When Beverly “Bev” Kiltz first interviewed to work at Stanford, she was asked if she could stay at least a couple years.

Beverly “Bev” Kiltz (Image credit: Andrew Brodhead)

“I said, ‘I think I can do that,’ ” Kiltz recalled while laughing. “It’s been a fun ride, a longer ride than I ever expected. I never dreamt of having such a long career. I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun.”

That ride lasted 55 years as the longtime fundraiser spent countless hours speaking with alumni in support of Stanford’s education and research mission while also mentoring generations of development professionals.

“The greatest strength that Bev brought to her role was that ability to build relationships, and if you think of all the relationships she has built over the years, it’s hard to calculate the incredible resources that were brought to Stanford because of her ability to build those relationships,” said Jeff Raikes, ’80, longtime university supporter and former chair of the Stanford Board of Trustees. “Her name may not be on the buildings, but it was her ability to build those relationships that brought those resources to Stanford.”

In February, Kiltz retired from her position as senior associate director of development, representing Stanford in the Pacific Northwest across four fundraising campaigns and under seven university presidents.

“Bev has played an unbelievable role over a multiple-decade-long period of aligning philanthropically-minded individuals with the mission of the institution and advancing it,” said Martin Shell, vice president and chief external relations officer. “When done right, the development teams become a conduit engaging prospective donors with the opportunities and ideas embedded in Stanford’s mission. The relationship building that Bev did over the years embodies that great tradition of connecting prospective donors with the university’s remarkable purpose and opportunities.”

The journey

Kiltz grew up in a large family farming community in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. She studied business administration at Portland State University and worked at the University of North Dakota and the University of Washington School of Medicine before coming to Stanford.

Kiltz began in an administrative role in the Office of Development, and as it was the late 60s, she encountered very few women working non-secretarial roles in development. By the early 1970s, Kiltz was promoted to a fundraising role working directly with donors in what was then known as Medical Center Development (MCD), and in 1974, she was named assistant director of development in MCD.

John Ford, former vice president for development, joined MCD in 1977 and became MCD director in 1980. Ford gave Kiltz her first line fundraising role with the “Friends of Radiology” program, which helped support faculty in the Department of Radiology, their clinical services, research, and training programs.

“She just jumped right in there and did a terrific job building relationships with faculty on one hand, and donors and volunteers on the other,” Ford said. “She worked effectively with her colleagues in medical development, and she was one of the people who really linked the medical program back into the university development program. That connection back into the university office was very important.”

In 1986, Kiltz moved back to the central development office where she served as associate director of development in the Pacific Northwest Major Gifts Program until her retirement this year. In 2005, she was promoted to senior associate director of development.

In this role, she traveled throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming meeting “interesting, smart, and generous” alumni, Kiltz said. She got to know many alumni on a personal level and remains friends with them to this day.

“Bev engaged with a wide number of alumni, parents, and friends of Stanford, particularly in the Seattle and Portland areas, and built relationships with them over time to cultivate, inspire and steward really generous philanthropic support across a wide variety of areas at Stanford,” said Anne Marie Hendrickson, regional director of development for Northern California. “She also helped identify and build relationships with a number of supporters who, beyond their philanthropy, grew into incredible volunteer leaders for Stanford.”

As one of the first women to step into a fundraising role in Stanford’s Office of Development (OOD), Kiltz enjoyed seeing more women working in development over the years, and she mentored those rising up in the field. “In our office, there seem to be a lot more women fundraisers than there are men now,” Kiltz said. “Men aren’t going into it as much anymore, and women have taken it over.”

“As I look across our organization, now we have an incredible number of talented women working in philanthropy at Stanford, and I think we all have Bev to thank for helping to pave the way at Stanford,” Hendrickson said.

Understanding interests

Working with generations of donors – including some within the same family – Kiltz is known for being a careful listener who understood donors’ interests. “In her own quiet way, she was so good at drawing people out and understanding their motivations, and that’s central to our business of building relationships, understanding donors’ aspirations, and matching donor interests to university priorities,” Ford said.

An area she was particularly passionate about was fundraising for undergraduate financial aid, Hendrickson said. “She’s worked with donors to raise a huge number of scholarship funds.”

Jeff and Tricia Raikes first met Kiltz in the 90s as they began to increase their now wide-reaching alumni relationship with Stanford.

“Bev symbolizes what we see in Stanford development and she is great at building relationships. She’s very warm, friendly, easy to engage with,” Raikes said. “She is a great listener and that’s very important in that it helps to match the interests of a potential donor to Stanford with the needs of Stanford.”

Kiltz also became an unofficial counselor, mentor, and “go-to” person for the development team due to her experience, understanding, and various connections to the institution, Shell said.

A ‘university person’

Now, Kiltz is looking ahead to her next chapter: “I’ve worked all my life, and it’s good to reinvent myself,” she said. “It was time to step down.”

Former university president Gerhard Casper began his time at Stanford around the same time as Kiltz, and said he “really came to appreciate her greatly.” “Not only is she a friendly, calm, and steady person,” he continued, “but she was also always extremely well-prepared and she was always a university person, meaning her interest was Stanford as a whole.”

Kiltz continues that interest by serving on the Stanford Historical Society Board of Directors, as well as on its membership and development committees.

“She was interested in the work that people did and that was not something she learned for a particular purpose,” Casper said. “She was generally interested in what individuals at the university were doing.”

Eugenie Van Wynen, associate vice president for development, met Kiltz in 1999. Working in a cubicle next to her, Van Wynen heard Kiltz navigating phone calls with donors, parents, faculty, and CEOs “all with her trademark grace, down-to-earth style, and wisdom.” As a new major gift officer, the experience was a “master class in good development work,” Van Wynen said.

“The respect, affection, and genuine interest in Bev, and through Bev, Stanford, was evident at every turn,” Van Wynen said.

Speaking directly to her friend and mentor at Kiltz’s recent retirement party, she continued, “I hope you come back and visit us often, when you do, please find a moment to walk across our beautiful campus and soak in all the ways you have helped make Stanford the world-class institution that it is today.”