Supporters Like You
Read about supporters who are helping to create a Georgia State campus full of brilliant minds.
Kevin Lofton (MHA ’79) and Sabrina Shannon
Dedicated to social justice and health equity, Kevin and Shannon have decided to create a legacy through an endowed professorship that will help expand the diversity of the Institute of Health Administration.
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When designing their endowment for Georgia State University, Kevin Lofton and Sabrina Shannon drew on their respective lifetimes –their professional experiences, their families’ histories and their shared commitment to social justice and health equity.
The Lofton Family Professorship in the Institute of Health Administration was created to help Georgia State attract faculty to help expand the diversity of the institution, providing assistant professors with funds for research, travel and other advancement opportunities – the kind of support not commonly available to young faculty.
“We’re focused on helping professors in their pre-tenure years build their careers,” said Lofton. “What we believe is that the best teachers offer the broadest, most diverse lenses to understanding all the factors involved in health care in America.”
Kevin Lofton (MHA ’79), a 2016 inductee to the Robinson College of Business Hall of Fame and 2017 recipient of the Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award, joined the Georgia State University Foundation Board of Trustees after a distinguished career spanning more than four decades. From 2003 until his 2020 retirement, Lofton served as CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives, and then CommonSpirit Health, the nation’s second-largest health system. Sabrina Shannon is a prominent executive healthcare coach and partner at MEDI Leadership, the nation’s largest executive coaching firm exclusively for healthcare.
The Loftons, who were married in 2016, share key commonalities in their upbringings. Both were raised by parents with exceptionally strong work ethics who impressed upon them the generationally transformative value of education, along with the expectation that they pursue advanced degrees.
“Impacting systems that limit the advancement of black people is our priority. We specifically focus in the areas of health and education. The Lofton Family Professorship hits every area important to us,” says Shannon.
In their respective careers, the Loftons repeatedly saw organizations achieve better outcomes and performance when they had people from diverse backgrounds in decision-making roles. Through the Lofton Family Professorship, they will enrich the education and range of perspectives available to Georgia State health administration students by attracting assistant professors with a demonstrated commitment to racial diversity and health equity by bolstering their career trajectories.
“The future is bright for Georgia State and I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Lofton. “I’m excited Dr. Blake is leading us and am looking forward to my continued involvement with the foundation.”
Ron and Elizabeth Davis
Ron and Elizabeth Davis are invested in working to uplift the community, in being a positive force for social justice and in extending a helping hand to younger generations.
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In working to uplift the community.
In being a positive force for social justice.
In sharing their skills and extending a helping hand to younger generations.
After generously contributing to the Georgia State FirstGen Scholarship in previous years, the Davises formalized their investment in Panther student success in 2020 by creating and endowing the Overcoming Obstacles Fund. Established as part of the Georgia State University Foundation’s The State Way Match program, the fund will provide scholarships to students who have demonstrated dedication and resilience when faced with difficulties.
Funding a scholarship was hardly the first time the Davises positively impacted Panthers’ lives. For more than 20 years, they have volunteered for numerous social and racial justice initiatives in the downtown Atlanta communities Georgia State and its students call home. Over the years, they have worked with numerous current, former and future Panthers through their commitment to the Big Bethel AME Church’s Saturday Academy, tutoring students at Hope Hill Elementary School and volunteering with Operation P.E.A.C.E. in the Bedford Pines community.
“We were deeply impressed with Georgia State students,” said Ron. “While they varied in what they were studying, they were all intelligent, motivated, high-quality students.”
They got additional perspective on Panthers in the classroom when Elizabeth enrolled as a GSU-62 student to study art and art history after retiring from a 30-year career in academia. There, the retired professor emeritus from Georgia Institute of Technology learned that a significant percentage of Panthers are first-generation students, just like she and Ron were.
“Because we were both the first people in our families to go to college, Ron and I had an understanding of some of the obstacles many Georgia State students face,” said Elizabeth. “Your parents really don’t have the background to help, so you have to figure out how to navigate all the systems within a university – and how to pay for it – by yourself. It’s stressful.”
When the Davises decided to leave a financial legacy in higher education, they decided that investing in Panthers held the greatest promise.
“We get solicitations to give to the Ivy League schools we attended but, while we’re very grateful for the scholarships we received, they have plenty of money and plenty of donors,” said Ron. “We wanted to put our money where we could have the most impact.”
“Georgia State is in the category of urban universities helping people from challenging economic backgrounds,” said Elizabeth. “From meeting many Georgia State students and alumni I know it’s an excellent place for students from challenging circumstances to earn valuable professional credentials and get a good start for their career.”
“With its diverse campus and student body and high graduation rate, Georgia State is an exceptional shining star,” said Elizabeth. “We invested in Georgia State because we want it to be there for all the children Ron and I met and worked with, for them to have the opportunity to achieve the great things they’re capable of.”
“Georgia State is in the category of urban universities helping people from challenging economic backgrounds,” said Elizabeth Davis. “From meeting many Georgia State students and alumni I know it’s an excellent place for students from challenging circumstances to earn valuable professional credentials and get a good start for their career.”
J. Allen (B.B.A. ‘68) Linda Poole
“Anything I have done – and anything I will do in the future – for Georgia State is simply my way of giving back a small part of all that the university has given me.” – J. Allen Poole
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Anything I have done – and anything I will do in the future – for Georgia State is simply my way of giving back a small part of all that the university has given me,” says Georgia State alumnus J. Allen Poole (B.B.A. ’68).
Over the years, Allen has been a generous contributor of his time and resources to the Georgia State University Foundation, the Robinson College of Business, and Georgia State Athletics. In 2017, he established a planned gift, then valued at $1.8 million, that designated Georgia State as the beneficiary of several retirement and annuity accounts. One-half of the funds will create an athletic scholarship, with the other half going to Robinson’s School of Accountancy to create the Dr. John W. Cook Professorship and the J. Allen Poole Endowed Scholarship.
Allen divided his planned gift between his twin passions, one that has provided lifelong enjoyment and one that prepared him professionally.
A self-described “sports nut,” Allen credits Robinson’s School of Accountancy with the education that helped him achieve notable professional success as a certified public accountant and co-founder of one of Atlanta’s leading accounting firms, Blackwell & Poole, CPAs, which merged in 1998 with the large regional firm Cherry Bekaert, CPAs.
“Professionally, my meal ticket came from my accounting degree from Robinson,” he says. “While I had many great teachers at Georgia State, there were none better than John Cook, and I wanted to honor and thank him – as a mentor and lifelong friend – through this endowed professorship.”
Allen was honored to speak about his and his mentor’s special relationship at Dr. Cook’s 2020 funeral and is grateful his philanthropy will honor and memorialize this influential man.
“I think that giving, to have the most benefit to the donor and recipient,” he says, “should come from the heart. Mine did.”
Karen Linhart (BBA ’67)
Remembering what it was like to balance a university course load with the job she needed to pay for her education, Karen has chosen to establish a scholarship to help advance women’s leadership in the world.
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Karen Linhart (BBA ’67) remembers what it was like to balance a university course load with the job she needed to pay for her education.
That memory and the perspective gained over a long and successful career in the computer industry, mostly with IBM, inspired Karen in 2019 to establish a scholarship with the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at the Georgia State University Foundation. The Karen L. Linhart Endowed Scholarship provides funding support for undergraduate students enrolled in the University’s WomenLead program who demonstrate financial need.
“I was a first-generation college student, and early in my time at Georgia State – when I was going to night school and working full time – I thought ‘Why don’t I just quit school and continue with clerical jobs?’” Karen says. “But I realized in short order that without a college degree, career opportunities and advancement would pass me by.”
After graduation, Karen pursued a career in the computer industry. Besides offering opportunities to use her innate talents, the computer field in the late 1960s was one of the few sectors hiring college-educated women for professions other than administrative positions. While workplaces have changed in many ways since she started her career, Karen felt that the WomenLead program, with its ability to identify and impact students, was where her endowment funds could be most meaningfully directed.
“Today’s success in one’s chosen career depends not only on skill competency but also being able to network, effectively interview, and advocate for oneself,” Karen says. “You never know what life is going to bring, but if you have a college degree and skills and talents to fall back on, you have a great chance to write a story of your own making.”
Women lead students.
“I was a first-generation college student, and early in my time at Georgia State – when I was going to night school and working full time – I thought ‘Why don’t I just quit school and continue with clerical jobs?’ But I realized in short order that without a college degree, career opportunities and advancement would pass me by.”
— Karen Linhart
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