TITLE: Executive Director
FUNDING AREAS: Catholic agencies and churches, higher education, human services, and secondary school/education
IP TAKE: The Dan Murphy Foundation is a Catholic philanthropy, but Duncan is a sports fanatic. She's worked almost her entire career in event ticketing and alongside youth sports nonprofits. Pitch a proposal that helps Catholic schoolchildren find success through athletics.
PROFILE: Debra Kay Duncan has a somewhat unconventional background for a foundation executive director, but it seems to be working out for the Dan Murphy Foundation. Duncan assumed her executive director role in January 2012, following a long stint in Los Angeles-area ticket operations. She clearly knows how to get people to fill event seats, but how does this translate to the world of philanthropy?
Duncan was educated in the Bay Area at Santa Clara University, earning her bachelor's degree in accounting and later obtaining an MBA in international finance. She began working for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1991 and continued there for 12 years as director of ticketing. Previously, she served as vice president of finance for Olson Travelworld. She also worked as ticket office director for the University of Southern California from 2006 to 2011, and served for 11 years as chairman of the International Ticketing Association (INTIX), a non-profit organization that represents ticketing industry professionals.
Duncan's ticketing experience extends well beyond the borders of Los Angeles. She's also handled international ticketing for the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary and the Los Angeles Winter Games. But before you write Duncan off as more of saleswoman than a philanthropist, you should take note of her community involvement as well. Duncan is the board chair for Kids in Sports LA, a non-profit charity that provides sports opportunities to underserved youth and encourages family involvement. She's also a member of the American Martyrs Parish's Mission for the Los Angeles Archdiocese. This last membership is likely what drew her to become involved with the Dan Murphy Foundation in the first place.
The foundation was founded in Dan Murphy's memory by his daughter, Bernadine, to support activities and charities affiliated with the Catholic Church. Although Duncan's involvement in the Church is not publicly known, she had just enough affiliation to be considered for the job and just enough financial know-how to make the foundation a profitable business. Duncan stays focused on grantmaking in Catholic schools, social services agencies, and churches in the Los Angeles area. Perhaps Duncan hasn't held full-time employment at other philanthropic foundations or non-profit organizations, but she does have a deep understanding of the financial implications of charitable giving.
When Duncan isn't busy at the Dan Murphy Foundation, she's serving as an active board member at LA84, which was endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games to award grants to youth sports organizations and coaching education programs in Southern California. She's also been a board member at Creative Sports Strategies, which provides marketing services for sports events and organizations.
As you can plainly see, Duncan has a love of sports, and that passion overflows into her career at Murphy. Some people claim that sports are their religion, but if you can find a way to combine the two, you'll have a definite advantage with Duncan.