Introducing Emma Zigan

Date: 25 Nov 2023

Emma Zigan took up the newly introduced role of Director of Advancement in May this year as part of the Dilworth Trust Board’s vision for the school. You may have seen her at school events, on the sports field sidelines, participating in service trips, working with the Dilworth Old Boys’ Association (DOBA), showing alumni visitors and supporters around the school, and working with the Trust Board.


Director of Advancement leaning on balustrade


Passionate about her role and the positive impact it can bring, Emma often refers to her role as being “a facilitator of joy” and Advancement as the “active pursuit of progress - making plans happen”. Her vision for Advancement at Dilworth is clear when she talks about the desire to “develop a sustainable philanthropic culture of giving of time, talent, and treasure, all to benefit the students, the school, and the broader community”. Emma is equally passionate about Dilworth and what it can achieve for ākonga. “The gift of opportunity that our students receive is truly amazing and this school is so unique in the world. I am thankful to have the chance to be part of the Dilworth team, who work tirelessly to support and deliver the life-enhancing teaching and learning that our students benefit from, now and into the future”.

Before taking up her role as Director of Advancement, Emma gained extensive experience in the area with a 12-year stint in Educational Advancement and International School leadership that spanned several different countries, the USA, Brazil, and Belgium, where she lived and worked with her family - her husband is a Physics teacher.

On returning home to Aotearoa NZ, she spent two years as a consultant at Giving Architects, a local consulting company that specialises in fundraising best practices, stakeholder engagement and capital fundraising campaigns across the charitable sector. Notable school projects she worked on include St Cuthbert’s, Kristin, and Wellington Boys.

Emma notes that a key part of Advancement is about stakeholder and alumni relations and recognising that different people can contribute to the organisation in their own way - some perhaps through financial support and others through volunteering their time and skills.

Emma is keen to get more people involved with Dilworth and tells us that “Best practice is for organisations to broaden their definition of alumni to encompass not just former students, but also their parents, whānau, past teachers, and trustees – everyone with a strong and positive connection to the school”. The Advancement team is working on plans to introduce an inclusive Dilworth Alumni Network as an umbrella approach across the wider alumni community. She says this will “involve extending authentic opportunities to the different alumni segments to participate in various school, DOBA and other Old Boy focused events, mentoring programmes, as well as creating pathways for alumni to contribute to the school's future and growth.

Looking ahead to 2024, Emma is working with her team on implementing a Young Alumni programme. This is a proactive approach with one of its aims to develop in Year 9-13 students a clear understanding of what it means to be an Old Boy and the value and benefit of remaining closely connected to your class and your school, even in the first 10-years ‘beyond the green gates’. Specific 1-, 5- and 10-year ‘young alumni’ reunions will be established, as well as Business Networking events to assist with careers, - even special interest group events such as the getting together of recent Dilworth 1st XV rugby teams and their whānau.

Emma's message to Dilworth’s community is this: "Please engage and participate, for the collective benefit of our school." She believes 2024 marks an opportune moment for Dilworth to positively move forward following the significant reset project and the development of a new strategic plan for both Dilworth School and the Trust Board Office.

And her final point:

“Advancement isn't simply about fundraising; it's about fostering joy, forging meaningful connections, and contributing to the enduring legacy of this exceptional school."

For inquiries or involvement, please contact Emma Zigan at