For Daniele LeCesne, accepting the job as chief operating officer of San José State University’s Tower Foundation represents a homecoming of sorts. Though LeCesne is originally from southern California, her sister and brother-in-law graduated from SJSU and she has spent decades seeing the campus transform from afar. Now, after dedicating more than 25 years as an accounting and financial officer in various arenas, including 18 years in higher education, LeCesne is excited for the opportunity to oversee Tower Foundation operations beginning December 7.
“I’m all about the mission of higher ed,” said LeCesne from her office at California State University, Fullerton, where for the past three years she has worked dual roles as the executive director of university advancement administration and finance and chief financial officer for the CSF Foundation. “I am a huge proponent of encouraging younger generations to pursue their education, to pursue their dreams. My tagline is ‘engage, encourage, inspire.’ That’s what I try to share with others.”
LeCesne’s expertise includes financial and administrative management, budget management and analysis, human resources and internal controls, as well as nonprofit foundation management. Before joining Cal State Fullerton, LeCesne held positions at the University of California, Riverside, the University of Southern California, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. She also serves on the board of OPARC, an organization that serves adults living with developmental disabilities.
For LeCesne, few things matter more than her relationships, both with her family and at work. Her very first boss in the hotel industry became a lifelong mentor, inspiring her to invest in relationships with her colleagues and pay close attention to the nitty-gritty details involved in financial management.
“I’ll never forget the time he made me find a 72 cents-error on a reconciliation,” she said. “I spent hours poring over documents, and finally he let me go, saying that he was trying to teach me the importance of being detail-oriented and putting in the research. That has stuck with me for over 30 years. Having the best mentor in the world reminds me of how I want to be for others.”
LeCesne looks forward to passing on her knowledge to her team and collaborating with the Tower Foundation Board of Directors to reimagine philanthropy in the years to come.
“Daniele’s deep experience in financial management within the CSU and the hospitality industry uniquely positions her for success as our next COO,” said Theresa Davis, vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. “She brings with her the ability to effectively steward foundation resources while also providing a high level of customer service to our campus colleagues who have gift accounts. We are delighted that she is joining the Spartan family.”