Women's Philanthropy Institute will conduct national search for full-time director
Debra Mesch, Ph.D., director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) and the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy, will step down from the director role that she has held for 10 years to concentrate full time on research and teaching about gender and philanthropy effective August 1, 2018, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy announced today.
“I am excited to devote 100% of my time to accelerating the research agenda about gender and philanthropy,” Mesch said. “I look forward to remaining involved and active with the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. However, in light of WPI’s significant growth over the last decade, it is time for the two roles I’ve held to each become full-time positions. The appointment of a full-time director for WPI will be the catalyst for its growth to the next level.”
Under Mesch’s leadership, WPI has received several research grants totaling nearly $3 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to deepen understanding about men’s and women’s giving. The wide-ranging, multi-year project marshals myriad approaches and multiple scholars to address two central areas of research. The first is identifying and examining the factors that influence men and women to give more, to give more intentionally, and to give more effectively. The second area of research focuses on charitable giving to aid women and girls, including who gives, where they give, what factors influence their giving, how to increase giving and how to engage more men and younger women in supporting these causes.
Mesch will continue as the lead scholar for these studies. Forthcoming reports will focus on how gender intersects with retirement and giving; charitable giving around elections; the effect of social norms on charitable giving behavior; bequest giving; and a series of projects around giving to women and girls. When completed the project will result in more than 20 studies related to gender and philanthropy. From those, WPI is producing a variety of accessible, easy-to-use resources to inform and assist donors, nonprofits and others.
“Dr. Mesch is the leading scholar of women’s philanthropy in the United States, and I’m confident she will add even more to the body of knowledge about gender and philanthropy when she is able to direct all of her efforts toward research,” said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the school. “By raising awareness of the power and possibilities of women’s philanthropic leadership around the world and building the Women’s Philanthropy Institute into the foremost resource for nonprofits, fundraisers, donors and scholars, she has already made a lasting impact on philanthropy’s future.”
As Mesch transitions to full-time research, she will relinquish her role as director of WPI. Andrea Pactor, currently associate director of WPI, will serve as interim director while a national search is conducted for the WPI’s next director.
As director of WPI since 2008, Mesch has led its vision and strategy for a decade. Under her direction, it has built an impressive research portfolio and helped ensure the future of scholarship on gender and philanthropy by annually awarding a doctoral dissertation fellowship. WPI has taught nonprofit organizations and women donors nationwide about the nature and strength of women’s philanthropy and how it differs from that of men.
Mesch also created and taught the world’s first graduate-level course on gender and philanthropy. She and WPI have convened five national and international symposia, bringing together philanthropists, fundraisers and scholars to explore key issues and exchange insights about the ways in which women engage in and practice philanthropy. She initiated the WPI Council, a volunteer advisory group that has helped to guide strategic planning, marketing, and fundraising efforts, and she created the Shaw-Hardy Taylor Achievement Award for moving women’s philanthropy forward.
Mesch received both her M.B.A. and Ph.D. in organizational behavior/human resource management from Indiana University Kelley School of Business.
About the Women’s Philanthropy Institute
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) is part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. WPI increases understanding of women’s philanthropy through rigorous research and education, interpreting and sharing these insights broadly to improve philanthropy. By addressing significant and groundbreaking research questions and translating that research into increased understanding and improvements in practice, WPI helps to leverage new and expanded resources for the common good. Follow us on Twitter @WPIinsights and “Like” us on Facebook.
The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change in the world. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter @IUPhilanthropy and “Like” us on Facebook.