Foundation staff serves you and CSU

Executive

Cherí O’Neill
President/CEO
cheri.oneill@colostate.edu

During her three-decade career, Cherí has learned higher education from many perspectives, initially working for 17 years at Indiana University in admissions, alumni relations, international recruiting and advancement. For the past 12 years, she’s worked from the c-suite, first as CEO of the 200,000-member Alpha Chi Omega women’s fraternity, foundation and housing corporation; then as CEO of the Ball State University Foundation (her alma mater). 

Since 2018, Cherí has been CEO of the CSU Foundation, working closely with the foundation board to provide prudent financial oversight that delivers long-term, sustainable support for CSU. As a member of the university president’s leadership team, she’s also a key partner and resource to the university.

During her career, Cherí has worked within a variety of university structures and foundation models. She also has a proven track record for building bridges between university and foundation leaders, and helping them succeed. As a board developer and leader, Cherí has helped highly sophisticated boards continue to grow and evolve; and worked with boards that have plateaued, helping them re-ignite, accelerate and change. She’s also advanced board diversity, and developed strategic plans, board assessments, retreats, committee structures and nominating practices. 

Cherí serves on the Association of Governing Boards’ Council of Presidents and Council of Foundation Leaders, and she recently spearheaded and launched the Mountain West/Central Plains Consortium of University Foundations. She is a frequent panelist and author in her field. A longtime animal-welfare volunteer, Cherí gives back to the community by serving on the Larimer County Humane Society board.

Allen Padilla
CFO/Director of Investments
allen.padilla@colostate.edu

Over a 20-year career, Allen has amassed a diverse background of education and experience, including degrees in electrical engineering and finance and working as a software engineer, project manager, investment analyst and accountant, operations manager and director of investments. As a result, Allen brings a unique perspective and depth to his leadership at the CSU Foundation.

Having been with the Foundation since 2007, Allen’s responsibilities have grown to include oversight of the Foundation’s financial operations, as well as management and administration of the Foundation’s investment portfolio. He works with the president and CEO to execute the Foundation’s mission, strategy and goals. Allen helps drive strategic innovation and process improvement. He collaborates with the Foundation’s investment advisory firm and board investment and audit committees; and he works closely with the staff to ensure strong operational and fiscal policies and procedures.

Allen enjoys being part of the Fort Collins community with his wife, Janeil, and three children, Elena, Jolie, and Andrew.

Photo of Jill Higham

Jill Higham
General Counsel & Communications Strategist 
jill.higham@colostate.edu

Jill’s career has included managing a legal practice spanning Colorado and Wyoming, successfully directing multimillion-dollar university fundraising campaigns, serving on the senior management team for the ACLU of Colorado and teaching as adjunct faculty at both the law school and community college levels. She now serves as the Foundation’s in-house legal counsel advising on trusts and estates matters, contract review, board governance, policy development, fund agreement review, gift determination and non-profit compliance. Jill also assists leadership with strategic communications and public relations, authoring legal, non-profit and financial resources for CSU donors and campus partners.

Jill serves on the boards of The NextFifty Initiative and Community Shares of Colorado and previously served on the InnovAge Foundation board, Crossroads Safehouse board of directors, and Laramie County Community College advisory board. She has been featured as a guest columnist and panelist on a variety of legal issues.

Accounting

Photo of Terilyn Larson

Terilyn Larson
Controller
terilyn.larson@colostate.edu 

A CPA who earned her masters of accountancy with an emphasis in tax, Terilyn leads the accounting team, ensuring system oversight and accurate and timely financial reports and tax returns. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for a CPA firm gaining experience with non-profit organizations and an affinity for them. Terilyn gives back to her community by serving as treasurer for her homeowners’ association board. She also has volunteered as a tutor in ESL and financial literacy.

Marie Dondlinger
Accountant
marie.dondlinger@colostate.edu

Marie is a Kansas State University graduate where she earned her bachelor’s in accounting and her master’s of accountancy. With more than a decade of experience, Marie handles everything from external reporting to investment reconciliations. While she’ll always be a Wildcat at heart, Marie, her husband, and young daughter, Maggie, are happy to be part of the CSU community.

Kurt Flock
Accountant
kurt.flock@colostate.edu

Kurt’s background includes serving as an accountant for a construction company and a 32-year career as an accountant for Christian Publishing. He is responsible for fund reporting, accounts-payable processing, bank reconciliations, pledge activity and transfer requests. Kurt is the past president of the Loveland Photographic Society and currently serves as that group’s vice-president. 

Rilla Williams
Director of Business Data
rilla.williams@colostate.edu

Working on behalf of the Foundation for 31 years, Rilla began her career as an accounting assistant and has worn many hats through the years. In her current position as the team’s expert in foundation data and its relationship to – and integration with – CSU systems, she is instrumental in ensuring that the Foundation’s data systems work seamlessly in service to our and campus partners. 

Fund Administration

Jane Belford
Director of Fund Administration
jane.belford@colostate.edu

Jane received her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Kansas and previously worked as the financial manager at two different United Ways and as an internal auditor in banking. A key member of the Foundation team for 16 years, Jane works with University Advancement to create fund agreements; leads the fund administration team; and is responsible for opening, amending and closing funds. Jane provides due diligence for the fund process and oversees the scholarship award process.

Keely Ahlbrandt
Fund Administration Coordinator
keely.ahlbrandt@colostate.edu

Keely is a Loveland, Colorado native who enjoys her role at the Foundation because it provides the opportunity to see students achieve their dreams. In support of that mission, Keely plays a critical role in fund administration, including fund creation, amendment and closing.

Laura Richins
Scholarship/Trusts & Estates Coordinator
laura.richins@colostate.edu

Laura’s professional experience includes working in the public school system as an administrative assistant and her tenure as an account manager with a company that gave her opportunities for worldwide travel. She came to the Foundation when she realized her heart was called to something more: service and making a difference. Laura is in charge of processing scholarships and entering and supporting new and revised funds. In addition to her scholarship role, Laura coordinates the administration of trust and estate gifts.

Human Resources

Sondra Thompson
HR Coordinator
sondra.thompson@colostate.edu

Prior to Sondra’s extensive career at the Foundation, she worked in banking, buying and selling millions of dollars in fed funds on a daily basis. Her responsibilities as the Foundation’s HR coordinator include managing payroll, serving as liaison with various benefits vendors and conducting the onboarding process for new employees. Sondra supports the performance-appraisal process and facilitates staff education and retreats.

Operations

Sara Campbell
Director of Operations
sara.campbell@colostate.edu

Sara joined the Foundation team in 2018 as investment liaison, after working for a local investment advisory firm. She’s since transitioned into the role of director of operations, a role in which she oversees a group dedicated to delivering best-in-class service to donors and campus partners. Sara is also the Foundation’s liaison with CSU’s Foundation Relations team and Office of Sponsored Programs, serves as assistant board secretary, oversees gift capture and works with University Advancement to answer questions regarding gifts. Sara is also the Foundation’s liaison with both the Foundation’s outsourced chief investment officer and custodial bank and assists with investment performance reporting.

Greta Irvin
Administrative Assistant
greta.irvin@colostate.edu

Before joining the Foundation team, Greta was employed by the Poudre School District, from which she retired in 2009 with 28 years of service. During that time she worked as an office manager in an elementary school and middle school, and was administrative assistant for the Poudre School District Foundation. Now, with a decade of experience at the CSU Foundation, Greta’s responsibilities include meeting, greeting and welcoming visitors and callers. She also reviews, scans and sends gift information to University Gift Processing. Greta provides additional support for the operations team on a day-to-day basis.

Photo of Syreeta Stratton

Syreeta Babcock
Operations Coordinator
Syreeta.Babcock@colostate.edu

With several years of experience serving not-for-profit credit unions and another state university, Syreeta coordinates the processing of cash, check, credit card, stock and ACH/wire gifts received by the Foundation. In addition, Syreeta answers donor and campus partner inquiries regarding gift processing. She celebrates that her daily work helps students and researchers impact the world.

Photo of Abbie DeRosa

Abbie DeRosa
Administrative Assistant
abbie.derosa@colostate.edu

A 2019 graduate of the CSU Honors Program, Abbie’s primary responsibilities include welcoming and assisting visitors and callers, as well as providing support for the executive leadership team and additional support for the operations team. Abbie is passionate about CSU and the Fort Collins community and enjoys contributing in a way that allows students to succeed.

Technology & Information Systems

Dipen Patel
Director of Information Systems
dipen.patel@colostate.edu

Dipen has applied his expertise to the Foundation for well over a decade. He manages information infrastructure (both hardware and software), collaborates with University Advancement IT on special projects and partners with CSU Academic Computing & Network Services on IT-related policies regarding data security for implementation at the Foundation.