October 27-29, 2019 | Wichita Marriott Hotel
Putting the Unity in Community
Putting the Unity in Community


Steve Alley


Steve Alley is the Managing Partner for Ekstrom Alley Clontz & Associates (formerly Ekstrom & Associates), and has been with the firm since 2010. Alley has extensive experience in the community foundation field. Prior to his work with the firm, he was President & CEO of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona for nine years, leading that foundation to grow from $53-million to $90-million in assets and develop a significant leadership role. He has also served the field as Director of the Community Foundations Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Alley also served as Vice President for Development at the Central Indiana Community Foundation (Indianapolis and vicinity). Steve’s experience in the field also includes six years at a rural, startup community foundation. He was founding President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Howard County, Indiana. He is also an instructor at The Grantmaking School of the Johnson Center of Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University.

Diana Anderson


As Southwest Initiative Foundation President and CEO, Diana Anderson considers it an honor to be part of the incredible network of people working daily to keep southwest Minnesota strong and vibrant. Originally from western South Dakota, her rural roots run deep, and she champions the spirit of innovation and collaboration that defines small towns across the Upper Midwest.

Since joining Southwest Initiative Foundation in 2001, Diana has brought her expertise to every aspect of the foundation’s work. From fundraising and programming, to operations and human relations, Diana has built relationships, strategy and infrastructure that make the foundation a trusted partner and regional leader.

Diana received her B.A. degree from Augustana University in Sioux Falls and continued her education at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Kelly Anoe


Kelly Anoe is the Vice President at Legacy Foundation, the Community Foundation for Lake County, IN. She oversees awarding grants to non-profits, community partnerships, and leadership initiatives. Prior to working at Legacy, Kelly gained nearly 15 years of non-profit experience, including Executive Director of a community-based organization, Chief Operations Officer of an advocacy, training, and membership organization, and direct service. She has written and been awarded over $5 million in grants from federal, state, corporate, foundation, and private donors. Kelly has a BA in Psychology and an MBA from Purdue University. Kelly is a graduate of Leadership Northwest Indiana (NWI) and a two-time inductee into the NWI Society of Innovators. She serves on multiple advisory committees and leadership initiatives. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, and spending time with friends and family.

Nancy Anthony


Nancy Anthony joined the Oklahoma City Community Foundation as executive director in 1985 when it had assets of $20 million and one other full-time employee. She has helped direct the growth of the Community Foundation to assets of more than $1 billion during 2019. The Community Foundation has 35 full-time employees and makes average annual distributions to the Oklahoma City community of $35 million. In 2015, she was named the President of the organization.

The Oklahoma City Community Foundation has been a leader among community foundations in the development of endowments for non-profit charitable organizations. It has also focused its discretionary resources on a group of strategically selected community issues and opportunities where it can provide both resources and leadership.

Gail Anthony


Gail Marie Anthony has served the Community of Marquette County as the CEO since 2013. Raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Michigan University. Her diverse service background began in banking followed by 18 years in various positions in Institutional Research and Finance and Planning at Northern Michigan University, and being named Michigan's Hotelier of the Year in 2011. During her time at the Community Foundation, she has helped create many partnerships with local organizations. Some initiatives she is currently working toward are: Census 2020, Great Lakes One Water Partnership, and the Community Environmental Monitoring Program. Currently, Gail serves on the Embers Credit Union Board, is a former Finance Council member for St. Michael’s Church and is a 7th year mentor for NMU’s Student Leader Fellowship program.

Len Bartel


Len Bartel joined CFLeads as Senior Director of Strategy and Learning in January 2018. In this role, he develops approaches and frameworks that advance community foundation learning, assess and refine current learning opportunities, and promote a culture of reflection, learning, and continuous improvement. Len believes that community foundations are critical to reimagining the commonweal and advancing equity. He is also committed to the notion that, as in politics, all change is local and community foundations play a vital leadership role in building and supporting communities of solution.

Len comes to CFLeads with over 20 years of experience in the social sector – 13 years spent working within community-based organizations whose services ranged from community and economic development to rural health care, and the last 9 years working in philanthropy. Len served nearly 8 years as a program officer at the Maine Health Access Foundation where he designed their healthy communities strategy, lead evaluation of their place-based work, managed the foundation's first program-related investment, and served a multi-funder effort to support nonprofit organizational assessment, development, and sustainability.

In recognition of his philanthropic leadership, Len has served as an outside reviewer for HUD's Sustainable Community Regional Planning Grant Program; he was also selected to two national fellowship programs - The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities PLACES (Professionals Learning About Community, Equity, and Smart Growth) fellowship, and the Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy, sponsored by Grantmakers in Health. Len is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he now lives with his wife and two sons. He's an avid photographer and enjoys hiking the many gorges in Upstate NY with his family.

Vanessa Bechtel


Vanessa Bechtel serves as President and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF), an organization committed to safeguarding the long-term legacies of thousands of generous donors through the careful management of the charitable capital entrusted to them. 

Prior to her work with VCCF, Bechtel served as executive director of the Santa Barbara City College Foundation. She co-founded Monarch Wealth Strategies in 2008 and was honored as Business Woman of the Year by the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce in 2010. She was recently recognized as Nonprofit Leader of the Year by the Ventura County Leadership Academy.

Bechtel graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Law and Society. In 2016, she received her master’s degree from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

David Bennett


David Bennett served as the President of Greater Fort Wayne Community Foundation for 22 years. He retired from that position in 2018, and formed the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute (CFRTI) in 2017. CFRTI provides a variety of training opportunities for community foundations, along with strategic planning facilitation and the preparation of organizational risk assessments.

David earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Williams College, and a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University. He serves as the President of the Fort Wayne Rotary Club and has been recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow.

Conny Bogaard


Conny Bogaard is the Executive Director of Western Kansas Community Foundation (WKCF). Prior to moving to Kansas in 2015, Conny taught art history, museum studies and arts and cultural management at the college level. Being a museum professional by trade, she brings over 25 years of nonprofit experience to her position, both in the Netherlands and the United States. The growing WKCF offers a stimulating environment to pursue her objectives of building stronger communities through civic engagement and dialogue. Conny has served on the board of KACF since 2018. She also joined the advisory board of the Ethnic Empowerment Network in Garden City, KS. Conny holds a Masters in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, and a Doctorate in Philosophy, Aesthetics and Art Theory from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts in Portland, ME. 

Greg Burris


Greg Burris served as the City Manager for Springfield, Missouri for ten years. After an eight-day retirement, Greg joined United Way of the Ozarks as that organization’s first-ever Executive in Residence and the Executive Director of Give 5, a first-of-its-kind program that matches retired and retiring Baby Boomers with key volunteer opportunities in the community. Greg married up, was born on Halloween, was a professional musician with limited talent for 12 years, worked for 25 years at Missouri State University, pole vaulted for a high school that had neither a pole nor a pit, and enjoys French Silk Chocolate Pie (typically, alone in a dark corner). 

Kristen Cambell


Kristen Cambell is Executive Director of PACE and leads our mission to inspire interest, understanding, and investment in civic engagement within philanthropy and to be a voice for philanthropy in larger conversations taking place in the fields of civic engagement, service, and democratic practice. Previously, Kristen ran her own consulting practice focused on civic engagement, education, and leadership. She served the National Conference on Citizenship as its Chief Program Officer, and has held philanthropic roles at the Case Foundation and Points of Light. Kristen is an AmeriCorps Alum and serves on the board of United Philanthropy Forum, and the advisory groups of for several national groups, including the working group of the Philanthropy Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution.

Tammy Carey


Tammy Carey was raised in the Detroit, MI area and earned her Marketing degree at Miami University of Ohio.

Her career began with six years employment in the NYC area as a Research Manager at ABC Television and Account Manager at AC Nielsen/ BASES, a marketing research and sales forecasting company. She returned to Michigan in 1992 and started her own consulting company in Oceana County. Carey accepted the Foundation's Executive Director position in 2002. Carey feels especially proud of the Foundation’s leadership in designing a means for bringing the power of philanthropy to a small rural community.

Carey resides in Shelby, MI with husband Sean, recently becoming empty nesters! They are proud parents to four sons --three engineers and one more in the making. Together they also modestly participate in the local tourism industry via rental cottages at Silver Lake Sand Dunes. 

Celeste Carlson

Celeste Carlson is the Director of Community Services at the McPherson County Community Foundation. She received her B.S. in Youth and Children’s Ministry at Central Christian College of Kansas. In her 6-years at the Foundation, she has been the facilitator of community coalition to address vital local issues and was a participant in the 2013 Leadership McPherson Class. Additionally, she is the sponsor of the Youth Advisory Council, of which several students have been invited to speak at the Moving the Needle Conference and the Bridge to Resilience Conference. Prior to working at the Foundation, Celeste worked for a variety of non-profits, including the Free Methodist Church, Head Start and a local home for women. Celeste is actively involved in her community, recently serving on the Board for CASA: A Voice for Children and currently serving as a youth small group leader in her church. 

Sara Carlson


Sara Carlson became the Executive Director of the Willmar Area Community Foundation in 2013 as its first full time staff member. She has grown the foundation to almost $19 million, leads a team of three staff and also supports the growing Sauk Centre Community Foundation as their Executive Director and a community affiliate fund in New London-Spicer, MN. Prior to this, Sara was with the Southwest Initiative Foundation as a program officer leading a statewide, grassroots educational project for 9 years and has extensive non-profit experience. She is an active member in the Willmar Lakes Rotary Club, PPREP 2.0 cohort, Willmar Lakes Area Vision 2040 Steering Committee, Destination Playground Leadership Team, and a board member of two student entrepreneurial programs in Kandiyohi (KCEO) and West Stearns County (WSCEO). Sara received the Exemplary Leadership Award from the Willmar Area Chamber. 

Stuart Chittenden


Born in sight of England's Canterbury Cathedral, Stuart Chittenden has called Omaha home since 2004. Formerly a London-based lawyer and an Omaha brand consultant, Stuart designs and delivers conversation programs for corporate and nonprofit organizations to build social capital, strengthen human relationships, and nurture cohesive cultures. Stuart holds a masters-level certification in Organizational Learning & Development and is a member of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Stuart currently serves on the board of the social justice nonprofit, Nebraska Appleseed. Previously, he was a Big Brother for eight years and served for six years on the Board of Trustees of Omaha Public Library. As a writer, Stuart's poetry has been published in several literary journals.

Bryan Clontz


Bryan is the founder and President of Charitable Solutions, LLC, specializing in non-cash asset receipt and liquidation, gift annuity reinsurance brokerage, gift annuity risk management consulting, emergency assistance funds as well as virtual currency and life insurance appraisals/audits. He also serves as Senior Partner of Ekstrom Alley Clontz & Associates – a community foundation consulting firm in Tuscon, AZ.

Bryan is the founder of the Dechomai Foundation, Inc. and the Dechomai Asset Trust - two national donor advised funds focusing on non-cash assets generally and S-corp transactions respectively. These foundations have raised over $1 billion in noncash gifts. He is also the founder of The Emergency Assistance Foundation, Inc. – a national fund allowing over 150 employers to create emergency assistance and disaster relief funds for their more than four million employees. Finally, he created the National Gift Annuity Foundation which is the largest national independent gift annuity platform.

In the decade prior to founding Charitable Solutions, LLC in 2003, he served as the director of planned giving for the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, national director of planned giving for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and then as vice president of advancement at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. He received a Bachelor’s of science in business administration from the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC; a Master’s degree in risk management and insurance from Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA; and a Master’s degree in financial services as well as a Ph.D. in retirement and financial planning from The American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, PA.

He has earned the following designations: CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy, Accredited Estate Planner, Retirement Income Certified Professional and Certified Bitcoin Professional.

From 2000-2005, he served as a graduate adjunct professor for both personal financial planning and life insurance in the Department of Risk Management and Insurance at Georgia State University. He serves on the Editorial Board of the Planned Giving Design Center (2000-current), the Advisory Board for the American College’s Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation (2001-current), the American Council on Gift Annuities’ Rate Recommendation Committee (2003-2010) and Research Committee (2003-current) and the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners Board formerly NCPG (2007-2009).

He has given more than 2,000 presentations on charitable gift planning and community foundation topics (including the National Committee on Planned Giving Conferences, American Council on Gift Annuities and more than 50 speeches at national community foundation conferences – COF, ADNET, FAOG); been published in an international insurance textbook and a book Charitable Gifts of Noncash Assets; and written more than two dozen articles in financial services and planned giving journals, including a planned giving manual entitled Just Add Water, which has sold more than 2,000 copies. Bryan chaired the inaugural statewide Leave a Legacy Georgia! Campaign involving over 400 charities. He has served as an expert witness on charitable gift annuity default and reinsurance involving an Arizona charitable bankruptcy and as a donor advised fund expert witness for a Virginia bankruptcy.   He is the co-inventor of a proprietary CGA risk management process (LIRMAS- Life Income Risk Management Analytic Suite) based on an actuarial study he co-authored for the Society of Actuaries on CGA Mortality.

Bill Corkill


Bill is the Sr. VP of Information Technology and Membership systems for the Council of Michigan Foundations and has over 20 years of experience working with technology and supporting many foundations, nonprofits and other organizations. Creating innovative solutions, collaborating on open source projects, and sharing expertise to develop scalable solutions for the field are a passion the he enjoys sharing with those around him or across the country. 

Sally Cross


Sally Cross joined the Foundation in May 2014. Sally is responsible for marketing the Foundations' gift planning, investment management and charitable fund options to attorneys, financial advisors, accountants, brokers and others who work regularly with their clients in the area of estate and financial planning. She also works directly with active and prospective donors to encourage and facilitate current and future gifts, and serves as a planned giving resource to donors, professional advisors and nonprofit organizations. In addition, she is an adjunct instructor in Bay Path University's graduate Nonprofit Fundraising program, where she teaches Major Gifts and Capital Campaigns and Planned Giving. Sally came to the Community Foundations from Montefiore Medical Center, where she served as Director of Major Gifts and Gift Planning. Prior to that, she served as the Director of Development and Alumni Relations at SUNY New Paltz and Executive Director of the College’s Foundation from 2001-2012. She has worked as a development professional at Portland State University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, in Portland, Oregon, and for a variety of Oregon non-profits. Sally currently serves on the board of the Hudson Valley Estate Planning Council and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust. In addition, she has served as a volunteer for a variety of nonprofits in the Hudson Valley, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Foundation, the Ulster County Historical Society, and the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Columbia University’s Barnard College and her Master’s in Public Administration from Portland State University, and is a CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Professional).

Rosemary Dorsa


Rosemary has spent her career in the philanthropic sector. In her current role, she provides leadership to the GIFT program which provides board and staff training, consulting, and networking opportunities for over 90 community foundations in Indiana. Prior to joining GIFT, Rosemary was with Central Indiana Community Foundation from 1993 to 2010, serving in various roles including Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Partnerships and Community Initiatives. She also worked for the United Way of Central Indiana and Community Centers of Indianapolis. Rosemary has served on numerous not-for-profit boards including Indiana Humanities, Indianapolis Parks Foundation, TechPoint Foundation and the Lacy Leadership Association.

Tracy Edgerton


Tracy Edgerton, Vice President for Strategic Giving. A recovering attorney, Tracy is the keeper of the policies for the Lincoln Community Foundation and oversees the National Standards accreditation process. She works closely with donors and their professional advisors to design and implement charitable giving plans that reflect their goals and values. Prior to joining the LCF team, Tracy worked at the University of Nebraska Foundation for more than 15 years and served as president of a small, independent trust company. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and the University of Iowa College of Law.

Erin Egan


Erin Egan is the Senior Director of the UNICEF USA Bridge Fund, an impact investing loan fund that ensures UNICEF’s life-saving work continues seamlessly around the world when the speed or continuity of funding is essential. Erin joined UNICEF USA in 2016 from a New York City start-up non-profit, Blue Engine, focused on reducing college dropout rates by increasing the quality of high school education. At Blue Engine she worked in development and communications. Erin started her career in financial services spending 7 years at Goldman Sachs in various functions within structured credit derivatives, predominately with the principal funding and investment group. Given her cross-sector experience in the financial industry and the social sector, Erin is incredibly passionate about the potential of impact investing.

Deborah A. Ellwood


Deborah believes that community foundations are uniquely positioned to be vital partners in building strong communities and is passionate about helping the field be all it can be. As President and CEO of CFLeads, she guides the strategic direction of the organization and builds alliances that help community foundations deepen their impact. Since Deborah joined the organization in December of 2009, she and the CFLeads team have developed and refined highly successful and popular learning opportunities, uncovered and promoted important community leadership practices, and substantially increased the number of organizations that engage with and invest in CFLeads. Deborah has a broad background as an advocate, policy analyst, grantmaker, fundraiser and community builder. She served as both a board and staff leader during 10 years with Rochester Area Community Foundation (Rochester, NY), setting strategies that led to greater partnerships, more focused grantmaking and deeper community impact. While at the foundation, she founded a children’s advocacy organization, launched a successful community-wide after-school alliance and led many other community initiatives. Deborah was also co-chair of the public policy subcommittee of the Council on Foundations' ProNet affinity group. An award-winning graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Deborah has been an advocate for low-income children and families at Children Now in California, the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She also developed and taught a popular course on children and public policy at the University of Rochester and served as director of development at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, which is leading community development efforts in Pittsburgh's Northside neighborhood.

Kathleen Enright



Widely respected for her role in creating a more robust, effective philanthropic and nonprofit sector over two decades as a mission-driven leader and coalition builder, Kathleen Enright became the president and CEO of the Council on Foundations in March 2019 after 17 years as President and CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO). During her tenure, she guided GEO to a programmatically strong and financially healthy position, experience she brings to her new role leading the Council on Foundations.

Previously, Ms. Enright served as the group director of marketing and communications for BoardSource, a project manager for the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation, and communications specialist for Lexmark International. In 2007, Ms. Enright received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the George Washington University Chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha, a public administration honor society. She holds a bachelors degree in English from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s of public administration from The George Washington University.

Ms. Enright co-chaired the Vision Design Group of the United Philanthropy Forum (formerly the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers) and has served on the advisory boards of The Center for Effective Philanthropy and the Midge Smith Center for Evaluation Effectiveness. She previously served on Independent Sector’s Building Value Together Committee and the selection committee of the Washington Post Nonprofit Excellence Award.

Ms. Enright speaks and writes regularly on issues of non-profit and grantmaker effectiveness at national and regional gatherings of executives and trustees.


Robin Ferriby


Robin D. Ferriby works extensively with foundations and nonprofits on a variety of governance, grant-making and charitable planning initiatives for individuals, families and businesses. He has extensive experience in community foundation matters including planned giving, charitable gift annuities, development, donor advised funds, scholarships, special project development, grants, finance and governance matters having served for nearly 19 years as the vice president, philanthropic services and vice president and general counsel for the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. Robin is involved in legislative and regulatory affairs both at a state and federal level including as a member of a committee that advises the Michigan Attorney General on matters affecting charitable organizations and giving. Robin is an active board member for several foundation and nonprofit organizations.

Brian Fogle


Brian Fogle is President at Community Foundation of the Ozarks. Prior to joining CFO, he spent 30 years in banking in Springfield.

Brian’s hometown is Aurora, MO, where he is a graduate of Aurora High School. He has his B.B.A. and M.B.A. in banking and finance from the University of Mississippi. Brian has been active in numerous civic and non-profit groups. He currently chairs the Good Community Committee and the Downtown Council of Champions, and is on the board of the Every Child Promise, Mercy Health Systems-Springfield, The Missouri Scholarship Foundation, and the Healthy Living Alliance. He was awarded the O Franklin Kenworthy Leadership Award in 1990, the National Community Leadership Award in 1993, and the Springfieldian Award in 2010, and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Drury University in December, 2011. His motto in life is “Often wrong, seldom in doubt”.

Ashley Folkema


Ashley Folkema has been a communications specialist at Fremont Area Community Foundation in Michigan for six years where she photographs all imagery for annual reports, newsletters, website, and events. Previously, Ashley worked as a professional photographer shooting weddings, families, and landscapes. She will share examples of how photography appears in the Community Foundation’s publications and on social media, along with how to use images to tell a story.

Brian Frederick


Brian owns Brian Frederick & Associates and is a Partner at My Lasting Legacy after serving 20 years as President/CEO of the Community Foundation of Lorain County. Brian taught Community Foundation Fundamentals for fifteen years, was a founding member of the National Standards Board for US Community Foundations, an U.S. Ambassador with the Transatlantic Community Foundation Network, and a founding member of the Advisory Board for the German Marshall Fund Transatlantic Community Foundation Fellowship. During the last five years of his role as CEO, Brian explored philanthropy’s role in economic development serving as Board Chair of the Fund for Our Economic Future, a philanthropic coalition in NE Ohio that has invested more than $110 million in economic competitiveness. Brian’s interests are organizational transformation, governance, and diversity/inclusion/equity.

Suzanne S. Friday


Suzanne S. Friday joined the Council on Foundations in 2013 and serves as Senior Legal Counsel and Vice President of Legal Affairs. Previously, Suzanne was a partner with the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania firm, Nauman Smith Shissler & Hall, LLP where she chaired the firm’s Tax, Trusts and Estates practice group. Suzanne has extensive experience representing nonprofit organizations including community foundations, charitable trusts, private foundations and corporate foundations. She also served as in-house counsel for The Nature Conservancy from 2000-2005.  In May of 2015, the American Bar Association (ABA) selected Suzanne Friday for its prestigious "Outstanding Nonprofit Lawyer Award" in recognition of "distinguished service by a nonprofit – in-house counsel."  Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Suzanne earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and has a J.D. from Widener University School of Law, Delaware Campus, and an L.L.M. in taxation from Georgetown Law Center. She has taught Charitable Organizations as an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law from 2011-2013.  Suzanne is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar and the Virginia Bar as limited corporate counsel.

Bryan Geary


Bryan joined Foundant after working at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation (GKCCF), where he helped the foundation automate processes, as well as improve reporting and overall efficiency. Before GKCCF, Bryan was the Manager of Programming Staff for FIMS at MicroEdge where he was able to get acquainted with the community foundation world. Bryan works remotely near Fort Lauderdale where he is the father of two girls, a rescue mutt, and an attack cat!

Bonnie Gettys


Bonnie Hildreth Gettys is the founding President of the Barry Community Foundation. An initial investment of $350,000 has grown over 100 times to $40,000,000 under her leadership! Bonnie served as the first paid “staffer” for the BCF Youth Advisory Council, a component fund that was created through a challenge by the Kellogg Foundation and the Council of Michigan Foundations. Bonnie holds a certificate as a Certified Fund Raising Manager from Indiana University/Purdue University’s Center on Philanthropy, and is a certified HomeTown Competiveness trainer. Bonnie’s community leadership roles have included service through the Barry Community Resource Network, Hastings City Planning Commission, Pennock Hospital Board member, Michigan Rural Council Chair, Tri-chair of the Rural Philanthropy Affinity group of the Council of Michigan Foundation and a member of the Community Foundation Advisory Committee for the Council of Michigan Foundations. 

Dan Gilbert


Dan Gilbert works with leaders and learners of all ages at the intersection of learning, design thinking, and technology. While he has a particular passion for education, he has helped global companies, non-profit organizations, foundations, civic institutions, and individuals envision their very best future and then develop measurable plans to get there. Dan has taught multiple courses at Stanford Graduate School of Education and also led workshops for faculty, staff and students on using innovative pedagogies at universities and K-12 schools around the world. Dan has also served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance. Beyond work, Dan is the President-elect of Temple Israel (Omaha), volunteers extensively in Omaha and enjoys reading. He holds a Master’s degree from Stanford.


Neel Hajra


Neel is the CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF). During Neel’s tenure AAACF has received national and local awards for its public-private partnerships and innovative scholarship work, and was identified as one of the 20 fastest growing community foundations nationally from 2015-2017. Previously Neel was President and CEO of Nonprofit Enterprise at Work and a corporate attorney at Ford Motor Company. Neel teaches a graduate course at the University of Michigan’s Ford School for Public Policy and has been named annually to its Teaching Honor Roll for a decade. He has received two national nonprofit leadership awards: the Aspen Institute Fellowship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders and the American Express NGen Fellowship. Neel holds a BS with honors in Physics and a JD, both from the University of Michigan. 

Imagene Harris


Imagene is the Director of Strategic Partnerships and Impact Investment at NetWork Kansas. She oversees the organization's statewide funding programs, including three loan funds and a venture fund. Imagene joined NetWork Kansas in December 2013 after working in compliance for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). She is a lifelong Kansan, hailing from Ottawa and now calling Lawrence home, where she also earned a BS in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas. Most recently she completed her Masters of Business Administration from Fort Hays State University. Imagene especially appreciates the opportunity to work for an organization whose resources not only help Kansas businesses and entrepreneurs but also improve the quality of life in Kansas.  

Eric Hozempa


Eric has more than 29 years of nonprofit experience and is devoted to raising resources that improve the community for all. In his current position as the Executive Director of the Longmont Community Foundation, Eric works to improve the community through philanthropy and charitable leadership.

Prior to working for the Foundation, Eric was employed as a consultant with Richard Male & Associates (RMA), specifically in the areas of fundraising and marketing. Eric has presented at local and national trainings and facilitated nonprofit discussions and retreats on topics ranging from major gift fundraising to strategic planning. Prior to his work with RMA, Eric worked with a variety of small to large Colorado nonprofits that focus on volunteer management, health care, the environment, and arts and culture issues. His work experience includes: Program Manager for Metro Volunteers, Director of Development for Dental Aid, Development Director for Eco-Cycle and Membership Director for Rocky Mountain PBS.

In addition to his work commitments, Eric serves on the boards of the Advancement Network and is Vice President of the Boulder County Estate Planning Council. Eric is the Chair of the Advancement Network’s 2019 National Conference.

Eric grew up in Boulder County and graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a B.A. in philosophy. Eric enjoys hiking, fly fishing, roasting his own coffee, riding his scooter, and gardening.

Stephanie Hyre


Stephanie is the Senior Program Officer of The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. She received her BA from West Virginia University and her MA from the University of Georgia. Prior to her work at the Foundation, Stephanie directed a small, basic needs assistance agency and before transitioning to the social sector, Stephanie taught composition and rhetoric to college freshman. In her current role, Stephanie leads the Foundation’s education and arts initiatives by working with nonprofits to convene stakeholders, leverage resources, and improve the lives of Greater Kanawha Valley residents. Stephanie is a 2017 class member of Leadership WV. She is co-chair of Philanthropy WV’s Education Affinity Group, a board director of Charleston Montessori School, and co-chair of the Appalachia Funders Network’s Arts & Culture Working Group. Stephanie loves to read, practice yoga, and travel. 

Terri Johnson


Terri works with other GIFT staff to provide training and on-site consultation for the boards and staff of the 94 community foundations in Indiana. She provides technical assistance in all aspects of the community foundation field.

Prior to this position, she was the Executive Director of the Northern Indiana Community Foundation in Rochester, Indiana from 2002-2012. She served as a board member of the NICF for 10 years prior to becoming the Executive Director while she was co-owner of her family business. Terri has also served on several community nonprofit boards including Fulton Economic Development Corp. and Fulton County Leadership Academy. She is an active member of Grace United Methodist Church.

She is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and International Business College. She holds degrees in business management and accounting.

Steve Joul


Steve considers himself a lifelong student of community and what helps them grow and prosper. He became president of Central Minnesota Community Foundation in St. Cloud in 1996. Today, he is president/CEO of CommunityGiving (CG) which is a collaboration of 10 community foundations including those serving the Greater St. Cloud, Alexandria, Brainerd Lakes and Willmar Areas. CG manages over 800 component funds with over $140 million in assets. Last year CG gave away $8+ million to charitable activities making the communities they serve better for all. Steve has a degree in economics from the University of MN, past fellow with the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum, past participant in the German Marshall Fund Community Exchange Program, past board member of CFLeads, and past Board member/Board Chair of the Charities Review Council and past Board member of the MN Council of Foundations.

Rob Karwath


Rob Karwath is president and CEO of North Coast Communications, a strategic communications firm with offices in Duluth, Minnesota, and Lawrence, Kansas. One of his clients is the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, where he provides media and communications counsel and also introduces communities nationwide to Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project.

With skills learned at the Chicago Tribune, WGN television and WGN radio in Chicago, the Duluth News Tribune and KQDS Fox 21 television in Duluth, Mr. Karwath has helped clients ranging from a world-class medical center to small businesses navigate the complex world of communications and messaging. He also is a journalism professor and general manager of student media at the University of Kansas.

Mr. Karwath began his career as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He rose through the ranks to become business editor, general manager and product development director. As business editor, he led a team of reporters whose series on the downfall of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

From 2004 to 2010, Mr. Karwath served as executive editor of the Duluth News Tribune and a member of the leadership team that directed business of five regional newspapers, multiple websites and one magazine owned by Knight Ridder Inc. From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Karwath also anchored the News Tribune segment on the nightly television broadcast of news partner KQDS Fox 21.

Mr. Karwath returned to the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Co. in 2010 as innovation editor, creating profitable business strategies based on the Tribune’s best journalism. He also developed programming for WGN television and radio.

Mr. Karwath holds a Bachelor of Science Degree with honors in journalism from the University of Kansas and an MBA with honors from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Kristi Knous


Kristi Knous serves as the President of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. Kristi is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy and a Fellow in Charitable Estate Planning. Kristi is responsible for carrying out the Community Foundation mission, oversees its operations and provides leadership in identifying and addressing issues key to the sustainability, viability and livability of the community. The Community Foundation manages assets in excess of $560 million and administers more than 1,900 charitable funds.

Kristi has led efforts to create the next vision for Greater Des Moines by providing leadership and support to the Capital Crossroads community visioning initiative and currently serves as tri-chair of the effort. Kristi serves as on the boards of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Principal Charity Classic, and the Central Iowa Water Trails Initiative.

Jeremy Long


Jeremy Long lives on a farm northwest of the community of Downs, in Osborne County, Kansas. He recently became a high school principal, and prior to that spent twelve years as an agriculture education teacher and National FFA Organization chapter advisor. Jeremy is a founding board member and the current secretary for the Osborne County Community Foundation, which formed in 2017. Jeremy is an avid supporter of rural community development and strongly believes that education is key in contending with issues such as population decline. Jeremy and his wife Katie, who is a high school art teacher, have two daughters. They enjoy the outdoors, traveling, gardening, and of course, the many benefits of small-town living.

Don Macke


Don Macke leads e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (formerly the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship), a new initiative with NetWork Kansas to build sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems across North America. Don has over 40 years of community economic development and policy experience. He was most recently the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the national Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. Through this work, Don helps communities and regions throughout North America grow entrepreneur-focused economic development strategies and ecosystems. Don calls Nebraska home and he is a proud resident of America’s Great Plains Region.

Tony Macklin


Tony previously served four years as executive director of the Roy A. Hunt Foundation, a multi-generational family foundation based in Pittsburgh. While there, he facilitated a 2020 visioning process and changes in investment management, impact investing, grantmaking, trustee education, and back-office management. His dozen years at the Central Indiana Community Foundation included: helping entrepreneurs and families close and launch charitable funds and foundations, developing and leading grantmaking programs and leadership initiatives, attracting $39 million in co-investments and funds, and co-founding a social enterprise.

Based in Indiana, Tony is a frequent presenter and facilitator for philanthropic service organizations. He also consults with donor families and family foundations, is a senior consultant with the National Center for Family Philanthropy, and a senior advisor to the Impact Finance Center. He is a member of the Purposeful Planning Institute, Advisors in Philanthropy, and National Network for Consultants to Grantmakers.

Randy Maiers


Randy Maiers has been the President & CEO of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County since 2002. The foundation was formed in 1944 and has a rich history of community leadership. Most recently, the Foundation has been recognized nationally for the creation and launch of the Come Home Reverse Scholarship program.

The foundation has approximately $75 million in assets under management, including the region’s largest public art center; a shopping mall courtyard, farmland, and the Blue Water River Walk. The Foundation has a heavy emphasis on leadership, placemaking and community prosperity.

Prior to coming to St. Clair County Randy was the director of an education foundation in Metro Detroit, where he oversaw grant programs targeting engineering education at colleges and universities throughout North America.

Deb Markley


Deborah Markley has 35 years of experience working in community economic development as both an academic and practitioner. She is Senior Vice President of LOCUS Impact Investing, a national nonprofit with a mission to empower place-focused foundations to invest their capital locally to build prosperous, vibrant communities. Together with the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, she and the LOCUS team are working to advance the practice of economic development philanthropy among place-focused foundations, including facilitating a peer-learning cohort of Kansas community foundations. Deb has BS and MS degrees in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University and a PhD in Agricultural Economics from Virginia Tech.

Jessica Martin


Jessica joined the Greater Salina Community Foundation in 2010 and has served in many different roles, including affiliate and youth coordinator, grants and scholarships coordinator, and now, president and executive director. Her experience has given her a thorough understanding of the community and helped develop strong relationships throughout the region. Jessica grew up in Andover, Kansas, and received her B.S. degree at Kansas State University. She is married to husband, Aaron, and mom to their two sons, Jack and Oliver. Her favorite part about the foundation is working with people and helping them make a difference.

Robin Miner Swartz


Robin Miner-Swartz merged nearly three decades of experience in journalism and community philanthropy into her own consulting business. She has a passion for writing, editing and managing publications to ensure they deliver clear, compelling messages. And she works with organizations to simplify and amplify their storytelling. At the Capital Region Community Foundation, Robin won awards for her magazine-style annual report and youth philanthropy publications. Prior to that, she spent 18 years with a Lansing (Mich.) State Journal byline, handling a variety of roles in the features department and earning national recognition for her reporting. But the thing everyone wants to talk with her about is her decade as the newspaper’s restaurant and film critic. Robin has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University. She lives in Lansing, Mich., with her wife and their two crazy Chihuahuas.

Monica Moser


As the President and CEO of the Jackson Community Foundation, Monica has built a responsive philanthropic organization that consistently delivers results by developing new ways to connect with people who care about the community and by aligning grantmaking resources with locally driven plans for improvement. This work includes facilitating multi-system analysis, defining system problems, developing goals and objectives, committing to shared measurements and building a spirit of community unity around population improvements. In this role, she likes to think of herself as a community cheerleader, a convener of action and a proactive problem-solver.

With a reputation for excellence, honesty and collaboration, Monica’s work has been instrumental in elevating the reputation of the Jackson Community Foundation not only in the community, but also across the state of Michigan. She leads a dedicated team of Trustees and Staff in vision and action to grow and change as the community’s needs grow and change. She has been vigilant in fortifying the Foundation’s policies and procedures, fiscal management and governance structure.

At the Jackson Community Foundation, one of Monica’s most significant achievements has been to champion Collective Impact and embed its concepts into the Foundation’s organizational culture and expand that work into the community by helping to develop networks in the areas of Health, Education and Poverty.

While serving as the Executive Director at disAbility Connections, Inc. for nine years, Monica facilitated unprecedented growth and expansion of services for people with disabilities across a multi-county region. She successfully merged the organization with another local nonprofit, reaping the benefits of shared resources; monetary, capital and human.

Angela Muller


Angela Muller, a native of the Russell, KS area, is the Executive Director for the Russell County Area Community Foundation. She has a Bachelor's degree in economics from the Kansas State University and a Master's degree in defense studies from the University of Reading in England. Her expertise includes professional experience with a number of federal and nonprofit agencies. Her vision for the Foundation is to be an organization that preserves the area's rural way of life so generations may call it home.

Kevin Murphy


Kevin K. Murphy is President of Berks County Community Foundation in Reading Pennsylvania, a position he has held since 1994. Considered a global leader in the community philanthropy field, Murphy has served as chair of both The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livability and the Council on Foundations. He was also a German Marshall Fund Transcontinental Community Foundation Fellow, working in Togliatti Russia and has made several return trips there. Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Murphy had a career in Pennsylvania government and the long-term care industry. Murphy is a 1984 graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Speech Communications and a Minor in Business Administration. He holds a Masters’ in Community Leadership from Duquesne University. 

Shawn Myers


Shawn Myers joined the Keller Leopold team in 2009. Shawn grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and graduated from Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska, with a degree in Broadcast Communications. Shawn is also a volunteer firefighter for the City of Holcomb where he and his wife, Betsy, reside with their four children, Jace, Jack, Taytum and Tierce. Shawn specializes in nonprofit, governmental entities and cyber liability insurance. Shawn became a partner in Keller Leopold in 2016. 

Becky Nickel


Becky Nickel has been working with Peabody Community Foundation since 2016. She co-founded and co-owned Prairie Harvest Market & Deli 2000-2014. She has two adult children. Becky enjoys being active, especially riding bicycle and gardening, but spends most evenings in winter reading near the wood-burning stove.

The Affiliate Liaison position at CKCF allows Becky to meet people on affiliate boards who are engaged in bettering their communities, something she finds fascinating. She is excited to learn more about what Affiliates have been doing and hopes to be helpful to them in their endeavors.

Lexi Oestreich


Mrs. Oestreich has 5+ years’ experience in program management for the FM Area Foundation. She manages the annual discretionary grant rounds, scholarship funds, nonprofit learning series, and community engagement. Mrs. Oestreich has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health.

She is a mom of two and enjoys spending her time with her family watching football and enjoying Minnesota Lake Country. 

Laurie Ellen Paarlberg


Laurie Paarlberg is the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Chair on Community Foundations at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and holds a faculty appointment in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (IUPUI). Her nonprofit research focuses on the changing structure and practices of community philanthropy, with a particular focus on strategic shifts in granting making by local United Ways and community foundations. In this area, she is particularly interested in issues of equity and diversity in grant making and the philanthropic rural /urban divide. As part of her ongoing research efforts, she is completing a database of the grant allocations of the grant allocations of all United Ways and community foundations in the US. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Tim Penny


Timothy (Tim) Penny represented Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982-1994. While in Congress, Penny served on the Education and Labor, Agriculture and Veterans’ Affairs committees. He chaired the Subcommittee on Veterans’ Education and Training and the Foreign Agriculture and Hunger Subcommittee. Throughout his congressional career, Penny placed an emphasis on budget issues. He chaired the Democratic Budget Group as well as the Porkbusters Coalition.

Penny was named as Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) President/CEO April 2007. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood and entrepreneur development. Prior to joining SMIF, Penny was a Senior Counselor at Himle Horner, a Twin Cities-based public affairs firm, and a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute.

Penny was also a member of the Minnesota State Senate from 1976-82 where he served as vice-chair of the Transportation and Finance committees. Penny has co-authored three books: Common Cents; The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics; and Payment Due. Born and raised on a farm in southeastern Minnesota, Penny received his B.A. in political science from Winona State University. 

Todd Ramsey


Todd Ramsey is the founder and chief strategist of Apples & Arrows, a branding agency in Wichita, Kansas. As the son of a coal miner and a rodeo clown, Todd learned from an early age the values of digging deep and doing whatever it takes to capture people's attention. These values inform his desire to help clients uncover, articulate and celebrate their unique brand story. Todd is an ESTP on the Meyers Briggs personality type indicator, and according to the Clifton Strengths Finder, his top five strengths are Woo, Communication, Strategy, Adaptability and Maximizer. These facts aren't highly relevant for a bio, but do serve as interesting tidbits to know about someone.

Megan Robl


Megan oversees marketing and communications efforts for the Greater Salina Community Foundation and its 14 regional affiliates throughout the state of Kansas. She is responsible for the content planning and execution of all organizational websites, social media accounts, grant and donor stories, annual reports, quarterly publications, educational materials, news media, and campaign and event marketing support. Most recently, she helped develop a comprehensive, strategic communications plan as part of the organization’s larger strategic planning initiative. Additionally, Megan enjoys helping local nonprofits strengthen their storytelling skills and capacity through GSCF’s Match Madness Giving Day and collaborative monthly workshops. She is a graduate of Kansas State University with a BS in Mass Communications and Public Relations. 

Bryan Del Rosario


Bryan J. Del Rosario responds to nonprofit tax law and organizational inquiries from members. Bryan is also legal reviewer for the Community Foundations National Standards Board, a voluntary, self-regulating accreditation program for community foundations.

While earning his law degree, Bryan completed the course, Charitable Organizations, where he ranked No. 1 in that class, causing him to receive the law school’s coveted Certificate of Achievement Award. Prior to law school, Bryan gained professional legal experience as a legal assistant for a real estate law firm, and then for a firm specializing in motor vehicle tort. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Bryan is an expert coffee drinker and college basketball enthusiast, having attended Gonzaga University where he earned his Bachelors degree in Political Science as well as Masters level coursework in Organizational Leadership. Bryan resides in Seattle, Washington.

Bryan is a Fellow in Charitable Estate Planning (FCEP) from the Charitable Estate Planning Institute, and is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Cora Scott


Cora joined the City of Springfield in January 2012 after an 18-year tenure with Mercy Health. She became the City’s first Public Information Director to also be responsible for civic engagement. She leads the City’s 12-person multimedia communication team, which produces award-winning television, print and digital communication, and small and large-scale community events, such as the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival. She helped launch several large civic engagement projects, including the City’s multi-year Community Listen / Zone Blitz and more recently Give 5, a “civic matchmarking program.” At Mercy, she served in many communication roles, including being responsible for media and public communication for Mercy’s north central region. As such, she served as one of the primary spokesperson’s following the Joplin, Missouri tornado in 2011. Cora had served St. John’s Health System in similar public relations roles since 1993, focusing for two years on health plan communication and employer relations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Drury University. 

Matt Shepherd


Matthew Shepherd, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of research, program evaluation, policy analysis, and technical assistance experience. Dr. Shepherd is the President and CEO of Midwest Evaluation and Research (MER) that provides world-class business to business consulting and evaluation services to non-profit and social service organizations. MER works to make the world a better place for the disempowered, disenfranchised, and at-risk individuals and populations. Dr. Shepherd is renowned for his extensive experience in designing and conducting research, leading program evaluations, and providing technical assistance. He is also the founder and board member of the Social Innovation Laboratory, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving social programs, the processes behind them, and the passionate individuals who make them possible.

Allen Smart


Allen Smart is a national spokesperson and advocate for improving rural philanthropic practice under his group –PhilanthropywoRx. In addition, he recently completed a role as the Project Director for a national rural philanthropic project partially supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and based at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. He regularly consults with regional and national foundations on rural and philanthropic strategy.

Allen is the former Interim President, Vice President of Programs and Director of the Health Care Division at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. Prior to coming to the Trust in 2006, Allen was the Vice President of Programs at the Rapides Foundation, a healthcare conversion funder, in Alexandria, Louisiana. He has also served as Director of Community Development for a midwestern Catholic Hospital System and as Grants Administrator for the City of Santa Monica, California.

Allen received his Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago, his Master of Arts in Telecommunication Arts from the University of Michigan and his Bachelors in Arts in Philosophy from Macalester College.

As part of his personal and professional interest in philanthropy, Allen regularly writes for sites such as The Daily Yonder, Inside Philanthropy, Grantcraft and Exponent Philanthropy, as well as presenting to national and regional organizations like Grantmakers in Health, Southeastern Council of Foundations, National Rural Assembly and the federal Office of Rural Health Policy. He is a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Rural Resource Hub at The University of North Dakota; the Culture of Health Prize Selection Committee for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Board of Directors for Healthy Communities by Design and the Board of the North Carolina Healthcare Association Foundation.

Joe Sorenson


Joe serves as the Vice President of Affiliate Relations at the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. He provides a strategic vision and leadership for a statewide network of 39 county and community foundations affiliated with the Community Foundation. Joe partners with community leaders to promote philanthropy through connecting donors with causes they care about and implementing effective grantmaking programs. During his tenure the affiliate network has received more than $80 million in charitable gifts and granted $32 million to communities across Iowa. Joe received his certification as a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy from the American College in 2015. He graduated from Simpson College and has a degree in Economics/Finance and Philosophy.

Denise Spencer


Denise K. Spencer, Principal and Founder, PhilanTOPICS, LLC. A sought-after nonprofit/foundation consultant, Denise Spencer has 25 years of experience leading community foundations, following 20 years in academia. Well-known for writing, speaking, training, consulting, facilitation and coaching, she has hands-on experience in leading organizations to higher levels, board governance, strategy, policy, program design, grantmaking/seeking, communications and public relations, fund development and more. Her passion and joy is helping good organizations improve, and working with mission-driven people. Her focus continues to be strengthening nonprofits and foundations for growth and community improvement through effective design and efficient implementation. 

Will Thorpe


Will Thorpe, MBA, Chief Marketing and Development Officer, joined Mason Investment Advisory Services, Inc. in October 2003. He leads the development of Mason’s institutional investment practice and has helped to raise more than $4.5 billion of Mason’s $7.5 billion in assets under management. Mason was listed at #19 on Barron's 2018 "Top Institutional Consultants" list. He has spoken at multiple investment industry conferences and works with board, committee and staff members of nonprofit organizations nationwide. Mr. Thorpe is a member of Mason’s Management Committee. He received both his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance in 1993 and his MBA, with a concentration in Finance in 2002 from The University of Maryland. Mr. Thorpe lives in Bethesda, MD with his wife, two children and their two rabbits, Charger and Smokey.

Ben Tierney


Ben Tierney has worked as the Communications Officer for the Midland Area Community Foundation since 2012. He is passionate about telling stories of impactful work, community development, and encouraging a culture of collaboration and giving. Ben is an accomplished writer, photographer, and designer. He also plans and executes the marketing efforts of two rural affiliate community foundations using a tight budget and swiss-army-knife tactics.

Jennifer Tolle Whiteside


Jennifer Tolle Whiteside serves as president and CEO of the North Carolina Community Foundation. She has led the Foundation, its 20-member board of directors and 30-person staff for more than a decade, more than doubling NCCF grantmaking and assets in her tenure. As NCCF’s second CEO, she is responsible for long-term growth and sustainability, strategic planning, and serves as the public face of the Foundation. She loves working every day with generous, passionate and engaged North Carolinians to build community through philanthropic giving. NCCF works with 52 active affiliates across North Carolina.

Tolle Whiteside is a graduate of the University of Florida, received a Master’s degree from Louisiana State University and is an alumna of Leadership North Carolina. She is the vice chair of the North Carolina Rural Center board and recently served on the Community Foundation National Standards. 

Janet Topolsky


For more than 30 years, Janet Topolsky has helped community leaders, organizations and policymakers across the country find, create and spread innovative community and economic development strategies. Since 1993, she has directed the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group (CSG) where she advances strategies for family asset building, regional economic development, peer-learning and community participation methods, and community development philanthropy. While at CSG, Janet has managed scores of initiatives, peer-learning cohorts, workshops and sessions focused on building the capacity and impact of community foundations – and has worked one-on-one with dozens of individual community foundations and philanthropic support organizations. CSG is currently partnering with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship to advance “economic development philanthropy” with a special focus on rural and small-city regions. Before CSG, Janet was an independent development policy analyst and writer; director of communication for CFED – a national non-profit that develops innovative economic opportunity strategies; and special assistant to the director of the Michigan Department of Commerce. 

Lily Trager


Lily S. Trager is an Executive Director and the Director of Investing with Impact for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.  For over a decade, she has dedicated her career to sustainable and impact investing. Lily joined the Firm in 2014; previously, from 2007 until 2014, Lily worked for Veris Wealth Partners in New York, a Registered Investment Advisory focused exclusively on serving clients with interest in sustainable and impact investing, most recently as Head of Research. Lily began her career at Cambridge Associates, where she worked on teams overseeing $3.9 billion in nonprofit, high-net-worth and foundation investment portfolios.

Lily was named to the 2018 class of MAKERS @ Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, a recognition that celebrates women who are ground breakers, advocates, and innovators in their given field. Lily earned a M.B.A in Sustainable Business from Presidio Graduate School and her B.A. in Anthropology from Bates College. She also co-founded Women Investing for a Sustainable Economy (WISE), a professional networking group in New York City with chapters in Boston, DC, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Lily lives in Manhattan with her husband and daughter. 

Christy Tustin


Christy L. Tustin, a lifelong resident of Great Bend, Kansas, joined the Golden Belt Community Foundation in June 2003 as Executive Director. In this role she promotes philanthropy across Barton, Pawnee, Rush, and Stafford counties in central Kansas by working with both donors and non-profit organizations.

She earned a B.S. in marketing/international business from Kansas State University and a Juris Doctor degree from Washburn University School of Law. She successfully completed the Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional program.

Christy serves as a member of the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations Board of Directors, Health Equity Advisory Committee with Kansas Health Foundation, National Annual Conference for Growing Community Foundations Committee, Citizens Advisory Committee at Larned State Hospital, Great Bend Rotary Club, and the Kansas Bar Association.

Tara Vance


Tara Vance is the Executive Director of the Norton County Community Foundation. She has worked in community development work in some capacity for 7 years. Bringing multiple agencies together to pool resources for a common goal is a passion and specialty. Tara is a proud graduate of Fort Hays State University with a degree in Organizational Leadership. During Tara’s tenure at the Norton County Community Foundation, the organization has multiplied in fiscal size and community impact, fulfilling the capacity of community convener for many projects and programs. Outside of work, Tara’s passions are home remodel projects, traveling, her friends, and being at the lake. Tara’s favorite job title is Mom, a contract she fulfills for 11-year-old Evelyn, a.k.a. Evie.

Norm Walzer


Norman Walzer, Ph.D. has worked with communities, especially in rural areas, on strategic planning and follow-up activities as part of the national Community Change Network (CCN). He has co-edited four books and articles on strategic visioning, innovative measure of change, and the role of Collective Impact. Currently, he is coordinating a CCN survey of medium-size community foundations to help them increase the returns to their community investments.

Benjamin Winchester


Ben has been working both in and for small towns across the Midwest for over 20 years. He is trained as a Rural Sociologist and works as a Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality. He conducts applied research on economic, social, and demographic topics surrounding a theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” that are vital to rural America. Winchester received his B.A. in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Minnesota, Morris (1995) and M.S. in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, Columbia (2001). He was a founding employee at the Center for Small Towns, an outreach and engagement program at the University of Minnesota, Morris and specializes in community development, demographic analysis, data visualization, and moving communities away from anecdata.