Ryan Keen (COL ’18), a 2018 Jefferson Trust grant recipient for The Human Library initiative, was recently selected as a Forbes Under 30 Fellow, and attended the Under 30 Summit in Boston. The summit focused on bringing together young professionals and leaders from around the world for an opportunity to connect and meet established leaders from various fields. Ryan wrote about The Human Library in his Forbes application, as it greatly shaped his experience while on Grounds and continues to grow as an engaging platform at UVA and in the greater Charlottesville community.
“As a Forbes Fellow, I was allowed to choose a “track” so that I could connect with leaders in a specific field. I chose healthcare as my track, which essentially allowed me to hear from individuals who have co-founded their own health-related initiatives and those who are leading innovative research from the nearby schools MIT and Harvard. It was amazing to be invited into a network of ambitious individuals with similar goals and to be able to share the mission of The Human Library. I’m proud that it has become such a strong and inclusive platform to share all of the amazing stories, and, with the strong support of the Jefferson Trust, it continues to grow and inspire dialogue. I’m really looking forward to seeing the organization’s development in the coming years.” Keen shared.
Ryan will attend Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health next fall to pursue a Masters of Science, after working in a lab at Harvard this year. He also plans to seek a medical degree in the future. Congratulations to Ryan for this distinguishing honor!
We hear the term ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ so much it becomes cliché, and few of the cited examples really muster the label. For Tom White, however, it is a fitting description. Tom established a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT) at UVA using appreciated stock. By giving stock, Tom avoided paying lump sum capital gains tax, gained a tax deduction, and also receives a seven percent annual return on the CRUT’s assets. Tom allocated the CRUT to the Jefferson Trust, which allowed him to give his daughter Elizabeth White Boutry (COL ’92) a seat on the board of trustees. Liz now has a vote in distributing nearly $1 million dollars in grant funding to students, faculty, and staff projects across Grounds each year.
Although Tom did not attend UVA, his father, T. Aubrey White, was a triple-Hoo; and his two daughters Elizabeth White Boutry (COL ’92) and Linda White Banta (COL ’82) as well as his granddaughter Isabel Banta (COL ’19) are also proud alumni. Tom wanted to carry on the tradition of leadership in the family by making his gift to the Jefferson Trust.
As the stock market continues to climb, a CRUT can be a great way to give to UVA, minimize taxable income, and maximize a return. It can truly be the gift the keeps on giving!
Seats at the Table, a film screened at the Virginia Film Festival this November focuses on a very important program that pairs University of Virginia students with incarcerated youth at a local, maximum-security, juvenile correctional facilities. The Books Behind Bars program, created by Professor of Russian Literature Andrew Kaufman, has been pairing the two groups of students for discussions of Russian literature since 2009. In mixed small groups, University and incarcerated students analyze and discuss works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and other Russian authors. This innovative course allows students to engage in powerful discussions on difficult topics in a way that does not often occur anymore: What makes for a happy life? How can I be true to myself? What is my responsibility to others? Given that I will die, how should I live?
In addition to developing professional leadership skills like diplomacy, teamwork, and creative problem-solving, a number of University participants have been so dramatically impacted by this experience that they have changed career plans. Incarcerated resident participants report gains in academic, behavioral, social and personal development, in addition to an increased interest in attending college. Some have gone on to enroll in college, including one who had no plans to attend at the start of the program.
Books Behind Bars has received strong support from Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice. Andrew Block, director of DJJ, believes that inmates are people that should be invested in. As DJJ has moved toward a rehabilitative model, with a greater emphasis on education and a decrease in length of stay of the residents, they have asked that the program continue and expand to additional facilities. Early on, Dr. Kaufman received funding from the Jefferson Trust to expand and enhance this program, as well as a related research study. More recently, the College of Arts & Sciences at UVA has committed additional funding to ensure continuation of the course.
This powerful and moving documentary highlights the relationships forged between two very different student populations who find they have more in common than they could have imagined. Filmmaker Chris Farina’s mission is for Seats at the Table to serve as a tool for stimulating replication of this type of program, by sharing the story of this particular class while expanding the audience’s very understanding of what it means to be human. Throughout this recent screening of the film, the audience was actively engaged – laughing aloud at participant comments, cheering them on, even crying with them. It seems that Mr. Farina is well on his way!
Sharon Owlett has a long history with the Jefferson Trust. When the Trust was first formed, she was approached by Michael Clarke with the chance to be a part of the Trust’s inaugural Board of Trustees. “It was impossible to turn down the opportunity to work together with other dedicated alumni to build an organization that would foster programs both large and small across Grounds.” Sharon served as the first Chair of the Grants Committee and was key to constructing the grants process. She describes her first stint with the Trust as “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It was challenging, deeply rewarding, and fun, all at the same time.” It took little persuasion for Sharon to return to the Trust for a second term; she is currently in her eighth year as a Trustee!
Cavalier pride runs deep in the Owlett family. Besides being a 1975 Law School graduate, Sharon is the mother of two double-Hoos, both of whom graduated from the College, then pursued graduate degrees (Law for one and Curry for the other). She has a stepbrother and two nephews that are UVA grads as well. Being a Trustee has allowed Sharon to enhance her connection to the University, due to the people she has been able to meet and get to know. She has been able to work closely with the wonderful staff of the Alumni Association, her fellow Trustees (who span all the schools of the University and multiple generations), and, of course, the applicants who come from every corner of the University community. It has created a “multi-layered connection with UVA [that is] hard to duplicate,” she says.
Sharon remains very involved at UVA outside of the Trust, having previously served on the Law School Alumni Council (including being Chair of National Appeals) and currently serving on the UVA Law School Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Outside of the University, she has sat on and/or advised several non-profit boards, including The Highland School in Warrenton and, currently, The Children’s Health Foundation in Norfolk.
It’s hard to pick a favorite trustee memory when there are so many, according to Sharon. What has always resonated with her the most is “hearing from the people that our grants have benefited: you know you’re doing good things when you see the difference we as a University can make in people’s lives, both here on Grounds and around the world.”
“Being able to help bring people’s ideas to life is an experience everyone should have,” Sharon says. She recommends getting involved with the Trust, because “The vision and the passion of the Trust’s applicants are energizing to see – it’s absolutely amazing to have a front row view of the intellectual, entrepreneurial and humanitarian talent that makes up this University. Having a role in fostering that talent enriches our Trustee group in indelible way.”
Please welcome Brent Percival to The Jefferson Trust as our new Director of Development. Brent started with the Trust in mid-October, just in time to join the Trustees of the Trust at the annual Fall Board Meeting. Brent comes to the Trust from the UVA Health System Development Office, where he spent three years working with alumni from the medical school. Before joining UVA, he worked in development for Auburn University, and in advertising with Media General. Brent brings a background in gift planning, and a passion for the Trust!
While attending college, Brent was involved with student projects, therefore knows first-hand the power of alumni involvement in enhancing the student experience. As a result, he is excited to work with current and future trustees in expanding and enhancing the Trust to best meet the needs of a growing University.
A native of Woodbridge, VA, Brent now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, Erin, four-year-old son, Ethan, and eight month-old daughter, Adelaide.
You can reach Brent at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434-243-8118 with any Development questions.