Staff Highlight: Kara Seesholtz

25 Stories for 25 Years

Foundation President and CEO Kara Seesholtz has called the Susquehanna Valley home her entire life. Her first experience with collective community giving was through a structured and purposeful internship at the Children’s Miracle Network. “I remember working with elementary students involved in spell-a-thons to raise money for the Network, and meeting with families and children who were impacted by our work.” With mentors Skip Weider and Carol Rheam Tevis, Kara’s internship ignited her passion for giving back and the long-lasting impact that could be realized through this work in her own community.

“Do you have any interest in working a few hours a week at the Foundation to help with their marketing needs?” someone asked Kara as she walked into a local Berwick restaurant in 2004. That “yes” turned into a 20+ year journey with the Foundation—a journey that has seen many changes and growth. When Kara began working at the Foundation, there were only a dozen funds managed by a small staff of four. Through the years and a variety of different roles, Kara reflects on the many memorable moments that have stayed with her.

In her first years at the Foundation, seeing Dr. John DeFinnis’s passion and loyalty to his community was something Kara admired and gravitated towards. “I remember how quickly I realized the importance of the Foundation’s mission as I felt the passion behind each board member. It’s important to me to forever make former board members like Dr. DeFinnis smile through the work we do.”

In 2008, she traveled with Mike Flock (former Selinsgrove and regional board member) and four Youth in Philanthropy students to the Youth Grantmakers Leadership Conference in Michigan. The group brought many fresh ideas back to the program to make it bigger and better—and that goal has certainly been realized. Since 2008, the program has grown from eight to 15 participating schools.

(Youth in Philanthropy students, 2008; Kara and Mike Flock, 2023.)


When she moved into a development role at the Foundation, Kara remembers many conversations in living rooms, restaurants, and offices with donors passionate about the community and the legacy they would leave. “Whether sitting and talking with the Miller’s about their desire to give back to a community they love, or listening to the gratitude and love the Weikel family had for their mom as they honored her by sending a student through 4-years of college, or knowing Holly’s decision with her family to create an operating fund for the future of the Foundation—there are so many stories that reflect the hearts in our community. The trust that board members and others put in us by connecting us with dear friends to work through this process is very special to me.”


Seeing the fruits of our name-change and rebranding process in 2020, with all of our affiliates and stakeholders coming together under one Community Giving Foundation and feeling the benefit of this unity, has also been a key moment for Kara.

“Had I not been given a chance to work a few hours a week at the Foundation so many years ago, I don’t know if I would have ever experienced the fulfillment and belonging that has come from this place. There are so many stories behind the passions of our Foundation family.”

(Kara speaking at the Foundation's Annual Meeting & 25th Anniversary Celebration, March 2024.)

When Kara considers what the Foundation has always gotten right, the answer is simple—it’s all about the relationships. “Our attention and sincerity towards relationships is what makes our foundation model so powerful. It drives the unique and personalized stories we create every day and reflects the Foundation’s commitment to stewardship and donor-intention.”

With a 25-year history, there’s much to look back on. In her role as President and CEO, Kara is now looking forward to the next 25 years. “We continue to strive to strengthen our connections and collaborations with other community change-makers and leaders.”