Session Leaders

It’s our greatest privilege to have these amazing thought leaders in philanthropy to work with our group.

We are also in contact with more individuals and organizations to share this wonderful journey together.

Peter Karoff

Peter Karoff

Peter Karoff founded The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) and led the organization for 12 years.  He spearheaded many of TPI’s major philanthropy promotion and field-building initiatives, and continues to work closely with TPI clients. Prior to founding TPI, Peter spent 25 years in the insurance and real estate businesses. He has served on the boards of more than 30 nonprofit organizations and foundations including Synergos Institute, Business Executives for National Security, Massachusetts Business Roundtable, Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, New England Foundation for the Arts, Management Sciences for Health, Blackside Productions (producer of Eyes on the Prize, the PBS history of the Civil Rights movement), and the WGBH Educational Foundation. Current board affiliations include Ascent Private Capital Management, GHR Foundation, Robina Foundation, THRIVE (a Santa Barbara County public/private education collaborative) and Big Picture Learning.

Peter is a poet, has written extensively on the moral and ethical purpose of philanthropy in society, and his most recent book is The World We Want – New Dimensions in Philanthropy and Social Change (AltaMira Press, 2008). He teaches in the Global and International Studies Program at the University of California Santa Barbara. A graduate of Brandeis University and Columbia University, Peter received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Lesley University in 2002. He was made a Fellow of the McDowell Colony in 1989 and in 2006 became a Purpose Prize Fellow.

Photo.Debra Mesch

Debra Mesch

Debra Mesch is Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.  She is also Professor of Public and Nonprofit Management in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  Dr. Mesch’s research agenda has focused on women’s philanthropy; issues of civic engagement; volunteer motivation and management; executive compensation in nonprofits; human resource management in nonprofits; diversity; and race and gender issues in giving and volunteering.

Dr. Mesch’s primary responsibility for the Women’s Philanthropy Institute is to guide the research agenda on the role of gender in philanthropy.  She has undertaken studies addressing the role of women in Lions Clubs International and is currently working on a nation study of giving and volunteering of Lions Clubs in China.  She has traveled to China several times, taught a class at Beijing Normal University, and has spoken to the China Women’s Development Foundation staff.  During her tenure as Director of the WPI, she and her colleagues have written several reports for the Women Give series examining the effects of age, marital status, and income of gender differences in the likelihood and amount of giving to charity.   Dr. Mesch received both her M.B.A. and Ph.D. in organizational behavior/human resource management from Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

Ellen Remmer

Ellen Remmer

Ellen Remmer is a recognized leader in the field of strategic philanthropy. She has been with TPI since 1993 and served as President and CEO of TPI from 2007- 2012. Ellen has developed many of TPI’s philanthropy promotion initiatives and signature donor learning programs. She speaks internationally on the subjects of strategic giving, family philanthropy, growing philanthropy and women as donors. Among the many publications Ellen has authored are: What’s a Donor to Do? The State of Donor Resources in America Today; Philanthropy for the Wise Donor-Investor: A Primer for Families on Strategic Giving; Raising Children with Philanthropic Values; Making a Difference: Evaluating Your Philanthropy; and Passion: Discovering the Meaning in Your Philanthropy. Ellen has been featured in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and Forbes to Chronicle of Philanthropy and Town & Country.

Ellen has worked directly with dozens of family, corporate and community foundations, helping them develop powerful strategies for social impact and strong governance structures and practices. She has designed and co-managed several initiatives aimed at building the capacity of community foundations and professional advisors to better donors. Ellen currently serves as a board member of her family’s foundation, which supports girls’ empowerment programs and environmental sustainability. She serves on the Board of Visitors of Indiana University’s School on Philanthropy, where she was long-time chair of the Advisory Council for the Women’s Philanthropy Institute and is a member of the Oxfam Leadership Council, Prior to her work with TPI, Remmer worked as a corporate strategic planning consultant at the firm of Temple, Barker and Sloane (now Oliver Wyman). Ellen completed a Bachelors of Arts from Wesleyan University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.