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 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.  

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
Senior Accountant

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

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. 

Fund Administration

Keely Ahlbrandt
Assistant Director of Fund Administration

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 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. 

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.

Sara Keohan
Assistant Director of Operations & Communications

Sara has a bachelor’s degree in writing and experience in major event coordination and management, communications, media production and marketing coordination. Her primary responsibilities for the CSU Foundation include supervising daily gift capture; handling complex gift processing; serving as a campus resource for special handling requests; writing and designing foundation communications; and providing administrative support related to grants, estates and life insurance.
A Colorado native, Sara loves to take on all of the active challenges this beautiful state has to offer – from hiking to sports to crazy mud obstacle courses. She is excited and honored to be a part of the Foundation and its service-focused mission.

Photo of Syreeta Stratton

Syreeta Babcock
Operations Coordinator II

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.

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.