Ella Nash Stories

Ella Nash Newsletter Fall 2022

Please enjoy this semi-annual Ella Nash Society Newsletter that celebrates and encourages women’s philanthropy at Allegheny and beyond. In this issue, we discuss how we can all bring out our inner philanthropists. We also profile the remarkable story of Sarah Cochran, the coal queen behind Cochran Hall. Lastly, we meet Meredythe Baird ’23, an inspiring example of your philanthropy in action. We hope you enjoy this issue!

Ella Nash Newsletter Summer 2021

Please enjoy this semi-annual Ella Nash Society Newsletter that celebrates and encourages women’s philanthropy at Allegheny and beyond. In this issue, we feature giving circles – groups of friends and associates who pool their charitable gift dollars for more significant impact – and cheer the “Girl Power” of a group of alumnae from the Class of 1991 (+1) who did just that. We also profile the remarkable Jennifer Daurora ’99, who reminds us that philanthropy “is not a million-dollar word!”

Scholars Investigate Women as Worldwide Changemakers

Twenty Allegheny students from around the globe will spend the next four years exploring the challenges and rewards of empowering women, both in the U.S. and abroad, in their role as the fourth and newest cohort in the College’s Global Citizen Scholars (GCS) program.

The competitive program, to which incoming first-year students must apply, provides scholars with unique learning opportunities in civic engagement, global learning, and U.S. diversity with a combination of intensive advising, coursework, and a range of high-impact experiences including study abroad. The GCS program was established in 2015 with initial funding from Linda Allison Palmiero ’66 and her husband, Joe. The first cohort graduated in 2019.

Two faculty co-leaders jointly develop their planned curriculum and activities under a relevant global theme of their choosing that guides each group’s study and experiences. They, too, compete for the opportunity to lead a cohort. First-year scholars enroll in an introductory seminar and — in a year without COVID-19 restrictions — attend a mandatory overnight retreat with fellow participants, faculty, and administrators.

Scholars build knowledge and fieldwork skills in year two through coursework and extracurricular activities, including excursions to related organizations and locales. They study away, separately, during their junior year, and then as seniors, complete a legacy project and serve as mentors to newer cohorts. Group meetings, readings, writing, and other special projects round out the program. Many use their experiences to inform their senior comprehensive projects.

“We want students — young men and women — to see how women in the pursuit of economic, political, and social justice have been incredible changemakers, using unconventional means of accessing power to inspire and advocate not just for themselves, but for their communities, everywhere.”

“Empowering Women Worldwide” is the academic and experiential theme under which this group will study and travel with Professors Ishita Sinha Roy and Caryl Waggett. The cohort is rich in religious and cultural diversity, with students hailing from China, Ethiopia, Nepal, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Their GCS experiences will be rooted in social justice and global health. Dr. Sinha Roy teaches media studies, with a focus on national and global identity politics, in the Department of Communication, Film, and Theatre. Dr. Waggett teaches environmental health within the College’s Global Health Studies Program, and she has helped to establish international internships in India and Moldova for Allegheny students. Both women conduct research with students nationally and internationally.

The theme supports the objectives of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, one of which “stresses that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world,” said Dr. Sinha Roy. “We want students — young men and women — to see how women in the pursuit of economic, political, and social justice have been incredible changemakers, using unconventional means of accessing power to inspire and advocate not just for themselves, but for their communities, everywhere.”

Visit Empowering Women Worldwide website
Supporting the Program

Interested in helping to support a Global Citizen Scholar or learning more about the program? For more details, contact Melissa Mencotti at giftplan@allegheny.edu or by telephone at (814) 332-5912 or toll-free (866) 332-3853.

Allegheny All-American Becomes U.K. Philanthropy Expert

A campus interview with Mellon Financial Corporation (BNY Mellon) during her senior year at Allegheny led Randi Weaver ’83 to a career where she spends her days with professional athletes and others who seek to include philanthropic investments in their overall wealth management.

Based in London since 1989, Randi worked primarily in Australia, the U.K., and Spain, providing global financial services with a focus on investment management. She also gained experience in the nonprofit sector in a range of paid and unpaid leadership roles. Randi left Mellon in 2008 to establish her own consultancy, Good Giving, specializing in sports, corporate, and family philanthropy.

She was the first independent philanthropy adviser in the U.K. and the first to focus on professional athletes. The majority of her clients, said Randi, are ultra-high and high-net-worth individuals and families who seek a personalized giving plan and/or assistance in managing “the financial and reputation risk which can be associated with charitable giving.” She also serves private corporations seeking to develop or revitalize their charitable giving. Randi is featured in The Spear’s 500, a guide to the “top private client professionals focused on wealth management, law and advisory services” in Europe and the U.K.

“Tailored” describes Randi’s work with clients. She aids them in identifying their overall charitable interest areas, what they hope to accomplish, and potential organizations that may help them to achieve their goals. She partners with her clients and their tax and legal advisors to develop individualized plans including donor education, budget-setting, beneficiary selection, risk assessment, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

Education and risk assessment may be particularly important for those who are new to high-impact charitable giving for, as Randi noted, not all charitable endeavors are successful and some donors are more comfortable than others in supporting new ventures. Two additional areas of risk that donors must consider are an organization’s financial stability and its reputation (or the potential risk to their reputations in supporting it).

A swimmer for Coach Tom Erdos, Randi’s own experience as an All-American athlete (one of the first females to earn the honor at Allegheny) led to her specialization in sports philanthropy and helped give her entrée to the world of professional athletics. She has advised tennis and cricket players “and even a Formula 1 driver” but now works almost exclusively with football players (soccer, to us in the U.S.). Footballers are required by their unions to provide weekly community service in the U.K., so Randi’s guidance often starts there.

“It is easiest to start working with this donation of time and image before beginning to plan the donation of funds,” she noted. “It is a very natural path.” Most young athletes are not yet experienced in community outreach or in developing their public personas, and they can be surrounded by advisers who see them mostly as commodities. “At this stage in my career, I can be there for them and help them want to do good things with their time, image, and money,” Randi added.

“At this stage in my career, I can be there for them and help them want to do good things with their time, image, and money.”

The field comes naturally to Randi, who was born into a charitable family in Meadville. Her parents practiced tithing and donated time and money to a number of organizations. “As a family we discussed what causes we most wanted to support and why, and those discussions are the basis for my planning sessions with clients today,” she said.

Randi’s late mother, Joanne Martin Weaver, was one of the first Sheridan ACA Continuing Education Scholarship recipients at Allegheny (see the Ella Nash Society Newsletter, Spring 2020), and her late brother, Dan Weaver ’79, was a cum laude communication arts graduate who early in his career won an Emmy for his work producing daytime television.

Randi’s own philanthropic interests include faith-based charities, organizations that support women returning to the workforce after a break and individuals leaving prison, and her alma mater. She helps Allegheny by recruiting students, welcoming students and faculty alike to London, supporting the Annual Fund, and making special gifts in memory of her mother and brother. “My support of internships (and bricks!) in their names is their legacy on campus and the most impactful way that I can honour them both,” she said.

A double major in economics and Spanish and a cum laude graduate, Randi remains engaged with the College’s Spanish and international education programs and is particularly inspired by President Hilary Link’s commitment to international diversity in higher education. Randi studied in Madrid during her junior year, a life-changing experience. “I would not be where I am or who I am without it,” she said.

Randi has since completed post-graduate work at the London Business School and George Washington University. A 2010 recipient of Allegheny’s Gold Citation, awarded in recognition and appreciation of honor reflected upon the College by virtue of one’s professional or volunteer activities, Randi said in closing, “Allegheny gave me the tools and the opportunities that resulted in not one, but two, successful careers and a life well lived — and without borders.”

Vice President Wants to Hear Your Stories

Matthew Stinson joined Allegheny as Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs in late August, bringing to the College more than 20 years of progressive management experience in higher education, nonprofit, and business organizations. In his role as a member of the President’s senior leadership team, Matt will oversee the development, execution, and ongoing assessment of Allegheny’s fundraising and alumni relations programming. He is particularly eager to help enrich and expand the opportunities for alumni, parents, and friends in the U.S. and abroad to engage with the College on a sustained basis.

Matt was enthused during his interviews to learn of the Ella Nash Society Newsletter and our efforts to educate our female readers about the distinctive nature of women’s philanthropy and to inspire their gifts of time, money, and other resources to their favorite nonprofits. He has a keen interest in the topic himself. An avid reader, Matt said that his 2020 summer book pile included Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy by Kathleen Loehr. Matt noted that the author asks, “How often do you ask about a woman’s motivations and your organization’s fit with her values…? Have you ever asked her to tell the story of her philanthropy with any organization? You will learn a lot about motivation, preferred engagement, stewardship, and her values as she tells the story.” Added Matt: “Simply stated, I can’t wait to hear your stories.” Neither can we.

Matt’s own philanthropy story includes a great deal of community engagement. He has served as a past board member of the Alliance (Ohio) Kiwanis and was a co-founding board member of the Alliance Community Pantry. He also consults pro bono for nonprofit organizations needing assistance with fundraising strategies.

Matt and his wife, Paula Gregory, have a son, Brendan, a junior at Capital University. A graduate of Mount Union College/University with a B.S. in computer science, Matt earned his Master of Education from Westminster College in 2020 and an MBA with a focus in entrepreneurship from Jones International University in 2005.

Philanthropy in Action

Pamela Marquez ’21 completed the Moldova Global Health Internship in fall 2019 with support from the James ’75 and Linda Trippi Expendable Fund for Global Health Internships. The double major in biology and philosophy was placed with two nonprofits in the capital, Chisinau, working with children in one and the elderly in the other. Pamela worked closely with the latter, who are often left behind in Moldova with few resources when their adult children emigrate to Romania, Russia, and other European nations. At Allegheny, Pamela has been a health coach in a joint program with the Meadville Medical Center and a math tutor to area “at-risk” youth. She said that her experiences — especially her time in Moldova — shaped the person she is today, adding that she learned that she thrives under pressure and wants a hands-on career, likely in emergency medicine. 

Learn More

To learn more about the Global Health Internship and/or to make a gift in support of it, contact Tiffany Cipollone at tcipollone@allegheny.edu or by telephone at (814) 332-3098 or toll-free (866) 332-3853.

Skipper and Ruth Knights Surprise College with Large Bequest

When the mail arrived one afternoon in September 2018, there was nothing to suggest that it included the first distribution of an unexpected six-figure bequest from two Allegheny icons who had died almost 20 years earlier. Staff were stunned to learn that the late Ruth E. (Williams) Knights, longtime associate dean of the college, and her late husband, Professor of History Paul A. “Skipper” Knights, had left half of their estate to Allegheny College. Those who studied at Allegheny from the late 1940s to the early 1980s rarely fail to mention this early power couple who met, married and shared their lives with countless students and faculty for more than three decades. It was deeply moving to learn that their final mark on the world would come to Allegheny in the form of a $352,000 unrestricted bequest.

Neither Ruth nor Skipper had a formal Allegheny connection before their employment. Skipper arrived in 1947 with a brand new Ph.D. in American history from the University of Iowa, and Ruth followed two years later, degree details unknown. They had completed their undergraduate degrees at Hobart College (Hobart and William Smith College) and Carroll College (Carroll University), respectively, and those two institutions share the other half of the couple’s estate. Allegheny College Historian, Professor Emeritus and honorary alumnus Jonathan Helmreich writes that Professor Knights and Dean Williams, popular young employees, were frequently asked to chaperone dances. Knights would squire Williams to events, and they later said that “it would be ‘simpler’ if they just got married.” In 1954, they did. 

The Class of 1957 dedicated its yearbook to the couple whom it said symbolized its Allegheny experiences. The editors wrote: 

As a team, this couple works together for the sole objective of guiding the Allegheny student in his social and academic growth at college. The whole-hearted interest and devotion that they display in the student’s welfare increases the respect which they command. Dr. and Mrs. Knights bring together the many phases of college life and present a picture of the whole school.

Mrs. Knights, as Associate Dean of Students, acts as a liaison between the student and faculty in the interest of further understanding and cooperative relations. Her keen insight and gracious presence at student or faculty gatherings makes her a stabilizing force behind all that goes on in the college.
Dr. Knights … represents the strength of close student-faculty relationships. As an advisor to the Block A Club, a fraternity group, and to individual students, Dr. Knights has shown an unfailing interest in the student’s welfare.

Outstanding as individuals, Dr. and Mrs. Knights, together represent the finest of Allegheny.

“Outstanding as individuals, Dr. and Mrs. Knights, together represent the finest of Allegheny.”

In planning their gift, Skipper and Ruth named each other as the sole beneficiaries of their estates. Skipper died two months before Ruth, so it is her will that facilitated this gift. She established a trust through her will to benefit a family member with the proviso that after that person’s death, the balance would go to the three colleges. This is not an uncommon scenario, as many people desire to support both loved ones and their favorite charities through their estates. 

For more information on ways that you may use your will and/or retirement accounts to provide for your loved ones and beloved charities, please contact Melissa Mencotti, Director of Gift Planning, at (866) 332-3853 (toll-free) or (814) 332-6519, or visit allegheny.giftplans.org.

The Annual Fund Grant program provides promising, talented young scholars with access to a life-changing education. Without donors like you, the Allegheny experiences you value would be out of reach for many of these deserving students. You can be part of shaping students, like Emily, who will go on to change the world.

Philanthropy in Action: Emily Rice ’21

“One of the best experiences that I have had at Allegheny was being able to go to Italy over the summer for an Experiential Learning trip. I was able to learn basic Italian and learn about the culture on a three-and-a-half-week journey there. Going on this trip has given me the travel bug, and I cannot wait to see where my next adventure takes me. Because of your generous support, I can have all these fantastic experiences and an even better education. Thank you so much.”

Emily Rice ’21
Psychology major
Education Studies minor

Golden-aged Retiree is a True-blue Alleghenian

Nancy Sheridan (center, in red) and former scholars. (Photo by Bill Owen ’74)

When Nancy Sheridan finally retired from Allegheny in 2009, she was 80 years old and had worked here for 42 years. She had tried to retire earlier, but the College kept finding projects that were perfectly suited to her — and only her. This longtime director of student support services and her late husband, Professor Emeritus Jim Sheridan ’50, developed deep friendships with students and faculty along the way, frequently hosting them in their Henry Street home for spirited conversation.

After arriving in 1964, the mother of three immersed herself in the extended Allegheny community and became involved with the Allegheny College Association (ACA), a group of so-called “faculty wives” who met for social and philanthropic pursuits. Nancy, a psychometrist, began working at the College in 1967. One of the first to be honored with Allegheny’s Robert T. Sherman Distinguished Service Award in 2000, Nancy is still engaged with the Allegheny and Meadville communities.

The ACA persuaded Allegheny administrators in 1972 to establish a scholarship program for non-traditional female students – women aged 25-plus who had graduated from high school but had not completed a college degree. They formed a subcommittee to raise funds to supplement the College’s contributions, recruit students, and provide empowering support for the women. A committee of staff, faculty and past recipients remains active today. 

Scholarship recipients may take up to 12 credits per year (typically three courses) free of charge. They have the same access to College resources as traditional students, and they receive a stipend of $300 per course to spend how they see fit. Scholars may also receive support for a second or third year of study through additional donor funds. A few women have gone on to earn undergraduate degrees. Nearly 150 ACA scholars have joined the Allegheny community over the decades, and Nancy has cheered each one of them along. The scholarship was renamed in her honor in 2012.

Gator Gals gather in fall 2019

Nancy’s work with the ACA complemented her decades-long and continuing involvement on the board of directors of Women’s Services, Inc., a local nonprofit organization that provides supportive counseling, advocacy, and emergency housing and services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crises. 

Nancy and a similarly engaged colleague, Linda Allison Palmiero ’66, P’92, worked together for many years at Allegheny. When Linda and a group of her friends who’d met 50-plus years ago in Brooks Hall — they call themselves the Gator Gals of 1966 —  gathered last November to celebrate their 75th birthdays, Jeanne Whitney Smith proposed that they  each donate $75 to honor Allegheny College and to celebrate the induction of Dr. Hilary Link as its first woman president. The women readily agreed and were thrilled when Linda told them about the Nancy Sheridan ACA Scholarship. Says Smith, “The Nancy Sheridan Scholarship was chosen for its focus on the Allegheny experience of changing lives.” Linda presented Nancy and Allegheny College with a collective gift for the scholarship from the 30 friends in December.

It is no surprise that Nancy, whose adult life has been and remains shaped by Allegheny, once said, “Frankly, I think education is one of the most important parts of people’s lives.” In addition to supporting the scholarship, Nancy and friends also established the James F. Sheridan, Jr. Memorial Fund to provide support for students and faculty in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Allegheny. This golden-aged friend of the College is a true-blue Alleghenian.

A Special Message

As this issue goes to press, we are living and working in a landscape that looks vastly different than it did just weeks ago. Campus is quiet as faculty provide coursework and instruction to students via remote delivery, and staff and administrators work from home to keep the College moving forward. We take — and hope we provide — comfort in our routines as we focus on the time that students once again walk the halls, faculty lecture and lead labs, music tickles the ivories in the practice rooms, friends and classmates cheer on teams, and the campus teems with life. We send this newsletter in that spirit, and in the hope that you enjoy reading about Ruth Knights, Nancy Sheridan, and the Gator Gals of 1966 who have shaped and supported Allegheny and who inspire us to build upon their legacies for students like Emily Rice ’21.