Photo: Fellows icon with  Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and TPF logos

A Year of Possibilities

Posted on June 10, 2019 by Hannah Saeger Karnei, Inaugural TPF Fellow
When The Patterson Foundation visited the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to present the Fellows program to my classmates and me, there was a spark of recognition in my brain. I was reading The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz, which chronicles her path to founding Acumen through her time in Rwanda and all over the world. I was searching for a career trajectory where there would be an expectation of impact, perhaps not quite as large scale as Ms. Novogratz’s but real nonetheless. I knew that perhaps the most crucial first step (beyond leaving a career in marketing to attend the Lilly School) was to find an organization that was willing to partner with me to cultivate and direct my ambition.

Enter The Patterson Foundation (TPF). The TPF approach focuses on connecting, learning, sharing, evolving, and strengthening. They look to fund networked initiatives rather than individual organizations, and they do it well. With their new Fellows Initiative, TPF is working to cultivate a generation of philanthropic leaders focused on driving long-term change, not just a group of people who understand a grant cycle.

To me, this year-long fellows program represents an invaluable opportunity to work with and learn from a team of meticulously innovative philanthropists. As a foundation, TPF embraces the power of shifting funders’ attitudes from one of scarcity to one of creative abundance. While no one organization can solve every problem, The Patterson Foundation strives to engage individuals, business, nonprofits, government, and media in every initiative. By including young philanthropic leaders such as myself as they work to build these networked initiatives, TPF is providing a unique learning opportunity in the art and science of relationship building, community engagement, strategic philanthropy, and achieving shared aspirations.

I enthusiastically accepted The Patterson Foundation’s offer to be their inaugural fellow. As with any new endeavor, and especially with something new in philanthropy, there’s still some mystery about what exactly I will be doing for a year in Sarasota. I invite you to follow along over the next 51 weeks as I chronicle my experiences and lessons learned as The Patterson Foundation’s first fellow so that we can explore the possibilities together.

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