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Sara Cobb

BA 1980, Political Science
JD 1990, Indiana University, Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Vice President of Education, Lilly Endowment Incorporated, Indianapolis, IN

Sara Cobb, Vice President for Education for Lilly Endowment, Inc., was at a banquet for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program when she knew she had chosen the right career path. The Lilly scholarships provide tuition and other expenses for Indiana high school students to attend an Indiana college or university of their choice, and the banquet brought together the scholarship recipients, their parents or guardians, a high school mentor from each student’s career, representatives from local community foundations, and the presidents of Indiana’s higher education institutions.

“One year we had Robert Ballard, who was the undersea explorer who discovered the Titanic, as a guest speaker,” says Cobb. “He addressed the audience of about 1600, and I had the privilege of closing that banquet with a charge to the scholars. But as I stood there, looking out over this vast audience of bright, talented young people who were poised to change the world, I was overwhelmed by gratitude and blessings and that “a-ha” moment. This is what it’s all about. These are the young lives that are going to impact the world—and we have a fraction of time with them right now to help them do that.”

Favorite Purdue Memory

I loved getting a cup of coffee in the Purdue Memorial Union and then walking across the mall to class. The faculty members I had were inspiring, thought-provoking, and very engaging. And the coffee was delicious!

Favorite Word

I couldn’t narrow it down—I have two:  family and hope.

Quality I Appreciate Most in Friends


Favorite Place I Have Traveled

The Grand Tetons, for two reasons. First, I traveled there with my family, and we’re very close. Second, the mountains are very majestic, but very fragile—which is a juxtaposition I find very interesting. They are mountainous and soar to over 13,000 feet, but they’re a lot of sand and loose rock, so care must be taken when you’re climbing and hiking. I love visiting all of our nation's parks; the photo above was taken in Death Valley National Park in April of this year.

My Motto

To live every day with joy, and to be kind to all in everything I do. It’s a little hokey, but it’s who I am. Being kind while having to deliver unfortunate or discouraging news is a real balance and a real challenge. To be able to do so while allowing people to maintain their own personal stature and well-being and dignity is really important to me. People spend a lot of time and passion in working for their causes, and no matter whether those causes fit within our scope of guidelines or philanthropy, the people I meet with should feel appreciated when they leave, whether the answer is yes or no. I feel really strongly about that. I also have a strong faith, and I think that helps keep me grounded and focused, and allows me to  be helpful in ways that might cause others to benefit from kindness and care.

My Heroes

Jesus would be my number one. I also really look up to my father. I learned about one of the other people I admire from one of the best books I’ve read: Truman, by David McCullough. I grew to appreciate Truman’s leadership style, his commitment to being the last one standing, by his phrase, “The buck stops here.” I really admire that quality in leaders.