Chelsey Souza, CFRE, President & Owner

Chelsey02_crop2“During challenging times at the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, Chelsey stepped in and guided us through a successful fundraising campaign. Her keen ability to coach volunteers and staff and execute effectively played a key role in putting us on solid financial ground.” Joan K. Seppala, Board President

In 2011, Chelsey joined the Essex & Drake team and in 2016 became President of the firm. A passionate fundraiser turned counselor, Chelsey is dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations reach their philanthropic development goals. She has advised and guided numerous organizations through a variety of fundraising processes including capital campaigns, board development, executive coaching, major gift programs, and annual campaigns.

Chelsey’s professional fundraising career began in 2001 at Second Harvest Food Bank of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. As the Development Manager, she was responsible for raising $3.7 million dollars annually through direct mail and monthly giving program which increased contributed income by 38%.

As Development Director at the Family Giving Tree, Chelsey developed strategy and managed the execution of the development plan including the launch of a board member fundraising program. Corporate sponsorships increased under her purview. The outcome was a 14% increase in revenue over a one year period.

At Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Chelsey worked closely with high net-worth individuals helping to carry out their philanthropic goals. Within the corporate philanthropy field, Chelsey also worked at the eBay Foundation where she facilitated employee giving and supported grant making both locally and globally.

Chelsey serves as the Ethics Advocacy Chair on the Board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Silicon Valley Chapter (AFP SVC). Chelsey also sits on the Scholarship Committee for AFP SVC. She was co-chair of the chapter’s National Philanthropy Day in 2005 and in 2008 was the recipient of the Chapter Service Award. Chelsey serves as the Chair of the School Site Council at Reed Elementary and is Vice Chair of the San Jose Unified School District Advisory Committee.

Chelsey graduated from California State University Chico with a bachelor’s degree in Italian Studies. In 2002, she completed Fundraising School through the Center on Philanthropy at the University of Indiana, and in 2008 she became a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).