Foundation staff serves you and CSU


Cherí O’Neill

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
Vice President/CFO

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.

Jill Higham
General Counsel

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. Jill advises on trusts and estates matters, contract review, human resources, board governance, policy development, gift/fund agreement review, gift determination and tax law and non-profit compliance. Jill also assists leadership with strategic communications.  

Jill serves on the board of Community Shares of Colorado and previously served on the InnovAge Foundation board, NextFifty Initiative board of trustees, 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.


Terilyn Larson

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
Assistant Controller

Marie joined the Foundation after having worked at a CPA firm where her focus was largely auditing not-for-profit organizations. As the assistant controller, Marie is responsible for a variety of areas including investment accounting, external reporting, processes surrounding endowment activity and reporting, month-end close and assisting campus partners with their financial needs. Additionally, Marie serves as liaison with both the Foundation’s outsourced chief investment officer and custodial bank.

Marie has loved being part of the CSU community and raising her two children, Maggie and Robbie, in Fort Collins.

Kurt Flock

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

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. 

Laura Richins
Scholarship & Accounting Coordinator

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. She has been instrumental in enhancing the scholarship support administration process for CSU students.

Executive Administration

Kacee Scheidenhelm
Executive Assistant

Kacee has had the honor of serving our community through careers at the City of Fort Collins, Front Range Community College, and coordinating local non-profit events. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from CSU and is thrilled to return to the green and gold professionally. Her duties include assisting the President and CEO, Cherí O’Neill, and supporting the Board of Directors. She is honored to serve as an ambassador for the Foundation across CSU campus and beyond.

Kacee enjoys being part of the Fort Collins community, living here with her husband and two young girls. 


Gift Administration & Legal

Keely Ahlbrandt
Gift Agreement Compliance & Administration Specialist

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 crafting gift and fund documentation that drives impact to CSU and its students while protecting donor intent. She facilitates gift administration, including fund creation and closing, agreement and amendment drafting, and the development of efficient systems for agreement administration.

Sara Keohan
Gift Agreement Compliance & Administration Specialist

Sara has a bachelor’s degree in writing and experience in media production, marketing coordination and communications. She plays a key role in ensuring impactful and compliant gift and fund documentation that is aligned with donor intent. Her primary responsibilities for the CSU Foundation include fund creation and closing, agreement and amendment drafting, and creating best practices and resources for campus partners. Sara is excited and honored to be a part of the Foundation and its service-focused mission.

Shana Bode
Paralegal & Agreement Specialist

Shana works closely with the Foundation’s general counsel, trust and estate representatives, private law firms, and university partners on gift compliance, fund administration, grant agreement review and trust and estate matters. She earned her master’s degree from Colorado State University, and prior to joining the Foundation worked in the public-school system and in donor relations. Shana grew up in Fort Collins and is a past recipient of the Fort Collins Human Relations Commission Award for her contributions to the community.

Human Resources

Sondra Thompson
Human Resources Manager

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.


Sara Campbell
Director of Operations & Board Secretary

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 board secretary, oversees gift capture and works with University Advancement to answer questions regarding gifts. Additionally, Sara serves as liaison with both the Foundation’s outsourced chief investment officer and custodial bank, and she assists with investment performance reporting.

Syreeta Babcock
Operations Coordinator II

Syreeta graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. She worked as a public relations and marketing assistant for the Office of Professional Development at Cuesta College and as an admissions advisor for California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo. Syreeta contributes over 10 years of banking and financial experience acquired by working for not-for-profit credit unions that serve the needs of local communities. Her primary responsibilities include coordinating the gift capture of cash, checks, credit cards, recurring pledges, securities, ACHS and wires. She provides support to staff, donors and campus partners. 

Christina Cheng
Operations Coordinator I

Tina is a CSU alumnus, graduating with a B.S. in Health and Exercise Sciences with a concentration in Health Promotion. She has extensive knowledge and experience in the fitness industry but wanted to pursue a career path at the Foundation – exploring new learning opportunities and giving back to the University. Tina’s primary responsibilities at the Foundation include gift capture, donor outreach, communication between affiliated departments, and general administrative duties.

Technology & Information Systems

Dipen Patel
Director of Information Systems

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.