The Board – Engelstad Foundation

Betty Engelstad

Trustee Emeritus

Betty Engelstad was born January 1, 1933, in a small farming community in Minnesota.  After high school, she worked as a teller at First National Bank.  It was during these years that she met Ralph.  He was unlike anybody she had ever known.  He was a hockey player, a contractor and he had dreams of leaving to develop property.  They were married May 1954 after a whirlwind courtship on Ralph’s part.

They have a daughter Kris.  Ralph left in 1960 to build their home in Vegas, and a year later Betty joined him. When Betty saw the mounds of dirt in the front yard she asked why there was sand to only find out that unlike Minnesota soil, Las Vegas soil resembles sand.  During Ralph & Betty’s early years she worked as Ralph’s bookkeeper. She is dedicated to helping less fortunate others through her philanthropic gifts, but she is also a devoted wife, mother and grandmother to Sean & Erin.

Kris Engelstad

Trustee, CEO

Kris Engelstad is a longtime resident of Nevada, and a graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She serves as Trustee of the Engelstad Foundation, which her parents Betty & Ralph implemented in 2002, and is dedicated to improving the communities she and her parents have called home.

Kris channels her passion for education reform, veterans’ issues, and improving the lives of people with disabilities and serious illnesses into her work with the Foundation, directing funding to impactful programs working on these issues in Nevada, North Dakota & Minnesota, California, Utah, New York. Thanks in part to her efforts as Trustee, the Engelstad Foundation has endowed more than $300 million in scholarships and grants, and is now a major benefactor of these and nearly 200 other organizations in the following U.S. States:

Southern Nevada

  • Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada
  • Betty's Village
  • LVMPD Reality Based Training Center
  • Opportunity Village
  • Project 150
  • Spread the Word Nevada
  • Three Square
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas

North Dakota/Minnesota

  • City of Thief River Falls
  • Community Violence Intervention Center
  • Farm Aid
  • Forward Foundation
  • Sacred Heart Church and School
  • University of North Dakota

Multiple organizations have recognized Kris for her work with the Foundation, and as a member of the greater Las Vegas community. Some of her awards and recognitions include:

  • Dignity Health/St Rose Philanthropist of the Year 2023
  • Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Wonder Women of Metro guest speaker, 2018
  • Eric M. Hilton Philanthropy Award, 2018
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas Outstanding Alumna of the Year, 2015
  • Three Square Lobby Dedication, 2015
  • The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada (The Center)Honorarium Woman of the Year, 2012
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals (Las Vegas Chapter) Outstanding Philanthropist, National Philanthropy Day 2009


Jeffrey M. Cooper

Trustee, Chief Financial Officer

Jeff serves on the Executive Board of the Las Vegas Area Council as the Vice
President for Endowment Development and is a member of the Good Scout
Luncheon committee.

His previous Scouting positions include Committee Chairman,
Committee Member, Chartered Organization Representative, Varsity Coach and
Merit Badge Counselor. He received the Duty to God Award, Wood Badge Beads
and is a James E. West Fellow. As Council Vice President of Endowment, Jeff
hopes that his efforts will help fund the future Scouting programs so that area youth
will continue to enjoy and benefit from what Scouting offers.

He treasures his experience as a Scout and is committed to the Boy Scout Oath and Law. He strongly believes in the values of Scouting and lives his life as an example of the attributes and goodness that the Scouting movement seeks to instill in the youth of each rising generation.

Every day, Jeff does his duty to God, his country and to his community. Jeff has served as president of the Nevada State Board of Accountancy, chairman of the Opportunity Village Foundation, treasurer of the College of Southern Nevada Foundation, Trustee and Chief Financial Officer of the Engelstad Foundation, and is an active leader in his church.

Sean Engelstad

Trustee, Investment Director

Sean is a Nevada native serving as Investment Director for The Engelstad Foundation. He is a partner of 1930 Capital, a local investment firm that sources, executes and manages private equity, real estate, and other investments.

Over the past decade, Sean has played a key role in the success and development of the Engelstad Foundation. To gain a deeper understanding of Foundation’s cornerstone investments, Sean also served on-site at The Ralph, a 400,000 square foot arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The area is described by many as the “finest facility of its kind in the world.”

Sean holds a B.S. in Finance from the University of Arizona, as well as a Master’s degree in Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California (USC).

As a Trustee, Sean is committed to upholding The Engelstad Foundation's capacity to continue its work far into the future.

Erin McGarry

Chief Granting Officer

Erin serves as the Engelstad Foundation’s Chief Granting Officer, assisting with the foundation’s grant proposal and management process.

Erin's knowledge about the integration of nonprofits and foundations stems from working directly with her grandmother Betty & mother Kris, both Engelstad Foundation founders. 

Erin is a Nevada native and a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as well as a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of Southern California (USC).

Erin believes that nonprofits thrive when they are supported by strong policy and partnerships. With Erin's involvement, the Engelstad Foundation is poised to continue to grow and impact future generations.