Connecting People and Causes
Alumna feels rewarded helping nonprofits solve organizational challenges and fulfill their missions
Friday, March 3, 2017

Elisabeth Reed Reise '08, B.A. Sociology

Elisabeth Reise is always up for a challenge, and the more insurmountable, the better.

"I love having to think outside the box to solve organizational problems," she says.

She also loves vision casting (helping connect people to causes), and her creative solutions to problems at local nonprofits are benefitting San Antonio children.

Concerned with social issues, Elisabeth began her career at a policy/lobbying firm but soon realized she wanted to be more hands-on. She joined a foster care agency as a case manager and, after assessing the dire need for more foster parents, she was asked to step into the role of foster parent recruiter.

After bolstering foster parent recruitment efforts, Elisabeth moved to Child Advocates San Antonio (CASA), a nonprofit agency that recruits, trains, and supervises court-appointed volunteer advocates, who provide help and constancy for abused and neglected children. As an advocate supervisor, she discovered she "loved empowering volunteers to make a difference in their community." Once again she was asked to step in and take a look at the agency's recruiting department, which was facing some obstacles. The "fun and challenge of turning a failing department around" led to her discovery of a new career path when she was asked to take over the agency's fundraising department.

"It had gone through a couple of vice presidents, was experiencing a lot of staff turnover, and faced some significant obstacles," she explains.

She is proud of the fact that she was able to take what many described as an "unfixable" problem and, despite no prior fundraising experience, turn the department into a success. Her biggest challenge in addressing that problem was helping the community to understand the issue of child abuse and how they could help.

"Child abuse can often seem overwhelming," she acknowledges, "but learning how to break it down into action steps that people feel empowered and capable to act on is extremely rewarding."

Trinity played a major role in Elisabeth's decision to pursue social service. It was sociology professor David Spener who "opened my eyes to the disenfranchised and helped me understand how important it is for those with privilege to at least attempt to advocate on behalf of those with no voice." Anthropology professor Richard Reed's "passion and ability to listen and connect with others" also made an indelible impression, while political science professor David Crockett taught her "how to question and think critically about issues big and small."

Joining Sigma Theta Tau sorority, "one of the most important parts of my Trinity experience," was also a positive influence.

"I was surrounded by strong, empowered women who strove to live intentional, honorable lives while investing and supporting those around us. Those friends are still in my life today and continue to drive me to be successful and pursue the best version of myself," she says.

At graduation, Elisabeth's parents, who lived in New Zealand, were unable to fly to San Antonio, so Trinity arranged a live stream video so her parents could watch her walk the stage. They viewed the ceremony in a lecture hall they had reserved at 2 a.m. their time. For Elisabeth, it was her "most memorable moment" and one for which she remains extremely grateful.

In addition to career inspiration, close personal friendships, and a memorable graduation, Elisabeth found marital bliss at Trinity when her husband-to-be, who worked for the Information Technology Services part-time, came to fix her computer. "He pretended it was Trinity policy that I had to sit there while he worked on it and used it as a chance for us to get to know each other better," she says with a smile. "We've now been married five years, and he still fixes my computer." Together they volunteer as respite parents, offering short-term relief to foster parents.

After six fulfilling years at CASA, during which she established healthy recruitment and fundraising programs and trained new leaders, Elisabeth has stepped away from her role as vice president of development to start the search for her next big project.

"I love solving problems," she says. "I love connecting people to causes, and I've learned the best opportunities present themselves when there is a need."

You may contact Elisabeth at elisabethkreise@gmail.com

Mary Denny helps tell Trinity's story as a contributor to the University communications team.

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