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All Fall 2020 philanthropy & nonprofit courses have been lowered by 20 percent. No discount code needed. Certificate programs not included.


The Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership utilizes nonprofit expertise in the Houston community and beyond.

Job Title: Chief Consultant

Organization: McLane Consulting

Degree(s): Bachelor's and master's degrees in communications studies

Ali R. McLane has been a fundraising operations consultant for more than 20 years, specializing in prospect screening development, analysis and implementation. As one of the original owners of Prospect Information Network’s P!N, the screening product that ultimately became ResearchPoint, Ms. McLane developed the first comprehensive vetting and implementation program for screening results, working with more than 500 clients. Prospect Information Network was ultimately acquired by Blackbaud in 2008. 

In 2017, Ms. McLane joined Lois L Lindauer Searches, an executive recruiting firm specializing in the Advancement industry. Prior to LLLS. Ms. McLane worked at consulting firms like Bentz Whaley Flessner and Dini Partners, as well as higher education, University of Houston, University of Tulsa and Texas Tech University and Health Science Center.

Ms. McLane is the co-chair of the Fundraising Operations certification program at Rice University’s Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership, teaching the Prospect Research and Donor Relations classes, while also serving as a mentor to the students working toward the certification. She is also an instructor at Austin Community College’s Center for Nonprofit Management.

Ms. McLane is a co-founder, past president, and board member of the Southwest Chapter of the Association of Professional Researchers (APRA). She is a past president of APRA of Greater Houston and is a charter member of the Association of Advancement Services Professionals, serving on their prospect development best practices committee. Ms. McLane is a volunteer with APRA International, serving on the 2010 Nominating committee and the 2011 APRA International Conference Curriculum Planning Committee, 2013 online education committee. She is a frequent conference presenter, including APRA, AFP, CASE, AHP and specialized fundraising organizations.

Ali holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications studies from Texas Tech University. She is an active member of the Texas Tech University College of Media and Communication Advisory Board.

Job Title: Partner

Organization: Carr Riggs & Ingram, LLC (CRI)

Certifications: CPA

Alyssa Hill, CPA, is a partner at Carr Riggs & Ingram, LLC (CRI) and has more than 15 years of experience in public accounting. She has significant nonprofit and governmental audit experience and has served a variety of clients in the manufacturing industry. Ms. Hill graduated from Texas A&M University.

Job Title: Director of Development

Organization: Theatre Under the Stars

Amy S. Lampi has more than 15 years of fundraising experience in the performing arts, education and health care. As a development generalist, she has a wide range of experience from gift processing and database administration to major gifts and the management of a development team. In her current role, as the director of development at Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS), she oversees all fundraising aspects of the theatre including board, individual, corporate and foundation giving; capital campaign and major gifts; special events; prospect research, development operations and gift processing. Prior to TUTS, Amy was the associate director of development at the Alley Theatre, where her cutting-edge work in fundraising analytics with Josh Birkholz of BWF was featured in the August 2016 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Job Title: Chief Development Officer

Organization: Houston Ballet

Degree(s): Master's degrees in philanthropic studies and public communication

Certifications: CFRE

Angela Lane, CFRE, is the chief development officer at Houston Ballet. Prior to this position, she worked at Houston Grand Opera as director of individual giving, and she worked at American National Red Cross in support of disaster fundraising, major gifts and regional fundraising. She holds an MA in philanthropic studies from Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis and an MA in public communication from American University.

Job Title: President

Organization: Ann Turnbach & Associates

Degree(s): Bachelor degree in education (Education)

Certifications: Certification in Human Resource Management

Ann Turnbach is president of Ann Turnbach & Associates, a firm specializing in providing organizations with human resource and executive consulting services. She spent 23 years at the Houston Chronicle where she served as personnel director and vice president of human resources. As a result of her success with the Chronicle's programs, all Hearst Newspaper diversity and professional development programs were centralized and added to her area of responsibility. Ms. Turnbach was awarded the John Blodger Diversity Award by the Human Resource Media Association in 2002 and was named Best HR Executive by in 2005. She holds a bachelor's degree in education from Bloomsburg State College and a certification in human resource management from New York University. She was a participant of the Hearst Management Institute, an executive development program administered by Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business.

Title: Director of Individual Giving

Organization: Houston Ballet

Degree(s): Bachelor's in art history

Ashley Tagle is a development professional with 10 years of experience in the arts and nonprofit field. She is currently the director of individual giving at Houston Ballet, the fourth largest ballet company in the country. Her previous experience includes serving as assistant director of development at the Blanton Museum of Art. Ashley is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where she earned a bachelor’s degree in art history.

Organization: Bentz Whaley Flessner

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree in sociology and master's degree in nonprofit administration

Bond T. Lammey is a senior associate at Bentz Whaley Flessner specializing in prospect development. Ms. Lammey’s experience ranges from higher education to academic medicine, large and small social service agencies, and national and local member/cause organizations. She is accomplished in implementing prospect management processes, conducting proactive prospect identification, and establishing comprehensive prospect development programs. Prior to joining BWF, Ms. Lammey led prospect research efforts at the University of Chicago, where she oversaw the central prospect research team and developed integrated strategies with prospect management, analytics, corporate and foundation relations research. Ms. Lammey has also worked in development at Loyola University Health System, Association House of Chicago, and Teen Living Programs. Ms. Lammey received her BA in sociology and her masters of management in nonprofit administration, both from North Park University in Chicago. She is on the board of APRA International and has presented over forty times at CASE, SunGard, ADRP, and APRA conferences.

Brian A. Zive is a consultant on the analytical solutions team at Marts & Lundy. Throughout his career, Mr. Zive has combined his technical ability with his industry knowledge to bring fundraising data to life. Prior to joining Marts & Lundy, Mr. Zive spent more than three years as the lead data analyst for resource development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he provided analyses to prepare for the launch of the MIT Campaign for a Better World in 2016.

His previous experience also includes analyst and report writer in the development office at Massachusett General Hospital during their Campaign for the Third Century of MGH Medicine, where he established a data analytics team and introduced predictive and descriptive analytics projects that guided strategy for campaign accounting, prospect identification and portfolio management. In addition, he started his development career as the coordinator for the annual giving telemarketing program at Boston University. After two years, he became an analyst consultant on the development and alumni relations information systems team.

Mr. Zive earned a master’s degree in computer information systems and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and Middle Eastern studies, both from Boston University.

Job Title: Principal and founder

Organization: CKP Group

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree in French horn performance and master of music

Carey Kirkpatrick, principal, founder, is a veteran marketing and public relations specialist. She attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where she participated in the Arts Leadership Program, a create-your-own-curriculum program that allows students explore the administrative side of the music industry through business classes and internships. Ms.Kirkpatrick graduated in May 2000 from Eastman with a bachelor of music degree in French horn performance and a certificate in arts administration. In 2004, she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a master of music. Ms.Kirkpatrick's professional career in marketing and public relations began in 1999 with a Catherine Filene Shouse fellowship in marketing and public relations with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Rochester, New York. In March 2001, she relocated to Miami Beach, Florida, to serve as public relations manager for the New World Symphony. Following her graduate work, the Houston Symphony recruited her to serve as marketing manager in August 2005. In 2008, she was promoted to director of marketing. in 2009, she joined a then unknown media startup,, as director of marketing and helped see the site through launches in Houston, Austin and Dallas. The media network experienced exponential growth under Kirkpatrick’s communications leadership, with network readership reaching approximately 750,000 unique visitors per month a mere two and a half years after launch of the flagship Houston site. In 2013, she joined On the Mark Communications as senior account director, working with clients in industries ranging from hospitality to commercial real estate to international luxury brands. Ms. Kirkpatrick now utilizes her diverse communications background to concept and execute creative and strategic integrated communications campaigns for clients through CKP.

Job Title: Executive Director of Development Services

Organization: Southern Methodist University

Charles Headley currently serves as executive director of development services at Southern Methodist University. Prior to joining SMU in 2006 he was senior director of Education and healthcare sector with Kintera, an innovative provider of web interaction software for nonprofit organizations. Charles was one of the founders of Prospect Information Network which was acquired by Kintera in 2004. Mr. Headley began his career in the fields of library and information science, and computer programming.  He was with Marts & Lundy from 1984-1988, and helped to develop the fundraising industry’s first computerized prospect screening service.  He then served two years as Vice President of The Information Prospector, a Washington DC based prospect research firm.  From 1990 – 1998 he held several positions with CDA/Investnet, helping them develop their securities matching service, and their FACT$ family of identification services. Mr. Headley has served on the CASE District Four board and is a charter member of the Association for Advancement Services Professionals.  He is a frequent conference speaker and was conference chair for the 2009 CASE Campaign Fundamentals conference. He received an A.B. from McKendree College in Lebanon, IL, a M.S. from the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL, and an MBA from Bernard Baruch (CUNY) in New York City.

Job Title: President of Strategic Services

Organization:Zuri Group

Degree(s): Bachelor's and master's degrees


Christopher Cannon, CFRE, is Zuri Group’s president of strategic services. His areas of expertise include fundraising strategy and systems, staff and resource management, database management, business intelligence and data reporting, database conversion projects, gift and data processing and technology needs. Prior to joining Zuri Group, Mr. Cannon was a managing associate at Bentz Whaley Flessner, where he provided strategic counsel on database systems, advancement operations and fundraising strategy. He has led fundraising operations and campaign strategy at Saint Louis University, Saint Louis Zoo and the Saint Louis Science Center. He has been a featured speaker at CASE, APRA, AFP, and other conferences and has written articles for AFP's Advancing Philanthropy, APRA's Connections and AHP's Journal. His book, "An Executive's Guide to Fundraising Operations" (Wiley 2011), is the industry resource for maximizing ROI from operations. Mr. Cannon holds a Master's degree from the University of Kansas and a Bachelo's degree from Truman State University.

Job Title: Senior Director of Development

Organization: UT MD Anderson Cancer Center

Degree(s): BA, MBA,

Certifications: BA, MBA, CFRE

Chris Kasavich has been a professional fundraiser for 17 years serving in a variety of positions and nonprofit sectors. He began his career in fundraising at Rice University as their first leadership giving officer for annual giving before joining the major gifts team. After several years, he joined the Houston Symphony as director of corporate relations, where he managed a team in engaging and stewarding corporate partners, including securing the largest single corporate sponsor in the organization’s history. Mr. Kasavich joined Baylor College of Medicine as director of annual giving, and during his tenure, he assisted in more than doubling the performance of the annual giving program with no increase in budget. A reduction-in-force added major gifts back to his workload, as well as campaign oversight for both a new Masters of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics program and the Bobby R. Alford Education Center at the McNair Campus. Currently, as senior director of philanthropic resources at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Mr. Kasavich is focused on raising major gifts to support the mission of ending cancer. Chris earned his CFRE in 2009 and graduated with honors from the University of Houston Bauer College of Business with an MBA in 2010. He earned his undergraduate degree from Trinity University in San Antonio. Through AFP, AHP, NACCDO, CASE and the Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rice University, he has presented seminars and coursework on corporate giving, annual giving, midlevel giving, major and principal gifts, and the recruitment and retention of development officers.

Cindy Atmar, CFRE, is a speaker and practitioner in the field of philanthropic leadership. With more than 25 years of fundraising and management experience, she has served in regional and national capacities for the American National Red Cross, CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Ms. Atmar is the director of trusts, estates and gift planning at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Ms. Atmar is an active member of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, currently serving a second term as board president of the Houston Chapter. 

Job Title: Director of Advancement Services

Organization: Dallas Zoological Society

Degree(s): Bachelor's degrees in economics and finance, master's and Ph.D. in public affairs 

Clint Shipp, PhD,is director of advancement services at the Dallas Zoological Society. Previously, he held a similar positions Trinity University and the University of North Texas. He has been involved in philanthropy and community service for more than a decade. He has experience fundraising and operating nonprofit organizations. Dr. Shipp also teaches in the master's degree program in public administration at The University of Texas at San Antonio and is a frequent speaker at fundraising conferences. He holds a Ph.D. in public affairs from The University of Texas at Dallas, a master's of public affairs and a bachelor's in economics and finance.

Job title: Senior Consultant

Organization: Dini Spheris

Degree(s): Master in Liberal Arts, University of St. Thomas

Making a difference is what inspires Ms. Colbert Riley to work tirelessly with non-profit organizations to achieve transformational results in philanthropy. She has served for nearly 30 years as an institutional advancement leader in healthcare, higher education and public broadcasting with significant results in fundraising campaigns, operations and financial management, donor stewardship, board relations and communications. Before beginning her consulting practice at Dini Spheris, Ms. Colbert Riley concluded the Faith in our Future Campaign for the University of St. Thomas raising $146M in its most ambitious campaign to date. She re-joined the University of St. Thomas, where she served for five years in the 1990's as the capital campaign coordinator during the university’s first capital campaign and where she received her Master in Liberal Arts degree. 

Prior to this campaign, she served as the vice president for development at The Methodist Hospital System from 2007-2012, building the organization’s first strategic development program and completing its first major $200M fundraising campaign. Ms. Colbert Riley has also worked for the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, KUHT Channel 8 and KWGS 89.5.

Ms. Colbert Riley has been a member of AFP since moving to Houston in 1990. serving on multiple committees including a former AFP board member. She currently serves in the mentorship program. Additionally, Ms. Colbert Riley was named outstanding fundraising professional in 2013.

Job Title: Chief Development Officer

Organization: Florida State University College of Business

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree, MBA

David VanLone is the chief development officer at the College of Business at Florida State University. He has 20 years of experience in development, including a previous post as the senior vice president of major gifts for the Great Rivers Affiliate of the American Heart Association, as well as the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation, the Baylor Health Care System Foundation, and Southern Methodist University. While at SMU, the university announced and completed the $540 million The Campaign for SMU: A Time to Lead initiative. Mr. VanLone has served as a fundraising consultant for universities and nonprofits, and as a technical consultant for prospect screening companies. He is co-founder, former president and board member of the Southwest Chapter of the Association of Professional Researchers (APRA) and is a frequent presenter for organizations such as CASE, AHP, AFP, APRA. In 2009, he was presented with the Jonathan Lindsay Award, which recognizes long service and expertise in prospect research. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from St. Bonaventure and an MBA from Syracuse University.

Job Title: Senior Director of Development & Team Lead

Organization: Oklahoma State University Foundation

Degree/s: Bachelor's degree in journalism and master's degree in English

Diane Crane leads the development team for the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University Foundation and is responsible for leadership gift and major gift fundraising for the school. She joined the OSU Foundation in January 2011. Ms. Crane began her advancement career at Texas Christian University, first in communications (1985-1989) and then as director of prospect research (1989-1996). She joined the consulting firm Bentz Whaley Flessner in 1996 and spent nine years as a fundraising consultant to universities, hospitals and other nonprofits throughout the United States. In 2005, she became vice present of development at Cook Children’s Health Foundation in Fort Worth, and then from 2008-2010 served as campaign director at the University of North Texas. Diane has been a presenter at APRA and CASE conferences for many years and was a board member for the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism (1983) and a master’s in English (1991) from Texas Christian University.

Job Title: Executive Director of the Annual Fund

Organization: Rice University

Degree(s): BA (English)

Certifications: CFRE

Emily Kernan, CFRE, has worked in higher education advancement for over ten years, the last seven of which were in the Rice Annual Fund at Rice University in Houston. She is currently the executive director of the Annual Fund, overseeing a staff of 16 class officers and direct marketers. Prior to serving as the executive director, Ms. Kernan founded the Rice Annual Fund Student Initiative (RAFSI) with the help of several capable undergraduates who wished to make an impact at the university and led the Rice young alumni giving program, increasing the number of leadership donors and volunteers throughout her tenure. Prior to joining Rice University, Ms. Kernan was an associate director in the Lafayette College Annual Fund in Easton, PA. Ms. Kernan became a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) in December 2012 and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton University in 2006. Like many fundraising professionals, her beloved work as a student Telefund caller at her alma mater led to a career in development.

Job Title: Senior Director of Development Research & Resources

Organization: University of Arizona Foundation

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree in sociology and master's degree in social sciences

Emily Walsh has more than 10 years of experience in database development and management, prospect development, academic research, and strategic planning and process analysis within higher education and non-profit organizations. She began her development career with the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center where she helped them launch their first development database. In 2007, she joined the University of Chicago’s Alumni Relations and Development office, moving from Prospect Management Analyst to the position of Senior Director of Prospect Research, Prospect Management, and Analytics in 2011. Ms. Walsh now works for the University of Arizona Foundation as the Senior Director of Development Research & Resources, where she has been since 2011. In her role, she manages the Prospect Research, Prospect Management, Constituent/Alumni Records, and the Applications Training & Reporting Support teams. She has been an active member of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA) since 2007, and has served on the Board since 2014. Ms. Walsh has been a speaker at APRA, CASE, and SunGard conferences, and was the Conference Chair of APRA’s Annual International Conference - Prospect Development 2014. She is an honors graduate of James Madison University where she received her bachelor of science degree in sociology and a graduate of the University of Chicago where she received her master’s degree in social sciences.

Job Title: Volunteer Experience Director

Organization: Girl Scouts of San Jacinto

Gina Murphy is a positive and enthusiastic nonprofit professional with thirteen years of increasing responsibility and experience in the design, implementation, support, and evaluation of volunteer management systems. She is currently the Volunteer Experience Director at the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council. In this capacity, she supervises and provides professional development opportunities for volunteers and staff; curriculum and program development for adults and youth; budget development, volunteer management and development; risk management, and strategic planning. She also holds a Certificate with Distinction in Nonprofit Management from Rice University’s Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership.

Job Title: Chief Executive Officer

Organization: Prevent Blindness Texas

Degree(s): B.B.A.

Heather Patrick is the chief executive officer of HSP Services, LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on helping organizations increase revenue, build sustainability, maximize talent and capitalize on strategic partnerships. Ms. Patrick has spent more than fifteen years in the nonprofit community both as a volunteer and nonprofit executive, serving at the local, regional and national levels of healthcare nonprofits focused on impact. In previous roles, Ms. Patrick has been responsible for the design and implementation of an entire community engagement plan for a $10 million organization, development and execution of best practices for 120 Affiliates, with revenues of more than $100 million, ranging from fundraising to structure to governance, leading the development and management of community grants program portfolio that spans 2000 organizations and makes investments of $95M annually, and developing the strategy for restructuring a field network to leverage resources and improve efficiencies. In August of 2009, she was selected to participate in the Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives at Rice University. She is also a part of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Host Committee for the 2016 Alliance Management Institute, serves as the chair of the Delta Gamma Foundation Richard D. Shirk Family Lectureship in Healthcare Values and Ethics at the University of Houston, was a member of the 2012 Community-Campus Partnerships for Health Conference planning committee, participates on the Advisory Council for the Houston Delta Gamma Foundation, and served on the Advisory Council for the St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities Center for Collaborative Leadership. Ms. Patrick earned her B.B.A. from the University of Houston.

Job Title: Senior Consultant

Organization: Dini Spheris

Holly Lang truly thrives in her work because of the people. Her relationship skills stand out when she meets, helps and is able to work with and impact organizations. For Ms. Lang, to excel at consulting is to have a trusted, collaborative relationship with client staff and volunteers - one that helps them grow. Where others see problems or difficult and challenging circumstances, Ms. Lang sees the opportunity for change or innovation and works to discover the best solution.

Ms. Lang recently assisted in merging an organization with a limited fundraising history. This organization needed to raise $30 million in a dauntingly short timeline of only 12 months. No matter the situation, she motivates her clients every step of the way, encouraging them to celebrate every success during the journey.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Ms. Lang moved to Houston to attend Rice University. After graduation, she worked in the Rice development office, focusing on young alumni and annual giving. She brings significant experience to the areas of membership, retention programs, campaigns and development assessments.

Ms. Lang's heart for philanthropy is evident in her volunteerism with the University of Houston Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, where she teaches an eight-week fundraising course. She also continues to support Rice University, acting as the leadership chair for her class reunion and an instructor at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership.

Job Title: Principal

Organization: J S Martin Associates, LP

Degree(s): Undergraduate and graduate degrees in sociology

Jackie Martin is principal of J S Martin Associates, LP, providing consulting services in the areas of development and fundraising, strategic collaboration and strengthening corporate cultures. Prior to starting her consulting business in 2005, she served as president of United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast, the largest charitable giving organization in the Houston area. Ms. Martin has devoted more than 30 years to serving the community professionally and personally in human services. She serves on the board of Discovery Green Park Conservancy and is a member of the Greater Houston Partnership. She also serves on the Houston Regional Board of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and the Women's Advisory Board of Vinson & Elkins. In 2003, Ms. Martin was recognized as executive communicator of the year by the Houston Business Journal and International Association of Business Communicators, Houston Chapter. She attended Tennessee State University and holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in sociology from Texas Southern University.

Job Title: Senior Lecturer in Professional Communication

Organization: Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL)

Degree(s): Master's of arts in English and history, Ph.D. in English

Dr. Jan Hewitt, Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL), teaches engineering graduate students how to write and speak clearly and persuasively about their research. They learn how to explain complex material to a range of audiences, from expert to those not in their field of research. For many years Dr. Hewitt has also taught courses and workshops for Continuing Studies. She holds a master's degree in English from the University of Michigan, as well as a master's degree in history and a Ph.D. in English from Rice University.

Job Title: President

Organization: Strategic Decision Associates

Degree(s): Master's degree

Jeff Stys has been President of Strategic Decision Associates, a Houston-based consulting practice, since June 2008. He focuses on organizational strategic planning, development of high-performing collaboratives, and community planning. He brings both his coaching and facilitation skills to all his engagements.  Since starting Strategic Decision Associates, Mr. Stys has worked with a number of Houston and Galveston philanthropic, government and non-profit organizations. He has spoken about the role of nongovernmental organizations in disaster response in Bilbao, Spain and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mr. Stys spent over ten years at the United Way of Greater Houston where he oversaw the development and execution of community initiatives such as Operation Thrive and coordination of the social service efforts after Hurricanes Rita/Katrina and Tropical Storm Allison. Born and raised in upstate New York, Mr. Stys has been a Houstonian for more than 25 years and has a masters’ degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin.  

Job Title: Principal and brand operations strategist

Organization: CKP Group

Degree(s): Master's degree in communications and public relations studies

Jennifer Evans, principal, brand operations strategist, has more than 20 years of experience in public relations, media, marketing and CSR/philanthropy in the Houston and Galveston markets. She got her communications start in non-profit organizations including the nationally renowned Alley Theatre. She then spent nearly a decade in corporate communications roles, primarily leading CSR and strategic foundation activities for domestic and international operations with Cooper Industries (ETN) and Marathon Oil Corporation (MRO). The Health Museum recruited Ms. Evans to serve as its first vice president of external affairs, to overhaul brand, retail, customer service and fundraising. Following completion of this labor of love, she founded JL Evans Communications and spent the next 8 years representing clients – and former employers – across many industries including retail and consumer products, education, professional services, non-profit, energy, and health. Ms. Evans earned her master of arts in communications/public relations studies with Honors at University of Houston, where she has also served as an adjunct professor. she is proud to include recognition for excellence through PRSA Bronze Anvil, AMA Crystal Award, Outstanding Corporation, etc. in her project management and team lead toolkit. A Public Relations Society America (PRSA) member for more than 15 years, she also served as the vice president of PRSA’s Houston Chapter Board and chaired its popular PR Day event.

Job Title: Principal and communications strategist

Organization: CKP Group

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree in government

Jeremy C. Little, principal, communications strategist has more than a decade of experience in strategic communications including public relations, media relations, social media marketing, public policy advocacy, and communications management consulting. He moved from the Northeast to Houston, Texas (for the second time) in 2016 to join CKP Group as a communications strategist. Little attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine graduating Cum Laude in 2005 with a bachelor of arts in government. Currently, he is working to finish a master of arts in English from Middlebury College’s prestigious Bread Loaf School in Middlebury, Vermont. Following graduation from Colby in 2005, Little worked as executive assistant to the Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader in Boston, Massachusetts focusing on correspondence, constituent relations, speechwriting, and community outreach. Little moved to Houston in 2007, and in 2008, he joined On the Mark Communications (OtMC) as its first associate, helping to build the firm from 2 to 16 clients in its first year. While with OtMC, Little managed media relations for an extensive portfolio of clients across Houston’s restaurant and hospitality. In 2012, Little relocated to the Washington, DC to serve as Senior Account Manager for CRC Public Relations specializing in public policy and issue advocacy PR. while with CRC, he managed media relations for the firm’s oldest anchor client working with national press including the New York Times, CNN, NBC News, ABC News, Fox News Channel, and The Wall Street Journal among many others. He also managed the day-to-day media relations campaigns for two No. 1 New York Times nonfiction best-sellers. he was recruited by Deloitte Consulting in 2014 to develop strategic communications plans for large government agencies including the Department of Veterans affairs.



Job Title: Partner

Organization: Blazek & Vetterling LLP

Degree(s): BBA

Certifications: CPA

Jody Blazek, CPA, is a partner at Blazek & Vetterling, a Houston accounting firm focusing on tax and financial services for tax-exempt organizations. Her concentration on nonprofits began in 1969 when she advised clients about the Tax Reform Act that completely revamped the taxation of charities and created private foundations. From 1972 to 1981, she gained nonprofit management experience as treasurer of the Menil Interests where she worked with John and Dominique de Menil to plan the Menil Collection, The Rothko Chapel and other projects of the Menil Foundation. She reentered public practice in 1981 to found the firm she now serves. She is past-chair of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants' Tax-Exempt Organizations Resource Panel and worked on the Panel for the Nonprofit Sector report to Congress. She is author of six books in the Wiley Nonprofit Series, a frequent speaker on nonprofit issues and a member of several nonprofit boards. She holds a BBA from The University of Texas at Austin.

Job Title: Founder and President

Organization: Leadingwell Associates

Degree(s): Ph.D.; Master of arts in theology

Joseph W. Synan is a leadership and team effectiveness consultant who has successfully served organizations and teams in the corporate, non-profit, and public sectors. The focus of his work is helping leaders and teams by facilitating their consensus building and helping them to lead, vision, and plan better together. Mr. Synan has assisted hundreds of not-for-profit organizations in their strategic planning, visioning, and goal setting. He is founder and President of Leadingwell Associates, a consulting practice he has led since 1988. Mr. Synan is the past president of the American Leadership Forum, a national non-profit organization that brings together diverse senior leaders in communities across the country. Mr. Synan was president and COO from 1987-90, and later served as chairman of the Board for the national organization. An experienced entrepreneur and business consultant, in 1985 Mr. Synan co-founded Change Management Associates, a Houston firm which specialized in helping companies down-size and helping people affected by the down-sizing to continue their careers. Mr. Synan has 17 years in the energy industry with Gulf and Chevron. He held senior management positions in information resources, research and development, and strategic planning in both the U.S. and Canada. Mr. Synan's earliest career was in nuclear power, where he assisted a Gulf subsidiary in obtaining approvals for the operation of its nuclear power plants. Mr. Synan has three degrees in nuclear engineering, two from M.I.T. and one from Notre Dame (graduating Maxima Cum Laude). He has completed the University of Virginia, Executive Business Program, and holds a master's degree in pastoral theology from the University of St. Thomas. He is a native of Zanesville, Ohio and resides in Kingwood, Texas with his wife, Susan, a psychotherapist. Their son, Chris, a graduate of the University of St. Thomas and South Texas College of Law, and their daughter, Jenny, is a graduate of New York University. For the past 10 years, Mr. Synan has been a student at the Glassell School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, studying painting. He sells his art through the website His paintings have been exhibited at galleries and exhibitions throughout Houston. His work was selected for inclusion in the Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, one of the highest-ranked arts festivals in the country. An active mountain hiker, runner, and cyclist - Mr. Synan has hiked to the highest point in 44 states, and, since 2005, has completed 9 marathons, 5 half marathons, and 3 MS150 bicycle events (Houston to Austin).

Job Title: Principal and content strategist

Organization: CKP Group

Degree(s): Bachelor's of music degree and master of music degree

Joel Luks, principal, content strategist is a communications specialist with expertise in content marketing and social media strategy. Before joining CKP as content strategist, Luks served as the arts and entertainment editor, classical music critic and video curator of, a hyperlocal digital publication covering lifestyle topics. He is also a regular contributor to KHOU 11 News through a special partnership with the CBS affiliate. In this role, Luks published more than 2,000 articles and produced more than 450 editorial segments for online platforms and broadcast. Luks earned a bachelor of music degree from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and a master of music from Rice University. Additional studies in arts management and psychology led to a post as education director of Young Audiences of Houston, a chapter of a national nonprofit that advocates for creative pursuits in schools. Luks then gained experience in sales as a home consultant for Newmark Homes, a Houston-based production builder, where he was consistently a top producer as a result of effective targeted digital marketing tactics. Luks is passionate about the importance of the arts in society, education and sustainability. as a volunteer, he has served on the boards of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Urban Harvest and Fresh Arts, having also been the chair of the Impulse Artist Series board. He’s also a frequent speaker on topics of media relations, marketing practices and art trends. Having been born in Lima, Peru, Joel is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Job Title: Principal

Organization: Bentz Whaley Flessner

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree and a master's degree in nonprofits arts and cultural management

Joshua M. Birkholz is a principal at Bentz Whaley Flessner, where he oversees specialty consulting services. His team includes experts in development operations, prospect development, social media, constituent engagement and analytics. Mr. Birkholz is founder of the BWF analytics division, DonorCast. He has built data mining programs and ushered organizational change for leading nonprofits in higher education, healthcare, the arts, advocacy and social service sectors throughout the United States and beyond. He is widely regarded as a leading innovator in 21st-century development strategies and is the author of the sought-after book, Fundraising Analytics: Using Data to Guide Strategy. Mr. Birkholz holds a BA from Concordia University-St. Paul and an MA in nonprofits arts and cultural management from St. Mary's University of Minnesota.

Job Title: Senior Philanthropic Advisor

Organization: The Awty International School

Degree(s) and Certifications: BA, MBA

Kaiti Kling has 25 years of experience as a professional fundraiser. She is the senior philanthropic advisor for The Awty International School. Previously, Kaiti was the senior director for principal giving at Baylor College of Medicine, where she was an integral part of BCM’s ten-year, $1 billion, Best Minds Best Medicine campaign, which successfully concluded in 2013. Kaiti also served as a regional field officer during Rice University’s Next Century Campaign, and as chief development officer at San Antonio Academy. Kaiti is a graduate of Trinity University, where she was a student fundraiser, and holds an MBA from Texas A&M University.

Job Title: Director of Advancement Services

Organization: Washington College

Degree(s): Bachelor's mathematical biology and a master's in data analytics

Kate Goldberg is the Director of Advancement Services for Washington College. In this role for the past ten years, she has served as the chief information officer for the Office of College Advancement at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, providing strategic leadership to create and manage an effective infrastructure to support the College’s fundraising and alumni relations efforts. In 2013, Ms. Goldberg was a member of the inaugural group of participants in the Fundraising Operations Certification Capstone. She received her bachelors degrees in mathematical biology from Randolph-Macon Woman's College. She is currently enrolled in the Data Analytics Masters Program at University of Maryland University College and will graduate in May 2016. She is a chapter registrar with the Daughters of the American Revolution and serves as a Chapter Chair for her alma mater.

Job Title: CFO

Organization: SER-Jobs for Progress of the Texas Gulf Coast, Inc.

Degree(s): BBA (Accounting)

Certifications: CPA, CGMA

Kathy Fountain, CPA, CGMA, has been a CPA for 35 years and has experience working in public accounting, manufacturing and broadcasting. In 2011, Ms. Fountain was named one of the year's most distinguished CFO's for a Charitable Organization by the Houston Business Journal.

Job Title: Senior Consultant & Principal, Analytical Solutions

Organization: Marts & Lundy

Kathy Howrigan is a consultant at Marts & Lundy. She works with nonprofit clients across all sectors on strategically implementing analytics projects including constituent surveys, predictive modeling, annual giving and campaign feasibility projects. She also provides consulting services for annual giving programs. Prior to joining Marts & Lundy, she was director for the Saint Michael’s Fund and for advancement services at St. Michael’s College, Vermont. She previously worked at Dartmouth College for seven years, rising from director of prospect management to director of marketing and analysis for the Dartmouth College Fund. As a private consultant, she has provided business analysis services to Columbia University, Tufts University and Rice University. She has worked as an analyst in both the nonprofit and for-profit markets for more than 20 years.

Job Title: Partner

Organization: Blazek & Vetterling LLP

Degree(s): BBA

Certifications: CPA

Kay Walther, CPA, is a partner with the firm of Blazek & Vetterling LLP. She specializes in nonprofit accounting and auditing services and currently serves a broad range of nonprofit clients including foundations, social service agencies, civic, business, and cultural organizations, schools, churches, and health-care related organizations in Houston and its surrounding areas. She has more than 20 years of public accounting experience with nonprofit organizations and was previously a manager with Ernst & Young. Ms. Walther is a speaker on technical accounting and management subjects for nonprofits and has presented seminars for The Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Rice University, the University of Houston Nonprofit Executive Series, the United Way of Greater Houston and its National Financial Management Forum, Houston Chapter of Certified Public Accountants and the National Society of Fundraising Executives. She serves as board member and past president of The Women's Home. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Houston Chapter of Texas Society of CPAs. Ms. Walther holds a BBA from Texas A&M University.

Job Title: President

Organization: Newman & Newman

Certifications: APR

Kelli Newman brings 30 years of communication experience to her position as president of Newman & Newman, where her responsibilities center on formulating strategies, messaging and producing communication tools for both nonprofit and for-profit clients. Prior to joining Newman & Newman in 1996, she spent 11 years as in-house public relations counsel for Baylor College of Medicine (including the DeBakey Heart Center) and Texas Children’s Hospital. In 2012, Ms. Newman was invited to begin serving as an instructor for Rice University’s Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership after co-developing curriculum for the course on Communications for Nonprofits. In 2016, she was added to the CPNL’s Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives (LINE) program teaching Marketing and Public Relations. Her work has received numerous awards, including the Grand Excalibur, PRSA Houston’s highest recognition of professional standards. Accredited in 1989 by the Public Relations Society of America, Ms. Newman is also a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and founding member of IGNITE, a by-invitation coalition of executive women with leadership experience in healthcare. Ms. Newman has published several articles regarding communication strategies. Her most recent article for AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy appears in the magazine’s spring 2017 issue. She presented the topic, Successfully Navigating Messaging Milestones, as plenary speaker for the CPNL’s 2017 Best Boards conference.

Job Title: CEO

Organization: Holocaust Museum Houston

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree in finance; Ed.D in administration and supervision; MBA

Certifications: CFRE

Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga serves as the CEO at the Holocaust Museum Houston which is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. She is responsible for all museum operations and reports to a 30 member Board of Trustees and a 75 member Board of Advisors. Her past work experience includes key fundraising positions with the Houston Community College Foundation, Houston Zoo, Inc.; University of Houston System; Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut; Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California; and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She earned her Doctor of Education from the University of Houston in Administration and Supervision where her dissertation focused on a study of donors who have made online contributions to universities. In addition, she has earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of San Diego and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from San Diego State University.  Dr. Zúñiga is an adjunct lecturer at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government & Public Service and serves as an adjunct lecturer for Art of Fundraising I at the Rice University Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. She is also a member of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Executive Women’s Partnership, the Houston Museum District Executive Board, and is a Sr. Fellow, American Leadership Forum Class of XXXIV. She was named in 2013 by Houston Woman Magazine, “Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2012.” and in 2016 was awarded by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Houston Chapter the M. Anne Murphy Award for Professional Advancement.

Job Title: Chief Development Officer

Organization: The Montrose Center

Degree: B.A.

Kent Loftin is a driven nonprofit development professional who learned about the dignity of hard work from his grandfather on their East Texas farm. A Texas native born, raised, and educated in the Houston area, Mr. Loftin began his career in development in the city as well. Soon, he was invited to serve as the director of special events for Best Buddies International, and the new position in Miami gave him the opportunity to plan high-profile events and liaise with celebrity partners to make a broad impact across the globe.

In 2008, he returned home to Houston to serve as the executive director for Best Buddies Texas - the youngest executive director in the history of the organization - and then was tapped to become the director of development for Interfaith Ministries in 2011. In Kent's tenure at Interfaith, the organization grew its annual campaign by 30 percent, increased their donor base by 63 percent, and completed a $14.5 million capital campaign for Houston's new Meals on Wheels building.

Mr. Loftin is a development educator and leader in the industry, and is a speaker at Rice University's Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership. In his spare time, Mr. Loftin is a devoted fan of live music, sparkling wine and delicious foods.

Job Title: Director

Organization: Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership

Degree(s): BBA in marketing, MPA in nonprofit management and master of arts in philanthropic studies

Kristen Schlatre is the Director of the Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership at Rice University at the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. In this capacity, she is responsible for ensuring the continued quality and growth of professional development courses as well as increasing the certificate program participation. Her career in the nonprofit sector began with an internship as part of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance program at the University of Houston. She taught elementary school as a Teach For America Corps member in South Louisiana after earning a BBA in marketing. She also holds a MPA in nonprofit management and MA in philanthropic studies from Indiana University through the Center on Philanthropy.

Job Title: Partner

Organization: Carr Riggs & Ingram

Degree(s): MA

Certifications: CPA

With more than 10 years of diversified accounting, tax, and consulting experience, Kristen Simpson specializes in tax preparation, review, and planning for both individuals and small businesses. Ms. Simpson’s industry expertise includes working with clients extend across a number of industries including real estate, transportation, manufacturing and distribution, and professional service firms. She is a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TSCPA). In addition to being a CPA, Ms. Simpson is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt with considerable expertise in software integration, training, and logistics.

Job Title: Consultant, Speaker

Organization: PRKristyna

Kristyna Torres-Cruz has a history of working in the nonprofit sector. Ms Torres-Cruz has the expertise to connect brands to their community without breaking the bank. She has worked with top organizations such as the Girl Scouts and the March of Dimes to local organizations such as Serve Houston and the My Brothers Keeper teen program.

Job Title: Partner

Organization: Carr Riggs & Ingram, LLC (CRI)

Certifications: CPA

Leslie A. Berardo, CPA, is a partner at Carr Riggs & Ingram, LLC (CRI) and has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting. Before joining GD&D, she was a principal with another local Houston firm where she headed up the governmental and nonprofit audit practice. Her audit experience covers a variety of nonprofit organizations and governmental entities including health and welfare organizations, private foundations, community college, special districts and municipalities. Ms. Berardo is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Job Title: Founder

Organization: Honu Advisors

Degree(s): MBA with concentration in Nonprofit Management

Leslie C. Wang came to Houston in 2000 as a Teach For America corps member and taught fifth grade at Oates Elementary School. She later attended business school at The University of Texas at Austin, where she earned an MBA focused on nonprofit management. Her goal was simple: to help the people who help other people. After graduate school, she served as a program officer at Houston Endowment, a private philanthropy in the greater Houston area. In that position, she had the privilege of learning about nonprofit organizations in Houston and analyzing the unique strengths that they bring to tackling complex social problems. As a program officer, she developed a strong network among the non-profit and philanthropic community, along with a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that drive the non-profit sector. In January 2016, Ms. Wang launched Honu Advisors, a small consulting practice focused on strengthening the social sector through board development, succession planning and governance reviews.

Organization: Catholic Community Foundation, Archdiocese of New Orleans

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree and master's in public relations

Certifications: CFRE

Lisa M. Chmiola, M.S., CFRE, is the director of gift planning for the Catholic Community Foundation, Archdiocese of New Orleans. Previously, she served in major and planned giving roles at Tulane University and St. Agnes Academy in Houston, Texas. An AFP Master Trainer since 2014, Ms. Chmiola has presented at four AFP International Conferences and a variety of AFP and other industry association regional conferences, chapter meetings, and webinars. She also serves as an adjunct instructor in Rice University’s Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership. In addition to more than 17 years in development, Ms. Chmiola is an active volunteer, serving on the board of the AFP New Orleans chapter and the U.S. Government Relations committee for AFP International, a member of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (and past president of the Houston chapter), a sustaining member of the Junior League, and a graduate of Leadership Houston. Additionally, she has co-authored several pieces for AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy magazine.

Job Title: Co-Founder & CEO


Degree(s): Bachelor of arts in English and psychology and a master of science in information studies

Lori Hood Lawson, co-founder and CEO of, helps to keep the nonprofit sector current in the latest issues and trends. Previously, Ms. Hood Lawson served as director of strategic solutions for Kintera P!N, where she managed a team of consultants, serving more than 300 nonprofit organizations in identification of prospective donors via wealth screening. While at Kintera, she also helped bring to market P!N’s desktop product as a web-based solution. Before joining P!N, Ms. Hood enjoyed the role of associate director of research for The Florida State University Foundation, where she received the Administrator of the Year Award and served on the New Employee Orientation Committee and The Committee for Acknowledgement and Recognition of Employee Excellence.

Ms. Hood Lawson is a member of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement International (APRA) where she serves as a member and former chair for its Ethics Committee; member and former co-chair of its Online Curriculum Committee; and member of its Body of Knowledge Committee. She has served on the board of the Florida chapter of APRA, most recently as president and director-at-large. Ms. Hood Lawson also is a member of the Association of Advancement Services Professionals Best Practices Committee for Prospect Development and a member of ARMA International. She was a member of the fundraising operations certification task force and served as adjunct faculty and mentor for the fundraising operations certification program at Rice University’s Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership. She holds a master’s degree from The Florida State University School of Information and a bachelor’s degree from Emory University. She is a voracious reader, a frequent author of articles and blogs, and a speaker at industry conferences. She also served as editor for David Lawson’s book, Big Good: Philanthropy in the Age of Big Data & Cognitive Computing.

Job Title: Vice President of Development

Organization: Planned Parenthood, Gulf Coast

Degree(s): Master's degree in fundraising management

Certifications: CFRE

M. Anne Murphy, CFRE, is vice president of development at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. She has more than 40 years of experience as a development professional, capital campaign manager and leadership training consultant. Ms. Murphy has served as principal and partner of Dini Spheris, executive director of University Advancement for the University of Houston Downtown and director of development for the University of Houston Foundation and the Gulf Coast March of Dimes. Her national fundraising experience includes positions with Mary Baldwin College, the Girl Scouts of the USA, and the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation Campaign. She has served on the boards of Stephens College, The Chinquapin School, Downtown Historic District, the Chicano Family Center, the Association for Fundraising Professionals Foundation Board and the Greater Houston Chapter of the AFP, where she also served as president. She holds a master's degree in fundraising management from the New School University.

Job Title: Nonprofit Management & Career Coach

Organization: Positively Your Coach!

Degree(s): Bachelor of arts in journalism

Marianita Snodgrass is an executive coach, specializing in fundraising assessments, strategic plans, staff recruitment and building strengths-based advancement managers and teams for organizations. She worked in the public relations department for the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau, became a capital campaign assistant at Saint Agnes Academy, and served as director of brand management and as director of development-capital campaign for the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Houston Chapter, and participated in its Strategic Advance Professionals Focus Group and served on the task team for membership for its 2008 Strategic Plan. Ms. Snodgrass has presented at the AFP's Ask the Experts conferences covering career building, donor stewardship, job hunting and strength-based leadership and team building. She serves on the Saint Agnes Academy Emeritus Advisory Council. She holds a BA in journalism from Texas A&M University with a minor in marketing and Spanish. She earned an EmPower Coaching Tools Fundamentals certificate from the University of Houston and is a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach.

Job Title: Program Director for the Department of Volunteer Services

Organization: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree in speech communications

Mary Donnelly Jackson has been professionally managing volunteers for twenty-two years. Mary is currently the program director for the Department of Volunteer Services, Division of Institutional Advancement, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She has been with MD Anderson since 1999. Previously, she recruited and managed volunteers for Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas and the Beaumont Main Street program, a program of the Texas Historical Commission. Mary completed her B.A. degree in speech communications with a minor in journalism from Texas A&M University in 1992. Mary has been an active volunteer in the community with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Trinity Family Alliance, Ronald McDonald House, Texas Children’s Hospital, Children’s Museum of Houston, Museum of Natural Science, St. Michael’s Catholic Church and the Junior League of Houston. She also serves as an Anderson Ambassador at MD Anderson. She is a member of Leadership Beaumont and Leadership Houston. Mary was selected to receive the MD Anderson Public Affairs Achievement Award in 2007 and the MD Anderson Volunteer Services Quarterly Performance Award in December 2003 and December 2009.

Degree(s): Bachelor of arts in mathematics, master of science in experimental psychology, MBA and Ph.D. in education psychology 

Megan Kromer, Ph.D., consults with foundations and nonprofit service agencies in the areas of program evaluation, program development and organizational effectiveness. She leads the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation's multi-million dollar initiative focused on early childhood development, Precious Minds, New Connections. She has toured the southwest for the Conference of Southwest Foundations speaking on program evaluation to private and community foundations. Dr. Kromer previously served as managing director of the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and was involved in grant making in a wide variety of areas, including health and human services, art, museums, libraries and wildlife protection. She also has designed research and evaluation studies, collected and analyzed data, and helped organizations use information for sound decision making. She has taught statistics, research methods, psychometrics and program evaluation at The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas at San Antonio. Dr. Kromer holds a BA in mathematics and an MS in experimental psychology from Trinity University, a Ph.D. in educational psychology with a specialization in statistics and research methods, and an Executive MBA degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She has also completed the Executive Program for Leaders in Philanthropy at Stanford University.

Job Title: Consulting Manager

Organization: Target Analytics

Degree(s): B.A.; masters’ degrees in arts administration and higher education administration

Melissa Bank Stepno is the consulting manager for Target Analytics, a division of Blackbaud, Inc., where she is responsible for managing a team of consultants and consulting services related to strategic implementation of data analytics projects. Prior to assuming her current role in 2014, she served as a consultant at Target Analytics for nine years. Her areas of focus included the impact high net worth philanthropy on major giving programs and on helping organizations develop effective research and prospect management operations. Ms. Bank Stepno has also worked for both Boston University and Boston Ballet and has served on the boards of NEDRA, AFP’s Northern New England Chapter and Brandeis University’s Alumni Association. She received her B.A. from Brandeis University and masters’ degrees in arts administration and higher education administration from Boston University.

Degree(s): BS (Human Development and Family Studies)

Certifications: CFRE

Melissa Garlington has 26 years of leadership experience within the nonprofit sector with her most recent role as marketplace marketing at Deloitte. Previously, she has served as he the senior director of advancement for major & capital gifts at St. Francis and the title of vice president of development at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston (BGCGH). During her time there, she was responsible for all aspects of fundraising and special events including managing a staff of five. Prior to joining BGCGH, she spent over five years as the director of development for the Children’s Museum of Houston, more than five years as the senior director for the Memorial Hermann Foundation at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and more than 14 years serving in multiple positions at Houston’s Ronald McDonald House. Garlington is a graduate of St. Agnes Academy and holds a BS in human development and family studies from the College of Human Science at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. She was recognized by Texas Tech University as a Distinguished Alumni from the College of Human Sciences in 2002. Garlington holds the distinction of being a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) since 2002. She served as an active member of the Junior League of Houston for 20 years, recently becoming a sustaining member and currently serving as a Sustaining Charity Ball Underwriting Committee Member. The Junior League of Houston honored Garlington in 2013 with the Sara Houstoun Lindsey Award,the top volunteer honor for an active member. She is also an active member of the Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club, currently serving as the Houston recruitment chairman.

Job Title: Senior Director of Development

Organization: Casa de Esperanza de los Ninos

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree in criminal justice and master's degree in social work

Melissa Simon, MSW, CFRE is the senior director of development at Casa de Esperanza de los Ninos.  Ms. Simon has 27 years of experience in the social service sector, 16 of which she has spent in resource development for nonprofits. She holds a master of social work degree from the University of Houston and a bachelor of science degree from Sam Houston State University. Before receiving her MSW and transitioning into nonprofit management and development, Ms. Simon was a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, working with at-risk youth in alternative schools, probation departments, and locked facilities. Since that time, she has focused on fundraising, capacity building, and leadership development for nonprofit organizations, always in the social service sector.  In addition to teaching the Proposal Writing I and Volunteer Management classes at the Glasscock School of Continuing Education at Rice University, Ms. Simon is the current President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Houston Chapter and serves as a mentor to other fundraising professionals.

Job Title: Content Strategist and Senior Facilitator

Organization: Blank Page

Degree(s): Master's degree in human dimmensions of organizations

Certifications: IACP-S

Michael Larson is a content strategist and senior facilitator with Blank Page, a people-focused strategy firm in Austin. Mr. Larson has 14 years of experience working with boards, executive teams, and operational groups to facilitate people-centered systems that think strategically, make decisions with compassion and clarity and continuously self-evaluate to respond to changes. Michael is known for creating programs that focus on connecting stakeholders with an organization at a deep level, exploring the links between why the organization exists and a stakeholder’s choice to invest. Mr. Larson focuses on inclusive discovery, strategic planning, deliberate decision making, and honest evaluation of results.

Job Title: CFO

Organization: Greater Houston Community Foundation

Degree(s): Bachelor of science in chemical engineering and economics and Ph.D. in chemical engineering

Certifications: CMA

Michael Pawson, Ph.D., is CFO at Greater Houston Community Foundation. He previously served as CFO at Genesys Works, Interim CFO at TUTS, CFO at the Houston Symphony, and as an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company (and maintains an ongoing relationship with McKinsey). He has earned the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) and CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) designations. He has been awarded the University of Minnesota Alumni Association Leadership award and is a former board member of the Education Foundation of Harris County. Dr. Pawson holds a BS in chemical engineering and economics from Caltech and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Job Title: Audit Partner

Organization: Blazek & Vetterling LLP

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree

Certifications: CPA

Mimi Holt joined Blazek & Vetterling in 1994 and became a partner of the firm in 2007. She began her accounting career with PriceWaterhouse Coopers where she spent approximately five years and was an audit manager serving a variety of clients including non-profit organizations. Before joining Price Waterhouse, Ms. Holt spent three years as business manager and controller of University of St. Thomas where she supervised the accounting and personnel functions. She received her bachelor of arts degree magna cum laude from the University of St. Thomas in 1986. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Texas Society of CPA’s, and the Houston Chapter of CPA’s. Ms. Holt serves on the audit committee of Catholic Charities USA.

Muffin Clark has more than 30 years of experience with nonprofit organizations serving children and has served as a board member, volunteer, consultant and executive director. She is the 2009 recipient of the Heart of Hope award for outstanding community service and activism on behalf of children. During her tenure as the director of patient relations and volunteer services for Texas Children's Hospital, Ms. Clark was recognized with the prestigious Joan Waite Hanlon award as the Outstanding Volunteer Administrator in the city of Houston. From 2000-2002, she served in a consulting position as the interim executive director for Bo's Place and returned to Bo's Place in 2004 as executive director for three years. She serves or has served as a member of the board of directors of more than 35 different organizations in Houston, the state of Texas and nationally. Now retired, Ms. Clark remains active in the community serving as a member of the boards of directors of several organizations. She is an instructor for the Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives Certificate and continues to consult with nonprofit organizations needing assistance.

Job Title: Chief Development Officer

Organization: Hope and Healing Center & Institute

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree in microbiology

Nancy Ebanks, CFRE, joined the Hope and Healing Center & Institute in 2019 as chief development officer. Previously, she was the director of major gifts at Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council. Although she graduated with a science degree from the University of Kansas, her professional development career grew from a love of volunteer fundraising with Houston’s Cattle Baron’s Ball and the American Cancer Society’s High Plains Division Gala Task Force, where she served as a trainer and mentor of distinguished events over a seven-state region. Past Board affiliations include VICTORY Chapter of the American Cancer Society and Bayou City Blessings in a Backpack. Ms. Ebanks holds a Scroll of Honor from the Catholic Committee on Scouting and the Honorary Texas PTA Life Membership Award in appreciation of her work and dedication to children and the community. After earning the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), she was invited to be a course instructor and peer review coach at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies- Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership. She enjoys volunteering with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, travel, and spending time with her family.

Job Title: Founder

Organization: Fuentes Toubia, PLLC

Degree(s): BS; J.D.; LLM (Tax)

Nicola Fuentes Toubia, JD, is the founding member of Fuentes Toubia, PLLC, a law firm dedicated solely to the legal and tax issues facing nonprofit organizations. With more than 16 years of experience, she serves a variety of nonprofit clients including religious organizations, nonprofit health care systems, universities, charter schools, private foundations, community development centers and juvenile justice organizations. Ms. Toubia served as co-chair for The University of Texas School of Law's 2011 Nonprofit Organizations Institute. She also served as exempt organizations coordinator for the Gulf Coast TE/GE Council. She has authored numerous articles on tax issues and has had several speaking engagements including ones on corporate governance of nonprofits, political campaign and lobbying rules for charities, structuring innovative programs for nonprofits, the revised Form 990 and other recent developments affecting nonprofits. Ms. Toubia is a member of the Tax Sections of the Texas Bar, the American Bar Association (Exempt Organizations Committee), the District of Columbia Bar Association and the Gulf Coast Tax-Exempt/Governmental Entities Council. She holds a BS from Texas A&M University, a JD from The University of Texas School of Law and a LLM in taxation from the University of Houston Law Center.

Nicole A. Thomas is a marketing & communications strategist and founder of the Nicallyss Creative Group. She has led diversity and inclusion efforts, community investments, and employee engagement, as well as corporate philanthropy and volunteerism for Fortune 500 companies. She earned her certification in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. Her focus is fostering environments of inclusion, collaboration and innovation.

Job Title: Consultant

Organization: Dini Spheris

Degree(s): Bachelor's degrees in advertising and public relations, minors in marketing and communication studies

Certifications: CFRE

Nicole S. McWhorter, CFRE, has a deep commitment to her clients and works tirelessly alongside them to accomplish their goals and objectives. With a collaborative and hands-on approach, she is always ready to dig in and tackle the toughest challenges. Ms. McWhorter possesses an uncanny ability to analyze vast amounts of data and, from that data, put in place an actionable and strategic plan to move people, processes and goals forward.

From counseling an institution about to embark on its first capital campaign to an organization laying the foundation for a $1 billion campaign, Ms. McWhorter guides clients of all sizes through their varying philanthropic and fundraising goals. Working through development assessments, strategic planning, campaign messaging and fundraising with clients – Ms. McWhorter enjoys the creative and technical solutions these services produce.

With a double major in advertising and public relations and double minor in marketing and communication studies from Texas Tech University combined with creative agency experience, Ms. McWhorter uses her background to package institutional visions into compelling messages for her clients. An active member of Houston Junior League and instructor at the University of Houston Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and the Rice University Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, Ms. McWhorter is nothing if not motivated and driven for her client’s success.

Job Title: Director of Major Gifts

Organization: Planned Parenthood, Gulf Coast

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree in English

Certifications: CFRE

Rebecca Lamb is the director of major gifts at Planned Parenthood, Gulf Coast. She was previously a consultant with the nonprofit fundraising firm, Dini Spheris. Ms. Lamb’s development background is in prospect research and analysis. During Rice University’s $1 billion Centennial Campaign, she partnered with development officers to not only provide an objective view, but to serve as counterpart with which they could strategize. While at her alma mater, she also organized and managed the Rice Centennial Ambassadors Program, an alumni engagement initiative. Working on Houston Grand Opera’s comprehensive $165 million campaign, the largest one undertaken by an arts organization in Houston, she gained valuable insight into grant writing, campaign management, donor cultivation and stewardship. Ms. Lamb also enjoys sharing her knowledge with the next generation of nonprofit leaders through the University of Houston’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. She currently serves as Secretary of the Board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals - Greater Houston Chapter. Ms. Lamb holds a BA in English from Rice University and a Certified Fund Raising Executive credential.

Job Title: Assistant Vice President, Community Relations

Organization: United Way of Greater Houston

Degree(s): BA (Journalism), MBA, Ph.D.

Certifications: CFRE

Ronnie Hagerty is the assistant vice president of community relations for the United Way of Greater Houston. She  oversees community outreach and leadership development initiatives including the Nonprofit Connection and Project Blueprint, a program that prepares emerging leaders in ethnic communities for board service. In addition, she has assumed responsibility for United Way’s talent management initiative. Prior to her transition to the nonprofit sector, Ms. Hagerty was a consultant with New York and Houston advertising and marketing firms. Ms. Hagerty is immediate past board chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Greater Houston Chapter, and has been appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as board chair for the OneStar National Service Commission. She serves on the boards of The Rose and The Junior League of Houston Sustainer organization. Hagerty holds a B.A. in journalism from St. Mary’s College/Notre Dame; MBA from the University of Houston Graduate School of Business; a doctoral degree from Antioch University and is credentialed as a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). She is a lecturer at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A & M University, and an adjunct professor at the Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University.

Job Title: Team Leader for the Analytical Solutions Group

Organization: Marts & Lundy

Degree(s): BA; MPAff

Sarah W. Williams is team leader for the analytical solutions group at Marts & Lundy, where she has served on the board of directors since 2009. She works with consultants and clients on data mining and analysis projects, constituent surveys and custom benchmarking projects of all sizes. She previously worked as a strategic communications and research consultant with Shipley & Associates, Inc., and as a special projects consultant with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. She has been an AmeriCorps volunteer and a reporter/researcher for the Congressional Quarterly. Ms. Williams holds a BA from Trinity University and a MPAff from The University of Texas at Austin.

Job Title: Director of Prospect Development

Organization: Baylor University

Degree(s): Bachelor of science in mathematics and master's degrees in mathematics and statistics

Sherrie Dodson is the director of Prospect Development at Baylor University, where she directs prospect research, prospect management and data analytics. She has developed and implemented predictive models in the areas of annual fund and major gifts as well as collaborating in the establishment and implementation of a prospect management tracking and reporting system. Prior to joining Baylor University, Ms. Dodson worked in the for-profit sector where she was responsible for the statistical and financial analysis of key financial components. In this capacity, she built new mathematical and statistical models to aid in cost and budget forecasting. Ms. Dodson earned her bachelor of science in mathematics from Mobile College, master of arts in mathematics from University of Louisville, and master of arts in statistics from Baylor University.

Job Title: Principal

Organization: Major & Planned Estate Gift Consulting

Degree(s): Master's degree

Certifications: CAP

Shirley Druggan has a long record of leadership in the philanthropic community, locally and nationally. With more than 25 years of experience in all types of fundraising, focusing on ultimate, principal, major gifts and reviving multiple programs, her leadership roles in philanthropy span from working with our nation’s top urban higher education and healthcare institutions, assisting charities in the Appalachian mountains, and presenting to nonprofit leaders, professionals and volunteers nationwide. Ms. Druggan is one of only a few select gift planners with the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP) designation in the Houston area from The American College’s Graduate School of Finance, and most recently, the Fellow in Charitable Estate of Gift Planning. While studying for her Master’s degree at Vanderbilt University, she took advantage of the courses offered in Institutional Advancement, one of the first such programs in the nation. Her leadership roles include serving as the president of the Planned Giving Council of Houston, chair of the Gulf Coast Gift Planning Conference, and a member of several national committees.

Job title: Chief Marketing Officer

Organization: Jewish Federation of Greater Houston

Degree(s): Bachelor's in communications and master's degree in communication studies

Taryn Baranowski is the chief marketing officer, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. At the Jewish Federation, Ms. Baranowski directs all internal and external communications including strategic planning, collateral production, media relations and nonprofit messaging. Prior to joining the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, she served as the director of communications for the YMCA of Greater Houston, and the assistant director of marketing and communications for Neighborhood Centers Inc. Ms. Baranowski has previous nonprofit marketing and development experience with agencies focused on foster care, affordable housing and homelessness. She has a BA in communication from the University of St. Thomas and an MA is communication studies from Marquette University. She works as an adjunct instructor at the University of St. Thomas and is a member of IABC and PRSA.

Job Title: Strategic Planning, Marketing and Business Development Consultant

Degree(s): Bachelor's degree; MBA

Terri Golas is a native Houstonian whose background includes 25 years in branding, strategic marketing and business development for some of the world’s best companies. She was director of worldwide marketing and strategic planning for Compaq, director of brand management at BMC Software, and manager of advertising and marketing programs for MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she led development of the award-winning “Making Cancer History®” campaign. Ms. Golas now applies the skills and experience gained from her corporate experience to helping arts organizations and nonprofits achieve the business success necessary to fulfill their missions. She was executive director / general manager of River Oaks Chamber Orchestra for six seasons, and is now a management/marketing consultant and adjunct professor in the University of Houston M.A. Program in arts leadership. She is on the board of directors of Dance Source Houston, advisory boards of River Oaks Chamber Orchestra and Arts+Culture Magazine, and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Ms. Golas holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Houston and an MBA from University of St. Thomas.

Job Title: Senior Vice President for University Advancement and President of the Miami University Foundation

Organization: Miami University of Ohio

Degree(s): Bachelor's in history from Northwestern University and a J.D. with honors from the Institute of Technology, Chicago-Ken College of Law

Tom Herbert is Miami University’s senior vice president for university advancement and the president of the Miami University Foundation. He leads an advancement staff of approximately 112 in all areas of alumni relations and development. Prior to his current position, Herbert was the associate vice president, individual giving at Dartmouth College, and was promoted to vice president of development. Before his experience at Dartmouth, he served in various roles at Indiana University and the Indiana University Foundation, including director of planned giving, executive director of development and alumni programs for the College of Arts and Sciences, and vice president for University Wide Programs – a role that encompassed directing a $1.1 billion campaign. He also served as an assistant vice president for development at the University of Michigan. Herbert began his advancement career as a Gift Planning Officer at Drake University. Herbert presents at development conferences for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (“CASE”), is a past presenter at the Big Ten Fundraising Institute as well as at Rice University’s Center of Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership. He has developed and taught fundraising courses at Indiana University and co-authored a textbook on major and planned giving. Currently Tom serves on the CASE National Commission on Philanthropy and on the national board of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (“NACUBO’) - the only advancement professional to do so. Tom holds a BA in history from Northwestern University (’89) and a JD with honors from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law (’94). He is married to Kirsten Roberts and they have two sons, Zachary and Ethan.