Development and Alumni Relations - Meet Our Staff
The Office of Development and Alumni Relations' role is to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between the College of Law and its alumni. We provide opportunities for alumni, parents, and friends of the College to connect with their alma mater. Our staff works hard to raise money for the College of Law, coordinate volunteer efforts, and provide events that advance and engage our alumni community.
For general assistance, please contact the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-562-7818.
Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations
John Knowles serves as executive director of Development and Alumni Relations for Stetson University College of Law. He is responsible for all fundraising and alumni affairs for the institution. Knowles is an experienced advancement and communications executive, and specializes in strategic planning. He is a recognized authority in alumni relations: in addition to his professional background, he was elected to the national board of directors of the Western Michigan University Alumni Association in April 2006 and served for seven years, before term limits cycled him off the board. In July 2013, he was elected to the national governing board of Delta Sigma Phi, one of America's largest fraternal organizations with over 100,000 living alumni worldwide.
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations
A long-time resident of St. Petersburg, Patricia Toups earned her undergraduate degree in business administration from Stetson University. Toups has worked in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations since 2001 in various roles.
As assistant director of Alumni Relations, Toups brings a broad breadth and knowledge to the development team that includes historical timelines, practices and procedures, fiscal management and most importantly, a loyalty and devotion to Stetson Law and its alumni. Toups presently manages the Stetson Law Alumni chapters, alumni reunions, and events designed to involve alumni to create an affinity to the school for mutually beneficial relationships.
Toups previously worked in the Admissions Office at Stetson Law from 1980 to 1984. In 2004, she was one of three employees named Employee of the Year. Toups received the Dean’s Award for service to the law school in 2007 and 2012. She has three children and lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. She is proud that one of her children is currently a Stetson Law student.
|Abigail Upshaw Helinger
Assistant Director of Development
Abigail Upshaw Helinger specializes in alumni engagement and providing investors with opportunities to advance Stetson University College of Law through financial contributions and volunteer leadership.
Lashanda "Shanie" Lightbourne is the administrative specialist in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations where she assists with special projects and events, oversees student assistants, and enjoys working with staff, alumni and students.
Suzanne Sousa is the newest member of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. She provides critical support for department-run initiatives, including event coordination, mailings, processing gifts to the College of Law, and updating the University's database.
Sousa has a 20-year history providing administrative support, specifically at the executive level. She comes from an educational family background, and thoroughly enjoys working with students within higher education. She began her career at Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) and has also worked locally for St. Petersburg College.
Sousa has a B.A., with highest honors, from Youngstown State University (OH) and attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania (PA) in Higher Education in Student Affairs. Serving as a SPCA shelter manager for five years, Sousa is very passionate about animal welfare. She currently volunteers her time with three dog rescue organizations, and spends much of her free time providing community outreach and education. Sousa is also working with local animal service personnel towards advancing the legal status of animals in Pinellas/Pasco counties and statewide.