Alumnus Receives Fellowship at Duke Endowment


For Willie Jones, experiential learning at Brevard College was just the beginning. Jones, who graduated from Brevard in 2013, was recently named a fellow at The Duke Endowment.

Jones received an undergraduate degree in environmental science and later completed two AmeriCorps VISTA terms through North Carolina Campus Compact at Western Carolina University. Through the program, he raised awareness about food insecurity and built capacity at Community Table – a nonprofit focused on hunger relief.

“He immediately impressed me as a person with extraordinary leadership ability and potential,” said Jim Reynolds, a professor of Geology at BC. “His natural inquisitiveness inspired others to try to do their best. I remember his excitement on a fossil-collecting trip in eastern Tennessee. He found the best specimens of the day. I have no idea where he will be in 10 years, but I am sure he will be a leader and that he will be doing something good for our society.”

During his fellowship with The Duke Endowment, Jones will participate in hands-on grantmaking and site visits. By the end of his two years, he’ll complete a Capstone project that fits within the scope of the Endowment’s work.

The Endowment’s Fellowship program was created in 2005 and gives emerging leaders a unique opportunity in the philanthropic sector. The Fellowship is a full-time, two-year experience that encourages creative thinking and leadership development. Fellows are exposed to all aspects of philanthropy in the Endowment’s focus areas of Child Care, Health Care, Higher Education and Rural Church. Fellows rotate through these four areas, which exposes them to different issues across the Carolinas.Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, professor of Biology and Environmental Science at BC, said Jones was one of the most enthusiastic and motivated students she had the pleasure of working with in the program.

“He never saw an obstacle, only learning opportunities and means of growth,” Frick-Ruppert said. “His positive attitude and work ethic provide a firm foundation for his leadership style, and I’m pleased that The Duke Endowment recognized him.”