About Norma Schafer


About Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC

Since 2006, I have offered arts education travel workshops and study tours in Oaxaca, Mexico. This was before I retired from a 30-year university marketing, communications, development and continuing education career. Yes, I raised $23 million and won national awards for degree, certificate and non-credit programs I developed.

In 2012, I expanded Oaxaca Cultural Navigator programs to include Mexico City, Estado de Mexico, Michoacan and Chiapas. There is more to come. About 61% of our program participants return. Many choose to repeat the same program! Our satisfaction ratings on Trip Advisor are outstanding.

My program ideas are based on my curiosity and love for Mexico, and indigenous people everywhere. I always accompany study tours, and engage anthropologists and/or regional experts to complement the experience.

I also work with organizations to develop conferences, study abroad experiences, and programs for alumni, donors and friends, and members that can be a significant friend-raising and fundraising opportunity. I also make presentations about the textile culture of Oaxaca and Mexico. You are welcome to contact me to explore what is possible.


  • M.S., Administration, The University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business
  • B.A., History, California State University at Northridge


Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC, Durham, North Carolina and Oaxaca, Mexico, Owner Entrepreneur, 2006-Present, Writer, photographer.

  • Contributor, Selvedge Magazine, international textile publication based in London
  • Produced WARP (Weave a Real Peace) international textile conference, Oaxaca 2017
  • Contributor, Textile Fiestas of Mexico, travel guide book, published by Thrums Books, 2016. Wrote and photographed chapters on Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, and Tenancingo de Degollado, Estado de Mexico.
  • Photography selected for Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte, NC, exhibition on Latinos in America
  • Customized programs designed for Penland School of Crafts, WARP (Weave a Real Peace), North Carolina State University
  • Featured in several New York Times articles about Oaxaca

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing (SON), Director of Advancement and Executive Director, School of Nursing Foundation, Inc., 2001-2011

  • Raised over $23M; built endowment from $9M to $21M; initiated successful planned giving program
  • Authored winning corporate/foundation funding proposals of up to $3M: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Hartford Foundation, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Hillman Foundation, Gertrude Skelly Charitable Trust
  • Directed Foundation and Alumni Association boards; engaged active, generous leaders
  • Developed marketing communications strategies to reach readers at various lifecycle stages, including print and social media
  • Produced national and international events for friend- and fund-raising

Norma Singleton & Associates, Pittsboro, NC, Principal, 1998-2001 Educational services, marketing and communications consultant for various clients, including Duke University Medical Center, UNC Chapel Hill School of Public Health, Winston-Salem State University, Roanoke (Virginia) Higher Education Center, and ProcessWorks Training Collaborative.

American Social Health Association, Research Triangle Park, NC, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, 1999-2001

  • Directed publication, sales, marketing of health education information to U.S. and global markets
  • Responsible for $1M revenue generating budget; managed 11-person staff
  • Solicited and secured underwriting from pharmaceutical, medical device and managed care organizations
  • Organized and managed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National STD Conference with over 600 attendees and paid exhibitors; served as liaison to CDC; served on national program committee

The George Washington University, Washington, DC, Director of Corporate and Community Relations, and Director of Marketing, 1990-1999

  • Increased revenue from $6M to $12M and research funding from $50K to $11.5M
  • Co-founder of the GW graduate teaching and research campus in the Northern Virginia technology corridor; managed media relations with Washington Post
  • Created innovative corporate, business and community outreach conferences, seminars, programs and events; recruitment strategies and materials for master’s, doctoral and continuing education programs
  • Established advisory board of industry leaders, including the Corporate Liaison Program
  • Initiated federal and state legislative affairs program; developed advocacy agenda and strategies; organized visits to Capitol Hill and Richmond, Virginia with university officials

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, Statewide Director of Marketing, Division of Continuing Education, 1989-1990

  • Internal consultant to seven regional center directors, 12 professional development seminar program directors, administrators and faculty to assess, create and deliver academic programs
  • Conducted market research to identify and recommend relevant degrees, program issues and topics; produced catalogs, brochures, print advertising for regional, state and national recruitment
  • Managed nine staff in self-supporting division

Indiana University, South Bend, IN, Marketing Manager and Director of Noncredit Courses, Division of Continuing Education, 1982-1989

  • Built self-supporting operation from $300,000 to $1.5M annual revenue
  • Created and managed a portfolio of over 100 professional development, certificate, youth and adult enrichment seminars, conferences and courses annually
  • Secured funders and sponsors; developed and negotiated co-sponsored programs for broader market reach
  • Published catalogs, brochures; managed graphic designer, in-house database

And, in case you are wondering, I’ve also had a number of AKA’s — in sequence, and over a long and interesting life:  Norma Beerstein, Norma Singleton, Norma Hawthorne and now, Norma Schafer. I foresee no more name changes.

I’ve been living in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico, full-time since 2012, and going back and forth between the USA and Oaxaca since 2005. In 2016, I purchased a downtown Durham, North Carolina, condominium in a historic tobacco warehouse within walking distance of downtown shops and restaurants, and in 2022, I relocated to Taos, New Mexico.

You can read more about How I Got Here. It’s a blog post.

8 responses to “About Norma Schafer

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