November 29 2021

Five Rivers MetroParks hires new chief of philanthropy

Alexis Larsen has joined Five Rivers MetroParks’ executive leadership team as its new chief of philanthropy, starting Monday, Nov. 29.

Larsen comes to MetroParks from the Dayton Art Institute (DAI), where she served as the external affairs director for 10 years. During her time at the museum, Larsen oversaw staff and volunteers in fundraising more than $16 million for the DAI. This included major and planned gifts; solicitation of donors and sponsorships; annual fund campaigns; membership programs; special events; and management of corporate, foundation and government grant submissions.

In addition, Larsen has extensive knowledge in consumer research and community and media engagement. She served as a liaison to the 64-volunteer member DAI Associate Board, which supports the museum’s two largest signature fundraising events, Art Ball and Oktoberfest. In 2019, Larsen was responsible for planning and executing the museum’s centennial year community events and programming.

Prior to her time at the DAI, Larsen served for 13 years in a variety of roles at Cox Ohio Media and the Dayton Daily News, and she is still the newspaper’s food critic.

“Leading the philanthropy and fundraising efforts for Five Rivers MetroParks as the chief of philanthropy is the opportunity of a lifetime and a chance to give back to what I am most passionate about — outdoor recreation, conservation and connecting people to nature,” Larsen said. “I’m excited to get started in this new role building new partnerships, opening doors to impactful giving in the community, and identifying support for initiatives, projects, programs and services that are needed beyond the current budget. Impactful philanthropy will help Five Rivers MetroParks accelerate opportunities to create an even brighter future to support conservation locally and provide healthy outdoor experiences for everyone in our community.”

At Five Rivers MetroParks, Larsen will oversee the Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation and serve as the agency’s liaison with the James M. Cox, Jr. Arboretum Foundation and Wegerzyn Gardens Foundation. She will manage the philanthropy functional area’s staff and lead all of Five Rivers MetroParks’ philanthropic and development efforts. This includes sponsorships, naming rights and planned giving, as well as the Foundation’s tribute program, champions program and its Access to Nature financial assistance program. Larsen also will oversee the launch and development of MetroParks’ new Land Conservation Endowment Fund, which allows donors to support MetroParks’ conservation efforts to maintain the more than 16,000 acres the agency protects and strategically acquire properties that protect and connect natural areas.

“We’re so excited to welcome Alexis to the Five Rivers MetroParks team,” said Becky Benná, Five Rivers MetroParks executive director and CEO. “We look forward to working with her in support of MetroParks’ mission to provide outdoor experiences that inspire a personal connection to nature and to protect our region’s natural heritage. Alexis is a proven leader, and we’re confident she will take our philanthropic and development efforts to the next level.”

Larsen is a graduate of Wright State University with a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications. She is involved with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, is a graduate of Leadership Dayton and was named one of Women in Business Networking’s 25 Women to Watch in 2019.  Larsen and her husband, Dave Schweitzer, are longtime residents of Dayton’s McPherson Town neighborhood.

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