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Jill Gordon

IUPUI alumna, Program Director of the Youth Philanthropy Initiative of Indiana

Jill Gordon, IUPUI alumna and program director of the Youth Philanthropy Initiative of Indiana (YPII), felt a sense of volunteerism at a young age that guided her throughout her college and professional career. Today, Gordon works to instill this kind of volunteerism in the next generation to build life-long philanthropists.

“It is important for youth to know they can make a difference,” Gordon says.

Gordon graduated from IUPUI in 2000 with her bachelor's degree in anthropology, and she completed her master's in museum studies and nonprofit management in 2012. She first explored her interest in civic engagement during her undergraduate career at IUPUI as a Sam H. Jones scholar in 1997. She said the scholarship allowed her to attend college and exposed her to the many resources at CSL, including her internships with Head Start, the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

“Looking back at my experience in the late 1990s, CSL really helped bridge the gap of time and talent for me,” Gordon says. “The service opportunities and working with Head Start and local museums led me to where I am today. They helped me build the bridge from my passions and interests to my current career in the philanthropic sector.”

As the program director since 2011, Gordon oversees YPII’s programming, resources, and technical assistance to an audience of more than 90 nonprofits, community foundations, and other organizations that promote and support youth philanthropy. She calls herself a “trainer of trainers” because she conducts workshops and shares resources with organization leaders on different ways to get children involved in the community. These activities could be anything from writing letters to troops, volunteering at the Humane Society, or organizing fundraising and grant making initiatives.

“The action of service gives youth a sense of ownership and pride in their communities and their work,” Gordon says. “We are training the next generation of our community leaders and instilling civic-mindedness at a young age.”

Gordon is an active alumna supporting the Sam H. Jones scholarship program and continuing collaborations with CSL staff. She assisted a service learning course, Philanthropy 338: Community Service Seminar, for which she introduced the work of YPII and organized research projects for students to benefit the initiative. 

Gordon looks forward to leading more service learning courses and collaborations with CSL.