Contributed by Shanee Fischer
Luann Rocha is CSUN’s new Director of Development for the Oviatt Library and CSUN Information Technology (IT) division. As a Director of Development, Rocha is responsible for helping to raise funds for both the Library and for CSUN’s IT division. For the Oviatt this financial support is not only important for the continued delivery of quality Library services, but vital for the Oviatt’s expansion and growth. “It is very important to me that we are able to recognize that every person is a unique and potentially successful learner, and that libraries need to provide the tools that support all modes of learning. I believe the Oviatt Library offers our community a venue to do just that,” says Rocha.
Originally from Chicago, Rocha attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a double major in Spanish and Social Work. After graduation, Rocha moved to Los Angeles where she did service work for two years before entering graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. After earning a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare, Rocha coordinated a community outreach program for the San Fernando Valley Child Guidance Clinic, located right here in Northridge. She worked for several years with CSUN Social Work students who completed yearlong internships working with children and parents who lived in a low-income multiple housing apartment complex located in Reseda. Luann completed a fellowship in Public Affairs Leadership for the Los Angeles Coro Foundation and continued public service as a field deputy for a Los Angeles city councilman. Luann’s next move was to Oxnard in Ventura County, where she started a family.
It was around this time that Rocha and her husband co-founded a non-profit organization focused on supporting educational success for Oxnard’s low-income, Spanish-speaking communities. As executive director, she worked closely with parents and children to promote the importance of families learning together. “The organization focuses on early and after school education programs and parent training” says Rocha. For the next 22 years, she directed multiple education programs that promoted literacy, and partnered closely with the surrounding libraries, schools and other organizations. After a well-earned leadership sabbatical awarded by the California Wellness Foundation, Rocha realized that it was time to try something new.
When she heard about the combined Director of Development position for the Oviatt Library and CSUN’s IT Department, the prospect really excited her. “I really liked the concept of blending Library resources and advancing technology – and raising funds for services that support independent learning styles and student success – it sparked a passion,” says Rocha. As a mother of three, Rocha took her children to the Library and got them library cards at a young age. While running the non-profit, she saw the positive effect libraries have on children, from toddlers to high school. Now, Rocha’s daughter is currently earning a Master’s in Library and Information Science at the University of Washington.
When asked about the significant nature of her new position, Rocha says that the need to cultivate new donors has grown exponentially for CSU Libraries because only about 40% of funding is provided by the state. “State Universities must learn how to identify funding opportunities in order to keep university libraries growing and expanding. It’s very important for donors, alumni, community partners, businesses, and foundations, to support institutions like ours because we can’t do it alone,” she says.
Her background in social work helped prepare Rocha for her role as Director of Development. She says that her past experience allows her to easily navigate the personal aspects of meeting donor priorities. “It’s all about the relationship and trying to identify donor interest. Everyone who is moved to help has a vision and wants to ensure that what they think is really important continues on,” says Rocha. “Donors recognize that the library offers an opportunity to make sure that what’s important to them is made possible for others. They trust and believe in us to help make their dream happen. It’s something that crystallizes in them over time. Donors reflect on their life and what’s important to them – and make a very thoughtful decision about how they can create an important legacy through the Oviatt,” Rocha says.
In her free time, Rocha enjoys being with her family, bike riding, cooking, reading, music, visual arts, and talking to people, which is why she likes this job!
To hear more about Rocha’s very personal connection to libraries and the vital role they play in our lives, please watch the short video included in this article.