K’s Advancement Leader Receives Visionary Award

Vice President of College Advancement Karen T. Isble has been named the 2024 recipient of the Apra Visionary Award. This distinction is the highest award bestowed by Apra, the leading organization in the prospect development field, and recognizes an individual’s exceptional contributions to the field of prospect development, including volunteer service, mentorship, innovation and inclusion. In its 38-year history, the organization has only selected six recipients, inclusive of Isble.

“Karen’s innovative vision and steadfast support for data analytics played an instrumental role in elevating prospect development work. At the same time, she paved the way for many who also went on to make important and lasting contributions to Apra and the industry as a whole,” said Rodger Devine, Apra president and assistant vice president for advancement operations at Pomona College.

Isble joined Kalamazoo College in September 2020 where she guides the college’s fundraising, alumni engagement and marketing and communications efforts.

Previously, she served as associate vice chancellor and campaign director for the University of California (UC) Irvine, leading the planning and execution of the university’s $2 billion comprehensive campaign, “Brilliant Future,” which launched in 2019.

Prior to UC Irvine, Isble served as assistant vice president for development at the University of Michigan, where she oversaw prospect development, gift administration and the fund-raising information and technology infrastructure, covering three campuses, 36 schools, colleges, and units, and the academic medical center. She played an integral role in the planning and execution of the university’s $5.3 billion “Victors for Michigan” campaign.

Portrait of Visionary Award recipient Vice President of College Advancement Karen Isble
Vice President of College Advancement Karen Isble is being honored by Apra, a prospect development field organization, with its Apra Visionary Award.

Isble began her career in arts administration in roles with the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, the Goodman Theatre and entered the field of prospect research with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She currently serves as president-elect on the board of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

“For me, Karen was an inspiration,” said Sharise Harrison, Apra board member and assistant vice president of advancement services and prospect management at California State University, Sacramento. “As someone who has been the only Black woman in the room or the most senior Black woman in advancement, she serves as someone I admire not only for her career trajectory but her kindness and willingness to help others.”

Isble is a former board member of Apra, having served as president in 2013-2014. Since then, she has participated in a number of working groups and committees, including the Apra Body of Knowledge Campaign Task Force from 2020-2022. She has also served on the boards of Apra Michigan and Apra Illinois.

Isble has been a speaker and author, regionally and nationally, with Apra, CASE and AFP, among others. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.

“Apra has been a guiding presence in my career and professional development since 1995 when I first became a researcher. I’ve been happy to give my time and energy to the organization and its members for many years at the regional and international levels,” said Isble.

Apra plans to recognize Isble in person at the Apra Prospect Development Conference, Aug. 20-23, in Seattle, Washington.


About Apra: Apra was established in 1986 and is committed to advancing the professionals and practices that enable the philanthropic success of institutions that rely on fundraising to achieve their missions. Apra serves more than 1,800 members worldwide who drive their institutions’ philanthropic missions through work in prospect development, prospect research, data analytics and data management, annual giving, advancement, special gifts and more. To learn more, visit aprahome.org.

About Kalamazoo College: Kalamazoo College, founded in 1833, is a nationally recognized residential liberal arts and sciences college located in Kalamazoo, Mich. The creator of the K-Plan, Kalamazoo College provides an individualized education that integrates rigorous academics with life-changing experiential learning opportunities. For more information, visit www.kzoo.edu.