About the Caster Center

The mission of the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research is to provide research, evaluation, and consulting services that build the leadership and strategic- and evaluative-thinking capacity of local nonprofits as well as to be the leading source of information, data, and research on the local nonprofit sector.


The Caster Center offers resources and products that are grounded in systematic research and have direct applicability to the field. It also serves as an important training facility that enables doctoral students to directly engage in a variety of Third Sector research projects. The Caster Center works in collaboration and under contract with nonprofit-service and charitable organizations on a wide range of projects.

Among its services, the Caster Family Center:

  • Offers access to and analysis of various types of nonprofit data
  • Conducts studies and research on the sector
  • Analyzes funding, public policy and environmental trends affecting the nonprofit sector
  • Provides program evaluation, needs assessments and research services to nonprofit organizations on a fee-for-service basis
  • Maintains databases on San Diego County’s 9,000+ public charities as well as private and community foundations

Additionally, the Caster Center convenes regular symposia with practitioners in order to discuss its findings and their practical applications within the context of the local, regional and national nonprofit sectors.

"The work that San Diego Grantmakers commissioned from the Caster Center has been extremely helpful in our goal to benchmark, grow and strengthen organized philanthropy in the region. We are fortunate to have the Caster Center as a resource for relevant applied research that supports the development of an informed and innovative San Diego nonprofit sector."
~Nancy Jamison, Executive Director, San Diego Grantmakers

Staff Biographies

Center Director

Laura Deitrick serves as the director for the Caster Center. She has been a nonprofit executive director, board member, management consultant and researcher on major nonprofit trends. Her research has led to important reports on nonprofit ethics, nonprofits and public education, nonprofit human resource practices, executive transition, the economics of San Diego’s nonprofit sector, nonprofit confidence and regional grantmaking. In her role as Director of the Caster Center, Laura oversees the work of six doctoral students and other affiliated faculty.

Currently the Caster Center’s work is focused on research and evaluation and understanding the economic landscape of San Diego’s nonprofit and philanthropic sector in relationship to the broader economy. Dr. Deitrick is a faculty member in SOLES' Nonprofit Leadership and Management master’s program where she teaches nonprofit research methods, program design and evaluation. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of California, San Diego where she teaches a graduate course in nonprofit management in the school of International Relations and Pacific Studies. Additionally, she has lead numerous training sessions on critical nonprofit issues for groups such as the San Diego Association of Nonprofits, the Association for Fundraising Professionals, the California Consortium of Education Foundations, the Rancho Santa Fe Community Foundation, the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, the North County Philanthropy Council, San Diego Grantmakers, The San Diego Foundation and Union Bank.

lauradeitrick@sandiego.edu | (619) 260-2903

Center Associate Director

Mary Jo Schumann is the associate director for the Caster Center.  She has more than 20 years of experience in qualitative and quantitative research for organizations in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.  She is particularly committed to designing research that is both rigorous and directly applicable to organizations and the stakeholders they serve.  Prior to joining the Caster Center, Mary Jo has held positions of consultant, vice president of research, director of market research and business development, study director and instructor. She has been actively involved with many local and national nonprofits, serving as consultant, event manager, board member, chairperson and volunteer.  Mary Jo earned her Ph.D. in social psychology and industrial/organizational psychology from Wayne State University.

mjschumann@sandiego.edu | (619) 260-7649

Center Research Team

Sue Carter Kahl has 19 years of nonprofit experience gained through roles as an executive director, consultant, staff and board member, and community volunteer. In addition to her work as a research assistant at the Caster Center, she provides leadership development and volunteer engagement consulting and retreats. She holds an appointment as a state commissioner for California Volunteers and volunteers as an executive coach for nonprofit leaders through the Fieldstone Leadership Network. She holds a master’s in social work administration from San Diego State University, a B.S. in psychology from Truman State University and a certificate in nonprofit management.  

suecarterkahl@sandiego.edu | (619) 260-4600 x2684

Kim Hunt has been active in education and the nonprofit sector for more than 20 years. She is currently a research assistant at the Caster Center. Prior to joining USD she worked with nonprofits as a business manager, volunteer, communications specialist and budget analyst throughout the U.S. and Europe with a focus on education and military services. She has taught at all age levels and in addition to her research assistant work, is an adjunct professor of sociology with DeVry University. She holds a master’s in education with an emphasis on curriculum development from the University of Phoenix, a bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo in economics with an emphasis in developing nations, a CA teaching credential in secondary English, and a certificate in German proficiency from the Goethe Institute in Germany. She is in the process of earning a Ph.D. in leadership studies with nonprofit/philanthropic leadership and management specialization at USD.

kdhunt@sandiego.edu | (619) 260-4600 x 4312

Jenny Jones has been active in San Diego's nonprofit sector for more than a decade. She has worked with nonprofits with annual budgets ranging from $500K to more than $31M. Prior to joining the Caster Center research team, Jones worked at Vista Community Clinic. Her experience also includes work with nonprofits in the Dominican Republic and Peru. She speaks Spanish and has a background in Portuguese and Haitian Creole. She holds a master's degree in nonprofit leadership and management from the University of San Diego, a bachelor's degree in global economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a certificate in community economic development from San Diego State University.

jjones@sandiego.edu | (619) 260-4600 x4312

Svetlana Krasynska has been actively involved with a multitude of local, national and international nonprofits, serving as CEO, board member, volunteer, executive director and consultant for more than 12 years. While initially working in the field of international business law, Krasynska had been engaged on a pro bono basis with nonprofits involving international exchange, humanitarian aid, adoption and the arts. Having left the business arena to dedicate herself to the nonprofit sector on a full-time basis in 2002, she has served in an executive capacity and as a board member locally, nationally and internationally. During the last six years, Krasynska has been working as a management consultant assisting humanitarian, environmental and arts nonprofits, as well as governmental institutions, through her agency, 501(c)(3) Consulting. She holds a master’s degree in nonprofit leadership and management and is in the process of earning a Ph.D. in leadership studies with nonprofit/philanthropic leadership and management specialization at USD. Born and raised in Ukraine, Ms. Krasynska is fluent in English, Ukrainian and Russian languages.

skrasynska@sandiego.edu | 619.260.4600 ext 2642