Meichele Foster, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Initiatives
Jessie Kwatamdia, Director of Philanthropy
Betsey Shay, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
Kathryn Nickrent, Philanthropy Graduate Assistant
Contribution to Stephens: I have worked at Stephens since 1995—my first job was Assistant Director of Alumnae Programs, and I have held three other positions in between then and now. I am a 1993 graduate of the Theatre program, and studied scenic design. I spent five summers at the College's Okoboji Summer Theatre (two as a student and three as staff scenic designer).
I would argue that I have the best job in the entire world. I get to meet the MOST amazing women on the planet every day—they are Stephens Women, of course—and I get to help them find the most impactful ways to support our alma mater and the next generations of Amazing Stephens Women. It's a cause that’s impossible not to get behind.
Stephens Experience: What I love most about Stephens is the leadership opportunities it provides for women. Single-sex education is becoming a rare opportunity, and I appreciate that my work with the alumnae and donors of Stephens makes it possible for Stephens to celebrate its rich heritage of preparing the quintessential women for each era since 1833. Imagine being 180 years old and getting to provide opportunities like that to generations and generations of amazing women. It gives me goose bumps to think about.
Favorite Food: My favorite food is Mexican and New Mexican. I am especially fond of green chili and good chili rellenos! The best I have had so far are at La Loma in Denver, Colo., the Wild Toucan in Sedona, Ariz., and Rancho de Chamayo in Chamayo, N.M.
Travel: My favorite place to travel is anywhere I have not been yet. My favorite place that I have visited is China—I especially liked Guilin (a small town in China with only 1.4 million people). It is so important and interesting to learn more about the world and other cultures. Nationally, I love to travel West to Colorado (my birthplace) and New Mexico most of all, but I love to see new places and do new things all over. I especially enjoy driving on highways with no one else on them.
Fun Fact: I grew up in Aurora, Colo., Lexington and Germantown, Tenn., and Plano ,Texas, before I came to Columbia as a student. I've also lived in Okoboji, Iowa; Normal, Ill.; Seattle, Wash.; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Portland, Maine. I am settled in Columbia now with a wonderful family.
Getting Personal: In my free time, I like to spend time at home. Since I travel SO much, I enjoy a quiet day on the deck with my husband, Dick, and favorite hound dog, Max, (actually he is a Golden Retriever). We enjoy spending time with friends with a glass of wine. My husband has spent his career as a local restaurateur. We are avid sports fans and follow the Missouri Tigers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Stephens Stars!! There's nothing like game day in Collegetown USA (a.k.a. Columbia, Mo.)!!
Contribution to Stephens: As the Director of Alumnae Relations and Philanthropy, I am the program director of the Stephens Fund and the Planned Giving programs. I also serve as the Reunion and special events director. I manage the Alumnae Travel program and serve as the alumnae communications director. In addition, I serve as the liaison to the Alumnae Association Board, the FAB Steering Committee and the School of Humanities and Sciences.
Accomplishments: I earned my B.A. in Political Science and a J.D. from the University of Missouri (Go Tigers!), and am proud to have earned my M.B.A. from Stephens College. I am a member of Sunrise Southwest Rotary and serve in several volunteer roles with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, including Women's Network and the Ambassadors (the gold coats).
Stephens Experience: What I love about Stephens: her alumnae are fiercely devoted to her and support her in numerous ways, from mentoring students to volunteering for special projects to financial contributions that are vital to her continued success; the rich traditions and history. It definitely feels like home!
Fun Fact: I worked at Stephens from 2005-2009 as the Director of Planned Giving & Scholarships and left for two and a half years to work at local non-profits in Columbia. I returned to Stephens in March 2012 and am so glad to be part of the Stephens family again.
Getting Personal: I am married to a wonderful husband, Michael, and we have two cats named Faurot and Artie. In my free time, I love to attend Mizzou Tiger sporting events, especially football; I also love to read a variety of books, cook and travel to Missouri wineries.
Contribution to Stephens: As Director of Philanthropy, I am part of the Ambassador Tea (AKA road warriors). I am the liaison with alumnae and donors in Kansas City, Nashville, Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle and Portland, Ore. My responsibilities include management of the Stewardship program, Class President’s Reunion Participation program and the Parents Giving Program. In addition, I serve as the liaison to the School of Fashion and Design and liaison to the AAB Connections Committee.
Accomplishments: I graduated with a B.S. in Horticultural Therapy and an M.S. in Adult and Continuing Education from Kansas State University. I am a 2010 Leadership Lawrence Alumna, Citizen Journalism Academy Alumna, and completed the Kansas Leadership Center Facilitator course in 2010.
Career Highlight: One of the highlights of my career was working with adults with disability through a horticulture therapy program. I assessed and wrote a report on job satisfaction among adults with disability. I learned not to take anything for granted; enjoy the journey.
Stephens Experience: The thing that impressed me the most about Stephens is the positive atmosphere and the dedication in making sure that the student succeeds. The pride of being a Stephens’ woman is contagious.
Fun Fact: I moved from Nigeria to Manhattan, Kan., in January 1985 with my family.
Getting Personal: I am a single mother of two lovely girls who are 23 and 19 years old. I love to read, cook, watch glass blowing, theatre and listen to a variety of music. I have traveled to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucke, and Savannah, Ga. I am known for always seeking new things to learn. I enjoy jewelry, purses and shoes.
Life Mission Statement: Remembering everyone is tuned into the same radio station MMFI (make me feel important)!
Contribution to Stephens: As the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, I am responsible for grant writing and foundation relations, and I serve as liaison to the School of Performing Arts.
Accomplishments: I have a Bachelor’s of Arts in Mathematics from Wellesley College. I started in the field of grant writing in 1993 as Manager of Grants and Proposal Development at Lyon College in Batesville, Ark. I have been in corporate and foundation relations at Duke University in Durham, N.C.; Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Mass.; the Celebrity Series of Boston and the "We Always Swing" Jazz Series in Columbia. Previously, I worked as a non-profit administrator with the Experiment in International Living and Youth for Understanding international exchange programs and a technical writer for Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina.
Stephens Experience: I am a firm believer in the empowerment of women through single-sex education. I graduated from Wellesley College, and I have first-hand experience with the importance of giving young women the opportunity to fill leadership roles, both for building confidence and for developing an ease with taking on positions of authority. It gives me enormous satisfaction to be supporting women’s education at Stephens.
Favorite Food: Dark chocolate
Travel: I feel fortunate to have traveled to and explored London, Paris, Madrid, Vienna, Prague and even a trip to China in 2010. In the U.S., my favorite spots are Aspen, Colo.; the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming; Glacier National Park in Montana and my home state of Vermont.
Free Time: I love to sing, and have been a choral singer almost my whole life. I enjoy dining on good food, listening to music, laughing with friends, relaxing on the deck and playing golf. I also enjoy reading, especially mysteries by women authors. My recent entertainments have been the PBS series "Downton Abbey," "Sherlock" and "Foyle's War."
Getting Personal: My husband, Rob, is the director of the School of Music at the University of Missouri. My daughter, Katie, is a student at Southeast Missouri State University studying vocal performance.
Contribution to Stephens: As the Administrative Assistant, I keep the Office of Philanthropy in-line! I am the gift acknowledgment coordinator, Reunion and special event assistant and registration manager. In addition, I am the Alumnae Club Coordinator.
Favorite food: I love anything in a good restaurant so I do not have to cook or clean up and then there is ice cream, of course.
Getting Personal: In my free time, I would love to be able to read suspense and mystery books—since I have a Doberman, Kahlua Kae; and three cats, Ellie Mae, Maggie Mae and C.C. Rae, it is very hard to read; therefore, I enjoy walking on trails and going to movies.
Family: I have a son and daughter who are each married (I have no clue when they grew up) and one grandson each. My daughter, Jamie, lives in Columbia; she is the reason I moved here. My son, Craig, is still in Pittsburgh, where I lived for 31 years. My mom (90 years old) lives in Florida and when she visits, she always makes sure there is a stop at Stephens. My mom is amazing as everyone knows on the third floor at LRW Hall. My sister, Karen, and her husband live in Reno, Nev.; they have a not-for-profit business dealing with animals and their daughter, Kaitlyn, goes to Stephens, Wahoo!! (I worked on her very slowly & quietly for two years), although Stephens was the only school that had the courses that she wanted. Now, my bro, Scott... he works in Jamaica and has a house and wife in Charlotte, N.C., which he goes back and forth from frequently.
Stephens Experience: When I first came to Stephens to apply for a job, I noticed that on the bulletin board in HR there were no announcements, etc., just pictures of dogs. Right then and there I knew this was the place I wanted to work. I like the feeling of a sense of a community; students, staff and faculty are welcoming and smiling plus the ambiance and smallness of Stephens appeals to me as you are not lost among thousands.