INDIANAPOLIS (June 28, 2017)—The Board of Trustees of Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation announced today that Executive Director Kristen Magnes Kaiser, CFRE, Alpha/DePauw, has resigned to devote more time to her young family. Gaylena Merritt, Alpha/DePauw, director of programs, has been named interim executive director. She will assume the role July 1, 2017. The Board will begin a search for a permanent successor in the coming months.
The Board expressed its appreciation for Kaiser’s four years of dedicated leadership. Her contributions have been instrumental to the Foundation’s recent growth and success and will have a lasting impact.
During Kaiser’s tenure, she led a successful Give to Lead, Give to Learn Campaign which surpassed its goal of $5 million. Her dedication has made many initiatives possible, including launching and leading three successful giving day events that raised more than $417,000 combined, growing Theta Foundation’s assets to $34.5 million, and growing the organization’s partnership with National CASA. Since Kaiser returned to the Foundation team as director of marketing in 2012 before being named executive director in 2013, Theta Foundation has granted more than $2.5 million dollars in scholarships to Theta members; more than $130,000 to individual Theta members and chapters for education, leadership, and service-learning grants; and more than $1.8 million to Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity for educational and leadership programming available to all Theta members.
From 2000–2010, Kaiser served in leadership roles for both the Fraternity and Foundation. “The impact Kristen has had on Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation these past four years—and Kappa Alpha Theta as a whole for 15 years—is far reaching,” said President Mary Ellen Fitzsimonds, Beta Kappa/Drake. “Her guidance and passion have driven us forward, and we’re thankful she’s positioned us for continued growth. We are confident we can continue to meet the philanthropic objectives of Kappa Alpha Theta.”
Gaylena Merritt is a nonprofit professional with an extensive background in higher education administration. She began her career with Theta Foundation in 2011. She was quickly recognized for her knowledge of best practices for scholarship and grant processes; the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with all Foundation constituents; and growth of the Foundation programs so they are an outstanding resource for the Fraternity, its members, and philanthropic priorities. She was named Theta Foundation’s director of programs in 2013. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Ball State University and a Master of Science in Education degree in Higher Education Administration from Indiana University.
“Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation is fortunate to have a strong leadership team, and we are pleased Gaylena has agreed to serve as interim executive director at this time,” Fitzsimonds said. “Gaylena has brought wisdom and vision to the programs department. Her passion for Kappa Alpha Theta and its members, together with her knowledge, critical thought, and drive, make her uniquely qualified to serve as interim executive director.”
About Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation
Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to secure and manage resources for the educational, leadership, and philanthropic programs of Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, founded in 1870 as the first Greek-letter fraternity for women. The Foundation also supports the scholastic, professional, and service pursuits of Theta’s members to help them reach their fullest potential and make a difference in the world. Theta Foundation grants more than $1.1 million annually in support of Theta women and chapters, Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, and other community organizations. For more information, visit www.KappaAlphaThetaFoundation.org.