and Duke Health in Durham, N.C., in 2014, Warren served as assistant dean for alumni affairs and development at Cornell University’s College of Engineering, where she created its first alumni affairs and development strategic plan and alumni engagement plan. Over a four-year period she increased annual revenues by 245 percent – from $22.7 million to more than $56 million – and helped achieve the second-best fundraising year in the college’s history. Through philanthropy she also enabled the college to create and endow several new programs, including an engineering leadership program and teaching excellence institute.
“It gave me great joy to see the legacy that this created,” Warren said. “Faculty and students are benefiting from those programs that were the result of a partnership with donors and institutional leadership.”
Warren has an M.A. in cell and molecular biology and microbiology from Duke University and a B.A. in biology from Hampton University. She found herself drawn to the development profession after thinking about how she had been impacted as the recipient of an undergraduate scholarship and graduate fellowship. She learned more about the profession that made that scholarship and fellowship possible and became a development associate at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she worked her way up to associate director of development.
She met a refugee from an African country at a University of Maryland scholarship event for donors and recipients and kept in touch with him. After graduating, the refugee got a job at the United Nations and then returned to his home country to try to assist people there, but none of that would have happened if he had not received the scholarship. “That was hugely impactful,” Warren said. “The scholarship changed not only his life, but the lives of others.” She said experiences like this helped her to find meaning in the development profession. “It’s very rewarding,” she said.
Warren’s career in development includes more than 10 years of leading teams during fundraising campaigns of more than $1 billion. She said the best institutions find a way to blend the scientific tenets of fundraising with “the art of cultivating meaningful, lifelong relationships with an institution,” and Rice’s ability to do that was a key factor in her decision to join the university’s development team.
“Rice has an excellent story to tell and a visionary leader in President David Leebron,” Warren said. She noted that Rice’s prestige as a research institution, its liberal arts programs, its residential college system and its unique landscape in an urban setting are “very compelling and really engender not just investments but partnerships with donors” and can lead to “transformational gifts.”
Originally from Alexandria, Va., Warren said she is excited to come to Rice and to make a home in Texas for her family, which includes her husband, Stephen; her 11-year-old son, Bennett; and Pearl, a Piston terrier who is “the sweetest dog on the planet.” Warren is an avid sports enthusiast who likes to run, lift weights and play basketball with her son. She also enjoys cooking and acrylic painting.