What kind of country will you build?

What Matters

During this uncertain time, our 80 newest graduates are entering a world in which many things are not as they would have expected. Yet rather than complain or bemoan their fate, many of our graduates and our continuing students—alongside our neighbors and colleagues—have stepped up.

Some have started youth movements to raise philanthropic support, or delivered sustenance to others, or worked in heroic ways to nurture those affected by the current crisis. And beyond helping today, they are working to seed a tomorrow in which generosity can flourish and shape more of the world around us.

The ways in which we are seeing philanthropy respond to the coronavirus and its economic impact also foreshadow the ways in which our graduates and students will live out the philanthropy they already practice and have studied, giving of their time, talent, treasure, and testimony to help others.

One will be a doctor, several others are or soon will be fundraisers for hospitals, secondary and higher education institutions, libraries, and hunger relief organizations, yet others will serve as consultants who assist nonprofits in multiple ways, or program officers who invest in talented and dedicated leaders, and some will be youth development specialists, advocates for children, families, and animals, leaders of arts organizations, and pursuers of further education to advance knowledge and benefit their communities.

They are part of that next generation we will look to in order to make sense of what emerges from the current conditions and strive to build a better world.

Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest writers in the English language that we are privileged to share the planet with just wrote a forceful essay, asking us What Kind of Country Do We Want? In it, she questions much of what we take for granted in perceiving the social world we share. She argues that we have drifted far from the civic ideals that forged the American experiment, and that we now have an opportunity to clear up the muddle. She writes:

Emergencies remind us that people admire selflessness and enjoy demands on their generosity, and that the community as a whole is revivified by such demands. Great cost and greater benefit, as these things are traditionally understood. If in present circumstances we are driven back on our primitive impulses, then we should be watching our collective behavior carefully, because it will be instructive with regard to identifying an essential human nature. In more senses than one we are living through an unprecedented experiment, an opportunity it would be a world-historical shame to waste.

Our new graduates are poised to join the ranks of alumni of our school who have been demonstrating the “revivifying demands of generosity.” Others who have received the same education and credentials are on the front lines of the COVID response. From building a youth movement in Mexico to address the crisis, to raising funds at medical systems to support caregivers, to responding to the needs of congregations, to advocating for those disproportionately affected by the virus ... those who preceded our newest graduates are helping, healing, and rebuilding.

They are already engaged with this challenge and making us proud. It is a monumental challenge, and our alumni—both long-standing and our most recent—are responding with great positive energy.

As Robinson suggests, there is a profound opportunity in our current challenge, and it is reassuring that the most recent crop of successful graduates of the world’s first school of philanthropy are not alone. They are each an important part of a community of discovery, to which they will belong for the rest of their journey through life. They are and forever will remain part of our learning family, which shares a curiosity for philanthropy. Their experiences have pushed our community forward through their personal success—a community that stands strong together and extends its hands to others.

The persistence and commitment of our community is all the more impressive since most learned understandings of society and human behavior do not much dwell on the power of generosity. Read the news and you learn of the great changes portended to arrive in the wake of the pandemic. They most often point to affairs of state, grand commercial trends, and technology triumphant. But the experiences we have of navigating the crisis mostly point to meaningful interactions we have in community, where generosity serves as the animating spirit.

I am, of course biased, but I see further vindication of our predecessors’ commitment to advancing the ideas of a school that would study the generative power of generosity. Will we succeed in extending the communal feeling to others beyond the course of the crisis? How long will we “be in this together?” Aren’t these key questions?

As part of our family, we invite recent graduates and alumni from all years to renew their curiosity and ties to the people and traditions that supported their education. Their connections to the communities that they formed here stand the test of time. While graduates control their own destinies, collaboration within our community and the nonprofit sector is key to making a difference.

We encourage them, and you, to always continue learning; education has a way of uncovering the wonder in people and places, while at the same time adding to each and every individual’s abundance of enlightenment and usefulness.

We celebrate our graduates, our alumni, and our students for their achievements, their hard work, and their dedication to making the world a better place. And we welcome all those who are curious about the role of philanthropy in the world they are making. Join us. We are all in this together.

Best regards,

Dean Amir Pasic

Amir Pasic
Eugene R. Tempel Dean

Do great work and earn a great career

students with jobs after graduation

The month of May often signifies warm weather, fresh flowers, and longer days. At the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, May is a special month, as students graduate and receive bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees, as well as graduate certificates, in philanthropic studies. They begin or continue in jobs where they serve the philanthropic sector.

We’re highlighting four students who have earned new jobs, why they’re excited to begin those roles, and how they’re connecting their studies to their professional work.

Macy Rogers, B.A.’20, Gleaners Food Bank (IN)

Macy Rogers serves as stewardship manager at Gleaners Food Bank in Indiana, where she is responsible for designing and implementing a donor relations stewardship program that recognizes and promotes engagement with donors.

Why is she excited to work at Gleaners?

“My passion for philanthropy started while I was in high school, when I joined a student organization that supported those in our community who were food insecure,” she said.

“Gleaners supports a large number of individuals who need support, and I am so excited to be a part of a team who is leading that fight! I feel very lucky to continue my passion for food insecurity and pair it with the joy of fundraising.”

She also notes how her courses and experiences at the school and IU Indianapolis have contributed to her knowledge of stewardship, fundraising, and philanthropy.

“My favorite part of the fundraising cycle is stewardship,” Rogers said. “Learning through the school how there are so many unique ways to continue engaging and building a connection with donors is just the beginning of integrating a donor into the organization.

“Being with the school also illustrates the beauty of networking. Getting to know the professors and talking to them about what you want to get involved in is very important. Especially during this challenging time, I encourage students to reach out to your professors and peers within the school. So many of them have such a vast variety of networks, and they will be more than willing to support you in any way that they can.”

Alan Lally, M.A.‘20, Indianapolis Public Library Foundation

Alan Lally works as a development officer at the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation, where he is in charge of writing Friends of Library appeals, writing grant proposals, and managing a portfolio of donors.

As an undergrad, he served as a front desk worker for his school’s library. “I loved it so much that I decided my dream job would be to work as a fundraiser for a library. It is so amazing to see the dream come true,” he said.

He says he most enjoys fundraising for amazing programs that help children develop the early literacy skills they need, help people find jobs and encourage adults to read for fun:

“It is so rewarding to think about the impact these programs are making, and how my work is making this impact possible. I also love the variety of my job. I love how my job gives me the opportunity to utilize existing skills, while also building new ones.”

And how did his coursework at the school help inform his experiences at the foundation?

“Last year, I took Principles and Practices of Fundraising with Dr. Tim Seiler,” Lally said. “For this class, we needed to pick a nonprofit organization, analyze their fundraising activities, and identify strengths and opportunities. I picked the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.

“Thanks to this connection I made, the Library Foundation's president (a school alum) approached me last summer about a temporary proposal writer position they had open. I applied for the position and got it. Then late last year, there was an opening for a permanent development officer position. I applied for it, got the job, and still have that position today. I completely owe the fact that I have my job to my studies at the school.”

Travis Tester, M.A.’20, University of South Carolina School of Law

Travis Tester currently serves as the interim senior director of development and alumni relations for the University of South Carolina School of Law.

He began working at the school in January 2017, focusing on the annual fund, and then received a promotion in November 2018, concentrating on major gifts, before earning his current role this month. Now, Tester is responsible for the law school's Office of Development and Alumni Relations and meeting or exceeding its $2 million fundraising goal, while also engaging alumni in a meaningful way.

Tester has also found valuable ways to tie his coursework, experiences, and relationships formed at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy with his professional work.

“I find myself drawing upon my time at the school frequently,” he said. “Numerous occasions, it's to call (director of graduate programs) Kathi Badertscher and ask for her sage advice. No one could ever convince me I would utilize theories taught in the Economics of Philanthropy course, specifically the marginal donative product of fundraising (MDPF) to determine our optimal solicitation budget; but I do frequently.

“The coursework at the school has allowed me to hone in on my many years of being a practitioner and without being cliché, approach my work more holistically. Through the school, I’ve been also able to foster, nurture, and build life-long relationships. These relationships have become my lifeline in my work and perspective. For that, I am forever grateful to the countless hours of work, dedication, and commitment to the art in which we all are passionate about; it is the many faces of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy that have allowed me to be a better practitioner, supervisor, philanthropist, and person.”

John Kroetz, M.A.’20, St. Richard’s Episcopal School (IN)

John Kroetz works at St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis, IN, as its assistant director of development. In that role, he focuses on managing the entire annual fund, planning the school’s largest annual fundraising event, and managing the donor database.

Kroetz enjoys his wide range of responsibilities.

“Every day is different, and I always have new challenges that pop up.” he said. “I’m learning so much about so many aspects of fundraising and education.”

He also appreciates working with the faculty, staff, and students at the school.

“The teachers are fantastic, the leadership team actively supports me and the ideas that I have, and the students are friendly and communicate so well. The school offers such a positive sense of community overall,” Kroetz said.

Kroetz credits the school with increasing his knowledge and experiences about fundraising:

“I simply wouldn’t be in this role without the school, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I go back to old papers and assignments weekly when I’m writing solicitation letters, creating strategic plans, and organizing events. I utilize my knowledge that I gained from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy every single day in this role.

“I’m also extremely thankful and grateful to the faculty and staff at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. They have opened up my eyes to the philanthropic world through a multitude of ways. This job is one of the first steps in my fundraising career, and I owe it to the faculty and staff at the school for helping me realize and achieve my career goals thus far.”

Learn more about our 2019-2020 graduates

Celebrating accomplishments

students who won awards

Five Lilly Family School of Philanthropy students, three undergraduates and two graduate students, were honored with awards from IU Indianapolis for the 2019-2020 school year.

The Top 100 award is given to 100 outstanding undergraduate students who demonstrate excellence in three categories—academic excellence, campus leadership, and community engagement.

Juniors Kellie Alexander and Alexa Carr were recognized with this award.

“I am honored to represent my university, degree program, and community. Being chosen as an IU Indianapolis Top 100 student means so much to me professionally, academically, and personally,” Alexander explained.

In addition, Carr was chosen as a Top 10 student, which includes 10 top students chosen from the Top 100.

“IU Indianapolis is such a great school with so many incredible people, and that is why it means so much that I was selected for the IU Indianapolis Top 100. I truly would not be where I am without the support of the amazing professors, staff, and students throughout the campus. I am especially thankful for the encouragement I have received from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Honors College, School of Science, and Jagathon throughout my academic journey,” Carr stated.

Senior Nirupama Devanathan earned a Chancellor’s Scholar designation and the William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion. The medallion honors graduates who have excelled in their commitment to the community through activities such as service learning, volunteerism, community/social issue advocacy, community work-study, and political engagement.

“As a Bepko Scholar, service has been a defining element of my undergraduate career at IU Indianapolis. As a philanthropic studies student, I have had the opportunity to rigorously study civic engagement and voluntary action in society, offering me the ability to intertwine advocacy work in the community with my passions for the biological sciences. I am honored to have been recognized with the Plater Medallion, and continue to seek the mentorship and guidance of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy community in my future endeavors,” Devanathan said.

Devanathan will enroll in the IU School of Medicine this fall.

“I look forward to attending IU School of Medicine in the fall and to centering my education on public health and working to mitigate health disparities,” she said. “I am grateful for my time at the school, learning how to analyze the roles of the three sectors to help address social problems, and especially learning about the power of the nonprofit sector to drive change.”

Two graduate students, both enrolled in the Ph.D. program, earned Elite 50 honors, which are given to students who demonstrate excellence beyond the classroom in areas such as campus leadership, scholarly work, and community engagement.

Second-year student Christina Eggenberger said, “Our school’s graduate programs are small in comparison to others, but our students are dynamic. I’m proud and honored to be able to represent a part of that dynamism at the university level.

“I am involved in multiple aspects of IU Indianapolis so I want to thank our school, Graduate and Student Professional Government (GPSG), the Center for Service and Learning, and the Study Abroad Office for all offering opportunities to engage in their projects.”

Fourth-year candidate Jamie Goodwin was chosen not only as a member of the Elite 50, but was further selected as one of the Premier 10, a selection of the top 10 students from the Elite 50.

“For me, this award is a symbol of all those who have poured into my life and learning in extraordinary ways,” she said. “I am beyond grateful to God, my family, my professors and staff who dedicate themselves to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. It is an honor to be a part of its story.”

Bicentennial medals

awards graphic

One faculty member and one staff member were honored with bicentennial medals, which are awarded to organizations and individuals who, through their personal, professional, artistic, or philanthropic efforts, have broadened the reach of Indiana University around the state, nation, and world.

Dr. Debra Mesch, Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy, and Andrea Pactor, associate director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, were both honored by IU First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie with these medals for their contributions to furthering the understanding and field of women’s philanthropy.

Faculty awards 

Several faculty members were also honored with external, campus, and school awards.

  • Lehn Benjamin - That’s Interesting! Award, 1st place; Best Paper Award, 2nd place. Measuring Social Impact Sub-Theme, European Group for Organizational Studies 2019. 
  • Dwight Burlingame - ARNOVA Distinguished Achievement & Leadership in Nonprofit & Voluntary Action Award.
  • Catherine Herrold - Mount Holyoke College Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee; Palestinian American Research Center Fellowship for Field Research in Palestine
  • Sara Konrath – Recipient of the 2020 Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)/Skystone Partners Prize for Research on Fundraising and Philanthropy (with Dr. Femida Handy)
  • Pamala Wiepking – Ranked No. 21 on the list of 100 most influential people in philanthropy in the Netherlands in 2019

Congratulations to all of our honorees. We are proud of you.

Learn more about our faculty

'Dear graduates…'

congratulations class of 2020 graphic

Graduating during a global pandemic and economic downturn caused by COVID-19 is not easy.

So, what benefit will a philanthropic studies degree have during this time of uncertainty?

We asked four alumni who graduated around the time of the 2007-2009 Great Recession to share their advice for students searching for or beginning careers in the philanthropic sector.

See what they have to say below.

Bryan Roesler, M.A. and M.P.A.’09, co-founder, Quill Grants
Ashleigh Graves-Roesler, M.A.’11, co-founder, Quill Grants

Graduating at the peak of the Great Recession in 2008 was an unsettling prospect. There were few nonprofit jobs, and fundraising was difficult. Many of us took the first jobs that felt like a step back from the careers we had planned. Life and the job market are even more uncertain today. However, while the prospects may seem limited now, there is an essential place for each of you new graduates in the recovery ahead.

Chaos abounds in our country, and it will take time for our communities to recover. We have all realized that virtually every nonprofit, business, and industry—no matter how seemingly stable—is and always has been teetering on a knife's edge. COVID-19 has cast light on countless inequities in our society.

When we begin to recover, we will need thousands of talented and creative nonprofit professionals to start the process of rebuilding our communities, supporting our vulnerable neighbors, and preparing the next generations. In the meantime, stay committed to nonprofit work. Build relationships with people you respect. Keep your networks healthy. The world needs resourceful and compassionate nonprofit professionals, and this experience will cement those qualities in you.

Brittany Kienker, M.A.’10 and Ph.D.’13, principal and owner, Kienker Consulting LLC
James Kienker M.A.’10, grants management administrator, Trinity Health

Dear Class of 2020,

Having graduated in similarly challenging times during the Great Recession, we have been asked to offer some advice for the graduating class.

Always work to deliver value for your organization and the communities you serve. No matter what economic situation you find yourself entering upon graduation (good times or bad), that is what matters the most. Find a job where your talents are needed, even if that is not the specific part of the sector that you’re interested in pursuing right out of school, and apply yourself. Everything else will fall into place, given time.

We are employed by organizations to serve communities with tangible contributions, and sometimes those contributions are not what we would consider our dream job(s). Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs, puts it this way: “Don’t follow your passion; follow opportunity, and bring your passion with you.” Not everything is going to go according to plan. That’s ok. Work on things that you can control, which is the energy and value that you will bring to your work.

In the future, do not look back at this moment and lay blame on your circumstances or the COVID-19 pandemic for its impact on your future career prospects. As those working in the midst of the crisis, we can tell you that we will need your energy and creativity to rebuild the sector in the coming years. Learn from the incredible work being done across the sector right now. Talk to professionals in the field, make connections, and find a way to assist in the work, whether that means you serve as a professional, board member, or volunteer.

Congratulations and best wishes!

Salvatore Alaimo, Ph.D.’08, associate professor, School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration, Grand Valley State University

I earned my Ph.D. in Philanthropic Studies from the then-Center on Philanthropy in the fall of 2008. Trying to progress in anything in the fall of 2008 was challenging due to the economic crisis, so my timing was not good. I remember applying to 13 institutions that had programs and positions suited to my degree and background. Only eight saw the light of day to hiring a new faculty member. The others pulled the positions due to budgeting concerns and revenue shortfalls.

In spite of having a one in eight chance, I was lucky to receive two offers and had to decide on which one to accept in about 24 hours due to the timing of the applications. I chose Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I will be entering my 11th year as a professor teaching philanthropy and nonprofit administration.

You might be wondering what helped me in this process, which obviously came with much anxiety. Several themes emerged, which I believe will be helpful to you as you embark on the next steps in your academic and professional careers during this current crisis.

One, have a side hustle that contributes to your work in this field. It could be a research project, a consulting assignment, or some other engagement where you are working in the field, contributing to knowledge and practice, and networking the whole time with others.

Two, building off the first, never stop networking with people whom you want to remain in contact with throughout your career. That will likely help you in some way get your next position, and they can impart wisdom to you as you navigate your next steps. This includes your professors at the school who genuinely care about where you land and are there to help.

Reach out to alumni like myself and many others who are automatic encouragers for you and your cohorts. Maintain relationships with your cohorts. I have friendships with my Ph.D. cohorts that will remain for the rest of our lives. Be sure to remember that networking can build social capital if it relies on trust, good communication, and reciprocity.

Three, continue reading and learning as if you never graduated. As tired as you are and as much as you want and deserve a break, don’t completely detach yourself from the field. Books, journal articles or trade papers like The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The NonProfit Times and others will serve you well as you stay on top of the latest news in our field, which is valuable to any job search.

Lastly, it’s cliché, but perseverance will especially be not only valuable but mandatory in a time of crisis. Have thick skin, accept and learn from rejection in the way most good fund development people do, and continue to remain positive during this challenging journey.

Best wishes to all of you. We look forward to hearing the good news about where you land and see your future contributions to our field.

Find out how you earn a degree in giving back

The Learning by Giving experience in the midst of COVID-19

learning by giving check to horizon house

By Rachel Hendrickson and Courtney Gamage

The Learning by Giving class allows IU Indianapolis students the opportunity to experience the grantmaking process before ever entering the philanthropic workforce. From essentially creating our own foundation to ultimately granting a worthy nonprofit organization $10,000, this course led our class through a thoughtful decision-making process and allowed for healthy debates in a controlled environment.

This unforgettable college experience would not have been possible without the generosity of the Learning by Giving Foundation, the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and the PNC Foundation. We also appreciate United Way’s contribution of knowledge and expertise of nonprofits in Central Indiana.

Much like the surrounding city of Indianapolis that IU Indianapolis is located in, our own Learning by Giving class was full of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and personal values, which impacted the mission and vision statements our class foundation created. These perspectives also influenced the individual outlooks on the current needs that exist in our community. Ultimately, we decided to focus on homelessness, education, and healthcare access as the most pressing issues the people of Indianapolis are facing.

Similar to the rest of the world, once the implications of COVID-19 hit, the process used in the past for awarding the Learning by Giving grant had to be drastically changed. What used to be an in-class participatory event of reviewing applicants’ proposals was moved to individual evaluations and class discussions via video calls.

One aspect of the grantmaking process that was severely impacted by COVID-19 was the much anticipated personal site visits. This is the step in the process where students would usually get to tour and see the daily impact of the organizations. However, our class had to resort to virtual site visits, which gave us a limited perspective on the physical grounds of the organization but offered time for in-depth conversations with the organization’s leadership. These conversations provided invaluable insight that aided us when making our decision.

After much deliberation, our foundation decided upon Horizon House as the recipient of our grant. Their grant proposal for housing kits and bus passes to assist individuals coming out of homelessness will provide opportunities for personal empowerment and sustainable lifestyle changes. We were moved by their understanding and commitment to individuals facing homelessness in Indianapolis and felt that they had a responsible plan laid out to utilize the grant money.

The virtual ceremony awarding the check may have not provided the same opportunities for face-to-face celebration, but we know that the grant money received will be just as impactful in the fight to eradicate homelessness.

As college students, the ability to award a $10,000 grant to the organization of our choice was a dream come true. The process was sometimes difficult and emotional, but ultimately gave us real life experience that we will all carry on into our future careers.

Even though this process may not have originally gone as expected, it gave each of us students the opportunity to see what actual nonprofit organizations are going through during this unprecedented time.

Learn more about our bachelor’s degree program

Two graduates earn Fellowships with The Patterson Foundation

john ferguson and abby rolland

We’re excited to introduce The Patterson Foundation Fellows for 2020-2021!

John Ferguson and Abby Rolland will serve a year with The Patterson Foundation, learning about the inner workings of an innovative and community-focused foundation, while also bringing their own knowledge and experiences to assist the foundation in carrying out its mission. The Fellows Program is part of a collaboration between the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and The Patterson Foundation through its Advancing Philanthropic Leadership initiative.

The Patterson Foundation, a fully endowed charitable entity located in Sarasota, Fla., has worked to strengthen people, organizations, and communities since 2010 through a variety of initiatives covering a range of local, regional, national, and global issues. Our collaboration represents the latest evolution of The Patterson Foundation’s approach, which emphasizes sharing homegrown knowledge gained through working in diverse initiatives while creating platforms to learn the latest innovations for generating sustainable impact.

Ferguson and Rolland were asked to share about their backgrounds, experiences, and why they wanted to pursue a career in philanthropy.

John Ferguson

While holding various leadership responsibilities in his fraternity and then working in restaurant management, John Ferguson knew that he was passionate about helping people, particularly in the field of education, music, and human rights.

“I believe education is the key to unlocking human potential, music (and art) is the key to full human expression, and that everyone deserves to exist as they are with no policy or belief that makes them above or below anyone else,” he said.

So when he returned to school in 2012, Ferguson knew that he wanted to work in the nonprofit sector. He also wanted a degree that would challenge his thinking.

“Philanthropic studies became the perfect choice to expand my understanding of philanthropy and position myself to enter the nonprofit field after graduation,” he said.

Coursework, and guidance from mentors in the philanthropic studies program, helped shape his thinking about the sector throughout the program and after he graduated in 2016.

“So many of the faculty members have made such a tremendous impact on my life,” Ferguson said. “Dr. Tyrone Freeman introduced me to philanthropic studies as a degree option and served as a mentor throughout my time there. Dr. Kathi Badertscher is an amazing and uniquely gifted professor who always challenged me to challenge myself and think broadly. (Director of student services and admissions) Pamela Clark’s faith in me helped me overcome many difficult moments over the years and encouraged me to pursue opportunities I never imagined would come true.”

After graduating, Ferguson earned a position at the Indiana United Ways, the state membership association serving all United Ways and United Funds throughout Indiana. Most recently, he served as its engagement manager, where he designed and ran leadership programs, trained board members, and led an important data analytics project that informed a new strategic plan.

It was a dynamic internship with The Patachou Foundation, though, while still in school that showed Ferguson what a foundation could be for a community or cause. His interest in The Patterson Foundation (TPF) and its Fellow Program grew his service on the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s alumni board.

“I learned about the partnership with The Patterson Foundation, and was immediately captivated and drawn to TPF’s way of working and the intentionality with which they approach their many initiatives,” he said. “Everything was connected and thoughtfully designed.

“I knew immediately that I wanted to learn from and work in an environment like that.”

In his first days with TPF, Ferguson already is learning a great deal about its innovative and thoughtful model:

“The Patterson Foundation isn’t constrained in its thinking or its ability to act quickly when warranted. I hope that I can bring my unique skills and perspective to the table and see in what ways I can contribute to their continued success while learning a great deal along the way.”

Abby Rolland

A love for all things historical led Abby Rolland to study history as an undergraduate, with the goal of becoming an archivist or curator at a museum. But as her senior year approached, she felt more connected to her volunteer work helping alleviate food insecurity for low-income families than she had with some of her museum internships.

After a year abroad teaching in South America and interning in Southeast Asia, she returned to Indiana with a desire to give back. An AmeriCorps VISTA position at Indianapolis nonprofit Second Helpings seemed the perfect fit. 

“Giving back has long been something that I admired and aspired to do, regardless of my career,” she said. 

“When I finished my VISTA term, a colleague told me about an open marketing and communications position at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. I was extremely lucky to earn that position. Throughout my first months at the school, I realized that philanthropy was something I wanted to be a part of, both professionally and personally, forever, and that a master’s degree in philanthropic studies was exactly what I had been looking for.” 

Rolland enrolled in the master’s program and earned her degree while also working full time at the school. What she learned in her job and through her classes confirmed her passion for philanthropy. 

“So many of my classes have tied together in ways that I never thought would happen,” she said. “My three classes on foundations—Grantmaking and the Role of Foundations, Community Foundations, and Institutional Fundraising, provided a well-rounded, thorough, and fascinating perspective into foundations and institutional funders. 

“I also loved studying abroad with Dr. Pamala Wiepking. That experience has continuously reminded me that philanthropy is not a uniquely American experience. Around the world, people give and live generously.” 

Rolland learned about The Patterson Foundation Fellows Program and realized it was a great opportunity to dive into the work that she had been writing and learning about for 2.5 years. 

“The Patterson Foundation is an incredibly innovative foundation, in touch with its partners and responsive to community needs,” Rolland said. “It doesn’t arrive to the table with the answers, but works with its partners in identifying key issues that need to be addressed. It works across all sectors to help analyze those issues. I wanted to pursue the amazing fellowship opportunity to learn from them.” 

She was thrilled when she found out she had been selected as a Fellow and is eager to begin her work with the Foundation. 

“I have a lot to learn, and honestly, that’s what I’m looking forward to the most,” she said. “From my vantage point, The Patterson Foundation is on the leading edge of being transparent, of communicating openly and honestly, and of serving and being there for its community. I am so excited to be able to learn from them during the coming year and implement newly-learned skills and knowledge throughout my professional career.” 

Learn more about this Fellowship opportunity