Matthews to Direct Law School’s Development Efforts

OXFORD, Miss.–Suzette Matthews has a passion for education, and since Feb. 1, 2016, the former Teach for America staffer has turned her talents in fundraising and education to the law school as the new director of development.

Previously the senior director of development for Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta, Matthews grew individual donations substantially for the organization, often 300 times an original gift amount, and increased overall gifts by 150 percent.

“We are lucky to have Suzette Matthews join our team,” said Debbie Bell, interim dean.  “She comes to us with a strong background in fundraising in Mississippi, a love for her adopted state, and great enthusiasm about the law school’s future.”

The Texas native taught high school English in Ruleville, Miss., with Teach for America for two years prior to joining their development staff. She worked with individual corporations and foundations mainly in the Delta and Jackson areas, and cultivated relationships she believes will be beneficial for the law school.

“I think alot of the relationships and networks I was able to build will overlap,” she said.  “It’s my goal to invest our alumni in our students’ work and raise an additional $500,000 for scholarships, as well as double the percent of alumni giving.”

Though her focus has primarily been secondary education, Matthews is excited about transitioning her work to the university and law school.

“I really wanted to get back into higher education,” she said.  “And, when I look at who is influential in making decisions for our state’s future, it’s Ole Miss law alumns.  We have so many great things happening here.”

Suzette Matthews. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Suzette Matthews. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Matthews graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and obtained her master’s degree in education from Delta State while in Cleveland.   She was named Ruleville Central High School Teacher of the Year in 2010 and Sunflower County School District Teacher of the Year.

She is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and the Delta Leadership Network.  She serves on the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits board, the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce executive board and Mississippi Economic Council Board of Governors. She also founded and served as president of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Young Professionals and is a member of the Mississippi Association of Fundraising Professionals.

In addition to education and fundraising, Matthews and her husband Matty own Delta Dairy, a frozen treats shop in Cleveland.  She enjoys running and spending time with her husband and dog, Tchula.

“I’m really excited about this position, and I really look forward to meeting everyone,” she said. “Please feel to contact me anytime.”

Suzette may be reached by e-mail suzette@olemiss.edu or phone: 601-937-1497.