A Heritage of Fundraising Education

Supporting fundraising professionals
for over 50 years

about us

DER’s mission is to provide exceptional fundraising education in an informal, inclusive, and supportive atmosphere. Our goal is to offer San Francisco Bay Area development professionals an informative and fun environment to learn and get to know their peers.

DER has a deep history in the field of fundraising and was originally founded by Hank Rosso, considered by many as the father of modern fundraising.

board of directors & staff

  • Christine Poremski Rodrigues
    Christine Poremski Rodrigues President

Christine is a consultant and owner of R&P Associates. With an MBA from UCLA and more than twenty-five years’ experience in management, fundraising and marketing, she works with nonprofit organizations to create strategic plans, prepare for leadership transitions, develop online training and more. She credits DER with helping her transition to the nonprofit sector in 2003.

  • Stephanie Casenza
    Stephanie Casenza Vice President, Marketing Chair

Stephanie has devoted her life to advancing the mission of a broad range of organizations, both as a professional and as a volunteer. She has served in management roles for child welfare, social justice, higher education, healthcare and arts organizations throughout California. Sher earned a BA in Journalism from San Diego State University and a MS in Executive Leadership from the School of Business at the University of San Diego.

  • James Lee
    James Lee Partner Liaison

James has an extensive track record as a leader in both the nonprofit and business communities. He has led innovative education-focused organizations, built multiple businesses as a private sector entrepreneur, and developed strategy, programs, teams, and organizations as a senior executive, board member, and sought-after consultant, successfully helping to transform organizations as they move from good to great. A graduate of Princeton University, James began his career at McKinsey & Company and then founded and helped run several multi-million-dollar businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area before shifting to the nonprofit sector. James currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco Graduate School of Management, advises a number of mission-driven organizations, and serves on multiple boards. His areas of expertise include business development, strategic planning, nonprofit fundraising and management, partnerships, education technology, and startups.

  • Michael Scott
    Michael Scott Secretary

Michael believes that nonprofits are critically important drivers of beneficial social change and he enjoys securing financial resources to advance charitable causes. He has a Master of Nonprofit Administration degree from the University of San Francisco and a B. of Architecture from Universidade Santa Úrsula, Brazil.

  • Melissa Perez
    Melissa Perez Governance Chair

Melissa is currently a Senior Consultant at Glavin Jacobson Inc. Melissa’s career bridges the non-profit and corporate communities ranging from household names like AT&T, United Way and the San Francisco Opera, to small non-profit start-ups like We Teach Science and SPAAT. She has served in both staff and board roles. This gives her particular insight into corporate partnerships, volunteer engagement, and board leadership. In addition to fundraising experience with annual fund, major gifts, and foundation and corporate grants, Melissa has particular expertise in complex corporate partnerships and management of the development office team. Throughout her career she has woven together volunteerism and philanthropy to create meaningful experiences for fellow employees, board members and funding partners. Melissa graduated from The University of Texas with a BBA in Marketing.

  • Leeann Alameda
    Leeann Alameda Marketing Chair

Leeann Alameda has 20 years of experience in directing and implementing best practices in marketing, communications, branding, and creative solutions in both the private and nonprofit sectors. As founder and principal consultant of Alameda Marketing Solutions, Leeann has led multifaceted marketing projects for social sector and professional service business clients. As a result, these organizations have clearer and more targeted messaging, greater cohesion in their outreach materials, and integrated plans that raise visibility to support growth and fundraising efforts. Before becoming an independent consultant, Leeann was the first Director of Communications at the nonprofit REDF and she was Head of Marketing Creative Services at Pixar Animation Studios.

  • Leslie Fay Marks
    Leslie Fay Marks Membership Chair

Leslie Fay Marks is a creative and enthusiastic development leader committed to building relationships, passionate about teamwork, and fearless when it comes to making things happen. Leslie is currently the Development Director at Oakland Symphony and has managed performing arts organizations across the country for over fifteen years. Leslie holds master’s degrees in Business Administration and Arts Administration, and a bachelor’s degree in Music.

  • Troy Arnold
    Troy Arnold Program Chair

Troy Arnold has dedicated his career to raising funds for nonprofits. He has worked for organizations with a variety of missions, including education, youth development, anti-poverty strategies, and the environment. Immediately prior to becoming the Director of Development and Communications for the San Francisco Education Fund, Troy provided fundraising consulting services to a variety of small nonprofits, focused on leadership coaching, fundraising assessments, plans and systems implementation. Troy is dedicated to creating networking and educational opportunities to support his fellow fundraisers so that they can thrive professionally and personally. Originally from the Northeast, Troy moved to San Francisco in 1994, and lives in the Castro with his husband Ira, their dog, cat and chickens. Troy loves taking photos, is a technology early-adopter, and vacations in Hawaii.

  • Sarah Jelley
    Sarah Jelley Fundraising Chair

For 20 years, Sarah has volunteered as a non-profit Board Member and worked for non-profits for the last 10 years. She’s passionate about how non-profits change and better the world. Sarah believes fundraising is about building relationships with donors. Currently Sarah is focusing her time on expanding her relationships with donors and choir members at the San Francisco Bach Choir. Sarah graduated with a B.A. in Art History from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.

  • Cecilia Tom
    Cecilia Tom DER Administrative Director

Cecilia is the founder of Abuntoo, a community-based fundraising platform that brings together donors, local businesses, and non-profits.  She previously served as Director of Donor Relations at Maitri AIDS Hospice, and has held other development positions as well with VNA & Hospice Foundation and Rainforest Action Network. Cecilia heads up content strategy and marketing for several Bay Area SaaS, logistics and consumer product startups. As DER’s Administrative Director, Cecilia has main responsibilities for database management, communications, event logistics, and general operations.