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Development work at the Benson: working together to protect the legacy.

Hannah Roberts · 09/25/2021

What a privilege it is to be part of guiding the philanthropic efforts of the Benson Centennial campaign. The year 2021 marks the 100th Anniversary of the globally revered Benson Latin American Collection, whose home is The University of Texas at Austin. 

My work in philanthropy began with my education in art history. As my understanding of the world came to life through studying the history of human expression, the role of benefactors in creating societies and preserving culture was clear. My studies led me to collaborate with arts nonprofits to support emerging artists. I was drawn to partner with community members to propel creatives through philanthropy. It was apparent that where funding goes, creation flows. What power we have to invest in a more beautiful world through the gifts of our time, talent, and treasure!

In 2020, I took the baton to lead our philanthropic efforts for the University of Texas Libraries. We were upon our centennial celebration of the Benson Latin American Collection, UT Austin’s “Crown Jewel Collection.” What has happened since has been built on the generosity of those who came before me. Great credit is due to Hablemos Escritoras creator Dr. Adriana Pacheco Roldán. In 2018, Adriana and her husband established the Drs. Fernando Macias and Adriana Pacheco Roldan Benson Centennial Fund, creating a powerful call to action. In the words of Dr. Pacheco, “We are all the padrinos—the godparents—of the Benson Centennial Endowment launch. Spread the word and help the Benson thrive for the next hundred years!”

What Dr. Pacheco launched in 2018 has taken on a life of its own. The Benson Centennial Fund has quadrupled in value (and counting) and the endowment has become the primary destination for where to direct support for UT Austin’s Latin American Library in its second century. The Benson Centennial Fund has inspired the formation of the Benson Centennial Committee, led by Janet Roberts, and joined by more than 20 committee members.

Through my work, I have the honor of collaborating with people like Dr. Pacheco and Janet Roberts, and I am inspired every day by their drive to create the world they want to see. A world that is better understood through the materials and programs at the Benson Latin American Collection. The response to their philanthropy has inspired others to give beyond expectations.  

The Benson is celebrating a recent gift from benefactors Jonathan Graham and Elizabeth and Elizabeth Ulmer, son and daughter-in-law of former head librarian Ann Hartness. Their gift to create the Jonathan Graham and Elizabeth Ulmer Fund for Library Materials on Brazil is the largest gift received in the 100-year-history of the Benson Latin American Collection. The couple has also established the Ann Hartness Benson Matching Fund, which offers matching funds to spark further generosity from friends of the Benson through dollar-for-dollar matching. 

Generosity begets generosity, and philanthropy creates the world future generations will live in. What world do you want to create? 

Hannah Roberts is a lifelong Texan, currently based in Lakeway. She serves as Chief Development Officer for The University of Texas Libraries in Austin. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of UT Austin’s Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, Hannah is partnering with its talented team and friends of the collection to raise awareness and resources for this globally beloved library. Hannah enjoys spending her free time in nature developing her green thumb or searching for fossils on hikes. When she’s indoors, Hannah enjoys painting, collaging and being with her family. Contact Hannah at h.roberts@austin.utexas.edu.