Senior Executive Assistant
Phone: +61 7 3346 3923

Areas of responsibility

As Vice-President, Advancement and Community Engagement, Ms Karlson is responsible for an ambitious fundraising agenda that incorporates extensive community engagement and public relations. As a member of the Vice-Chancellor’s senior leadership group, she is the principal advisor to the Vice-Chancellor on Advancement Strategy, lead solicitations and change management to embed best practice in Advancement throughout the institution. The Vice-President, Advancement and Community Engagement is responsible for providing leadership in the Advancement Office, developing broad strategic direction and overall management for the fundraising functions and related support services, with the objective of attracting substantial philanthropic investment in the University. The Vice-President, Advancement and Community Engagement reports to the Vice-Chancellor on Advancement management and operations.


Jennifer Karlson joined The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2017 to lead the University’s first comprehensive philanthropic campaign – Not if, When, the Campaign to Create Change. The $500 million campaign was launched to inspire UQ’s 335,000+ global alumni community to create change by accelerating opportunity through philanthropy. One in 3 UQ alumni engaged with the University throughout the campaign, which closed at the end of 2020 with over $607 million in donations.

Jen is the advisor to the Vice-Chancellor on strategy, external engagement and change management related to institutional advancement and sits on the UQ Endowment Fund Board. Her career history spans the US, West Africa and Asia Pacific, including roles with the American Red Cross and the YMCA. Prior to her time at UQ, she played a pivotal role in delivering the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s $4.2B All Ways Forward philanthropic campaign.

Committed to growing a culture of philanthropy in Australia, Jen chairs the G08 Advancement Committee and led the sector’s submission to the Productivity Commission’s Philanthropic Inquiry in 2023 with the aim of elevating education as a national priority for philanthropy. With a vision to build long-term impact through philanthropy, she has helped UQ’s endowment fund grow by $200m during her time at UQ.

In 2022, Jen led the establishment of The Queensland Commitment – The University of Queensland’s bold ambition to achieve equity in education by 2032. Aligned with the Australian Universities Accord, it aims to remove barriers to university education for underrepresented groups.

She firmly believes that social impact initiatives need to be systemic in their approach: they must be community-informed, evidenced-based and philanthropy-enabled, and built in partnership with industry, communities, and all levels of government.


Researcher biography

MSc (Nebraska), BSc (Wisconsin-Madison), CFRE