Jolene Willis - Foundation Staff

Meet Jolene Willis, grants director for the DeKalb County Community Foundation. Jolene joined the Community Foundation staff in 2022. She has over 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit and higher education sector. In addition, before her time with the Foundation, Jolene worked for the DeKalb County government as the economic development coordinator. In that role, she provided technical assistance and outreach to the county's rural communities in economic and community development initiatives and managed the county's business incubator.


Jolene's manages the process, coordination, and delivery of the Foundation's Fund distributions and grant programs in her role. In addition, she administers all Scholarship Funds, ensuring that the application, selection, and award distributions are processed accurately and align with donor intent.

"The Foundation is an intricate, extensive root system supporting DeKalb County's nonprofit organizations and public service entities. I observe the complete cycle of the programs and initiatives offered in my role and am continuously amazed at how accessible they are for all levels of organizations, from grassroots to established. Not only does the Foundation provide grants to benefit great causes, but it also educates and provides fellowship to the organizations for capacity building, which strengthens their operations, thereby allowing them to serve more."

For questions or more information about grant programs, Fund distributions, and scholarships, please get in touch with Jolene at 815-748-5383 or

Jolene has achieved the following educational degree: a bachelor's in agricultural communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's in public administration from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Jolene lives in Waterman with her husband, Chad, and their two children. In her free time, Jolene enjoys traveling with her family or watching her sons participate in sporting events.