Fundraising dynamo Sue Woodward adds communications instruction to WVSU passions

Theater, acting teacher seeks grants to support College of Arts and Humanities

After working for years to boost fundraising and grants for West Virginia State University, Sue Woodward has broadened her horizons to become a full-time instructor in the WVSU Communications Department. 

A North Carolina native, Woodward started at State in 2016 as assistant vice president for advancement and vice president for the WVSU Foundation. She has provided leadership for increased giving from corporations and foundations (29%), annual funds (42%), and planned giving (28%). 

The most successful grant she received for the University was $450,000 for the Criminal Justice Department Research Project. Her fundraising achievements also include increasing funding for the Black and Gold Gala by over a third, 45% more than previous years.

Woodward received a bachelor’s degree in Theater from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. After earning a master’s degree in Media Studies from WVSU in 2021, Woodward became a full-time instructor in the Communications Department this year. 

Woodward now teaches Communications 100, Theatre Appreciation and an acting course. She anticipates adding a director’s theory class within the next year.

Amidst all the successes in fundraising, Woodward emphasizes she’s always had a passion for teaching. “Teaching is my dream job,” she says. “I could be retired living on the beach, but this is what I enjoy.” 

Woodward got her start in fundraising with Boy Scouts of America, working for 12 years in Florida, Washington, D.C., and England. “Working for the Boy Scouts of America Foundation was very organized, almost with military-like structure,” she says. “The Boy Scouts taught me to be a team player and collaborate with others.”  

Woodward went on to work for nine other nonprofit organizations including the American Red Cross, where she and her team raised more than $820 million in 2005 for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean Tsunami.  

Woodward is currently pursuing multiple federal grants to support WVSU’s College of Arts and Humanities aimed to benefit the Davis Fine Arts Center, Ferrell Hall, Schenes Theatre, and a travel theater group to visit campus and perform for Black History Month in February. The funding also will assist WVSU’s music department’s performance programs.

“Theater is an element that I saw could be improved at this University,” she says, adding she is working on a smaller play for next spring or fall 2023.  

Meanwhile, she’s looking into pursuing a doctorate degree in Education, adding to her already impressive list of credentials. In 2021, she was certified by ACUE (Association of College and University Educators) in Effective College Instruction, and as a Certified Fundraising Executive for more than 25 years.  

While enjoying her dynamic, multifaceted roles at WVSU, Woodward says she’s motivated to make positive change happen within the University.  

“Administration shows a lot of support and encouragement to attain the goals I am trying to implement,” she says, “making my job easier and more enjoyable.”   

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