Sabrina Espinoza currently serves as the executive director of alumni relations and annual giving for the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Through events, programs and other strategies, she leverages partnerships with Viterbi constituents and alumni, here and abroad, to encourage engagement with and philanthropic support of the school. In addition, Sabrina manages the Viterbi Emerging Leaders Board and collaborates with regional boards and ambassadors to connect the alumni community.
Sabrina has been at USC for 13 years, the first 11 at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), where she started in 2010 as an associate director of annual giving.
At SCA, she says, “I was able to delve into the various functions of philanthropy before being promoted to a major gift officer. I came to understand the make-up of our constituents, their needs and wants, and learned to build upon the strengths of the school. Through that, my career flourished, and I was promoted numerous times.”
Sabrina concluded her stint at SCA as a senior director of development, focusing on major gift strategies for scholarship and student support initiatives. She then accepted a position as the executive director of corporate and foundation relations at her alma mater, the USC Price School of Public Policy.
“Because of my years at SCA, I was a bit of a chameleon,” she says. “I understood annual giving, alumni relations, major giving and corporate/foundation relations, which gave me different perspectives and allowed me to grow.”
“My career,” she adds, “has operated at the intersection of opportunity and intent. I’ve always strived to excel by being prepared—constantly learning and absorbing knowledge from mentors, colleagues and friends so I can do better each day. When I’m prepared and an opportunity arises, I know I can seize it and thrive. As they say, ‘Stay ready, so you don’t have to getready.’”
As proof, Sabrina cites the master’s degree she earned in nonprofit leadership and management from USC Price prior to accepting her current position at Viterbi. The degree made her want to give back to others and create a community where people could be their best, authentic selves. “I also had a great mentor back at Cinema, who helped me reevaluate my goals and frame the legacy that I wanted to share, at USC and in my life in general,” she says.
“It may sound cliché,” Sabrina continues, “but there’s something so meaningful about working at USC: the students, faculty, alumni and staff, plus the university’s rich history. Yes, there’s nothing like walking across campus on Game Day, but from my perspective as an alum and employee, USC is also about lifelong friends I met in the classroom, and colleagues across campus who are always excited and passionate about their work. This is what inspires me every day.”
At Viterbi, Sabrina feels she’s come back to her roots—engaging alumni and providing them with the resources they need to be successful on their journey beyond the classroom. “When they go out into the world, they represent USC,” she says, “and it’s great to be back in that space that I really missed.”
All told, says Sabrina, “USC is a place to meet amazing people and build strong relationships.” She advises colleagues to “connect with their counterparts across campus for support, networking and friendship” and to invest in professional development, be it conferences, workshops, learning from others or continuing one’s education. “Learn as much as you can, and take it all in. You never know how it will serve you now or in the future.”