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.

Trip on Border Issues Forces Scholarship Recipient Charly Mendoza to Wrestle With Inner Past Demons

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
CO ASB PIIE 2015

Charly Mendoza

By Kelsey Butler*

For University of Colorado (CU) Boulder student Charly Mendoza, a Casey Feldman Foundation scholarship has helped him experience a “one of a kind” spring break trip.

Charly received a 2015 Alternative Spring Break (ASB) scholarship to study immigration issues in Arizona, which, according to the website, would help students “explore and understand the issues and challenges on both sides of the border.”

The trip is designed to be an “immersion experience to gain both understanding and awareness of immigrant and border issues and an opportunity to work towards justice.” During the program, students directly spoke with people along the border in Tuscon, Ariz., and Nogales, Mexico, impacted by the hot-button topic of immigration. The group also worked with organizations that construct water drops and help treat and prepare prospective border crossers and returnees.

charly mendoza 3

The border between Arizona and Mexico

Of the experience, Charly said, “Besides my personal interest in the issue, I had a blast being able to connect with such a diverse group of students who all shared a common ideal that every human no matter the skin they were has the right to live life without being harassed and killed in hatred.”

Charly said the scholarship from the foundation helped him “immensely” in overcoming the price tag of the trip, so he could learn about the actual reality of living on the border—later adding, “I’m so very grateful.”

He hopes to use the lessons learned on his alternative spring break in the immediate future as a leader of the same spring break trip he took last year, and eventually, once he graduates from CU, to accomplish a list of many ambitious goals. For Charly, who is double majoring in molecular, cellular, developmental biology and creative writing, these dreams include working in the pharmaceutical industry to combat genetic defects and harmful mutations, launching a writing career, and teaching high school or university students—perhaps back at CU.

charly mendoza 2

Water drop for immigrants

The journey has helped Charly, now a sophomore at CU, to build a support system with the other students he was able to travel with.

“The trip was one of kind to be honest,” he said. “Eleven strangers left at [4 a.m.] at the start of that spring break week and by the 7th day those same 11 came back changed for the better becoming more like family than friends. Personally, immigration hits very close to home to me so this trip was a bit more of me trying to wrestle with my inner past demons I had about [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] taking my dad away unjustly. Luckily I had 10 other shoulders to cry on and am now proud of calling them familia.”

All of our Alternate Spring Break scholarships are based upon financial need. Please donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that other deserving students may experience an Alternative Spring Break.

Charly and his fellow CU classmates in AZ (Charlie -rear row, 2nd from L)

Charly and his fellow CU classmates in AZ (Charlie -rear row, 2nd from L)

Related Links:

“Alternative Spring Break Scholarships Fostering a Generation Who Wants to Give Back“,   Nov. 2014  (Casey Feldman Foundation) 

About the Alternative Spring Break Program (CU Volunteer Resource Center)

Casey Feldman Foundation Alternative Spring Break Blog News (scroll down through for all articles)

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Kelsey (L) & Casey

*Kelsey Butler was one of Casey’s best friends and roommate at Fordham University. She works as a financial journalist in New York.

Fordham University’s Fordham College Lincoln Center (FCLC) Dedicates its Newsroom to Casey Feldman

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

The entrance door to The Observer newsroom

Casey was an enormously talented, endlessly curious and deeply ethical young reporter,” said Elizabeth Stone, a journalism professor at Fordham and faculty advisor to The Observer, the student newspaper at FCLC. “Casey was one of my most promising students. Smart and dogged, whimsical and kind, she was going places…. She knew a good story idea when she saw it, she had her Google alerts in place to make sure she didn’t miss it, and she had the energy and skill to turn a good idea into a publishable article.”

In recognition of Casey, the 2011-2012 editorial board of The Observer voted earlier this spring to rename The Observer  office in her memory.  The dedication itself took place on April 30, 2012, with many members of the editorial board in attendance.  Also attending were Casey’s friends, former editors Brooke Burdge, Kelsey Butler and Craig Calefate.  Prof. Brian Rose, the associate chair of Communication and Media Studies, and Prof. Stone were also on hand for the ceremony.

The dedication took place to coincide with the Senior Awards Ceremony at FCLC, just prior to the culmination of the spring semester. Also unveiled at the dedication ceremony was a plaque remembering Casey and honoring Observer staff members, including Monique John, who have been awarded scholarship stipends through the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation.

Honored along with Monique John were Jasper Chang and Harry Huggins who attended journalism conferences underwritten by the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation’s gift to The Observer.

Jasper Chang (L) and Harry Huggins smile in front of the Casey plaque

” I’m delighted to have Casey’s spirit and talent recognized and immortalized in the renaming of  The Observer office, now known as the Casey A. Feldman Newsroom”, said Dr. Elizabeth Stone. ” It pleases me that the suggestion for this honor came from Harry Huggins, himself a news editor as Casey was, and now an editor in chief.  I’m also pleased, and so grateful to Casey’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson, that through the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, a valuable internship experience is made possible for an outstanding major who otherwise would not be free to pursue it.  Casey gave a lot to Fordham and to Fordham students and Casey’s parents have continued what she began.”

Casey arrived at Fordham aspiring to become a broadcast journalist and immediately joined The Observer, getting her first news bylines as a freshman, becoming an assistant news editor as a sophomore, and news editor as a junior. Casey was set to continue her position as news editor for her senior year at the time of her death in July 2009 and had recently returned from the annual weekend summer retreat for The Observer staff.

Craig Calefate (L) and Kelsey Butler look at a current issue of The Observer prior to the dedication ceremony

During her time at The Observer, Casey wrote over thirty articles, covering such topics as  the increase in mental illness in college students, self injury on college campuses, the increase of HIV in young gay males, the increase in binge drinking among college females, Adderall use among Fordham students for studying,  the strength of  Fordham’s Catholic identity and Fordham’s apology to an abuse victim after years of evasions, to name but a few. Ashley Wennersherron, who wrote her first article with Casey, said, “I can’t think of anything that she didn’t want to do if she heard of a tough story.”  Added Meaghan Dillon, who was news editor when Casey was assistant news editor, “She was never afraid to get a quote from anyone.”

Casey’s news reporting and editing won quite a few awards for The Observer, and she had been individually recognized as well. In June, 2009 she was named a national finalist for the 2009 Chandler Award for Student Writer of the Year in Religion, sponsored by the Religion Newswriters.

Casey poured her energy into writing and journalism while in high school, and continued to do so during  her time at Fordham,  securing multiple internships while carrying a full semester of courses, volunteering her time in the community and working for The Observer.  She  earned bylines from AM New York, The News of Delaware County and Philadelphia Style. She also freelanced during college, which included writing for the Bronx tourism bureau.  In the fall of 2009, she was to have begun an internship at NY1, a Manhattan-based television station.

Casey's friends and fellow Observer board members, Kelsey Butler (L), Craig Calefate and Brooke Burdge

Casey’s friends knew that her favorite quote was a line of H.L. Mencken’s—’I know of no human being who has a better time than an eager and energetic young reporter.’ “And I know of no eager and energetic young reporter who took that more to heart than Casey,” said Dr. Elizabeth Stone.

Casey’s best friend, roommate and fellow staff member of The Observer, Kelsey Butler stated, “Given Casey’s passion for journalism and her dedication to The Observer, I can’t think of a more fitting way to carry on her legacy than to name The Observer newsroom in her memory.”

Related Links:

Photos from The Observer newsroom  dedication and dinner

Casey’s articles published in The Observer

The Observer tribute to Casey, Aug. 2009 (includes memories of Casey’s fellow Observer staff members)

Casey’s AMNewYork bylines

About Casey (Casey’s bio)

Remembering Casey video ( fast forward to 10:24 – 12:21  for some of Casey’s fellow Observer staff members discussing Casey and her news reporting)

New York and Fordham Memories” – collected on the Casey Feldman Memories site

Monique John Recipient of 2012 Fordham University Casey Feldman Scholarship

Fordham Observer Scholarship Recipients Attend Associated Collegiate Press Conferences (article about Jasper Chang and Harry Huggins)

The Observer

Fordham College Lincoln Center (FCLC)

Casey Receives Honorary Diploma from Fordham University

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Casey's roommates: L to R Christina Halligan, Cassie Foote, Janine Repka, Kelsey Butler

On Saturday, May 22, 2010, Casey’s class of 2010 graduated from Fordham University. In addition to Casey being recognized by many of her classmates and friends with a single pink rose pinned to their graduation gowns, the University recognized her as well. Casey’s name appeared in the commencement program and she was remembered in prayer at the morning commencement for the entire University. At the separate diploma ceremony for the Fordham College Lincoln Center students in the afternoon, Casey was mentioned by the student speaker in the class address given by Dave de la Fuente. The first diploma awarded by Dean Grimes was to Casey, which was accepted by her parents. Dean Grimes and the Fordham University community lovingly acknowledged that Casey, one of their own, was not physically present on this memorable day, but was there in spirit to guide over and watch her fellow classmates and friends accept their diplomas.

View more photos of the graduation. Click  on the video below to watch Dean Grimes present Casey’s diploma.

Marie Larson and Brooke Burdge each wearing one of Casey's dresses under their graduation gowns

Casey's parents Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson accepting Casey's dipolma from Deans Grimes and Greif

Casey's dipolma

The Feldmans Meet With CU Students From the Volunteer Resource Center

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Brett Feldman (Casey's brother) and Kylie Bearse

Casey’s parents, Dianne Anderson and Joel Feldman, combined a trip to CO during the weekend of February 5th to attend a board meeting of the CU Parents’ Association with a dinner to meet with students of the Volunteer Resource Center at CU. Casey’s Fordham University roommate, Kelsey Butler and Casey’s cousin, Jamie Gallagher, accompanied the Feldman’s and enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the CU students. The students were excited to discuss recent happenings in the volunteer office as well as plans for the upcoming alternative spring break trips.

A pleasant surprise was the appearance of CU student, Alex Mondics, whom the Feldman’s met for the first time. Coincidentally, Alex’s father, Chris Mondics, Staff Writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote the January 7th front page article on Joel Feldman, “Loss of daughter helps lawyer feel clients’ pain”.

Scott Gemperline, Kelsey Butler (Casey's Fordham U roommate), Austin C. Grafa and Jamie Gallagher (Casey's cousin)

Allie Mills, Dianne Anderson, Devyn Lacey, Erica Larson, Sarah Mandos

Sarah Mandos, Scott Gemperline, Joel Feldman, Erica Larson , and Alex Mondics