Our Team

Founder/CEO

Debbie Ferruzzi

is CEO of Humanity Rising and has been passionately involved in entrepreneurism and socially conscious activities for most of her professional life. She enjoyed a 25-year career working for legendary real estate entrepreneur Sam Zell, and during her role as Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Equity Office, in addition to overseeing strategic planning, Debbie also developed and led the company's philanthropic programs to engage employees across the country in meaningful service projects. Believing that “one story can change the world,” Debbie steered the BeCause Foundation, a Chicago based nonprofit, as it produced five independent documentary films and related strategic impact campaigns. The theatrically released film “Bully” helped shine national attention on the bullying crisis in America. Debbie was also the driving force that led to 121help.me, the new North American crisis helpline for at risk children. A Chicago native, Debbie obtained an MBA with a concentration in finance from the University of Chicago and a BS in business from Eastern Illinois University.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to bring people together through Humanity Rising. I am inspired daily by the acts of service and volunteerism performed by students who have become part of the Humanity Rising movement, and believe that young people truly have the power to change the world."

Chief Operations Officer (COO)

Mark Jacobs

is COO of Humanity Rising and our scholarship / student lending expert. Over his professional career, he has worked for the nonprofit and for profit leaders in education finance including USA Funds, Sallie Mae, and Goal Financial. His past experience also includes volunteer work for College Parents of America and operation of Discus Awards, a national high school recognition and scholarship program that accepted more than 120,000 applications and awarded over $15 million in scholarships during a two year span. Mark derives significant satisfaction knowing his professional work is tightly aligned with his personal passion of making a difference in communities across the country while helping students afford a college education. He received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University and master's degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University.

“It is an honor to play a small role in the Humanity Rising movement that will mean so much to so many.”

Director

Beth Coronelli

is a director of Humanity Rising and Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff at Apollo Education Group, one of the world's largest private education providers. Her experience includes a mix of corporate and non-profit positions, including leading investor relations for publicly-traded companies across a range of industries, serving as the director of the University of Iowa Executive MBA Program, and developing communications and programming for Rotary International. Beth believes education is the cornerstone to building a brighter future and is committed to empowering our future leaders to take the initiative to serve. She has an MBA from the University of Iowa and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Iowa State University.

Director

Allison T. Davis

is a director of Humanity Rising and a vice president of Equity International, with her primary responsibilities in communications. Previously, Allison directed communications and philanthropic programs at Equity Office Properties Trust (EOP) for seven years. During that time she worked with EOP leaders in such major U.S. markets as New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver to develop volunteer and giving programs that directly involved employees and benefited their local communities. During her time at EOP, the company was regularly recognized as a Best Place to Work in local markets, thanks to high levels of employee engagement fostered by internal communications. She holds an MS in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University and a BA from Duke University.

Advisor

Dan Toplitt

Dan Toplitt is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Supervisor with Resolution Media, an Omnicom digital marketing agency in New York. Prior to joining Resolution Media, Dan was a Co-Founder and Vice President of Program Operations of Scholarship Strategies, the owner and operater of the Discus Awards program. He helped manage program operations and attract outstanding high school student applicants through SEO, SEM, social media and email marketing campaigns. Before working at Scholarship Strategies, Dan helped launch the Discus Awards program at Campus Direct. Dan received a BS in marketing from Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business.

Advisor

Jody Rowley

Jody is retired from 28 years of teaching in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Throughout her teaching career and now in retirement, volunteerism is a priority. She works with the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Foundation in Chicago, conducting interviews with potential scholarships recipients. In addition, she teaches a weekly class to dementia patients at a local nursing home. Jody serves as an educational consultant with Humanity Rising. Throughout the summer of 2014, she worked with a group of students at George Westinghouse College Preparatory High School. Through discussion and review of current pertinent resources, the students designed an anti-bullying service challenge for their school. Their summer efforts have evolved into a Culture of Kindness and Respect Club.