September 2016



Celebrating Success

For the last few days, we have been celebrating. Actually, since we met our $250 million goal for The Campaign for UMKC last year, we have been celebrating the community’s commitment to the University’s success. But this week, as the campaign officially came to a close, we’ve raised our voices and our spirits on the Volker and Health Sciences campuses to acknowledge gifts totaling $302,531,360 that have enriched the University and our community over the last seven years. Read more

Marny and John Sherman

2016 Award of Distinction

The UMKC Foundation is proud to present its 2016 Award of Distinction to Marny and John Sherman. The Shermans are cornerstones of the UMKC Foundation. Since the beginning of the Campaign for UMKC in 2009, Marny and John have lent their energy through both personal involvement and financial investment. Their gift to the School of Education is not only one of the largest gifts of the campaign, but one that will have a deep impact on the university for years to come. Read more

STEM girls and Malala Yousef

STEM Alliance Offers Code to Success

When Ruby Rios was a high school freshman, she opened the door to her second college-level computer coding class and the instructor looked up and said, “I think you’re in the wrong classroom.” 

“I looked back at him and said, ‘Is this C++?’ He said it was and I said, ‘Then I’m in the right place.’ But I was this scared little girl in a room full of men. It made me think I couldn’t do it,” she remembers. “When you’re not like everyone else in the room, it makes you want to give up.”  Read More

Leading by Example

If there were a movie version of Harold Gersh’s life, Tom Hanks would play the lead. Gersh led a life that looked small on the outside, but was grand in design and impact. Harold received both his undergraduate degree in Economics and his Masters in Counseling from UMKC. He chafed at having to take a music appreciation course as a pre-requisite for his degree, but discovered a love of classical music that developed into a lifelong passion. Read More

Welcome New Staff

As the UMKC Foundation’s contribution has grown, we have added associates to support our outstanding development staff, enhance relationship building and facilitate the fundraising process. We are pleased to welcome Jean Peat, Emily Wurst, Katherine Walter and Patricia O’Dell.

Jean Peat, APR – Director of Stewardship and Communication

Jean has more than 30 years’ experience in public relations and communications with a significant focus on donor and community relations. Her career has included serving as Director of Communications at KU Cancer Center, Saint Luke's Hospital Foundation, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, and as communications and community relations manager at Embarq. She was just recently the Advancement Director at UMKC School of Medicine.

Her extensive background in not-for-profit work has included strategic communications planning, web and social media strategy, news and feature writing and editing, project management and creative conceptualization. She has worked on numerous fundraising campaigns and events as well as managing video production, speech writing and committee oversight.

Jean is a recipient of more than 50 local, regional and national awards for her communications work. She is President-elect for the Greater Kansas City chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and just recently was awarded the first place PRISM award for publication writing. She has a journalism degree from the University of Kansas. Jean joined the UMKC Foundation in September.

Emily Wurst – Director of Annual Giving

Emily started her professional career as a student caller at the University of Kansas Endowment Association which laid the groundwork for her passion for higher education fundraising. She graduated from KU with a Bachelor of Science in Business Finance in 2010. For three years following graduation, Emily ran the national telephone calling program at KU. After moving to Kansas City, she led the execution of the annual giving strategic plan at Rockhurst University. Emily joined the UMKC Foundation in August.

Katherine Walter – Executive Assistant

Katherine recently moved to the Kansas City area from Columbia, Missouri. She transferred from the University of Missouri System’s Treasurer’s Office, bringing knowledge of endowments and planned gifts. Katherine was previously a pre-professional ballet dancer with over twenty years of experience. She grew up as an Air Force brat and has lived all over the country and parts of Europe. Katherine is excited to be a part of the UMKC Foundation team and looks forward to adding her talents and experience.

Patricia O’Dell – Communications Coordinator

Patricia graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She worked in the not-for-profit sector on both the service and funding sides.  Her last position was in the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. She has been a freelance writer for the last nine years and has contributed to Elle Decor,, The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star and Spaces – Kansas City. Patricia joined the UMKC Foundation in August.

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