Sue Cunningham

Sue Cunningham

Crystal Apple Winner


Sue Cunningham is President and CEO of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), which supports over 3,000 schools, colleges and universities worldwide in developing their integrated advancement work (alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing operations). As CASE President and CEO, Ms. Cunningham provides strategic and operational leadership for one of the largest associations of education-related institutions in the world with members in over 80 countries. She started her leadership role at CASE in March 2015.

While at CASE, Ms. Cunningham has engaged CASE in two strategic planning processes. The first, which engaged thousands of CASE volunteers, resulted in Reimagining CASE: 2017-2021, and created an ambitious framework for serving CASE’s members and championing education worldwide, which included a comprehensive restructure of CASE’s volunteer leadership and governance structure. Building on the strengths of this plan, she led a recalibration exercise that resulted in Championing Advancement: CASE 2022-2027. This Plan articulates a clear strategic intent: that CASE will define the competencies and standards for the profession of advancement, and lead and champion their dissemination and application across the world’s educational institutions. 

Among the key initiatives that have developed under her leadership include the redesign and delivery of a new global governance structure. In addition, CASE acquired the Voluntary Support of Education survey and created CASE’s Insights, CASE’s global research and data efforts. CASE published the first global and digital edition of CASE’s Global Reporting Standards and Guidelines, which operate as the industry-leading Standards for the profession, and launched the first global Alumni Engagement survey in addition to annual fundraising surveys. CASE created an ambitious competencies model across all advancement disciplines and a related career journey framework; opened the CASE Opportunities and Inclusion Center which focuses on equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging; and has reinvigorated a global advocacy agenda to communicate the value of education.  Ms. Cunningham serves as a Trustee and Secretary for the University of San Diego, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board.  She is a member of the Signature Theatre (Arlington, Virginia) Board of Directors, Chairs their Governance Committee, and sits on the Executive Committee. She is a member of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat steering committee, the International Association of University Presidents Executive Committee, and the International Women’s Forum. She has recently been named to the new, US-based Council of Higher Education as a Strategic Asset. She is the author of  ‘Global Exchange: Dialogues to Advance Education’.

Prior to her appointment to CASE, Ms. Cunningham served as Vice-Principal for Advancement at the University of Melbourne where she led the Believe campaign resulting in surpassing its original $500 million goal; and the Director of Development for the University of Oxford where she led the development team through the  first phase of the largest fundraising campaign outside of the United States (at the time):  Oxford Thinking, with a goal of £1.25 billion. She served as Director of Development at Christ Church, Oxford and as Director of External Relations at St. Andrews University. 

Before working in education, Ms. Cunningham enjoyed a career in theatre, the arts and the cultural sector. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2012, Ms. Cunningham received the CASE Europe Distinguished Service Award, and has received the coveted CASE Crystal Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Ms. Cunningham was awarded a master’s degree from the University of Oxford, a bachelor’s degree in performing arts from Middlesex University, and is a graduate of the Columbia University Senior Executive Program.