Following a nationwide search, Jill Stephens Walton has been named vice president for Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) and Executive Director of the University of Georgia Foundation for the University of Georgia. Walton, who was leading the university’s development division on an interim basis and had formerly served as the senior executive director of development, will officially assume the role Dec. 1.
“Jill’s extensive experience across a variety of development areas, as well as her deep commitment to the University of Georgia, made her the top choice to lead the Development and Alumni Relations Division in a permanent capacity,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Jill well knows the culture of philanthropy we’ve built at UGA over the last decade and has the right vision, personality and tenacity to continue those efforts in new and greater ways.”
The DAR team is comprised of approximately 250 staff members across a number of areas: Development, Alumni Relations, Operations (Finance, Budget, Human Resources and Advancement IT), DAR Communications, Business Engagement and Innovation, Special Events, Career Center, and the UGA Foundation Investments and Operations Management teams. As vice president, Walton will provide dynamic leadership of the advancement team in order to further UGA’s fundraising efforts and continue the positive support received from alumni, foundations, corporations, parents and friends of the university in recent years.
“I appreciate President Morehead for entrusting me with the opportunity to serve an institution that has been part of my life since I was born,” Walton said. “From wearing red and black as a child to my time in 4-H to serving as an orientation leader and being a proud recipient of scholarships during my time as a student, the University of Georgia means so much to me and this is truly a full circle moment. I look forward to continuing to serve UGA by helping donors, alumni and supporters make an impact across this incredible institution and beyond.”
Walton was selected as a finalist by a 14-member committee composed of administration, staff, student and alumni representatives. Kathy Pharr, vice president for marketing and communications and chief of staff to the president, and Neal Quirk, partner at Quirk and Quirk law firm and immediate past chair of the UGA Foundation, co-chaired the committee.
Reporting directly to Morehead, Walton will also serve as a member of the University Cabinet.
“I’m delighted that Jill will be leading the university’s development team, and I look forward to working with her going forward,” said Allison Ausband, chair of the UGA Foundation. “Through Jill’s leadership and partnership, I have no doubt we will continue elevating the important work of increasing private support for the university.”
Walton is a longtime development professional who has served UGA in a variety of key roles over nearly 25 years. She began her career at UGA as an admissions counselor in 1999 and moved into development in 2001, serving as assistant executive director of the Georgia 4-H Foundation. She went on to serve in positions of progressive responsibility in the Terry College of Business—including associate director of development, director of alumni relations and director of undergraduate student services and corporate relations—before assuming the university-level post of executive director of corporate and foundation relations in 2015. Since July 2019, she served as senior executive director of development until being named interim vice president for development and alumni relations in April 2023.
Walton holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a master’s of public administration from UGA. During her time as a student on campus, she served as a member of the Arch Society, Ag Ambassador and Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Walton is married to Geoffrey, who is also a Double Dawg. They have three children: Callie, a first-year student at UGA, and twins Reese and Charlie.