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Colbert Riley Named Outstanding Fundraiser

Cynthia Colbert Riley, University of St. Thomas Vice President for Institutional Advancement, has been named the 2013 recipient of the Outstanding Fundraising Professional award, given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Houston Chapter.  With more than 25 years of experience in development leadership in healthcare, higher education and public broadcasting institutions, Riley is honored and humbled to receive this recognition from her peers. 

Riley served as the Vice President for Development at The Methodist Hospital System from 2007-2012, building the organization’s first strategic development program and completing its first major $200 million fundraising campaign.

At the conclusion of the Methodist campaign, Riley re-joined St. Thomas where she served for five years in the 1990s as the capital campaign coordinator during the University’s first capital campaign and where she received her Master in Liberal Arts degree.

"Life is an interesting journey," Riley said.  "I never would have imagined that my career path would lead me back to the University of St. Thomas.  Having the opportunity to help the institution achieve the next phase of its vision through philanthropy will be an exciting endeavor as well as important for Houston and Catholic higher education."

Riley has received numerous accolades from peers in support of her AFP nomination.

“Cynthia embodies the values and comportment all of us in the fundraising profession should hold dear,” said Darrow G. Zeidenstein, Rice University Vice President for Resource Development. “Cynthia cares deeply about our profession and the role of current leaders to train the next generation. With her new duties at the University of St. Thomas, she will be in a position to extend her impact on the field.”

"I am blessed to be in a profession that I love, where I feel I am giving back and making a difference in the world,” Riley says.  "There are so many generous individuals in the world who have the ability to make a difference with their financial resources. It is a great pleasure to be able to facilitate this process. I always love seeing the excitement and joy of a benefactor when he or she meets the beneficiary of their gift and knows they are helping to make the world a better place, or giving a student a chance."

Riley has been a member of AFP, previously the National Society of Fund Raising Executives, since she moved to Houston in 1990. She was involved as a membership chairman when she worked at St. Thomas in the early 90s, and is a former AFP board member. Most recently, she has presented at Ask the Expert seminars and Rice University continuing studies courses.

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