Meet Our Staff


Kelsey Roebuck Neilson

Supervising Director of Client Partnerships
Hometown: Davenport, IA

Kelsey discovered grant writing just when she thought jobs for English majors had gone the way of typewriters and corded telephones. She is inspired by the work that nonprofit organizations do everyday to make our world a better place and seeks to help them achieve their missions through effective research, excellent strategy, and strong writing.

Kelsey started her career in development and communications at a small nonprofit in Iowa. When she relocated to DC, she jumped at the chance to work with Elevate, where she has the opportunity to work with performing arts, education, and social service organizations. With the support of her client teams, she raised $2,221,908 in the last 15 months, more than $270,000 of which came from new funding sources. In her role as Director of Grant Writing, Kelsey manages Elevate’s Grant Writers, providing ongoing skills training and creating long-term plans for staff professional development.

Kelsey holds a BA in English from Grinnell College, where she received the Beulah Bennett Loring Prize for Academic Excellence and was a Phi Beta Kappa Scholar. She is also the recipient of The Caring Award and the Young Woman of Achievement Award, both of which recognize her work with local nonprofits.

Outside of Elevate, Kelsey enjoys curling up with a good book or knitting while binge-watching the latest Netflix series.

What’s your hidden talent?

I make amazing ebelskivers – Danish pancake puffs best enjoyed with large groups of people and lots of sugar.

Who would play you in a movie of your life?

Kate Winslet. Of course, this is a movie in which the director took serious liberties with my life story and made me British instead of Iowan, but I think I’d be ok with that.

Who is your hero?

My hero is Nancy Drew. She saved me from long family care trips and boring days at school. She taught me that a little ingenuity, some great friends, and a sincere desire to help others was enough to solve even the most baffling of problems.

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