For Taylor Cobb, KLN '16, EDU '18, a dedication to education, philanthropy and diversity have always been core themes throughout her life. This became clear in 2019, when Cobb not only began a full-time job as the manager of advancement services and special events at Girard College, but also launched a consulting business, Reify Solutions, with her husband Shane Nelson, and moved into the couple's first home in Strawberry Mansion.
While pursuing her undergraduate degree at Klein, Cobb majored in strategic communications, and was particularly drawn to the courses and tools surrounding nonprofit work, activism and social movements. She returned to Temple to pursue a master's degree in higher education while working for Temple's Office of Alumni Relations as the coordinator of student and young alumni engagement, and began to notice how philanthropy was another major thread throughout her college experience.
"A lot of what I do professionally is because of the philanthropy that I experienced at Temple from the people who supported me and the people who invested in me, not only with their time but their treasures," she says. "Temple is the reason why I'm so gritty and I'm so persistent--because they taught me how to really be a diversity, equity and inclusion advocate."
She carries these values over to her current position at Girard College, a five-day boarding school for children from nontraditional households who attend entirely on scholarships. As a coordinator of fundraising and events, Cobb is heavily involved with philanthropy at Girard, and sees its effect on students first hand. She also volunteers on the board of the Mazzoni Center, an organization dedicated to the health and wellness of the LGBTQ+ community in Philadelphia.
A North Philly native brought up through Catholic school in Philadelphia, Cobb is now interested in pursuing a third degree, although she is unsure whether to take on a JD or PhD in philanthropy. Though philanthropy may sound like an abstract subject for study, Cobb says that it is a major force in social justice and nonprofit circles, especially in Philadelphia.
"Philanthropy has such a significant influence on the world that, if not managed properly, can really make or break society as a whole," she says. She also said she would like to specifically study how philanthropy is intertwined with social justice, and how they can be effective when working in tandem.
As hypersocial networkers, both Cobb and Nelson had been working as independent contractors prior to founding Reify, in addition to their respective jobs and educational pursuits. In 2019, they made the decision to start their business, Reify Solutions, when they realized that their expertise was in such high demand that it would simply make better financial sense to start a business.
"My goal was, first, to find another way to spend time with my best friend," Nelson says affectionately. "But one of things I noticed is that the person I have chosen to spend my life with is not wowed by fancy trinkets or by random, lavish experiences; she's really, really impressed by mission-driven work. So if I can latch onto those experiences or find new ways to create those while simultaneously creating impact for organizations, while simultaneously creating some more positive impact in our own lives, why not?"
Reify's services include nonprofit consulting for development, research, fundraising and diversity, equity and inclusion. The latter is a concept that Cobb grounded herself in during her years at Temple, particularly as an RA in various residence halls. So it's no surprise that diversity, equity and inclusion values have also informed Cobb's work in philanthropy and consulting.
"Our goal [with Reify] was to support nonprofits in their missions of not only being able to expand capacity, but also to be able to ensure that they are meeting their diversity, equity and inclusion goals."
Now, Nelson and Cobb look toward developing their own business, utilizing the best of both of their expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion. They are also both looking forward to pursuing their third degrees, as Nelson is looking into a PhD at Temple while Cobb continues to debate the law degree vs. PhD dilemma. No matter her choice, a saying from her mother rings true in Cobb's ear: "People can take everything away from you, but they can't take your education."