Kennesaw State benefactor planting seeds for future success

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jul 24, 2023

Shelley Elder
Shelley Elder
Shelley Elder first became acquainted with Kennesaw State University after moving to Georgia to start a law firm with one of her sons. As an involved community member, Elder recognizes KSU and its students' value in Cobb County.

“Not everyone gets to have an institution like KSU in their back yard,” Elder explained. “The University has grown immensely over the years, continually improving itself as it fills the education gap for students from the surrounding areas.”

Elder’s recent gifts to the University are motivated by her excitement about the growth KSU is experiencing, and the impact students have on Cobb County’s workforce upon graduation. Focused on ensuring students receive the highest levels of support during their time at KSU, Elder’s gifts lay the foundation for years of student success to come.

Preparing Champions for the Next Level 

Elder has always been passionate about sports, and she explained her favorite thing about the athletics program at Kennesaw State is what it is doing for the surrounding community.

“The program is continually pouring back into Cobb County,” she said. “They're allowing families to get out and enjoy first-class sporting events minutes from home.”

Over the years, Elder has made numerous investments in KSU Athletics, including establishing the Shelley Elder Basketball Scholarship in 2016 and naming a Legacy Locker for women’s basketball in 2020.

The most recent gift of $100,000 from Crane Elder Law Firm LLC is an investment in the future of KSU Athletics, supporting the program’s current efforts to establish several world-class facilities for student-athletes.

“Shelley Elder has been an inspirational supporter, donor, fan, and friend to KSU Athletics for many years,” said Milton Overton, director of athletics. “Shelley's philanthropic spirit comes from a genuine desire to make a difference in students’ lives through higher education. Our student-athletes and coaches look forward to Shelley’s smile, which brightens the room and warms our hearts. Shelley truly embodies KSU Athletics’ mission to pursue the ‘Gold Standard of Excellence’ on the field, in the classroom, and as a lifelong champion in the community we serve.”

Elder said Overton’s agenda for building KSU Athletics is a worthy investment.

“I see the effect of the work Overton is putting in to shape the future of this program,” Elder remarked. “My gift is investing in his vision—ensuring our athletes receive the highest level of care to help them succeed— from training and conditioning to physical therapy and treatment.”

Opening Doors to Unlimited Possibilities

As the vice chair of The Extension, a recovery program in Marietta that serves individuals who are experiencing homelessness and struggling with addiction, Elder is passionate about helping those who come through the program chart a path for a successful future.

When Elder discovered the Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery (CYAAR) at KSU, she noted that she couldn’t think of a more wonderful thing to do than invest in the services the program provides students.

The recently established Shelley Elder Endowed Scholarship for Recovery is intended to provide support to a former resident of The Extension or a student in CYAAR’s Collegiate Recovery program. Elder points to the variety of degree programs offered at the University as one of her leading motivations for investing in CYAAR’s efforts to help students establish their place in the community.

“KSU has the ability to give someone a degree in so many areas,” Elder said. “Sometimes all it takes is introducing someone to one or two classes to turn their life around completely.”

CYAAR director Blake Schneider said the gift will have a lasting impact.

“We are so thankful and excited for the scholarship Shelley Elder has endowed for the Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery,” Schneider said. “With this $50,000 gift, we will be able to assist students in recovery from a substance use disorder for years to come, leaving a lasting and meaningful impact on the students we serve at this great institution. I can think of no better legacy than helping students succeed in their recovery and academics. This kind of support is vital to the continued growth and success of our services.”

– By Elyssa Reed
Photo by Judith Pishnery

This article first appeared in the spring issue of Kennesaw State University Magazine.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit