Kispert family brings philanthropic leadership to athletic excellence at Grinnell

Feb. 5, 2018 — Grinnell College is honored to announce establishment of The Fund for Athletic Excellence Endowed by John Kispert ’85 and Jill Goldberg Kispert for the benefit of the College’s Athletics Department.

John Kispert ’85 and Jill Goldberg Kispert
    John Kispert ’85 &
    Jill Goldberg Kispert

Established upon the donors’ strong belief that participation in athletics builds character, vital life skills, and passion that translates into every phase and endeavor of life, the fund provides maximum flexibility in addressing future needs and initiatives in Grinnell athletics. Applications will include support for new or existing full-time employment opportunities with a focus on gender equity, and the provision of programmatic support that positions Grinnell athletics as an NCAA leader.

“The most astute forms of philanthropy breathe vitality into the College’s mission for students who are here now and for generations to come,” says President Raynard S. Kington. “We are grateful to John and Jill for their exceptional leadership and vision in strengthening the traditionally transformational qualities of Grinnell athletics.”

Andy Hamilton ’85, Grinnell’s director of athletics and recreation, points to the Kisperts’ passionate personal regard for athletics and their advocacy for the dual sport experience as keys to their philanthropy. John, a Grinnell trustee since 2016, was a four-year starter in basketball who also played baseball and soccer. Jill, who graduated from Vanderbilt University, was a four-year starter in basketball who also excelled in soccer.

“It is often said, correctly, that we do athletics differently at Grinnell – we truly balance the athletic involvement with the academic experience,” says Hamilton. “It’s very much about skill building through commitment and teamwork, the process of working hard to become someone different than you were when you arrived. John and Jill believe passionately that athletics are a big part of the Grinnell community and what makes it distinctive. They have chosen to express that belief in an intentional and purposeful way by establishing the Fund for Athletic Excellence.”

“Grinnell is a place where everyone is part of something bigger than themselves and where people work and play with others who are far different from themselves,” says John Kispert. “Moreover, athletics provide unique opportunities for students to encounter differences and learn from each other – on the field and on the court.” 

A portion of the Kisperts’ gift is designated as seed funding, in concert with a group of other alumni, to help launch a Basketball Excellence Fund. In a broader sense, the gift is designed to promote sustainable funding mechanisms that complement the College’s endowment model in supporting the campus community.

John Kispert ’85 and Jill Goldberg Kispert chatting with Basketball Coach Dave Arseneault, Sr.
John Kispert ’85 and Jill Goldberg Kispert with basketball Coach David Arseneault, Sr.

“Grinnell is an answer to the real-world problems we face today,” says John Kispert. “The College has an excellent track record at teaching those problem-answering skills. However, funding is needed for Grinnell to continue to expand globally, leverage technology and innovation, and continue to support the campus community. More diverse funding streams are needed, in addition to the College’s current, unique endowment model, if Grinnell is to maintain the level of excellence expected from our world-class institution.”

John Kispert is managing partner of Black Diamond Ventures and serves as lead independent director for several technology companies, both public and private. He consults, speaks, and instructs on how to operationalize innovation with an international perspective. Jill Goldberg Kispert is a community volunteer for non-profit organizations focused on education, local public schools, and community service. Prior to this, she was a senior executive specializing in finance and marketing in Silicon Valley crossing the data storage, database software, and internet security industries. The Kisperts live in Atherton, California with their two children.

For your information:

The Kispert family is endowing a fund to benefit the College’s Athletics Department. For information about fund endowments across the College, please contact the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at 866-850-1846.