Ellen Rolfes is a philanthropy strategist who has used her entrepreneurial gift of out-of-the-box thinking to help institutions discover financial growth while creating lasting societal change. Her work has been with academic and healthcare institutions, non-profits in social service and the arts, and socially conscious corporations and individuals.
She began her career teaching “how to publish a community cookbook” for non-profits through her national seminar business; over 3000 women participated. The professional training resulted in volunteers raising millions of charitable dollars for communities nationwide. She spent years in the New York publishing trade as a book packager for Doubleday, Simon & Schuster, and G.P Putnam and Sons. There she developed seventeen titles, including THE BLACK FAMILY REUNION COOKBOOK with the National Council of Negro Women, A GRACIOUS PLENTY with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi and OCCASIONS TO SAVOR with the National Delta Sigma Theta Society.
As the principal architect of The Ole Miss Women’s Council, she facilitated the restructuring of the University of Mississippi’s philanthropy culture through parity by demonstrating the power of women’s giving. Today, the Council’s multi-million-dollar endowment educates students with a predisposition to shape a more caring and ethical society. During the 20th anniversary celebration, the Council established THE ELLEN ROLFES ENDOWMENT FUND to support their leadership-mentorship program to help build their scholars’ life/career skills and moral character.
She architected Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s Circle of Friends as a women’s giving initiative committed to being an instrument of intentional inclusion throughout the audience and patron bases. The Circle has become an established forum for diverse female leaders to network with others from different cultural backgrounds while philanthropically impacting the arts through their expression of inclusivity.
She led Circle to establish the MUSICIAN FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM for gifted graduate student musicians of color to move the orchestra towards better reflecting the face of the community. Recently, she led the formation of THE EDDY AWARD with corporate and individual sponsorships to support the program. The prestigious award is presented annually by the MSO to a community member who has made a transformative contribution to the enhancement of cultural awareness in the arts by using the power of music.
She is a former executive director of the Women’s Foundation for Greater Memphis and the ACE Awareness Foundation, past president of the Junior League of Memphis, and a Leadership Memphis and New Memphis member. She is a founder and former president of the Society of Entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs respect the system, but for some indefinable reason, they are internally driven to follow a vision beyond the one recognized by the status quo. They just see things differently. They were those kids in kindergarten who colored outside the lines, and thank goodness they did. The world is a better place because they had the imagination and courage to use those crayons to draw a different picture for everyone else.”
For More Information: http://www.ellenrolfes.com
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