Graduate Student Spotlight – Macy Adams, M.P.A. ’19

As fall makes its entrance here in the Lowcountry, University of Charleston, S.C. student Macy Adams is reflecting on a summer spent helping to a local community foundation.

Macy, a second-year student in the Master of Public Administration Program was recruited by Program Director Dr. Judith Millesen to act as a boots-on-the-ground consultant to Incourage Community Foundation in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Macy lead staff training, fostered leadership development, and worked to solidify Incourage’s shift from a traditional community foundation to something that is rarely seen in the current philanthropy world.

“I helped facilitate a deeper understanding of organizational values with the staff and board,” Macy explains. “That way, everyone would understand that every decision they make with Incourage is values-based, not what’s going to look the best on paper, or what’s going to bring in the most money. It’s about what aligns with our values.”

Incourage Community Foundation is a nonprofit focused on building a community that works well for all residents through equity, opportunity, and shared stewardship. There’s a commitment to responding to changing community needs, as well as a focus on highlighting and building upon the existing assets that already exist within the community, such as the talents and interests of residents, natural resources, and the networks of residents and support systems.

Macy acted as the organizational development consultant, helping Incourage as it shifts its mission, vision, and strategy to better meet the needs of its community. Through this position, she not only grew as a facilitator, she also gained confidence in her own abilities.

A big takeaway for Macy was getting to learn from Incourage’s CEO Kelly Ryan. Macy cites observing Ryan’s passion, drive, and expansive knowledge on community foundations priceless.

She also credits her experience with the Community Assistance Program (CAP), and her regional governance course as key components to her success in assisting Incourage this past summer. Under Bob O’Neill, a Riley Center Fellow, Macy learned the power of storytelling in both leadership and conflict management.

“There were times when I was working on developing staff leaderships skills, and there would be conflicts that arose,” Macy says. “This meant I needed to apply my Human Resources and leadership skills I’ve learned in the M.P.A. program in a real-life situation, and that was incredibly rewarding.”

Macy will continue with the CAP program, and hopes to work in policy after graduating in Spring 2019, but is open to new opportunities and experiences.

“As far as where I end up after graduation, right now I’m leaving that door open,” Macy explains. “I’ve found that some of the most rewarding experiences in life can happen as long as I’m open to saying ‘Yes’ to the unexpected.”


To learn more about Incourage Community Foundation, visit their website at . For more on the Community Assistance Program with the Master of Public Administration Program, visit

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