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CalArts Appoints Kathleen Nicely Senior Vice President for Advancement

CalArts Appoints Kathleen Nicely Senior Vice President for Advancement

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) announced the appointment of Kathleen (Katie) Nicely as its new Senior Vice President for Advancement. Nicely will begin her work as a member of the Institute’s senior leadership team Feb. 5, 2024.

Building on a career-long commitment to the support of higher education and the arts, Nicely brings a wealth of experience in all areas of institutional advancement, from capital and endowment campaigns, annual funds, and fundraising strategy to enhancing organizations’ philanthropic cultures, alumni relations, and building effective advancement operations. 

“Hiring Katie fulfills a critically important step for the Institute given our strategic priorities to increase non-tuition revenue sources and champion an overall culture of gratitude and philanthropy at CalArts. In Katie, we have found a leader to help us do just that,” said Ravi Rajan, CalArts president.

“Katie brings the energy, experience, and leadership to fundraising and engagement that CalArts desires as a part of propelling forward our Institute’s transformative mission of educating artists who in turn transform society through their creative work,” said Charmaine Jefferson, chair of the CalArts Board of Trustees. “We are all thrilled that Katie has chosen to become a part of our team, and we look forward to working with her.”

Nicely comes to CalArts from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), where she oversaw a $130-million capital campaign which included the construction of the Bowes Center for the Arts, a 170,000 square-foot building incorporating affordable student housing, dining, classrooms, rehearsal rooms, performance spaces, offices, and a radio station. She also built and professionalized the fundraising operation while at SFCM and created, in tandem with the president and board, the beginning of the next endowment campaign with a significant but yet-to-be-announced lead gift.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to join CalArts on the adventure of shaping its future. With a 50-year track record of helping launch some of the world’s most trailblazing and industry-defining artists, the Institute is well-positioned to continue its transformative work for the next 50 years,” said Nicely.  “You can clearly see the effect CalArtians’ work has had on society, and I can’t wait to help ensure more people know and support CalArts in its mission focused on artists.”

Before joining SFCM, Katie led philanthropy for the United Way Bay Area’s $18-million annual fund for its operations, as well as $36-million more in major philanthropic dollars to be invested in Bay Area communities. Before that, she spent over eight years at the San Francisco Symphony in various roles in development and public engagement, including serving as divisional leader for all community engagement, overseeing the symphony’s annual fund, managing all events, stewarding the volunteer council, leading institutional-level giving, and serving as the head of Development. While at the symphony she successfully completed the organization’s Second Century Campaign, exceeding its goals by $20 million, and served as a key leader for the celebration of the orchestra’s centennial season in 2011–2012.

Prior to her tenure at the San Francisco Symphony, Katie was the director of development for the Lively Arts at Stanford University (now Stanford Live), increasing their annual fund by 20% over 18 months and managing the performing arts segment of Stanford’s university-wide $4-billion campaign. She moved to the Bay Area to complete the fundraising campaign for a brand new arts facility in the south Bay Area, and before that held positions in development and external relations roles in Washington DC, including at the University of Maryland where she helped spearhead external relations and admissions at the launch of the new Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center which housed the departments of Music, Dance, and Theater; at the Folger Shakespeare Library; and at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.

Originally from Indiana, Katie earned her bachelor’s in music and communications at DePauw University and her master’s in arts administration from Indiana University.