Foundation Staff

Five staff members enhance The Patterson Foundation’s work. Led by President and CEO Debra Jacobs, an agile staff complements our collaborative approach to philanthropy as our independent consultants provide strategic and tactical expertise through our initiatives.

Debra M. Jacobs

Debra M. Jacobs

President and CEO
Nancy Henry

Nancy Henry

Office Manager
Stacy Sternberg

Stacy Sternberg

Communications Coordinator
Stacey Gadeken

Stacey Gadeken

Administrative Support
John Ferguson

John Ferguson

TPF Fellow 2020/21
Connor LaGrange

Connor LaGrange

TPF Fellow 2021/22
Michael Zimmerman

Michael Zimmerman

TPF Fellow 2021/22

Debra M. Jacobs

President and CEO

In January 2009, Debra Jacobs became the President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation (TPF) based in Sarasota, Florida. TPF works with partners to accelerate positive change by sharing fresh perspectives on strategy, contributing new ideas, and providing resources. TPF believes the act of creative collaboration produces results and knowledge that can be applied more broadly to transcend any single act of philanthropy.

Before transitioning to TPF, Debra was President of the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, based in Sarasota, Florida. In addition to the Selby Foundation, she was responsible for the administration of eight other independent foundations.

Prior to joining the Selby Foundation in May 1998, Debra was the Vice President for Institutional Advancement for Ringling College of Art and Design. Debra came to this position after 11 years as Executive Vice President for SunTrust Bank, Gulf Coast. Before joining SunTrust in December 1985, she was Senior Vice President and Retail Division Administrator of Central Trust Company in Rochester, New York.

Debra received her undergraduate degree summa cum laude from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1971 and earned her MBA in 1981 from the University of Rochester.

Join Debra on Twitter: @DebraMJacobs

To contact Debra: djacobs@thepattersonfoundation.org

Nancy Henry

Office Manager

Nancy Henry joined The Patterson Foundation (TPF) in July 2010 as Office Manager, handling each and every aspect of TPF's office management as well as the President/CEO's calendar.

After moving to Sarasota, Florida, in January 2008, her love of animals and interest in animal welfare brought her communication and customer service skills to Animal Rescue Coalition as a Community Outreach Assistant for their spay/neuter program. This role soon led to her promotion to Office Manager.

Nancy's diverse 27-year administrative career began in Vancouver, British Columbia, working primarily in the lumber exporting industry in various senior administrative assistant roles, sales, customer service, and event planning.

With Florida now her home, her leisure time is spent with her husband, Dave, and all their fur babies.

Join Nancy on Twitter: @NancyJHenry

To contact Nancy: nhenry@thepattersonfoundation.org

Beth Duda

Director,

Since May of 2015, Beth Duda has been one of the driving forces of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR). SCGLR is a four-county effort in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties to help children from birth through 3rd grade, especially those from asset-limited families, succeed in life by ensuring they read on grade level.

As the director of SCGLR, Beth works closely with local lead partners—Community Foundation of Sarasota County, United Way Suncoast, and United Way of Charlotte County—to drive progress in the region. To embed lasting change, the future-focused partners strive to collaborate with every sector: people, business, nonprofits, government, and the media.

Multiple Pacesetter Honors from the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (annually since 2014) affirm the success of SCGLR's collaborative effort and its work. Pacesetter Honors highlight communities that make measurable progress on key indicators of early school success, including early literacy and school readiness, chronic absenteeism and its effects on reading progress, and mitigating summer learning loss by connecting children with quality educational opportunities and programs.

Beth is a proud member of Leadership Florida's Education Class IV, a statewide community of leaders working for a better Florida.

She has written, co-written, and created several one-act plays performed for thousands of school-aged children. Recently, she used her playwriting skills to write Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass, A Walk to Respect, which The Patterson Foundation produced in partnership with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe as part of TPF's 10th-anniversary celebration, Honoring & Onward.

An award-winning playwright and educator, Beth spent more than twenty years working with students and educators in elementary schools as part of the Education Department of Florida Studio Theatre. These experiences fueled her commitment to deepening community connections to improve reading proficiency in our region and beyond. In her twenty-plus years of arts education, Beth's sensitive and visionary education and learning approach continues to inspire students, parents, and educators.

Beth was raised in Central New York and received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from SUNY-Oswego.

Join Beth on Twitter: @duda_beth or @suncoastcglr

To contact Beth: bduda@thepattersonfoundation.org

Stacy Sternberg

Communications Coordinator

Stacy Sternberg believes that life experience forms a person, and her path to becoming the Communications Coordinator for The Patterson Foundation (TPF) is anything but linear. She also believes that things happen for a reason so, when she decided to move back to Sarasota, the timing for TPF's call for a Communications Coordinator was serendipitous. Stacy is responsible for executing strategies that maximize communications opportunities for TPF, including website updates, newsletters, support for social media efforts, and support for other public-focusing activities.

Stacy holds a BFA from Ringling College of Art and Design and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Upon graduation, she traveled to New Delhi, India, for a three-month art residency at Global Arts Village. After completion, she spent a brief time in the United States working for William Massie Architecture before traveling to Mustique, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In Mustique, she worked as a sculptor, fabricator, and liaison for both William Massie Architecture and Sutherland Studios. As she evolved, her passions grew to include the digital world as a creative outlet. Eventually, Stacy returned to the United States where she studied digital programs. Shortly after, Stacy was introduced to the nonprofit world at Home of New Vision in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she learned to bridge her creativity with social good.

Stacy is interested in many things, but most currently, she is developing her growth mindset, continuing her work in drawing, experimenting with creative baking, and embarking on her newest hobby, topiaries!

Join Stacy on Twitter: @TPFCommunicator

To contact Stacy: ssternberg@thepattersonfoundation.org

Stacey Gadeken

Administrative Support

Stacey Gadeken joined The Patterson Foundation in July 2017 as Administrative Support. She manages the schedule, coordinates lunches, and aids in other administrative duties as they arise.

Stacey has moved around her entire life, first as an Air Force brat and then as a coach’s wife. She lived in 11 states but, since 2012, Stacey is proud to call Bradenton her home.

In a past life, she was Mrs. Gadeken, a high school anatomy, biology, and chemistry teacher. In this life, when she is not changing the world at The Patterson Foundation, she volunteers at her sons’ schools, at church, and as a leader with the Boy Scouts. Stacey enjoys traveling, sewing, reading, and practicing martial arts.

Join Stacey on Twitter: @smwksu

To contact Stacey: sgadeken@thepattersonfoundation.org

John Ferguson

TPF Fellow 2020/21

John Ferguson joined The Patterson Foundation as a fellow in April 2020. His fellowship consists of collaborating within and managing multiple special projects across different initiatives to provide strategic value and further innovation. His primary roles include managing the Digital Access for All initiative and extensive involvement with Advancing Mission Thrivability and Patriot Plaza.

John received his degree from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the world's first school dedicated solely to the study and teaching of philanthropy. He was named Chancellor's Scholar for his graduating class and proudly serves on the Alumni Board for the school.

Before joining TPF, he spent three years with Indiana United Ways in various roles dedicated to supporting all local United Ways throughout Indiana. Prior to that, John was in hospitality for more than 18 years in a myriad of roles, including trainer and manager. He is passionate about helping people and organizations thrive.

John is a huge Chicago Cubs fan and avid concert-goer (pre-COVID). He enjoys connecting with friends and family, fantasy football, and discovering new music in his free time.


Glimpse a brief history of John A. Ferguson here.

Join John on Twitter: @TheRealJohnFerg

To contact John: jFerguson@thepattersonfoundation.org

View John's Blog Library

Connor LaGrange

TPF Fellow 2021/22

Connor LaGrange joined The Patterson Foundation as its fourth fellow in July 2021. He works across a wide array of TPF initiatives to help strengthen people, organizations, and communities within TPF’s four-county region.

Originally from Indianapolis, LaGrange graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Indiana University in 2019 and a master’s degree in philanthropic studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in spring of 2021.

Before joining TPF, LaGrange worked in a movement design studio, Influence|SG, managed by Derrick Feldmann. He worked on projects including the Influencing Young America to Act reports and Movement of Movements with the Skoll Centre at University of Oxford. Prior to this, he spent time living and working in Kenya on projects relating to village health initiatives and reading literacy programs.

Connor is thrilled at the opportunity to work alongside individuals looking to improve their communities by using new and innovative approaches to philanthropy. He hopes to build connective tissue and create lasting relationships.

Connor currently resides in Sarasota, Florida, with his new bride Maggie. They enjoy going to church, finding new coffee shops, golfing, and exploring their new community.


Join Connor on Twitter: @LagrangeConnor

To contact Connor: CLaGrange@thepattersonfoundation.org

View Connor's Blog Library

Michael Zimmerman

TPF Fellow 2021/22

Michael Zimmerman joined The Patterson Foundation as its fifth fellow in September 2021. Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Michael brings a robust understanding of innovative philanthropy earned through his extensive academic and professional career.

Michael earned his Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with foci in Latin America and the Middle East from Elon University. He participated in two semesters abroad in both Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Tel Aviv, Israel. Fluent in Spanish, Michael began his career in the for-profit sector, endeavoring to Panama for his first role out of undergrad. Three years into his role, Michael quickly realized his passion for philanthropy and subsequently moved his career to the nonprofit sector.

While completing his Executive Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies remotely from IUPUI’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Michael served as Senior Development Executive for American Friends of the Hebrew University in New York City. He was responsible for fundraising efforts engaging individuals, foundations, corporations, and grantmaking institutions. Recently, he played an integral role in “Titans of Global Health,” a virtual awards celebration that honored Dr. Anthony Fauci and the co-founders of Regeneron while raising more than $1 million.

Michael is thrilled to be working alongside colleagues inspired by new and innovative models of philanthropy that seek to address our community’s most pressing concerns. By developing connective tissue to build lasting relationships, Michael intends to create positive impact and change through constructive philanthropy.

Michael currently resides in Sarasota, Florida. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking delicious foods, trying new restaurants, hiking, bike riding, swimming, the beach, chai tea lattes, art, culture, languages, and participating in Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities/spaces.

Join Michael on Twitter: @MichaelJZim

To contact Michael: mZimmerman@thepattersonfoundation.org

View Michael's Blog Library


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