One of Minnesota’s outstanding philanthropic leaders honored with state award

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November 12, 2007

Upon nomination by The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library in Collegeville, Minn., Josephine (Nicky) Benz Carpenter has been named “Outstanding Individual Philanthropist” by the Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Recently, Carpenter has completed her tenure as a Regent of Saint John’s University, and is currently serving on the university’s capital campaign committee. In June of 1994, she began her service on the board of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) of Saint John’s University and served as its chair from 1994 to 2005. Based on her exemplary leadership and commitment, she was awarded Lifetime membership on the HMML Board in 2005. 

“I am constantly humbled and overwhelmed by Nicky’s leadership and development support for Saint John’s University and HMML” says Brother Dietrich Reinhart, OSB, president of Saint John’s University. “She is a person of extraordinary generosity, active in so many charitable activities on behalf of the wider human community.”  

Letters in support of her nomination came from Minnesota Public Radio, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, and MacPhail Center for the Arts – all organizations that have benefited from Carpenter’s leadership and philanthropy.  

Nicky Carpenter received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College in 1957. She attended German Language Study graduate courses at the University of Minnesota and the University of Munich and received a summer German Studies diploma from the Goethe Institute in Murnau, Germany in 1958.

Carpenter has been self-employed as an educational consultant in Wayzata, Minnesota since 1977. Her background includes positions as a college guidance counselor, Assistant Director and Associate Dean of Admissions at Barnard and Pembroke Colleges, and an assistant directorship at Villa Mercede School in Florence, Italy. She is active in several national professional educational organizations, i.e. National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) and is past president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, a national non-profit organization of professionally trained members who assist families in locating appropriate educational settings.

Community service has included board positions on the Board of Trustees of Macalester College, Twin Cities Public Television, Minnesota Outward Bound, University of Minnesota Foundation and Minnesota Public Radio and the Minnesota-Dakotas Vassar Alumni Admissions Committee. She has also held positions on the Board of the MacPhail Center for the Arts and the Minnesota International Center. She is a Life Director of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, and has served in a number of leadership capacities including Chair of Major Gifts Committee, Maestro Circle Chair, and a five-year term as Chair of the Board. In 1994, Carpenter became a board member of the American Symphony Orchestra League. She currently serves on the Board of the Minnesota Opera and the Board of Overseers of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA., and chairs the Alumni Annual Fund committee at Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY, where she also sits on the Trustee Capital Campaign Committee. In 2005 she was vested as a member of the Order of Malta, and serves as Area Chair. She is a Director of the Learning through Music Project in the Twin Cities.

"I think it is important for people to understand that philanthropy is not about giving only to the "Big Guys", says Carpenter.  "Some of my greatest joys and greatest levels of satisfaction have come from helping the nascent organizations where recently, one such organization, Learning Through Music, was recognized by the Federal Department of Education as well as the Minneapolis Public School System for our work at the Ramsey School, a K-8 inner city magnet school where instrumental training is required between grades 1 and 6.  We are striving to retrain music and arts teachers to adopt and integrate LTM curricula and evaluation methods which use music, musical process and principles to introduce, enhance and reinforce the understanding of math, language arts, history, scientific method and concepts and social-emotional development.  Using musical as well as academic assessments, we can measure over time the very positive effects of musical training on academic work and engagement.

“This was a new project in 2004 in which I invested significant time, talent and treasure because I saw great needs. Education has always been of the utmost importance to me and must be for children of all socio-economic levels.

“I urge every one of some means to evaluate carefully & thoroughly opportunities which come their way. They may be able to make a significant difference in our world. Don’t be afraid to take a well-calculated risk from the tried and true already recognized 501(c)(3)’s. It isn't really only about organizations which improve the quality of our lives; it is also about those less fortunate who deserve better and more productive lives. Follow your money as much as you can so that you know the organizations are adhering to their missions. Help them move forward where you are able without micro-managing."

She is married to Thomas K. Carpenter and has three stepchildren.