Lila Gafke - 1963
BIO & Picture from 40th Reunion


Lila Gafke - January 22, 2003

Lila Gracey has a keen interest and expertise in helping individuals and organizations define strategies for working together effectively. Her life has been shaped by two passions. First, to increase understanding and acceptance between and among individuals and groups with divergent life experiences. Second, to improve conditions for people experiencing personal, social or economic hardship.

Prior to starting Grace-Concepts, LLC, Lila Gracey served as director of donor resources for the Gill Foundation (Denver, CO), guiding philanthropy education programs for independent major donors nationwide. She also led fundraising and board development workshops for nonprofits across the country.  Previously she was programs director for The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.  Here she established grant-application and grant-review procedures, identified programs for funding and worked to establish more equal partnerships between the foundation and nonprofit organizations.  From 1993 to 1995,  Ms. Gracey was chief of staff to Swanee Hunt, U. S. Ambassador to Austria.  Ms. Gracey also served Hunt in the United States for several years as the chief of staff for Hunt’s philanthropic, political and business activities. Ms. Gracey oversaw a professionally diverse staff of 16 and guided grant making initiatives in: mental health, housing and homelessness, the expansion of reproductive options for women and poverty programs.

Her professional experience also includes directing grassroots advocacy efforts, managing high-level social policy initiatives and developing programs and direct services.  Ms. Gracey has a broad background in politics. She served as scheduler for a Colorado governor where she developed and implemented extensive administrative and programmatic reforms.  Ms. Gracey served for six years in Mennonite Voluntary Service.  She helped to create and operate programs for people experiencing homelessness.  She founded and directed a national advocacy organization aimed at reform of the criminal justice system.  In addition, she worked with people experiencing major mental illnesses at a community health center.

Ms. Gracey has participated in several advanced leadership programs. She is a graduate of the Denver Community Leadership Forum, a program of the University of Colorado Graduate School of Public Affairs.  Ms. Gracey was a Fellow at the 1994 Salzburg Seminar’s “Non Governmental Organizations in Democratic Societies,” which was attended by people from more than 35 countries.

Ms. Gracey’s leadership skills developed through a variety of challenging positions: in the public and private sectors, as a donor, an entrepreneur, a management executive, a volunteer, a team member and as a consultant.  She has an unyielding commitment to help build strong communities through partnerships among government, nonprofits, philanthropists and corporate entities.  She is formally educated in psychology.

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