Meet Debra Klippenstein, Calgary Academy’s new Director of Philanthropy! While she’s still new to CA, she’s learning that no two days here are the same. With a focus on getting to know our CA parents, students, alumni, staff, and faculty, she’s excited to work with our small but mighty Philanthropy team to create plans for annual giving, the capital campaign, alumni relations, and building out Headwater Learning Solutions’ Indigenous Education Initiative.
Hailing originally from the Sunflower Capital of Canada, Altona, Manitoba, and the youngest of six kids, Debra couldn’t wait to leave small-town life. Once she moved to Winnipeg for university, she never looked back.
While Debra has worked in the not-for-profit sector for more than twenty-five years, her original career aspiration was to be a Wills & Estates lawyer. With her Bachelor of Criminology and Psychology in tow, she decided to take a year off before she went on to law school, which is when she started in the broadcasting and advertising industry. This path ultimately led her into the charitable sector.
In talking to Debra, the passion she has for the not-for-profit world is contagious. Her dedication to fundraising and giving back to the community was sparked in early childhood by watching her parents dedicate countless hours to their community and participating in many initiatives herself. Her first foray into formal fund development was when she started working for Muscular Dystrophy Canada following the passing of a family member who was diagnosed with one of the neuromuscular disorders under their umbrella. For seven years, Debra made her mark there through a variety of projects, including re-opening their Calgary office, which is what brought her here in 1998.
Since then, Debra has worked on various capital campaigns including the Park Foundation Calgary Haultain School & Park project, Olds College Community Learning Campus project, and the $160M new science centre project for TELUS Spark. She was also the President & CEO of the Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation and most recently, the Executive Director of Advancement of West Island College (WIC). In her seven years there, Debra took on the challenge of launching WIC’s first formal advancement program, which included an Annual Fund campaign, alumni relations program and building a culture of philanthropy.
“This career path has not been an easy one, but it has been incredibly rewarding. Every day I meet wonderful people – donors, volunteers, and colleagues.” – Debra Klippenstein
Learning and experiencing new things is what gives her the inspiration to do what she does, including travelling. Some future destinations on her bucket list include Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Scotland. Her other passions include getting back into cycling with her new bike, gourmet cooking, calligraphy, gardening/floral design, and curling up with a good book!
Coming off the heels of our 40th anniversary year, a strong focus for Debra and CA is legacy. Success would be collaborating with learning leaders and researchers to find the funding required to create a culture of excellence, innovation, and community. World-class programming tied to curriculum and building 21st-century learning spaces that accommodate the unique learning needs of every CA student.
“I look forward to building a hard-working team, meeting and collaborating with parents, alumni, and colleagues, and finding the best way to provide the resources, teaching, and learning spaces our students need.” – Debra Klippenstein
Welcome, Debra! We can’t wait to see your work in action at CA.