New Gift Funds Nonprofit Internship Experiences for Fisher Students

October 26, 2020

St. John Fisher College students interested in gaining experience-based learning at a not-for-profit organization will now have greater opportunities to do so, thanks to the newly established Jill ’94 and James Knittel Award for Not-for-Profit Internships.

This is the latest philanthropy the College has received in support of its comprehensive fundraising campaign, Fisher Forward.

Created through a generous gift from alumnus and trustee Jill Knittel and her husband, Jim, the award will provide financial support for students pursuing internships or experiential learning opportunities at nonprofits. The fund supports wages or stipends for unpaid experiences, tuition remission for summer internships, professional clothing, commuting or living costs, or expenses critical to student participation.

“The creation of the Award for Not-For-Profit Internships will simultaneously teach students the importance of community engagement while also developing career-specific skills that will serve them well in their lives after Fisher,” said Dr. Gerard J. Rooney, president of the College. “We are grateful to Jill and Jim for their enduring support of Fisher students. When you think about alumni engaging with the campus community and committing to helping the next generation of graduates, Jill is a personification of that vision.”

Jill Knittel

Knittel, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the College’s School of Business in 1994, and her MBA in 2003, has often described Fisher as “one of the most impactful institutions” in her life.

“Jim and I are thrilled to be able to continue our support of St. John Fisher College,”said Knittel. “The ability to create a scholarship that will be impactful to our not-for-profit community as well as the careers of our students is a win-win and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Knittel also serves on the College’s Board of Trustees, where she is chair of the audit committee and a member of the executive and investment committees. In addition, she was active in the Duplessis Wolfe Accounting Society, Alumni Association Board of Directors, and was a founding member of the College’s Accounting Alumni Society, who in 2015 recognized her with the Outstanding Accounting Alumnus of the Year Award.

As an alumna, Knittel has a sustained history of giving. In 2011, she and James created the Jill Barto-Knittel Scholarship as part of the Vision 2020 capital campaign, and both are members of the Spire Society, a network of donors committed to the long-term support of the Annual Fund.

Knittel has also been an active mentor to students, speaking in classes, serving on leadership panels, and supporting the Teddi Dance for Love, Fisher’s longest running student-led event, which she chaired as an undergraduate. In 2018, Teddi 36 student leaders Emily Jeffries ’18 and Allison Smith ’19 presented Knittel with the Teddietta Award in recognition of her commitment and support of the fundraiser. That year, Knittel challenged committee members to raise money by awarding the highest student fundraiser with two $500 airfare vouchers, and has continued to support that challenge in subsequent years.

To learn more about St. John Fisher College and the Fisher Forward campaign, visit