Ripon College names new vice president, associate vice president for advancement

Shawn Karsten ’09 has been named vice president for advancement and Lisa Ellis associate vice president for advancement, effective June 1.

Karsten, a Ripon native, has served as the College’s interim associate vice president for advancement for the past year-and-a-half, where he led the major gifts, planned giving and Annual Fund programs. He originally joined the advancement staff in 2014, contributing to the success of the $67 million Imagine Tomorrow comprehensive campaign and leading the Revitalize campaign, which raised more than $7 million for the Willmore Center for athletics, health and wellness.

Most recently, Karsten led Ripon’s first-ever giving day — #OneDayRally — which resulted in $666,626 in donations from a total of 940 donors. Over the course of his four years at Ripon, Karsten personally secured more than $7.75 million in cash and deferred commitments.

“Shawn brings a tremendous amount of insight and energy to our fundraising, engagement and stewardship programs,” said Zach Messite, president of Ripon College. “He exhibits a genuine passion for the College and the community, and gains quick rapport with alumni of all generations. His hard work, dedication and fundraising success during our most recent endowment and capital campaigns have helped him earn the respect of colleagues in advancement and across campus.”

Karsten completed much of his undergraduate coursework at Ripon and received his B.A. in speech communication from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He currently resides in Ripon with his wife, Carissa Zuercher Karsten ’10, and daughter, Evelina.

Ellis, director of advancement services, will move into a newly created role as associate vice president for advancement, serving as the division’s primary tactical, administrative and management officer. She will be responsible, among other things, for the planning, organization and execution of Ripon’s major gifts and advancement services programs.

“Lisa is a relied-upon resource for our fundraising research and strategies, Messitte said. “She makes everyone around her better informed and more focused. I have every confidence she will make an immediate positive impact on our advancement operations.”

Ellis has more than 19 years of experience working in nonprofit organizations in the fields of higher education, arts and culture, adult and family literacy, and employment and job training. She has been with the Office of Advancement at Ripon since 2008 and has held several roles, spanning major gifts and research and prospect management.

She received her bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology and sociology from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ellis lives in Ripon with her son, Riley.


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Composite Photo of Shawn Karsten and Lisa Ellis