Meet Your Library Staff: Selena Paulsen, Development Officer 

white woman smiling in front of a library

In 2023, Selena, our Development Officer, raised over $227,000 of grant funding and generous donor contributions for Poudre Libraries. This represents an exponential increase in Poudre Libraries fundraising.  

Since she joined our organization in Fall 2022, Selena has been writing grants, building donor relationships, and creating pathways for our district to better serve our community.  

Chronicles through the Southwest 

Selena hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico and has called the American Southwest her home for most of her life. She came to Colorado for college, “I went to Colorado University Boulder. Don’t hold it against me.” she said, chuckling. She then lived in Austin, Texas for a short time before making her way back to Colorado. 

Her role at the library was a natural transition, having spent her career working in the nonprofit and local government sectors. “As someone with an English degree, I’m pretty into books and a huge supporter of libraries and what they do. It was a perfect fit.” 

When Selena gets behind the keyboard to write grants, (much to the dismay of her two beloved and misbehaved cats Clementine and Snickers) her storytelling  and deep understanding for the purpose of local public libraries flow into her writing. Selena’s grant success rate soars above the average at a whooping 20% higher than the industry standard. This success can be attributed to her extensive writing experience.  

Selena is a USA Today bestselling author of multiple books that have been devoured by readers across the nation. She was a novelist for over a decade and though she no longer writes books for a living, we’re thrilled to have her writing skills channeled into fundraising for our community.  

“Unless you really like the idea of sales, you need to work for an organization you believe in. It makes the job a lot easier. It doesn’t feel like you’re selling, it feels like you’re presenting a great opportunity,” she stated, smiling.  

The Necessity of Fundraising 

The world has been a tumultuous place in the last five years. From a global pandemic to economic recovery to a massive increase in cost-of-living, fundraising for nonprofits and institutions is vital.  

During our interview, Selena highlighted the relationship between the impact of these changes to the significance of fundraising for the Library District. “At the rate our community is growing, the socioeconomic inequities, and the cost-of-living rising, we cannot do everything we need to do with our regular operating funds. To serve the community to the best of our capacity, we need donations and grants.”  

One study, conducted by the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce, found a 126% increase in housing costs in Fort Collins from 2012-2022. Additionally, according to, Fort Collins is in the top 10% of most expensive cities to live in in the world. 

Selena has built many of our fundraising pathways from the ground up. Her position was brand new when she was hired and its success is deeply tied to her abilities, her affinity for libraries, and her love for her own community. “Building it from the ground up can be a challenge, and I’m proud of how much progress we made. Part of the benefit of doing development for a library is the really concrete things that the money pays for. I can go out and solicit a donation and it buys books for Evie with it…the money really has a direct impact.” 

downtown fort collins colorado in summer

Common Threads of Purpose 

Selena’s support system outside of the office includes her husband of 26 years, her four adult children, and a 12-year-old golden doodle named Chester. Selena’s daughter works remotely teaching English to girls in Afghanistan and has recently collaborated with her mother to raise funds for one of her students to receive a diploma through the same curriculum offered in Career Online High School. Schooling for women in Afghanistan was shut down when the girl was moving into her senior year. 

Selena and her daughter have also successfully helped another young woman secure the means to receive a college education in the United States.  Thanks to the necessary support of her uncle and father, the young woman was able to channel through the Iranian embassy to look towards horizons where she is not only allowed a higher education but welcomed into it.  

Whether her fundraising helps women achieve their education goals or funds library programs like our IMAGINANTES summer camp, the dollars Selena raises have a theme: a greater purpose.   

Her all time book of all-time is tied between Clarissa, Or, The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. In the 10th grade, Selena attended an all-boys prep school that had recently allowed girls to join the student body and wrote an essay on Anna Karenina; the teacher asked her who had written the paper for her, a moment that has stuck with her to this day.  

Libraries are essential and the generous donations and grants that fund them have a tangible impact on communities. Selena’s bright smile, infectious laugh, and incredible fundraising skills help Poudre Libraries provide our community with the absolute best – just as they deserve.  

Inspired by this story? Donate to Poudre Libraries today.