Marion Lee Joins Hallmark University’s Leadership Team to Shape the Future of Higher Education
Nonprofit leader Marion Lee has joined Hallmark University as the new Vice President of Advancement, bringing more than 30 years of experience in guiding nonprofits in strategic planning, launching capital campaigns, and building donor relationships. Her long career in the nonprofit world began with her role in leading a major public works project for the San Antonio community.
“I was working for the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures when I received an invitation to become the Capital Campaign Director for a big public initiative,” shared Marion Lee, Vice President of Advancement at Hallmark University. “It was one of the biggest public initiatives for the city at the time, which was to build the new Central Library in downtown San Antonio.”
San Antonio had the second-highest illiteracy rate in the country and the second-highest failure rate for junior high students entering high school. Quickly learning how to handle politics and philanthropic management, Marion raised an additional $32 million for the construction of the Central Library, which ultimately provided electronic media access in a public library for the first time in the region.
“There was an amazing moment where we finished celebrating the opening of the library, and I walked onto the street and just looked at the building. All I could think was, ‘now everybody’s got a chance. We’ve got a chance to have access to education, to information, to knowledge.’ That was my single proudest moment, looking at that building and knowing we have a fighting chance to change our course.”
Following her role with the San Antonio Central Library, Marion joined the San Antonio Area Foundation to assist in its structural reorganization. Appointed as the youngest President and CEO of a community foundation of its size in the United States, Marion led the foundation to raise almost $100 million through philanthropic fundraising and donations over four years.
“I was there to revamp the fundraising systems, and we grew the foundation by almost $100 million, which was great. But one thing I realized about giving money away is that you don’t get to have a personal relationship with nonprofit organizations, which is what speaks to my soul. So, my friend and I formed our firm to help nonprofits become everything that they needed to be to carry out their mission and to help them succeed.”
After leading the San Antonio Area Foundation, Marion and her friend founded Bacon Lee and Associates, now Lee+ Associates, where she has served as CEO for over 20 years and still assists nonprofits across the region. While working with nonprofits, Marion especially focuses on relationship building between nonprofits and donors, knowing that donors must believe in the mission and goals of a nonprofit to support them along their journey.
“Good fundraising comes from understanding every level of building a relationship with people, enough so that donors feel confident in you and desire to support your organization’s mission. Working with nonprofits to build this connection and to receive the support they need, it’s what I live for.”
Following her original goal to provide everyone with access to a wealth of knowledge via the Central Library, Marion has now returned to expanding access to education in San Antonio. In her new role as the Vice President of Advancement, Marion is determined to make higher education accessible to everyone and believes Hallmark University is best prepared to achieve this goal.
“I think Hallmark already makes education accessible and tries to equalize the whole playing field so that everyone can join. We need to keep expanding this accessibility, and Hallmark has a role in this city, in this region really, when it comes to discussing the future of higher education, and it needs to be at the table. Hallmark University should be there, is going to be there, and will be there.”
Marion is intent on building up and strengthening the core team within Hallmark University, ensuring sustainability in the organization to prepare for new growth and interest from the community. Learn more about Marion Lee and the work she has done for the nonprofit community here.