(Peru, Neb.) – Changes to the Peru State College Foundation took a major step forward in January with the addition of Jon Firmature to the staff.

Firmature will serve as Development Officer, according to Foundation Board Chair Jeff Greenwald (‘71). He joins the private, non-profit corporation whose mission is “to provide assistance and support for Peru State College.”

"At the Peru State College Foundation, our goal is to support our students and faculty by securing the resources necessary for their success," Firmature said.

The Foundation team now includes Ted L. Harshbarger (‘77), executive director; Kim Regan, controller; and Susan (Lunzmann ‘94) Unruh, office assistant; and Firmature. It’s governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors currently numbering 13. 

“Needless to say, Jon’s presence and past experience will bring a fresh look to our efforts in support of the Foundation and College,” Greenwald said.

Firmature comes with extensive experience in non-profit work. The Omaha resident most recently served the Iowa West Sports Plex Foundation as its executive director. Previously he was Director of Development for the Credit Advisors Foundation in Omaha, and Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity of Sarpy (Neb.) County.

From 2002-2019 Firmature was President of the Small Business Consultant Group in Omaha. He’s also worked in the media and human resources fields and is a University of Nebraska at Omaha graduate.

A strong background working in the non-profit and fundraising fields isn’t just something Firmature does – it's who he is. He has a lengthy list of volunteer activities including church,youth sports and community betterment activities.

"I am proud to work with a dedicated team that is passionate about advancing the mission of the Peru State College Foundation, making a positive impact on the lives of our students and the broader community," he said.

It’s been several years since the Peru State College Foundation had a staff member focused primarily on fundraising and development. From as many as six full-time staff to as few as two part-timers over the past four years, it’s been a challenging period of transition for the nearly 70-year-old Foundation.

That time hasn’t been spent idly, Greenwald notes. New and additional board members, changes in internal processes, and revised job descriptions for the staff have brought the Foundation to a point where the Board was ready to move to the next stage.

Nor have the fortunes of the Foundation languished, Greenwald noted. It began 2024 with the biggest treasury in its history at more than $22 million, thanks mostly to the loyal support and generosity of alumni and friends of Nebraska’s first college.

Firmature has already begun to get out and start meeting some of those friends, both on an individual basis and in groups. He’s heard all about the intensely loyal alumni base and the rich history of Peru State and is ready to experience it for himself.

"We are committed to fostering a culture of philanthropy and engagement within our community to ensure the continued growth of and excellence of Peru State College," Firmature noted.

The current fundraising campaign, Project ROAR, will certainly be a high priority for Firmature. Already the largest fund drive in Peru State history, its progress has slowed in recent months and is ready for Firmature to make his mark.

Yet Firmature knows that bricks and mortar aren’t necessarily priorities for all of Peru State’s alumni and friends. Scholarships, support for academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs provide many opportunities for charitable giving.

Connecting the interests of prospective benefactors with the needs of Peru State College are Firmature’s, and the Foundation’s, goals.

“The generosity of our alumni support allows Peru State College to provide scholarships and to support our programs that will only empower our students to reach their full potential, just as our alumni have done."

Ultimately, it’s not about the Peru State College Foundation – it's about the College. The Foundation is simply the vehicle Peru State faithful use to show their love and appreciation for the Campus of a Thousand Oaks.

Greenwald expressed his appreciation to Foundation Board members Lori (Vrtiska ‘84) Seibel, Jeff Smith (‘83) and Connie (Sims ‘87) Edmond for their work as members of the search committee.

To contact Jon Firmature, email jfirmature@peru.edu, call (402) 872-2304, or write to him at Jon Firmature, Peru State College Foundation, PO Box 10, Peru NE. 68421-0010.