Jeffrey Roth ’05 first arrived at Butler University expecting to become a high school band director, but soon discovered a new dream: He wanted to support non-profit organizations through philanthropy. So, he switched to a major in Arts Administration and set his sights on a career in fundraising and development.
Now, Roth is following that passion both in and out of the office. In addition to his current position as a Development Officer at the Indiana University Health Foundation, he has served as the Chair of Butler’s LGBT Alumni Association for more than two years. Through that role, Roth is able to apply his talents toward coordinating meetings, recruiting new members, and providing a voice for the organization.
“The LGBT Alumni Association aims to provide a safe space for LGBT alumni (recent and beyond), as well as current students, to gather and discuss topics relevant to the LGBTQIA+ community,” Roth says. “We are focused on building up membership in the group, and supporting current students.”
We touched base with Roth to learn more about his time at Butler, his leadership of the LGBT Alumni Association, and his career of supporting communities by helping people find their passions.
How does the LGBT Alumni Association engage the Butler community?
“We participate in the annual Indy Pride event, and we gather a group for the annual LGBT Film Fest in November. This year, we are also trying a new series of Community Conversations with Butler faculty and LGBT alumni from across the country, highlighting people from different walks of life and hearing about their journeys after Butler.”
From your time participating in the LGBT Alumni Association, what moments stand out to you as the most impactful?
“At an Alumni Association meeting earlier this year, time was set aside for the affinity communities to share a little bit about themselves and the goals of their groups. Having the chance to speak to a group of Butler leaders about what it means to be LGBT in 2021 was a great opportunity to shine a light on something I think a lot of people just don’t think about as much anymore. The LGBT community has had some major wins in recent years, and that’s great! But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows (pardon the pun) for LGBT people, especially youth, people of color, and the trans community. There is a lot of work to be done, and so the movement to be more aware of diversity, equity, and inclusion issues has been a great first step toward helping address obstacles on campus and beyond.”
What were you involved in at Butler?
“I played trumpet in the symphonic wind ensemble originally, and then also participated in University Chorale for three years, and Madrigals for my senior year. I was actively involved in Mu Phi Epsilon, a co-ed music service fraternity, as well as College Mentors for Kids for two years. During my sophomore and junior years, I was also a cheerleader—my first year on the squad was the first year Butler made it to the Sweet 16, so I got to travel for the tournament and experience all the excitement throughout the season from the best seats in Hinkle—literally under the basketball hoop.”
What has your career path looked like since graduating?
“I pursued a master’s degree in philanthropic studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which I completed in 2009. I have worked for small community service and support nonprofits, as well as national membership associations in Indianapolis and Chicago. I moved back to Indianapolis in 2018 because I missed the small city feel and culture. Indy also has a vibrant non-profit community, and there has been a lot of opportunity here to support causes I’m very interested in.
I’m currently a Development Officer at the IU Health Foundation (IUHF), which helps raise funds to support direct patient care and team member support programs for all 16 hospitals in the IU Health system. My role is very specific: I’m the dedicated development officer for Neuroscience in the Indianapolis Metro Region, which means that I’m working with the neurology, neurosurgery, and other neuro-related service lines at IU Health Methodist and the surrounding regional hospitals. When I graduated from Butler, I would have never thought I’d be working with the top neuroscience clinicians in the country—but I love every minute of it.”
Why did you choose to pursue a career in development and fundraising for nonprofits?
“I was introduced to the power of community involvement and advocacy at a very early age. My mother, besides being a full-time registered nurse, also had a local political career. I watched her campaign pretty much constantly for what she believed was the best course of action for our community. She would walk door to door every day to meet with her constituents and hear their thoughts and concerns. And I mean it—every single door in the district had my mom knocking on it. If one person could do all that on her own, what more could a nonprofit do with the resources and commitment from an entire community? Development work is helping people find their passion—their door to knock on.”
How did your Butler experience help prepare you to succeed?
“The great thing about Butler is how much of a cornerstone it is in the community, and therefore how involved and well-known the faculty are in their respective fields. My advisor, Susan Zurbuchen [now Faculty Emeritus], had connections everywhere in Indianapolis, and she was an active member in the non-profit community. People knew her, trusted her, and were willing to give her students a chance when it came time to find internships and, later on, to find full-time employment. I also had the unique opportunity to not only be a student, but also a performer, and an athlete. But I never felt overwhelmed. Butler encouraged me to explore every aspect of the college experience.
I cannot say it enough: Butler was the best four years of my life. I am who I am today because of Butler, and I wouldn’t change anything about my time there. Butler is my home, and I will always come back. Go Dawgs!”
Students or alumni interested in learning more about the LGBT Alumni Association can reach out to Jeffrey Roth, or contact Butler’s Office of Alumni Relations & Engagement. You can also follow the organization on Facebook and join their community group on Bulldogs Connect.