Photo:  Kellie Alexander and Rachel Ploss

Meet The Patterson Foundation’s 2022-2023 Fellows Cohort

Posted on May 11, 2022 by The Patterson Foundation
The Patterson Foundation is excited to welcome Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI students Kellie Alexander and Rachel Ploss to become the newest members of its Fellows Program. The pair of Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies graduates will participate in a year-long opportunity for aspiring philanthropic leaders to gain experience and learn innovative philanthropic principles while contributing to initiatives strengthening people, organizations, and communities.

Through the Fellows Program and its partnership with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy — the world’s first school dedicated solely to the study and teaching of philanthropy — The Patterson Foundation aspires to share the knowledge and insights gained through its collaborative work with the next generation of community, corporate, and private foundation leaders. Since its inception in 2010, The Patterson Foundation has strengthened people, organizations, and communities by focusing on issues that address common aspirations and foster wide participation, along with ways organizations learn and share as they evolve.

“Each talented TPF Fellow brings their unique background and experience to the table while sharing a common focus on the possibilities their efforts can create,” said Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “The Patterson Foundation contributes to each Fellow’s personal and professional evolution while providing opportunities for them to make their invaluable mark through our work. We look forward to sharing those opportunities with Kellie and Rachel through the collaborations to come.”

Alexander and Ploss first connected with The Patterson Foundation through their participation in learning electives provided through the partnership between the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Foundation that focused on concepts such as nonprofit capacity building, ways to inspire generosity, philanthropic impact beyond traditional grants, and the importance of strategic communications. These electives, along with the Fellows Program, are part of The Patterson Foundation’s Advancing Philanthropic Leadership initiative, which encompasses a series of creative efforts developed in collaboration with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to strengthen the capabilities of emerging philanthropic leaders.

The incoming TPF Fellows completed the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s accelerated B.A./M.A. program, which allows students who demonstrate academic excellence and aptitude for graduate-level work to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just five years.

Alexander graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philanthropic Studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2021 and a minor in community health. In May, she will earn a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from The Fund Raising School, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s renowned professional development program. She currently serves as Event & Sponsorship Coordinator for Carteret Community College Foundation in North Carolina. Prior to this, she served in development and event roles at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. During her undergraduate tenure, Alexander experienced the opportunity to live and attend global development courses at the University of Derby, England, through a study abroad program in fall 2019. She was named a Lilly Endowment Community Scholar, a Jesse H. and Beulah Chanley Cox Scholar, one of IUPUI’s top 10 undergraduate students in 2021 and one of IUPUI’s top 100 undergraduate students in 2020, and was selected as a 2021 William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion recipient.

“The Patterson Foundation’s Fellows Program offers a one-of-a-kind perspective into the philanthropic sector while presenting unique opportunities to learn more about yourself personally and professionally before launching you into the next career phase within the sector,” said Alexander. “Over the next year, I am excited to begin working alongside passionate individuals and communities to implement change and catalyze impact through growing meaningful connections, strengthening communication, and identifying a present need and strategically responding to it.”

Ploss is a 2021 graduate from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy with a Bachelor of Arts in Philanthropic Studies and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. For the past year, Ploss has worked for the Dean of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Amir Pasic, Ph.D., as his graduate assistant. Through this opportunity, she has worked on the school’s next strategic plan, its first Wikipedia page, the Rosso Legacy Society, and the Board of Visitor’s meeting. Her accolades include being named one of IUPUI’s top 100 undergraduate students in 2021, serving as a 2021 500 Festival Princess, an honor that recognizes civic engagement and academic success, and participating in the 2020 Regatta Royalty Court.

“I am beyond excited to be a 2022–2023 Fellow with The Patterson Foundation,” said Ploss. “I am thrilled for this year-long opportunity to discover new skills about myself, strengthen skills I already have, take on challenges, learn new approaches to philanthropy, build connections, and learn how to overcome barriers. The Patterson Foundation has an incredible work environment, and I already feel like I’m a part of it.”

For more than three decades, Indiana University and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy have prepared students and practitioners to become thoughtful, skillful leaders who inspire change. Students enrolled in its Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies degree program learn through a combination of in-depth research, study of the history, culture and values of philanthropy, and hands-on professional practice in areas such as fundraising, volunteering, and civil society.

“Our collaboration with The Patterson Foundation on the Fellows Program and other joint initiatives enhances and expands the opportunities available to our students and helps develop future leadership for philanthropic organizations,” said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the school. “Kellie and Rachel are promising young leaders whose distinctive individual knowledge and strengths will bring additional new perspectives to The Patterson Foundation’s innovative, strategic approach. We look forward to seeing how their insights and experiences will help advance the Foundation’s impact.”

In addition to collaborating at The Patterson Foundation, Alexander and Ploss will have opportunities to connect with former and incoming TPF Fellows during their experience and beyond. This is the fourth TPF Fellows cohort welcomed by The Patterson Foundation since the program started in 2018.

Alexander and Ploss will begin their experience with The Patterson Foundation in Sarasota, Florida, this summer. Future graduates of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s master’s degree program will be eligible to apply for future cohorts of the Fellows Program.

Learn more about the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and its programs.

Comments (2)

  • Arline Leven

    Arline Leven

    11 June 2022 at 15:02 | #

    It’s very exciting to learn about the Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies degree program.

    What an inspiration and hope for the future!

    I have been a contributor to the Giving Challenge….. an excellent way to “ organize” and stimulate one’s donations. My favorites are the Humane societies and animal rescue organizations.

    Are there any volunteer opportunities at Patterson Foundation.?


  • Brian Kerwin

    Brian Kerwin

    14 June 2022 at 12:38 | #

    My name is Brian Kerwin. I represent Solve Maternity Homes, which is a residential program for pregnant women and teens in need. Solve primarily serves the underserved.

    I hold an Executive Certificate in Fund Development from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. The reason that I chose the Mondoza course of study was that the hosting professor was simultaneously teaching at the Lilly School at the time. I have always recognized the Lilly School of Philanthropy as the leader in the areas of philanthropic education.

    We congratulate Kellie and Rachel on their Fellowships and invite both - should they be in Sarasota County - to tour any of Solve's four homes. From this, they will see core social service functions being carried out by a forty-five year old local nonprofit. Please contact me if there is interest. Thank You.

    Brian Kerwin
    Solve Maternity Home


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