Honoring Hoemann’s Long Service to Evergreen

When Lee Hoemann closes her office door this July, she plans to spend time in her art studio and traveling in the new teardrop trailer she bought with her husband Tom.

Portrait of Lee Hoemann

Lee Hoemann.

A little golf and fly-fishing will also play an essential role in life after Evergreen.

The vice president for College Advancement said she has “mixed emotions,” about her retirement from Evergreen, an institution she has served for nearly 25 years. “Some excitement and some sadness.”

Hoemann began her work at Evergreen in the President’s Office, serving as executive associate to the president. For 15 years she had the opportunity to apply her diverse talents to projects and issues ranging from policy development, ethics, and public records to government relations, diversity, and budget management. She also held a joint appointment for a year, serving as interim director of human resources, in addition to her duties in the President’s Office.

Hoemann moved to the College Advancement team in 2005. “I wanted a new challenge,” she recalled, “and advancement was a new challenge.” A year later, she was appointed vice president of the division—as well as executive director of the foundation.

In her first six weeks on the new job, she traveled around the country meeting alumni. “It was a revelation to talk to people whose lives had been transformed by Evergreen, who wanted to know how they could give back,” she said. “I came back thinking ,‘this is the best job in the world!’”

The road ahead had its challenges though, including the need to shift the college’s relationship to fundraising, a multi-year process that had to make a quantum leap with the onset of the Great Recession. “In 2008, the bottom fell out of state funding,” she said, “and the internal culture changed.” That change highlighted the need for new resources to support the college.

While maintaining a primary focus on endowed scholarships, Hoemann ensured that private donations helped launch new initiatives, including Faculty Foundation Grants, Student Foundation Activity Grants, the successful Art of Living fundraiser, and support of the Center for Creative & Applied Media. Working with faculty and academic staff, she and her team helped secure a steady stream of foundation grants to advance work across many areas of the college. Thanks to critical capacity building grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she was able to shape the fundraising, communications, and alumni relations infrastructure to build and strengthen relationships and dramatically increase the number and size of scholarship endowments.

When asked about her proudest achievements as vice president, Hoemann takes a holistic view. “During my time here, we expanded staffing levels across the division and began engaging a broader spectrum of alumni and friends. We hired good people, put a 12-year business plan in place, and broke down silos, diversifying the ways in which faculty and staff engage with College Advancement. We also deepened the engagement of our foundation board, and through collective efforts across the college, secured nearly $30 million in private, foundation, and investment-return support for the college.” In her final year, Lee is most proud of her efforts to lay the groundwork for expanded internal and external partnerships through the strategic planning process.

“Lee has a knack for bringing out the best in people, which in turn enabled the college and foundation to be successful,” said Maia Bellon ’91, director of the Washington State Department of Ecology, who first met Hoemann when they both worked in the President’s Office, Bellon as a work-study student. “Lee opened the door for me to be engaged in leadership and empowerment opportunities, which led to my path to law school, and ultimately laid a foundation for my current job as Ecology director,” Bellon said. “She has served as an inspiration and motivation for me.”

Recognizing Hoemann’s wide-ranging contributions, President Les Purce presented her with the Bud Koons Service Award for outstanding work in support of the college at the annual College Recognition Dinner in May.

As to her next chapter, she especially looks forward to painting. “I have always been an artist,” she noted. (Her vibrant watercolors adorn the College Advancement office and have appeared in various galleries.) “Now that part of me needs to have its day.”