Penelepe joined Marts & Lundy in 2013 after 28 years as an advancement professional, 24 spent in higher education and four in the arts. As Penelepe’s professional responsibilities grew, culminating in her position as Vice Chancellor for Development at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), so too did Penelepe’s role as a mentor for fellow development professionals. While at UIC, Penelepe consulted with a variety of nonprofit organisations, providing executive coaching and facilitating training programs for deans, senior academic leaders and development staff.
Penelepe’s tenure at UIC spanned nine years, from 2004 to 2013, during which time she led a $650 million comprehensive campaign. The campaign ultimately exceeded its goal by $26 million. Prior to her move to Chicago, Penelepe served as Associate Vice President and Campaign Director for Northwestern University. During her 12 years at Northwestern, Penelepe designed and led a successful $1.5 billion campaign. In her early career, Penelepe worked for the nonprofit arts community, serving as director of development for the Des Moines Art Center and the Illinois Arts Alliance.
A frequent faculty member for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Penelepe created and chaired the national conference, Advanced Development for Deans, and was chair of the 2012 CASE Summit for Advancement Leaders. Penelepe was awarded CASE’s prestigious Steuben Apple for excellence in teaching. Her book, Development for Academic Leaders, a Practical Guide to Fundraising Success, was published in the fall of 2012. In May 2013, Penelepe’s numerous contributions to philanthropy were recognised by the Chicago Chapter of the AFP with the Benjamin Franklin Award.