Kevin Gentry is passionate about fundraising. “My e-mail address is ILoveDirectMail@aol.com,” he tells Philanthropy. “When people ask, ‘How did you get that?’ I respond, ‘Who would want it?’” The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation is betting a lot of people will want Gentry. The foundation has hired him to boost the capacity of its grantees by mentoring them in the ways of fundraising.
Gentry previously worked at the Leadership Institute-whose annual revenue he helped increase from $1 million to nearly $7 million while also overseeing a building campaign that raised over $6.5 million-and at the Mercatus Center and the Institute for Humane Studies, both at Virginia’s George Mason University. The two organizations’ combined revenue more than tripled during his tenure.
Fundraising uses some “basic, fairly simple strategies,” Gentry observes, “but putting such simple ideas into play can really help an organization.” Among the first groups to request his assistance was the State Policy Network, an organization that assists state-based think tanks (see Philanthropy, March-April, 2003, pages 3-4). “I agreed to write for their newsletter and meet with some of their people to talk.”
In addition to building the capacity of foundations and nonprofits, Gentry will also be working to attract more donors to causes traditionally supported by the Koch Foundation, such as the Mercatus Center, home to Nobel Prize recipient Vernon L. Smith, who pioneered experimental economics. Gentry and his wife, Anne, are the proud parents of two children, Stephen and Maggie.
The Philanthropy Roundtable
Lynn Turpin and Stephanie Saroki are the newest additions to The Philanthropy Roundtable’s staff. Turpin joins the Roundtable as Chief Operating Officer. Formerly, she was with the Trinity Forum as U.S. Director of Forums. She also worked as a vice president with SunTrust Bank for ten years, primarily in marketing and community relations, and with Prison Fellowship Ministries as its fundraising event manager. Turpin will supervise the Roundtable’s conference logistics, budget and finances, data base, computer network, personnel management, fundraising, and marketing. “My goal is to help the Roundtable develop ways to connect donors with projects that perfectly match their intent,” Turpin says. A graduate of Salem College, Turpin is active in missions work with orphan children, and her travels have taken her to Africa, Europe, and South America.
Saroki is the Roundtable’s director of its new K-12 education affinity group. The daughter of Chaldean Christians who immigrated to the United States from Iraq, Saroki grew up in Chula Vista, California, near San Diego. Before coming to the Roundtable, she was a member of Teach For America and worked as an English teacher in a struggling inner-city public high school in Oakland, California. “When I first entered the converted garage that would be my classroom, graffiti (including death threats to the previous teacher) covered every wall. There were no desks, no books, no chalkboards, and no heat or air conditioning. My experiences led me to ask (1) why is urban education so dysfunctional, and (2) how can I help not just my 150 students this year but also help change the whole system?”
Saroki’s goal at the Roundtable is to help people “make effective, meaningful investments in school reform. Philanthropy has a great opportunity to improve education for children-I’ve seen it work.” A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Saroki relaxes by entertaining friends and playing Pinochle.