Photo: Inaugural TPF Fellow, Hannah Saeger Karnei

‘Opportunity to innovate’: Master’s degree student is The Patterson Foundation’s inaugural Fellow

Posted on March 25, 2019
Editor's Note: Hannah Saeger Karnei, a current student at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, has been selected as the first emerging nonprofit leader to participate in The Patterson Foundation’s Fellows Initiative. As she prepares to graduate in May and start as a TPF Fellow, she shared her experiences at the school and what she’s looking forward to at The Patterson Foundation.

What is your background?
Hannah Saeger Karnei (HSK): I attended Virginia Tech and graduated with a B.S. in Human Development with an emphasis on Human Service. I ended up finishing my degree in three years after taking multiple credit hours abroad.

After graduation, I accepted a sales internship at WealthEngine, a prospect research software company. It was fascinating to learn about fundraising and the inner workings of nonprofits, and I transitioned from intern to full-time inside sales to the marketing team. I learned about the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy from an email they sent to WealthEngine.

When I discovered the program, and when I was able to apply, I was using the school’s academic research to formulate marketing campaign strategies.

In 2016, I also managed the marketing operations for Echo360, a provider of lecture capture and active learning technology for higher education.

What made you want to return to get your master’s in philanthropic studies?
HSK: I had always thought that I would continue my education. When I found out about the school, it seemed like the perfect fit. I knew that I wanted to be working in a “mission-driven” environment and that philanthropy was a very interesting and dynamic field.

I also liked the idea of a “liberal arts” approach to the program. Once I found out about it, I didn’t consider any alternatives, and there aren’t any with the same approach as this school.

Any class or faculty member that has stood out to you?
HSK: I loved both of the classes I took with Dr. Catherine Herrold. Civil Society in Comparative Perspective was a great class to take first semester because I feel like it highlighted a lot about what I didn’t know and challenged me to think bigger about how we interact and the differences between what the U.S.-centered view is and what the rest of the world might be practicing.

Any internships and/or specific areas of interest?
HSK: I did my internship with my G.A. position at LifeSmart Youth, which has been a great exposure to a small shop development office. Cause-wise, I‘m particularly interested in Type 1 Diabetes research and advocacy, and youth.

I’m intrigued by the venture philanthropy and impact investing trends; kind of the melding and adaptation of for-profit strategy and nonprofit end goals. The research around community foundations and giving circles has also really piqued my interest in relation to the ever-changing definition of community in the technology age and how people are responding to it.

What are you most looking forward to about working with The Patterson Foundation?
HSK: I’m excited about the opportunity to learn and work with The Patterson Foundation team. I feel that they are deeply committed to providing a growth experience in terms of both professional development and learning the ins and outs of the foundation world.

The foundation doesn’t operate in a traditional private foundation sense, and that’s very exciting to me. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation in the philanthropic sector and I look forward to seeing firsthand how it’s working in Sarasota. It’s an honor to be the inaugural fellow and begin to solidify the partnership between The Patterson Foundation and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy so that future cohorts can have the same fantastic development opportunity.

Anything else?
HSK: I’m always grateful for the unwavering support of my family as I continue to pursue my aspirations, and I greatly appreciate the support of the school’s faculty and my classmates as well. It's wonderful to learn and work in such a positive and supportive community.

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