Retired General Counsel, YMCA
Chair, Knox College Board of Trustees
Political Science Major
Jan Koran was graduated from Knox College in 1971. She was the first
person in her family to attend college. She received her law degree from
Northwestern Law School, ultimately becoming a successful Chicago lawyer.
And she has a great love of her alma mater, most visible in her new role as chair of the Knox College Board of Trustees.
Jan Koran's career experience and relationship to Knox resembles that of many other alumni, including President Roger Taylor '63, who was the first person in his family to attend college, a Northwestern Law School graduate, successful Chicago lawyer, and past chair of the Board. "Roger and I work so well together because we were both first-generation college graduates, and we both are dedicated to helping students like us succeed," Koran says.
Koran began her role as chair of the Board in July 2006, replacing Diane Smatlak Rosenberg '63 who held the position for five years. Having served on the Board in a variety of capacities for more than a decade, Koran easily stepped into her new role. "Board chair is where my skill set is, and I feel it is the best way to contribute to the College," she says.
Koran began her service to Knox in the 1980s as an Admission and Career Development volunteer. She also served as a member of the Knox Fund Steering Committee, ultimately becoming its chair in 1991. She received a Knox Service Award in 1993 in recognition of the time and energy she devoted to working with Knox students and alumni. She joined the Board of Trustees as a General Trustee in 1995.
In addition to her volunteer service, Koran is also one of the College's most loyal donors. She regularly supports the Knox Fund and other College initiatives. Most recently, she and her husband, Steven Handler, donated $200,000 to the Fitness & Athletics Initiatives, helping launch fundraising efforts to renovate the Knox Bowl and Trevor Field, Knox's outdoor track and field venue. "I give to Knox so that I can help make a difference in students' lives," Koran says. "Knox has been and will be my number one charity of choice."
She is also highly involved in an initiative to encourage philanthropy among Knox women alumnae and friends alike. "Within the next four years, 60 percent of the nation's economy and money will be controlled by women. This is an enormous opportunity, and one that I will work very hard to develop at Knox," she adds.
Koran's personal commitment to Knox is one that she hopes will inspire other alumni to give to the College. "I believe that most alumni do not understand the needs of the College. Knox needs to be recognized in all ways as a strong, national institution. The only way this can happen is through growing the endowment," she says. "So many people love Knox, but they need to better understand the importance of giving."
In fact, this is one of her goals as Board chair -- and yet another that she shares with President Taylor. "I plan to talk to as many alumni as I can. If I can help Knox move farther down on charting a course toward financial impregnability ... I will be very happy with my term," she says.