Senior Director, Athletics Advancement
Sara Liebscher is currently in her 13th year in Development with the University of Notre Dame where she serves as the Senior Director of Athletics Advancement. In this capacity, she is responsible for overseeing the fundraising efforts and operations for all Athletics priorities and serves as the primary liaison between the Athletics and Development Departments. In addition to her management duties and sitting on both departments’ executive teams, Liebscher also manages a national portfolio of principal and leadership benefactors.
Liebscher led the development of a strategic business plan for the creation of the University’s Athletics fundraising operation in 2013-14. Through those efforts, the Athletics Advancement team was formed and is now raising record levels of private support for the endowment, expendable and capital needs of Notre Dame Athletics. Under Liebscher’s leadership, an initiative to fully endow all of the University’s coaching and athletics scholarships was launched, and the first-ever head coaching endowment at the University was secured in 2015, with seven additional coaching positions named subsequently; the Rockne Heritage Fund has grown nearly 150% in annual expendable revenue in support of discretionary funding; and a new Boathouse and Track and Field Facility have been built. Liebscher has also been involved in the new $400M Campus Crossroads project and is currently leading the fundraising for a Basketball practice facility and an indoor Football facility. She assisted with the establishment of the Advisory Council for the Student-Athlete and now has oversight of this group of high-capacity benefactors.
After returning to her alma mater in 2002 as a Senior Academic Counselor for Student-Athlete Academic Services, she was asked to join the Development team in September of 2004 as an Assistant Director and was promoted to Director of Athletics Advancement in 2007. In that role, Liebscher developed and led the Joyce Grants-in-Aid program – a program that was recognized campus-wide as the gold standard for outstanding donor stewardship – while also managing a portfolio of individual benefactors and playing an instrumental role in the capital campaigns for the Softball, Lacrosse and Hockey facilities. In 2010, Liebscher was promoted to Director of Regional Development, where she was responsible for developing relationships with members of the Notre Dame family who primarily resided in Southern California and other parts of the western United States.
Prior to returning to the University, Liebscher spent four years in National Corporate Banking at PNC Bank in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati managing a portfolio of Fortune 500 companies, and served as the Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1996-2002.
A four-year monogram winner and captain of the women’s basketball team, Liebscher graduated from Notre Dame with a Bachelors in American Studies in 1991 and earned the distinction of being the first athlete in school history to record a triple-double. She led her team to four conference championships and the first Top 20 national ranking in school history. While completing her M.B.A. at the University from 1991-93, she served as the Women’s Basketball Graduate Assistant Coach under newly-elected Hall of Fame Head Coach, Muffet McGraw.
Liebscher was a part of the Notre Dame family long before donning the Irish uniform, as her father, Carl, graduated from the University in 1949 and her mother, Mary, graduated from Saint Mary’s College in 1950. Including four older siblings who earned degrees from Notre Dame and one from Saint Mary’s, Liebscher has 17 additional members of her extended family who are “Domers” and she currently shares the campus with three more who are undergraduates.
Outside the office, Liebscher has been an avid participant in the Women’s Basketball team’s annual Pink Zone efforts in support of breast cancer research and awareness. She has also served as a volunteer youth basketball coach and as a mentor for the Building Bridges multicultural program, in addition to recently joining the Women’s Advisory Board for Habitat for Humanity.