Meet the Team

Kelly Taranto

Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Kelly joined Barton College in April 2021 and currently serves as Vice President of Institutional Advancement. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years, securing public and private funds for education, health care, and the environment. Immediately prior to Barton, Kelly held a variety of leadership roles for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Care Dimensions, Reach Out and Read, Inc., and the National Recreation and Park Association.

After living in the greater Boston, M.A. area for two decades, Kelly and her husband, Kirby, reside in Wilson, N.C. and are proud parents of their teenage boys, Jackson and Tyler. A Pennsylvania native, Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and English from Juniata College in Huntingdon, P.A. and has held a certification as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) since 2016.

Tom Maze

Assistant Vice President for leadership giving

Tom joined the IA team in June 2014 and currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Leadership Giving. In this role, he builds relationships with alumni and friends in an effort to enhance student learning opportunities and further the College’s mission through financial support. Tom serves as the point of contact on campus for planned giving opportunities as well as foundation support to the institution. Tom also serves as the liaison to the Board of Advisors.

Tom brings over 25 years of institutional advancement experience and prior to Barton College held leadership roles at Methodist University, North Carolina Wesleyan College, Fork Union Military Academy and Rocky Mount Academy. A native of Petersburg, V.A., Tom graduated from Methodist University majoring in Business Administration where he was a member of the men’s tennis team.

Jessica Tyson

dir. of gifts and information management

Jessica joined the IA team in 2016 after ten years working in admissions and facilities at the College. Jessica’s primary roles are to maintain the accuracy of our alumni and donor database, process all donations, and provide updated financial and contact information for all development efforts. Jessica also works closely with donor relations as she plays an integral role in donor acknowledgement and special events. 

Jessica is a native of Lucama, N.C. and she and her husband, Ed, reside in Wilson, N.C. with their four year old son, Brady.

Katie Thomason

Dir. of Development and Alumni Engagement

Katie joined the Institutional Advancement team in July 2023. She began her career in higher education outreach as a student fundraiser while attending East Carolina University. Since graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2013, Katie supported the development and engagement outreach for more than 50 higher education institutions as a Client Success Director with Ruffalo Noel Levitz. In her current role, she oversees the annual fund outreach and alumni relations. 

Originally from Wake Forest, N.C., Katie now lives in Wilson, N.C. with her husband, Bryant, their two sons, Max and Jack, and their three dogs, Kato, Khloe, and Winnie.

Addison Meinhardt ('17)

Dir. of Advancement Communications and Engagement

Addison joined the IA team in July 2021 as Assistant Director of Alumni Relations after serving three years in the Office of Admissions at Barton College and is a proud alumnae. In her current role as Director of Advancement Communications and Engagement, Addison leads the planning, implementation, management, and assessment of short-term and long-term marketing and communications campaigns to increase constituent engagement and philanthropic support. 

Before returning back to her alma mater in 2018, Addison previously served in various higher education roles at Campbell University and James Sprunt Community College. Originally from Chinquapin, N.C., Addison and her husband, Nick, reside in Nashville, N.C. with their two dogs, Lilly and Lucy.

Dante Pittman

Grant Writer

Dante Pittman joined Barton College in March 2024 and currently serves as a Grant Writer. Prior to joining Barton College, he served on the leadership team for the City of Wilson as the Human Relations Director and Assistant to the City Manager. Dante also serves as a Captain in the North Carolina Army National Guard.

Dante graduated from Ralph L. Fike High School in Wilson and received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UNC-Chapel Hill. He currently serves Wilson in a variety of ways and is dedicated to building bridges in the community. Dante is the Chair of the Wilson County Department of Social Services Board of Directors and has served on the boards of directors for numerous community organizations. He lives in his hometown of Wilson, with his wife Lucy Russell Pittman. They have two dogs, Roy and Gladys, and a sweet cat, Poppy.

Donna Gray

Assistant Vice President for Principal Gifts

Donna joined Barton College in March 2024 and serves as Assistant Vice President for Principal Gifts. The purpose of her role is to build relationships with alumni and friends to discover the intersection between our supporters’ interests and Barton’s priorities, with the objective of designing investment opportunities which both advance Barton’s mission and fulfill our donors’ philanthropic goals. Donna brings more than 25 years of experience to Barton, gained primarily in securing resources for higher education, as well as for wildlife conservation and historic preservation.

Born and raised in Virginia’s horse country and educated at James Madison University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English, (Go Dukes!) Donna is thoroughly enjoying getting to know the people and places of eastern North Carolina, especially the Barton College family. She is the proud mom of two amazing college-aged kids who impress her daily. Her favorite song is the “Star-Spangled Banner”, her two favorite colors are Barton Blue and orange, and she’s willing to debate anyone who disagrees that Lonesome Dove is one of the greatest movies of all time.

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