Salma Oueida: A Pioneering Advancement Professional at the American University of Beirut

Over her 20-year tenure at the American University of Beirut, Salma Oueida has ascended through the ranks to assume roles of increasing responsibility. A visionary leader, Salma has not only nurtured a network of donors but also reinvigorated 42 AUB alumni chapters outside North America. Moreover, she has strengthened the connections of 78,000 alumni residing in 120 countries to their alma mater.

Additionally, she has served as the liaison with the University for volunteer groups, including the President’s Club, which was established to raise funds for projects enhancing student life at AUB. Furthermore, she has been instrumental in initiatives such as the Zaki Nassif Program for Music, which has transformed the musical landscape in Lebanon and the region; the Nature Conservation Center, the leading multidisciplinary academic centre addressing nature conservation in the MENA region; and Khaddit Beirut, which was launched after the August 4, 2020, Beirut port explosion to co-build local alternatives, best practices, and growth opportunities ensuring the wellbeing and dignity of Lebanon’s inhabitants.

Salma Oueida: Achieving Fundraising Success at AUB

Salma was a key player in taking the Advancement Office from a small operation that raised just a few million dollars in 2000 to a university that raised more than US$80 million in 2022. She played an instrumental role in both AUB’s Campaign for Excellence (2002-07), which raised US$171 million, and in AUB’s US$650 million fundraising campaign: BOLDLY AUB: The Campaign to Lead, Innovate, and Serve, which will conclude on June 30, 2024.

AUB’s Fundraising Triumphs: From Campaign for Excellence to BOLDLY AUB

AUB’s Campaign for Excellence was the University’s first major fundraising campaign in its (then) 140-year history. It was an extremely ambitious campaign at the time in terms of its fundraising goals – US$140 million over a 5-year period. The current BOLDLY AUB fundraising campaign (launched in 2017) has a target of US$650 million. AUB exceeded the US$650 million target ahead of schedule. The total amount that has been raised as of February 15, 2024, is US$777 million.

Salma Oueida: Advancing Philanthropy at AUB

Salma is an invaluable asset to AUB, demonstrating unwavering commitment and dedication to the University’s advancement, growth, and prosperity. Her role in the Office of Advancement has helped to transform it into a destination for philanthropists seeking to connect with and invest in AUB, Lebanon, and the region.

Salma Oueida: Gifted Communicator and Advancement Mentor

Throughout her career, Salma has not only honed but also perfected the skill of translating complex technical concepts into accessible and compelling narratives for donors. Moreover, her ability to communicate and connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds, varying educational levels, cultural interests, and ages, both at AUB and internationally, is commendable – and widely recognized.

Unsurprisingly, Salma has gained a reputation in Lebanon and the region as a savvy and experienced Advancement professional. She actively shares this expertise with other institutions in Lebanon and the region interested in establishing and growing their development and alumni relations offices.

Salma Oueida: Trusted Leader and Service Excellence Awardee

She has been an active CASE volunteer speaker and has also served twice on the planning committee for the CASE Advancement Conference in the Middle East – first in Dubai in 2020 and then in Abu Dhabi in 2024.

Salma approaches her work with a professional attitude. Additionally, she is known for being friendly and approachable. Furthermore, she is highly efficient and gets things done. After only seven years of dedicated and exemplary service at AUB, she was selected to receive a President’s Service Excellence Award, the highest service honor that AUB awards to its staff, in 2010 for her “continuous outstanding performance … (and for going) beyond the call of duty in helping students, patients, and fellow employees.”

Salma Oueida: Championing Relief Efforts and Healthcare Advocacy

Salma was a key member of the team at AUB that responded quickly after the devastating explosion in the Beirut port on August 4, 2020. Additionally, she aided in raising money to assist victims and support local institutions working to rebuild Beirut. Furthermore, she played a pivotal role in coordinating relief efforts and facilitating fundraising initiatives in the aftermath of the tragedy.

A perfect example of Salma’s management skills under pressure is her partnership with doctors and senior leadership of the University during a global cancer telethon in December 2022. The telethon took place at a time when there was an urgent need to assist cancer patients who had been all but abandoned due to the total collapse of the public health system in Lebanon. AUB raised US$5 million during the telethon to treat needy cancer patients from across the country and refugees from neighbouring countries. Salma played a critical role in bringing all the parties together in support of this far-reaching and impactful initiative.

AUB’s Resilience: Navigating Crises with Dedicated Leaders like Salma Oueida

Throughout its history, AUB has had to overcome a series of crises and challenges – something that it has been able to do because of the dedication and commitment of generations of individuals who believed in the enduring mission of the university. Salma embodies the values that have defined these individuals: a commitment to serve, to give back, and to put the needs of the community first. “I am passionate about my work,” Salma explains. “This is rooted in my unwavering commitment to the transformative power and importance of education.”

Salma Oueida: Honoured with the CASE Asia-Pacific Distinguished Service Award in May 2024

In recognition of her inspiring leadership, remarkable accomplishments, and dedicated service to the community of practice, as well as her pivotal role in fostering the development of a strong culture of Advancement at the American University of Beirut, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education proudly presented Salma Oueida with the “CASE Asia-Pacific Distinguished Service Award in May 2024.”

The CASE Asia-Pacific Distinguished Service Award recognizes inspirational advancement professionals whose accomplishments have made a significant and lasting impact on institutional advancement and whose life and character have earned the respect and admiration of fellow colleagues.

Author: Salma Oueida

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