Deborah Chay

Following an academic career in literary and cultural theory, Deborah Chay spent nearly two decades in institutional advancement, primarily in the higher education sector. She has launched and directed successful development programs and initiatives at institutions including Duke University, the University of Southern California, and New York’s Japan Society. Prior to joining Schaffer&Combs, Deborah worked as an independent consultant serving mission-focused clients in areas including strategic planning, fundraising and board development.

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Practice Areas at S&C

Development and fundraising support, strategy, board development.

Areas of Particular Expertise

Higher education funding, nonprofit funding, institutional funders, high net worth individual donors, strategic planning.


Deborah received a PhD in Literature from Duke University and a BASc. in Linguistics from the University of South Carolina. It has been a while but her contributions may live on in Oxford Companions to “Womens’ Writing” and “African American Literature.” She lives in a Lustron which is a contributing structure to the Research Triangle’s little known claim as home to the third largest concentration of modernist houses in the US. Her pleasures include cooking, reading, dogs and horses. Eventing is her sole spectator sport.