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Lee A. Ernst

Senior Consultant

Experience in development that spans higher education and social services has given Lee Ernst a unique understanding of major gift work and donor dynamics. As a Senior Consultant at JGA, Lee shares deep experience working with donors at large universities and social services organizations with JGA clients. She also leads JGA’s new products team, innovating new solutions to meet client needs.

Before joining the JGA team in 2013, Lee was a Development Officer Consultant with the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She also served as Associate Director at the University of Chicago in advancement during the institution’s $2 billion campaign and worked closely with the boards and giving councils to create the inaugural Parents Program fundraising initiative. She began her career at The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters in Chicago.

Lee volunteers with several local and national organizations. She chairs the Miami University MUDEC Alumni Advisory Board Development Committee and The Giving Institute’s Summer Symposium Programming Committee. Lee is also a member of the Communications Task Force for The Generosity Commission. This national, nonpartisan group brings together stakeholders, voices, and expertise to explore questions that will shape the future of giving, volunteering, and other forms of civic engagement in America. She has served on The Oaks Academy Task Force and as an Annual Fellow with the Development Leadership Consortium in Chicago. In 2022, Lee completed the University of Oxford’s Said Business School Women’s Leadership Development Programme certificate program.

Previous Experience

  • Development Officer Consultant, Women’s Philanthropy Institute, The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University
  • Associate Director, Parents Program, Development, University of Chicago
  • Assistant Director, Parents Fund, University of Chicago
  • Major Gifts Advisor, The Salvation Army Chicago Metropolitan Division


  • Master’s degree in Public Service Management from DePaul University
  • Bachelor’s of Science degree in Speech Communications from Miami University