THE FOUNDATION STAFF
More information on Foundation staff can be found below.
Chaya Cassell joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation in 2020 as an intern, then served as a Program Associate before her promotion to Senior Program Associate in 2023. In her role, she works closely with the Foundation’s Program staff to develop, refine and execute strategies in support of the Foundation’s funding goals. Cassell completed her Bachelor of Arts in Chinese and the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Cassell also previously interned with Sagamore Institute, an Indianapolis think tank.
Shannon Elward joined the Fairbanks Foundation in 2023 as Communications Manager. In this role, she works closely with the Chief Communications Officer to develop, refine, and execute strategies and tactics that support the Foundation’s communications goals. Prior to joining the Foundation, Elward was a Senior Content Writer with DemandJump, an Indianapolis start-up, where she developed marketing content for technology, education, and healthcare clients. Before this, she held several positions with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, including Director of Learn More Indiana, Assistant Director of Communications, and AmeriCorps VISTA member. A former adjunct instructor, Elward holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Sociology and a Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Composition from Indiana University – Fort Wayne.
Andrea Farmer joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation as Chief Communications Officer in 2022. In this role, she works closely with the Foundation’s President & CEO and the Program team to develop and implement communications strategies that articulate the Foundation’s mission and work to stakeholders and other external audiences.
Prior to joining the Foundation, she previously served as Director of External Engagement and Government Affairs at Indiana Donor Network, where she oversaw multiple functions, including marketing communications, community outreach, government affairs and legal affairs. Other previous roles include Senior Vice President, Strategic Communications and Account Services at Indianapolis marketing communications agency Hirons and Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives at the NCAA. Throughout her career, Farmer has been involved with several non-profit organizations and industry associations, including as president of the Hoosier Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Farmer holds an Accreditation in Public Relations from the Public Relations Society of America’s Universal Accreditation Board, and she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations from Ball State University, Magna Cum Laude.
Claire Fiddian-Green joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2015. In this role, she collaborates with the Board of Directors to define the Foundation’s goals and funding strategies and oversees implementation of the Foundation’s mission and operations.
Previously, Fiddian-Green served as Special Assistant for Education Innovation to Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Co-Founder of the Center for Education and Career Innovation. Fiddian-Green also served as the founding Executive Director of the Indiana Charter School Board, a statewide charter school authorizing agency. Prior roles include President of The Mind Trust, Grants Officer for the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, and Senior Analyst within Eli Lilly & Company’s Corporate Finance Investment Banking group. Fiddian-Green holds a B.A. from Brown University and an M.B.A. from Columbia University. She is a member of Class XXXIV of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series and has been named twice to IBJ Media’s annual edition of Indiana 250 – the most influential business leaders in Indiana. In 2022, she was recognized among IBJ’s 2022 Women of Influence, and she also received the Circle of Hope Award from Community Fairbanks Recovery Center for outstanding contributions to the field of addiction.
Fiddian-Green serves on the Board and Executive Committee of the Indy Chamber, where she also chairs the Health Policy Council. She serves on the boards of the Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Regenstrief Institute, Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee and CareerWise USA. She served as President of The Economic Club of Indiana for the 2017-2018 season and is a current Board and Executive Committee member. She also served as Co-Chair of the Legacy Impact Committee for the 2022 Indy College Football Playoff, Inc. and was a member of the Board and Executive Committee from 2018 through 2022. In November 2020, she was appointed co-chair of the Learning and Talent Opportunities Taskforce of the Business Equity for Indy Committee, a joint initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and the Indy Chamber, in partnership with the Indianapolis Urban League, focused on addressing racial inequities in Central Indiana. She also serves on the Business Equity for Indy Management Committee.
Jemicia Franklin serves as the Financial and Administrative Manager for the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, a role she began in 2023. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring the accuracy, timeliness, and thoroughness of the Foundation’s financial and investment records. Additionally, Franklin assists with financial and compliance reporting, vendor and grant payments, human resources, payroll processes, and general office administration. Prior to joining the Foundation, Franklin was a Senior Operations Manager for Amazon Logistics, where she hired, trained, managed and mentored direct reports with oversight of more than 200 associates. Other previous roles include Office Manager and Financial Accountant with Leon County Public Schools in Tallahassee, Florida, and Instructor for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Florida. Franklin earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Florida A&M University.
Traci Johnson joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation as Program Administrator in 2022. In this role, she oversees the processes and procedures of grantmaking for the Foundation. Prior to coming to the Foundation, Johnson worked at the Indiana Department of Health within the HIV, STD, and Viral Hepatitis Division. Johnson holds a M.P.S. from the Clinton School of Public Service and a B.A. in French, International Studies, and Political Science from the University of Southern Indiana.
Kevin Kessinger joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation in 2016 as Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer. In this role, he has primary responsibility for all financial, investment and operating activities of the Foundation, including human resources and information technology. Most recently, Kessinger served as Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration at DePauw University, where he oversaw finance and accounting functions, including accounts payable, student accounts, accounting, budget, endowment accounting, and insurance and risk management. Kessinger received his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Indiana University-Bloomington and his Master of Business Administration, Cum Laude, with a concentration in corporate finance from the University of Notre Dame. Previously, Kessinger served as Controller at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
Kami (Spicklemire) Nielsen joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation in 2019. In her role with the Foundation, she manages grantee relationships and guides nonprofit organizations through the entire application process, from concept development through presentation of proposals and evaluation of results. Prior to joining the Foundation, Nielsen worked in Washington, DC, at The Education Trust and the Center for American Progress. Nielsen holds a B.S. and an M.P.A. from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
As the Vice President & Chief Grantmaking Officer, Ellen Quigley works closely with the Foundation’s President & CEO to develop and refine the Foundation’s strategies within its focus areas. She also oversees the implementation of these strategies through the Foundation’s grantmaking and learning and evaluation activities.
Prior to joining the Foundation in 2010, Quigley was Chief of Staff for the Office of Congressman Andre Carson and Deputy Mayor for Community Affairs with the City of Indianapolis under Mayor Bart Peterson. In these roles, Quigley was heavily involved in policy development and community engagement in the areas of health and education. Other experience includes leadership of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, a non-profit organization dedicated to convening business and community leaders to conduct best practice research and make recommendations to the Mayor to help solve Indianapolis’ most pressing issues. Before entering public service, Quigley practiced law for several years at two law firms and was law clerk for a federal district judge in Indiana. Throughout her career, Quigley has also been an active member of the Indianapolis non-profit community, serving as board member for a variety of non-profit organizations and on the Health and Hospital Corporation Board of Trustees. She currently serves on the IU McKinney School of Law Alumni Association, the Indiana Nonprofits Project Advisory Board, and several philanthropy-related initiatives. Ellen holds a J.D. degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
As the Foundation’s Executive Assistant, Scott Semester provides executive support for the President & CEO and coordinates administrative support functions for the Foundation’s Board of Directors and staff. He previously served as Administrative Director/Chief of Staff of Shalom Health Care Center. Semester joined the Foundation in 2016 and holds a B.A. from Indiana University, a certificate in Asset-Based Community Development from the Indianapolis Community Building Institute, and a certificate in fund raising management from The Fund Raising School at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.
Sarah Sullivan joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation as Program Officer in 2015 after serving as Deputy Director of Applications for the Indiana Charter School Board, the statewide charter school authorizing agency. In her role with the Foundation, she manages grantee relationships and guides nonprofit organizations through the entire application process, from concept development through presentation of proposals and evaluation of results. Sullivan is a member of Class XLII of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series and holds a B.A. from DePauw University.
Emilyn Whitesell joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation in 2019. In her role, she collaborates with Foundation staff, grantees, and other stakeholders to ground the Foundation’s work in high-quality research, and data. Whitesell comes to the Foundation from Mathematica, where she directed projects and led research and evaluation tasks for federal, nonprofit, and foundation clients, focusing primarily on education policy and program evaluation. A former Indianapolis Public Schools teacher and Teach For America corps member, Whitesell holds a B.S. in business from Indiana University, an M.A.T. from Marian University, and a Ph.D. in public administration from New York University.
Maddie Zook joined the Fairbanks Foundation in 2023 as Analytics Manager. In this role, she collaborates with the Senior Director of Learning and Evaluation and other Program staff in the areas of data management, analysis, visualization and research. Before joining the Foundation, Zook was Data Manager at RISE INDY, where she built data tools, systems, and dashboards. Prior to that, she worked as a classroom teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels, teaching various subjects including chemistry, social studies and English language arts. Zook currently serves on the Tableau Newbies User Group Admin Team, where she assists with events and trainings for those new to Tableau software use and the data community. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Indiana University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Art History and a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry. Zook also holds a transition to teaching graduate certification from Taylor University and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Purdue University.