The Foundation Staff

The employees of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation work to support the mission of the Foundation.

As the Foundation’s Director of Learning and Evaluation, Alex Cohen collaborates with Foundation staff, grantees and other stakeholders to ground the Foundation’s work in evidence-based, high-quality research and data. Cohen received his B.A. in Economics and Mathematics with Highest Distinction from Indiana University and went on to complete his M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University, where he specialized in applied econometrics and applied microeconomics. He joined the Foundation in 2016.

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. Fiddian-Green serves on the Board and Executive Committee of BioCrossroads, on the Board and Executive Committee of United Way of Central Indiana, and also serves on the Boards of Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation, and Regenstrief Institute. She also served as President of The Economic Club of Indiana, for the 2017-2018 season and is a current Board member.

As Senior Program Officer, Sarah Hawkins works closely with the Foundation’s President & CEO and Program staff to develop, refine, and execute strategies in support of the Foundation’s funding goals, with duties spanning program, policy, and community engagement initiatives. She joined the Foundation in 2017 and previously served in various program and strategy roles at The Mind Trust, Leadership Indianapolis, and ExactTarget. Hawkins is a member of Class XXXVI of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series, was named one of the Indianapolis Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” in 2012, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. from DePauw University.

Irene Jackson joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation as Administrative and Financial Coordinator in 2010 and holds a B.A. from Anderson University. In her role at the Foundation, she is responsible for maintaining the Foundation’s financial, accounting, and investment records, maintaining strong internal controls, and supporting the Chief Financial Officer.

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.

In her position as Program Administrator, Susan Luse oversees the Foundation’s grantmaking processes and procedures, including legal compliance and grants budgeting, payments and reporting. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2005, Luse was employed by the Regenstrief Foundation. She also has 10 years of sales and marketing experience in the food manufacturing industry. Luse holds a B.S. from Purdue University.

Kami (Spicklemire) Nielsen joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation in 2019 as Director of Communications. In this role, she works to advance the Foundation’s mission by developing and implementing a comprehensive communications and outreach strategy. 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.

Ellen Quigley joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation as Grants Officer in 2010 and was named Vice President of Programs in 2015. In her current role, she works with the President & CEO and Program staff to implement the Foundation’s vision and goals, and she manages the Foundation’s day-to-day grantmaking activities. Quigley was formerly Chief of Staff for the Office of Congressman André Carson and Deputy Mayor for Community Affairs with the City of Indianapolis under Mayor Bart Peterson. Quigley also practiced law in two Indianapolis law firms and acted as Executive Director of the Greater Indianapolis Progress committee. Quigley holds a B.A. in English from Indiana University and a J.D. degree, Summa Cum Laude, from Indiana University School of Law. She serves on the Board of Health & Hospital Corporation and of the IU McKinney School of Law Alumni Association and also co-chairs the Policy Committee for the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance.

Abe Roll joined the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation as Program Analyst in 2019. In this role, Abe provides support to Foundation staff in the areas of data management and analysis, research and information gathering to ensure the Foundation’s grantmaking is grounded in high-quality evidence and data. Abe completed his Master of Public Affairs and B.A. in Philanthropic Studies from IUPUI, where he worked as a research assistant at the Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy (CRISP).

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 holds a B.A. from DePauw University.