Sonoma State University
Senior Director, University Budget and Planning
Laura Lupei is a Sonoma State Seawolf through and through. A two-time alumna, she has spent her entire career helping to steward Sonoma State’s financial assets and budget, first as a project manager of business process improvement, then as a budget manager and now as senior director for university budget and planning.
Together with her team of four, Lupei ensures Sonoma State’s financial resources are aligned with the university’s strategic goals. As part of the campus executive leadership team, it falls to her to advise on budgetary policy and strategy and establish effective communication between campus leadership and stakeholders to ensure shared governance and budget transparency.
Lupei’s nearly 15 years at Sonoma State have honed her experience in navigating periods of transition and challenging times when the campus needed to maximize resources, as during recent state budget cuts. Through it all, she continually strives to find new and better ways to do her work. As chair of the Cost Allocation Methodology Task Force, Lupei recommended an updated methodology for the campus cost-allocation plan, which had not been updated in at least 20 years. Using a consensus-based decision-making model, she was able to shift to a transaction-based calculation that is clear and consistent.
She also led several innovations in how Sonoma State manages its budgetary resources. To start, Lupei oversaw the implementation of a new strategic budgeting framework that links planning to budgeting and revised the campus budget timeline to align with the annual planning timeline. The transition from Excel to Questica, a Web-based interactive budget management and planning tool, is helping the campus to better forecast expenses while providing the detailed reporting that departments need.
Lupei received her bachelor’s in psychology and her master’s in public administration from Sonoma State University.