Denney heads Lenfest Foundation

Martha Denney has been named Executive Director of The Lenfest Scholars Foundation, effective immediately. 

Denny heads  Lenfest Foundation
Martha Denney

She was selected from a highly-qualified field of over 70 applicants, according to the foundation’s board chairman, Joseph Huber.

Denney stood out for her broad familiarity with issues in higher education today and, in particular, for her responsiveness to the interconnected needs of students, families, schools, and communities, Huber said.

“I am thrilled to be working with this outstanding program, especially its talented and motivated scholars and their families,” Dr. Denny said. “I am impressed by the deep commitment of everyone who works with the program. (I will) do my best to continue and to expand its success and its influence.

“It offers a compelling model for improving access to and supporting achievement in higher education for under-represented students from small public schools in rural areas, who bring a diversity of talents and perspectives and whose contributions to a just, open, and tolerant society will be critical.” 

Denney was dean of Haverford College prior to taking the position with the foundation. In addition to a record of 11 years of distinguished service at Haverford, Denney brings a comprehensive knowledge of  undergraduate student affairs and academic affairs from previous positions at Georgetown University and Colby College. 

“Dr. Denney has demonstrated great success in helping college students thrive and make the most of their college years, especially students enrolled at selective colleges. She’s done that advising one student at a time and reshaping advising programs to serve all students better. She’ll help our scholars be 21st-century leaders,” said Roger Lehecka, Vice Chair of the Board, Chair of the Search Committee and former Executive Director of the Foundation. 

The Lenfest Scholars Foundation

The Lenfest Scholars  scholarship program was established in  2002  by Marguerite and the late H.F. (“Gerry”) Lenfest.  Beginning with five high schools in Franklin County, Lenfest Scholars are now chosen from 23 partner public schools in Adams, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Huntington, Lancaster, Montgomery, and York Counties. 

The foundation’s mission is to  foster  college  awareness and enhance college success among top students with demonstrated financial need from rural Pennsylvania high schools. 

Many of the Scholars  are the first in their families to seek a bachelor’s degree. They receive special advice about the complex process of applying to college,  individualized guidance about college choice, and thoughtful pre-career advising. 

Every member of the LSF staff is engaged directly in student support. 

Denney, as executive director, will not only oversee this work, but be personally involved herself in counseling students. She will also take part in strategic planning about future aims and objectives.  

“Martha Denney has the passion for and experience in working directly with today’s students and their families,” said Marguerite Lenfest, who has been closely associated with the Scholars since the inception of the program. “I am confident that she has the professional and personal skills to carry out and realize the mission of the Lenfest Scholars College Program.” 

Financial aid package

The Lenfest Foundation creates a financial aid package that enables each scholar’s family to afford four years of comprehensive fees, tuition, and room and board at any accredited four-year college or university in the US that the scholar attends.  

While such generous financial aid is a key benefit of the Lenfest Scholar award, the Lenfest scholarship is distinctive in that it emphasizes not just access to college, but, equally, success in college.  

Lenfest Scholars have a cumulative graduation rate of over 97% at the colleges in which they have enrolled. That record would be remarkable for any cohort of students. It’s exceptional for students from small, rural high schools enrolled at some of the most competitive colleges in the country.   

The benefits of selection as a Lenfest Scholar extend far beyond the four years of college. It brings opportunities for life-long mentoring and networking, including participation in the annual Lenfest Community Weekend. 

Erin Crum is one of the first students to win a Lenfest Scholarship. She is now a member of the LSF board.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Martha Denney to the Lenfest community,” she said. “She understands the unique challenges rural students can face in the college process, and has a wealth of experience to help our scholars succeed at college and beyond.” 


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