Growing up on the U.S.-Mexico border, Dora Zúñiga could not have imagined that she would fall in love with Wisconsin and the “Wisconsin Idea,” but a scholarship brought her north for college in the 1980s, and she’s called the Badger State home ever since. Now, after decades of work in Madison’s nonprofit community, she’s back on the UW campus connecting with communities across the state as Wisconsin Public Radio’s new director of development.

“Nearly 20 years ago a friend invited me to listen to WPR and I’ve been hooked ever since,” said Zúñiga. “WPR and NPR helps me learn about Wisconsin and the world. It allows me to hear different points of view and draw my own conclusions about the issues that affect my life. I’m looking forward to extending an invitation to those unfamiliar with our programs on-air and online and, at the same time, to building relationships with those who already share our passion for unbiased news, inspiring music and cultural coverage in Wisconsin and around the world.”

Dora Zúñiga
Dora Zúñiga

In announcing her hire, WPR director Mike Crane said, “I have had the pleasure of knowing Dora for many years and found she is a dynamic, exciting, and effective leader. I’m thrilled she’s joining our team!”

Zúñiga comes to WPR with more than 25 years of experience in the greater Madison community. She has led two nonprofits — Centro Hispano and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County — where fundraising was a key responsibility and where she directed efforts to secure funds from individuals, corporations and government grant sources. Zúñiga also worked as director of leadership giving at the United Way of Dane County where, in partnership with the United Way Foundation Trustees, she developed and implemented changes that helped grow their major gift and endowment funding.

“One of my passions in life is cooking,” Zúñiga says. “In fact, as a Mexican, I express my love with food. If WPR were a food, it would be my homemade corn tortillas. Grinding corn is not easy, but it makes all the difference in the end. I hear that same passion, commitment and attention to detail come out of my radio every day on WPR.”

Among her honors, Zúñiga was named the 2014 UMOS Hispanic Woman of the Year, when she also earned the Madison Rotary Vocational Service Award. She received the Roberto G. Sanchez Leadership Award from Centro Hispano in 2013, and in 2003 she was noted as one of the “all-time top 125 most influential Madisonians” by Madison Magazine.