Kathy Cole, Founder
Kathy Cole founded West Wind Consulting Strategies in Fund Raising LLC in July of 2002 following a nineteen-year career in fundraising and institutional advancement. Since then Kathy has worked with a wide range of clients in higher education, health, the arts, social services, and animal welfare. Her holistic approach helps clients create an inclusive, high-energy fundraising program that is both robust and sustainable. She has successfully guided her clients through major campaigns, including several “first-ever” capital campaigns, the creation of brand new fundraising programs, and the strategic restructuring of underperforming programs.
Prior to founding West Wind, Kathy spent a total of 13 years at Cornell University completing her tenure there as the Director of the Cornell Fund where she led the University’s annual, leadership, and reunion giving programs to raise between $16 million and $85 million annually. In this role, Kathy managed 25 staff members while serving on the University’s senior management team in development and helping to guide the programs and practices that enabled Cornell to raise over $400 million in gifts and commitments each year.
While at Cornell, Kathy also served as Director of Public Affairs for the Cornell Plantations, where she managed a five-year $10 million endowment campaign for the University’s botanical gardens and arboretum as part of a comprehensive university-wide campaign that raised over $1.5 billion. During her time at Cornell Plantations, the endowment increased fourfold, from $2 million to $8 million, and annual giving increased by over 50 percent.
Kathy has been an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) for over twenty years having served as a member of the Board of Directors in both the Finger Lakes and Central New York Chapters. She achieved and has maintained Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) status through AFP since 1994. Kathy is a frequent lecturer on topics such as capital campaigns, major gift programs, the board’s role in fundraising, and techniques for effective solicitation. She is a co-founder of the Ithaca Institute which provides unique, intensive training experiences to fundraising and non-profit volunteer leaders and professionals.
Kathy graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York, College at Oswego in 1979. She lives on a small farm in an 1850s renovated farm house in Upstate New York with her husband, Chris. She has two grown daughters, Jenna and Jillian. In her free time Kathy is an avid organic gardener and enjoys camping, hiking, kayaking, and walking with her border collie, Sesame.