BOSTON, MA — The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) announced today that its Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity Facility will be named after AgIS Capital’s founder and President, Jeffrey A. Conrad, following his $1 million donation to the university.
A native of Pennsylvania, Jeff grew up on a family dairy farm and graduated from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences in 1983. He went on to earn a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics at Cornell University before beginning a long and distinguished career in the institutional agricultural investment sector. Early in his career, Jeff helped establish and then lead the Hancock Agricultural Investment Group (HAIG), a unit of John Hancock Financial Services. In 2013, he founded AgIS Capital with two former partners with whom he worked at HAIG.
“I am honored that Penn State has chosen to recognize my support of its LGBTQ+ community in this way and I am pleased that my gift will help make the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity an even more important resource for future members of the university’s student body and faculty,” said Conrad.
Conrad’s gift to the center was its largest in history and provides an expanded home for the university’s LGBTQ+ and allied communities while enhancing its capacity to provide future programming.
“At Penn State, we strive be a welcoming, inclusive community where every student can thrive, and Jeff’s support for the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity has created the home that our LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty deserve,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “I am extremely grateful to Jeff for his inspiring generosity and continued support. His commitment will make our University community a stronger, more vibrant place to learn and grow.”
According to Conrad, his gift was inspired by his lifelong journey as a gay man seeking to establish his place and path forward. An active supporter of the broader LGBTQ+ community, he said his experience as a first-generation college student – one born and raised in a small, rural farming community – posed many challenges when he was a student at Penn State and struggling with both his sexual identity and the negative attitudes and perceptions that prevailed about the LGBTQ community during the early 1980s. He said these challenges, which included a lack of support and resources, and sometimes outright hostility, persisted into his graduate school years and his early years in business, when he felt compelled to hide his sexuality so as to avoid stigma and employment and advancement discrimination.
“I hope that my financial contributions will help provide future Penn State students with the types of support my generation would have benefited from receiving,” said Conrad. “I want our students to be comfortable being themselves and being open about their sexuality as they pursue their aspirations and strive to succeed in demanding fields, like business and agriculture. Penn State is a world-class institution, and I am very proud to be a graduate. I see supporting its LGBTQ+ students and faculty as an important way to make the university more tolerant and more accepting of all students and I hope others will join me in providing the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity with the financial support and resources it needs to help make Penn State even stronger and more successful.”
In addition to his most recent support for the center, Conrad also has established the Rodney E. and Brenda L. Conrad Trustee Scholarship, the Conrad Trustee Scholarship, and the Jeffrey A. Conrad Open Doors Scholarship, supporting undergraduates with financial need. Most recently, he partnered with lifelong friend and fellow Penn State graduate Dr. MeeCee Baker to cover the membership fees for 4‐H members in Juniata County, where he and Baker grew up and participated in the organization.