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
Connor LaGrange

Connor LaGrange

TPF Fellow 2021/22
Michael Zimmerman

Michael Zimmerman

TPF Fellow 2021/22
Rachel Hettinger

Rachel Hettinger

TPF Fellow 2022/23
Kellie Alexander

Kellie Alexander

TPF Fellow 2022/23

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 the host of THIS BOOK IS COOL!, a web series designed to help foster a love of reading and learning for children in grades PreK through third grade. THIS BOOK IS COOL! webisodes, activity guides, and featured books provide numerous opportunities for children, parents, and families to engage in reading and learning.

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

An award-winning playwright and educator, Beth spent more than twenty years working with students and educators in elementary schools throughout Florida. In 2020, 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. 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, she was introduced to the nonprofit world, 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, embarking on her first topiary, and striving to be her best self.

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

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, Connor 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, he worked in a movement design studio, Influence|SG, managed by Derrick Feldmann. Connor worked on projects including the Influencing Young America to Act reports and Movement of Movements with the Skoll Centre at the University of Oxford. Prior to this, he worked with a higher education marketing firm, RHB, in Indianapolis. He helped spearhead research included in the book What Makes A Strategic Plan Strategic? released in the fall of 2021. This work led Connor to be nominated by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce for an IMPACT Award in the category of Intern of the Year.

Before university, he spent time living and working in Kenya on 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 wife, Maggie. They enjoy going to church, finding new coffee shops, golfing, and exploring their new community. They are expecting their first child in April 2022.

Glimpse "A brief history of Connor LaGrange" here.

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.

Glimpse "A brief history of Michael J. Zimmerman" here.

Join Michael on Twitter: @MichaelJZim

To contact Michael: mZimmerman@thepattersonfoundation.org

View Michael's Blog Library

Rachel Hettinger

TPF Fellow 2022/23
Rachel Hettinger joined The Patterson Foundation as its sixth fellow in June 2022. Moving from the Indianapolis hub of philanthropy, Rachel brings an extensive array of knowledge on philanthropic topics as well as unique experiences.

Rachel earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Philanthropic Studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2021. She subsequently finished her master’s degree in Philanthropic Studies in 2022 through the school’s 4+1 program. This program allows students to complete year one of the MA program during their final year of their undergraduate degree. However, Rachel completed both degrees in four years.

While attending IUPUI, Rachel served as the Eugene Tempel Graduate Assistant Fellow to Dean Amir Pasic. She was responsible for performing an audit of the school’s strategic plan conversations and identifying the top five themes from the audit. These five themes then became teams through which Rachel coordinated eighty volunteers to continue productive conversations about the strategic plan. Rachel analyzed the minutes of these conversations and, alongside Dean Amir Pasic, created the school’s first strategic plan since it was founded as a school. Rachel also played a role in organizing the school’s annual board of visitors meeting and in reviving the school’s Rosso Giving Society.

Rachel is ecstatic to be working alongside people who care deeply for others and work to create lasting philanthropic impacts in the community. By learning TPF’s philanthropic approaches, Rachel intends to strengthen her ideas of innovative models of philanthropy to create more effective change.

Rachel currently resides in Sarasota, Florida, with her husband, Kyle. They enjoy hiking, the beach, and cooking. Together they have goals to visit all of the national parks and all Seven Wonders of the World.

Join Rachael on Twitter: @RachelHett22

To contact Rachel: rhettinger@thepattersonfoundation.org

Kellie Alexander

TPF Fellow 2022/23
Originally from Northern Indiana, Kellie Alexander graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philanthropic studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2021 and an accelerated master’s degree in spring of 2022. She simultaneously completed a minor in community health, an academic certificate in fundraising, and a Certificate in Fund Raising Management (CFRM) from The Fund Raising School.

Kellie served in development and event roles at Carteret Community College Foundation in Eastern North Carolina, the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Central Indiana. During her undergraduate degree, she experienced the opportunity to live and attend global development courses at the University of Derby, England, through a study abroad program.

Kellie is thrilled to join The Patterson Foundation and begin working alongside passionate individuals and communities to implement innovative change and catalyze impact before launching into a career in philanthropy.

Kellie currently resides in Sarasota, Florida, with her husband, Caleb, and rescue dog, Lyla.


Join Kellie on Twitter: @KelAlexander_

To contact Kellie: KAlexander@thepattersonfoundation.org

View Kellie's Blog Library

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