Essex & Drake Fundraising Counsel Changes Leadership

Chelsey Souza, 15-year veteran, takes helm of full-service agency

August 30, 2016—SAN JOSE, CA—Effective immediately, Chelsey Souza will assume the ownership and position of president of Essex & Drake Fundraising Counsel, a well-respected consulting firm headquartered in San Jose, CA.

Essex & Drake has been assisting nonprofit organizations in their fundraising initiatives since 1977. The senior-level consultants comprise a team of highly experienced and dedicated professionals. Employing proven strategies, they guide clients through successful campaigns and fundraising projects. Additionally, the team members work to build a culture of philanthropy within each client’s organization, with an objective of leaving a lasting impact.

“At Essex & Drake, we incorporate our values into each client relationship and project,” said Souza. “By listening carefully, speaking candidly, handling information discreetly, and managing effectively, our team members develop productive partnerships with our clients based on the agency’s longstanding core values.”

Recently, Sharon Svensson, president of Essex & Drake for 21 years, decided to retire. Her desire to find the “right leadership to carry forth this legacy work” was realized when she recognized the leadership and passion Souza has for this mission to further the capacity of non-profit agencies operating throughout the Bay Area. Svensson will continue as a senior advisor.

Essex & Drake Fundraising Counsel was founded by Peter Drake and Glen Essex in 1977. For decades, they led the firm with a commitment to provide organizations with valuable fundraising counsel, helping them to fulfill their missions most effectively.  Through the years, new members joined the firm, advising clients on the most successful fundraising strategies. In 1995, Sharon Svensson, then a senior consultant, became president of the firm. The firm has served well over a hundred clients, continuing to garner a widespread reputation for providing invaluable counsel.

Known for their expert counsel in capital campaigns and feasibility studies, the firm also delivers services such as: Board and leadership coaching; strategic planning and retreats; major giving programs; and development audits. Today’s team at Essex & Drake consists of Chelsey Souza, CFRE, president; Sharon Svensson, senior advisor; Chuck Cole, senior consultant; and Nivisha Mehta, consultant.

“During challenging times at the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, Essex & Drake stepped in,” said Joan K. Seppala, board president. “They guided us through a successful fundraising campaign. Chelsey Souza’s keen ability to coach volunteers and staff and execute effectively played a key role in putting us on solid financial ground.”

For updated Essex & Drake information, see: