Board Of Directors & Staff

DER’s mission is to provide exceptional fundraising education in an informal, inclusive, and supportive atmosphere.

  • Cara Keller
    Cara Keller DER Administrative Associate

Cara Keller is a passionate and experienced administrator for small mission-driven organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Education Studies from The New School University and is excited to lend support to DER’s membership.

  • Melissa Perez
    Melissa Perez President

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.

  • Susan Todaro
    Susan Todaro Secretary

Susan has worked in development and fundraising for more than two decades, currently serving as the Development Director at Star Academy, an independent school for children with learning differences. Before that she led development efforts at two Catholic parishes. Throughout her career she has worked in small one or two person development offices and is well versed in making the most of small budgets and wearing many hats, including fundraising, communications, and project management. She earned her Masters of Nonprofit Administration at USF and, in addition to her work with DER, currently volunteers with the American Red Cross and the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin.

  • Rebecca Joseph
    Rebecca Joseph Treasurer

Rebecca Joseph works at the intersection capacity building, social justice, and fundraising. She is currently Development Director at Hesperian Health Guides. Previously, she held positions in philanthropy, higher education, and government. Her experience as a board member, consultant, and volunteer reflect her lifelong interests in women’s rights, community organizing, arts and culture. Becky holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California – San Diego and a BA from Swarthmore College.

  • Gema Cantu
    Gema Cantu Sponsorship Coordinator

Born and raised in the Valencia district of San Francisco, Gema strives to provide arts education, access, and culture to her community. She is currently the Development Manager at Young Audiences of Northern California, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing creative experiences to youth and the Bay Area. As a Latinx woman of color working in the development field, Gema looks to re-image the traditional culture of the fundraising world and implement new fundraising approaches that integrate Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA). In addition, she believes in providing support to fundraisers of color and connecting them with professionals in the field to enhance their fundraising skills. She thrives best when working with a team and looks forward to joining the DER Board and advancing their mission!

  • Ryan Helton
    Ryan Helton Programs Co-Chair

Ryan Helton came to DER with over a decade and a half of experience working in non-profit development, and over two decades in the non-profit education sector. He is currently the Development Director at Peninsula School Ltd. Ryan has past experiences in development leadership at Mission Graduates, Redwood Day School, Park Day School, and BELL – Building Educated Leaders for Life. With a background in annual giving programs, grant writing, major gifts, direct mail, and corporate partnerships, Ryan has a cadre of skills suited for many development shops.

Originally from Ohio, Ryan earned his BA in Communications from the University of Charleston in West Virginia, and his MA as a Leadership Specialist for non-profit/government agencies from Marshall University, also in West Virginia. A resident of San Francisco, Ryan is active in many community groups, and believes that true change comes from community solidarity.

  • Sarah Jelley
    Sarah Jelley Governance

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.

  • 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.

  • Shake Sulikyan
    Shake Sulikyan Programs Co-Chair

Shaké Sulikyan is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader who is dedicated to making the world a better place. She aligns talent and resources to drive larger-scale initiatives, build fruitful relationships, and reach record-breaking goals. Shaké has successfully raised millions of dollars for healthcare, universities including Harvard Medical School and Simmons University, and nonprofit organizations throughout the United States. As President and Executive Director of ValleyCare Charitable Foundation, she oversees fundraising strategies, community engagement and communications, and provides financial and legal management. She has also served as a nonprofit consultant. Shaké has a long-standing career in volunteer roles, leading workshops and training sessions nationwide, and serving on nonprofit boards. She lives in Livermore with her husband and young son.