By Gail Mallimson
On November 8th, 2019 the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored Kathy Kwan with the “Outstanding Philanthropist” award, in recognition of her tremendous local support – 85% her giving has been to Bay Area organizations.
As a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, Kathy Kwan is uniquely poised to understand the impact a degree from SF State can have on students and the community. When her parents Benson Kwan (B.S., ’64) and Helen Chang Kwan (A.B., ’61) graduated from SF State in the early 1960s, they were the first generation in their families to earn college degrees. Growing up in San Francisco’s Chinatown, they endured discrimination and limited economic opportunity, but were helped by local organizations that offered support and leadership development.
In her role today as philanthropist and major donor to SF State’s Career Services & Leadership Development (CSLD) program, Kathy often meets students whose backgrounds are similar to those of her parents. Through the Eustace-Kwan Family Foundation, Kathy’s support of CSLD is now in its 5th year, and is focused on providing students with the soft skills and leadership development workshops needed to embark on fruitful careers – the kind of support that many students at more well-endowed colleges often receive as a matter of course through their personal networks.
“Philanthropy has allowed me to develop a perspective on what students need over and above academic preparation.”
- Kathy Kwan, Philantropist
Kathy, a lead donor to the University’s BOLD Thinking campaign, has been instrumental in the founding and growth of CSLD, a partnership which reflects her philanthropic ethos. “Philanthropy has allowed me to develop a perspective on what students need over and above academic preparation,” says Kathy. “University graduates today need to know how to project manage, how to think critically, how to work in teams and develop good communication skills. We need to create experiences that are not overwhelmingly time-intensive and that prepare students to be able to land a job and be successful.”
CSLD offers students and alumni career-oriented training, job preparation, job search technology, and connects students to mentoring, internships and careers through job fairs and outreach. CSLD also runs the President’s Leadership Fellows Program, an intensive semester-long program that has trained over 900 students in career-related skills. The program originated in the College of Business with an initial cohort of 25 fellows in 2014, and today serves students from across the campus. This fall, the President’s Leadership Fellows Program welcomed its 1,000th fellow, a major milestone.