The Casey Feldman Foundation Welcomes Kelsey Butler and Matthew Thornton to the Board of Directors

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

By Melanie Riehl*

Casey and Kelsey Butler, 2008

Casey and Matt Thornton, 2006

The Casey Feldman Foundation is thrilled to announce the appointment of two new members to its board, Kelsey Butler and Matthew Thornton. Both were close to Casey and are passionate about carrying on her legacy.  Their experience and unique knowledge will help to strengthen the Foundation’s impact in awarding scholarships which promote good citizenship, combatting the epidemic of distracted driving, and supporting animal welfare.

“As we look ahead, Kelsey and Matt are outstanding additions to our Board. They’ve each been involved with The Casey Feldman Foundation for years and we are excited about the unique expertise that they bring as we continue to expand and lead the Foundation forward, ” says Dianne Anderson, co-founder of the Casey Feldman Foundation.

Kelsey was appointed to the Board in January of 2019. She and Casey met at Fordham University Lincoln Center, where they were roommates and best friends. The two also worked together on the student newspaper, The Observer and Kelsey has been working with Foundation on its Fordham and Observer scholarship programs for some time.

Kelsey carried out her passion for journalism after graduation, and is a reporter and editor living in New Jersey today. Her work has appeared in a number of outlets, including NBC News, Women’s Health, Brides, and Prevention. Coming from a strong background in journalism and communications, Kelsey hopes to use her skills to boost the visibility of the Foundation and reach more individuals like Casey.

Kelsey is Committed to Making This World a Better Place

Kelsey is committed to making the world a better place, like Casey always aimed to do — and is dedicated to educating others on the dangers of distracted driving. Inspired by Casey’s passion to help others, Kelsey supports a number of causes, including refugee and immigrant rights, as well as advocates for sexual assault survivors. “One of the things that I admired most about Casey was how she threw herself into whatever she did, whether it was volunteering at an animal shelter or working hard on news stories that exposed abuse, or other tough issues that deserved attention. She has inspired me to double down on causes that are important to me, as well as fighting to end distracted driving so that no other family or friend group has to lose an important part of their circle,” explained Kelsey.

Even though she is in a new position with the Foundation, Kelsey’s goals remain the same. “The number one goal for me is to fight distracted driving every day — no one should have to experience that loss because of a text message or a missed GPS turn. I also want to make sure that we continue to support causes that meant a lot to Casey: animal welfare and journalism among them. We lost an amazing person in July 2009, and I want to help carry on her legacy in any way that I can, as well as let people in on the full, fun, bright, happy, strong person that she was.”

Matt Hopes to Put the Best Foot Forward in Helping Those Less Fortunate

Matt was Casey’s boyfriend of more than three years, meeting when they attended Springfield High School together. Matt was appointed to the Board in January of 2020, and hopes to “help others drive without distraction, foster cooperation among diverse groups, and put the best foot forward in helping others who are less fortunate.”

Matt brings financial and volunteer experience to the Board as a graduate of The Penn State Smeal College of Business. He currently works for J.P. Morgan Chase as a Trust Portfolio Manager. He has been active in environmental cleanups, volunteer financial education classes, and is a 3 gallon Red Cross blood donor.

Matt has worked with the Foundation since its inception in 2009, participating in and volunteering on days of service, which are held on the anniversary of Casey’s death. Matt has also played a significant role in reviewing and awarding annual Foundation scholarships for Springfield High School and the Greater Philadelphia Cappies.

Matt describes Casey as “one of the most unique, loving, and good-hearted people who has ever influenced my life … When we’d call each other at night in college she’d always be telling me about how she was chasing down complex stories for The Observer or that she went and volunteered at a women’s shelter or at Animal Haven no-kill shelter. She had formed some strong convictions before many of her peers knew the same about themselves and I greatly admired that about her.” Casey was driven and passionate, and the Foundation aims to award like-minded students and open up a world of possibilities for them.

Casey’s Influence Continues to Impact Matt’s Life

“Her death left me with one of the most empty feelings of my life. She was the first person in my life that I lost, someone with whom I had shared so much, and whose influence still has an impact on me today. She also inspired me to impact those around me in much the same way she had when she was alive. I started volunteering more, both with her memorial Day of Service as well as by donating blood to the Red Cross, and doing environmental cleanups in Delaware where I moved once out of college. In those moments I always found a way to center myself and hold her memory close,” Matt explained.

With this new position, Matt hopes to use his financial expertise, volunteer experience, and relationship with Casey to expand the Foundation with much more consistency over the coming years; “I hope that by serving as a Foundation board member I can bring some new ideas, a passionate voice, and a profound respect to her memory … I consider it to be an immense honor to still be involved in carrying the good of her life forward, even out of the tragedy of her death.”

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*Melanie Riehl is a sophomore Communications and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She serves as a Copy Editor on the executive board of Fordham’s student newspaper, The Observer.

First Generation College Student Awarded Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Compassion and kindness is something is that Kylie Davis strives to exhibit throughout her life.

By Melanie Riehl

First-generation college student Kylie Davis is one of this year’s Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship recipients. An undergraduate at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU), Kylie works 35 hours per week at 3 different jobs to finance her education and make ends meet. Despite juggling her course work and jobs, Kylie still manages to make the time to  participate in community service — a love of hers that stems from childhood.

Dedication to Community Service Instilled at a Young Age

From a young age, Kylie’s parents instilled generosity and empathy in her, dedicating their family to community service. She volunteered with them at a soup kitchen growing up, especially helping out during the winter months where more people in need would come in search of food and warmth. Kylie strongly values her community and shows her gratitude by giving back, saying, “My tie to my community is one of my many drivers. My parents taught me the importance of compassion and kindness and it is now something I strive to exhibit throughout my life, whether it be in the workplace or in my personal life.”

Service Work at CU

Kylie carried her commitment to giving back with her when she began her college career, taking on a role as a peer mentor as well as being a youth counselor for low-income middle school students. As a peer mentor through the Diverse Scholars Program at CU, Kylie guided freshmen through the trials and tribulations of their first year of college. She also helped organize community-building events as well as made significant efforts to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all at CU. As a youth counselor, she taught middle schoolers basic accounting and finance, seeing herself reflected in the students and hoping to set an example for them to look up to. One of her goals is “to inspire and aid the success of others,” which she excelled at in these roles.

Alternative Spring Break to Teach Earth Science to 5th Graders

Kylie’s philanthropic spirit led her to apply for a Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship, where she was given the opportunity to travel outside of Colorado and engage in service work over her one week off from college in the spring. Kylie’s Alternative Spring Break took her to YMCA Camp Campbell in California where she taught earth science to fifth graders.  She was responsible for not only educating these students, but for establishing an engaging and safe environment for them, as the program is part of a sleep-away camp. She reflected on this experience, saying, “It had an incredible impact on me. Each of the ten kids I looked after really made a long-lasting impact on me.” This opportunity took her passion for mentorship to new heights, and she looks back on it fondly, saying, “Each child I spent the week with had such a unique personality, and it was so rewarding to get to know them.”

It is our privilege to reward students like Kylie with scholarships to follow their passion for community service and take part in a unique opportunity they would not otherwise be able to afford.

[Read about some of our past Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients]

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*Melanie Riehl is a sophomore Communications and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She serves as a Copy Editor on the executive board of Fordham’s student newspaper, The Observer.