DER Member Spotlight  – Dr. LizaDawn Aduviso, Director of Development at California State University, East Bay

With 20 years of development experience, Dr. LizaDawn Aduviso is sharpening the focus on diversity, equity, and access in regard to leadership roles in the nonprofit sector. Dr. Aduviso currently works as Director of Development at California State University East Bay, where she advances the university’s mission to provide academically rich, culturally relevant, and socially responsible education to a diverse student body.

She first landed in the development field during her last semester of graduate school and decided to take a job as a fundraiser for youth and family programs with a national nonprofit organization. She recalls, “Twenty years ago, I hardly ever saw anyone who looked like me – or other people of color – in the development space, whether it be the workplace, networking events, or conferences. It is encouraging to see more diversity in fundraising positions. I hope to one day see this diversity in the most senior nonprofit roles. “

“I’m now part of a fellowship with a focus on elevating and strengthening the vision, voice, power, and leadership of women of color working for social justice and racial equity. I am greatly influenced by this in my development work, shaping how I collaborate with and think about the community we serve, as well as colleagues and donors,” she explains. 

Her most notable achievements include the distinction of obtaining her Ed.D. “I decided to go back to school in my 40s. For my dissertation, I conducted research surrounding my topic, “Obstacles to Leadership Among Women of Color in Nonprofit Organizations.” And I recently earned my doctorate. I’m passionate about our sector and want to see more diversity in decision-making positions. It’s crucial for people within the communities nonprofit organizations are serving to have a (strong) voice when it comes to establishing a vision and goals.”

She continues, “I’m also proud to be a 2024 Women of Color LeadStrong Fellow. Their purpose is to elevate and strengthen the vision, voice, power, and leadership of women of color working for social justice and racial equity in the social sector, and my beliefs are strongly aligned with this purpose.”  

On the recommendation of a colleague who served on the DER board, Dr. Aduviso joined DER due to the value of the membership benefits. “I’m thankful for my DER membership. It’s helped broaden my network as well as educate myself, all while being affordable. This was really important, particularly when one doesn’t have an employer that pays for these resources. I appreciated being able to invest in my professional development without it feeling like a financial burden.”

Alongside her professional career, Dr. Aduviso also juggles a busy family life. “The work/school week is so busy that my family really appreciates the weekends together. We like to explore the Bay Area, trying out new restaurants, and often get our recommendations from “Check Please! Bay Area.” We also love visiting nearby beach towns like Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, and Santa Cruz.”

DER Member Spotlight – Ryan Hazelton, Executive Director, Mariposa Kids

As the Executive Director at Mariposa Kids, Ryan Hazelton oversees all of the administrative and development functions of the organization from HR to board management and organizational strategy to fundraising. Mariposa Kids is an out-of-school time program providing children ages 5-11 with after-school programming and summer camps in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Ryan first moved to San Francisco in 2007 to start a career in digital advertising, managing digital ad campaigns and carrying out business development with digital publishers. He soon found that those marketing skills were transferable to fund development.  Ryan recounts, “After an acquisition, I was laid off, which led me to some free time where I volunteered during the holidays with a development team at a nearby nonprofit that worked in early childhood education. One thing led to another and I was suddenly applying my advertising account management and business development skills in the nonprofit development field, which allowed me to combine both passion and skills. As time passed, I fell in love with and continue to be in love with fundraising for causes that serve children and families in the Bay Area.” He is most proud of releasing a 2023 Learning Report by Mariposa Kids that shows the positive influence the organization has had on childhood development.

Considering the future of the nonprofit fundraising field, Ryan anticipates donor engagement and event fundraising to change the most. He explains, “Finding new ways to engage donors while also raising money through activities that go beyond a traditional seated gala dinner seems to be at the top of conversations among many of my development colleagues. What I hope to see change moving forward is more widespread trust-based philanthropy so that nonprofits can focus more time on doing the good work we do and less time filling out overly complicated forms and reports to foundations and corporate social responsibility teams.”

Not only does Ryan have 12 years of experience in fundraising, but he also has completed coursework in trauma informed services through the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Ryan reflects, “It wasn’t until the collective trauma of the pandemic on our community that I was able to fully recognize the power of trauma informed services and how to fully implement it on a regular basis and throughout areas of work, internal and external facing. My work in education also had me working in person before many other sectors did, so showing up meant providing support for parents just trying to get their family through the week, motivating staff to keep doing what they were doing to show up for kids, and taking a step back to realize that no one knew what to expect because this was new for everyone. Now that our community’s activities are back in full swing, it is important and helpful to continue approaching work with the high level of patience, empathy, and compassion to be most effective in all aspects of work.”

Ryan has been a member of DER for five years and is currently participating in his third Executive Director Masterminds Series, where he has built connections and a supportive community with other executive directors. He finds that colleagues in the nonprofit sector deserve to take moments of rest and celebration. He concludes, “The work we do in the nonprofit world is hard and can be especially challenging when we see friends and colleagues in the private sector with financial means that reach beyond us or snacks in their breakroom we could only dream of. I find it helpful to regularly take moments to take in and celebrate what success looks like to me as a reminder of why I chose this line of work – to make sure every child in the city of San Francisco has the opportunity and the access to a healthy and happy childhood. I hope every member of DER and everyone working in the nonprofit sector remembers to take a moment, however brief it may be, to throw humility out the window to really celebrate and be proud of the good work we are doing. We deserve it, and we should feel we have permission to sit in that feeling so that we can recharge and do it another day.”

DER Member Spotlight:  Suzanne Alberga, Development and Communications Director, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center

Suzanne Alberga leads the development and communications initiatives at Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center. Renaissance’s mission is to empower and increase the entrepreneurial capacities of socially and economically diverse women and men, thereby strengthening communities by creating sustainable new businesses, jobs, and financial self-sufficiency. She declares, “I absolutely love the mission and getting to meet the clients, purchase their products and eat at their pop-up food events is so gratifying.”

She started her current position during the COVID-19 pandemic and was thrilled to help small business owners thrive during that difficult time. Originally Suzanne began working in the philanthropic sector as a grants professional in corporate foundations, but she wanted to be closer to mission-driven work as a fundraiser. Suzanne says, “I wanted to get a deeper understanding of how nonprofits operate and have a direct impact on the work. I became the Executive Director of a small nonprofit where I led the fundraising which has kept me in the development space for almost 9 years.”

During those nine years of experience in development, Suzanne has seen the explosion of online fundraising and social media platforms and a growing reliance on creative solutions to work remotely and to connect with her colleagues. “Project management software has become so much more important, especially since I didn’t meet any of my colleagues in person until about nine months after starting the position,” she reflects. “There was never the opportunity to swing by and ask about an impending deadline.”

Suzanne counts her greatest achievement as leading a capital campaign for the construction of a new school in Port au Prince, Haiti. Suzanne affirms that managing campaign logistics and the construction process was challenging. “I still can’t believe we did it. It was by far the most challenging professional experience I’ve ever had. Working in Haiti is unimaginably difficult. I am so proud that even with all of the current troubles, the Father Jeri school is still operating after seven years. It provides high-quality education to children in the Ti Plas Kazo Community of Port au Prince, from pre-school all the way through high school.”

For leisure, Suzanne enjoys walking and gardening, “I’m a big walker and often do Saturday morning “walk abouts” to take care of errands. With my backpack and lists, I make my rounds on foot taking care of all the tasks that have piled up during the week. I’m also new to gardening. My new procrastination activity is pulling weeds. So much more gratifying than writing grant reports!”

DER Member Spotlight:  Alison Murphy-Bernet, Director of Development, San Francisco Girls Chorus

In May 2023, Alison Murphy-Bernet will celebrate five years with San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC). SFGC is an arts education nonprofit that serves over 350 brilliant young singers ages 4-18 each year. Alongside guest artists and composers, SFGC choristers participate in rehearsals and performances, gaining the skills they need to succeed on stage and in life. The chorus has worked with everyone from Philip Glass to The Residents and focuses on generating new music from leading women composers, allowing SFCG choristers to be a part of shaping the music of their time. 

Alison first started in the development field while in college. She reflects, “My scholarship package included a work-study provision, and I got a job as a gallery attendant in the university museum. I had never imagined that a career in the arts was attainable, and this was my first step to realizing this might be a possibility. The following year, I started in the museum’s development/membership office as a student assistant, and I fell in love with arts administration. My first “pitch” was as a speaker for the paddle raise at the museum’s gala during the close of my senior year. I helped to raise $40,000 for the same program that had helped employ me, and pay for my financial aid, and I never looked back. Development allowed me to be close to what fuels me – art and music – and to make it possible for others to experience transformative moments with creative expression.” 

Now with 15 years working in development, Alison has seen the art sector shifting to a focus on broadening access for both participants and audiences. Alison explains, “I’ve seen a heightened commitment to having development practices, and the funders that support us, mirror the commitments of the communities we champion. Creativity, diverse perspectives, and new ideas are more encouraged as we attempt to widen the base and compete for focus amid a busy and demanding world. There is also a greater interest in using these tactics to grow the next generation of supporters, and more openness to buck tradition in favor of being responsive to our audiences.” 

Faced with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, SFGC could no longer perform choral singing in person. “We had to think creatively about how to provide our singers with consistency and opportunities for expression when everything else around them was in chaos. I learned a lot from SFGC’s Artistic Director, Valérie Sainte-Agathe, during this time. Where others saw barriers, she saw possibility and doubled down on the core aspects of our organization: artistic partnerships and the determination of our singers. COVID enhanced my ability to see what is important, then innovate, reflect, pivot, and then keep on pivoting. There is always another way, you just have to be creative–and flexible–on which roads you take to get there.”

Another way that SFGC adapted was in successfully executing four different gala formats during that time. “COVID threw a wrench in our ability to do a traditional fundraiser, and it took a lot to learn how to plan and run virtual and hybrid events from scratch, including all of the platforms and ‘quirks’ that go along with them. Through all these iterations, I came out the other side knowing more deeply what our audiences will respond to… and that I can downright fly up a flight of stairs in heels to fix a projector.” 

Alison has been an active member of DER for two years and participated in the DER Mastermind Small Shop program, taught by Chanda Lockhart. The program helped Alison gain a supportive peer community and learn practical ways to improve her work.

Outside of her job, Allison is a multidisciplinary artist and loves to work with her hands. She shares: “I have an encyclopedic knowledge of podcasts, and love to discover new music, especially through my favorite radio station 89.9 KCRW in Los Angeles. In the summer, you can find me in the garden growing heirloom tomatoes.” 

Looking forward to the New Year ahead, Alison observes, “In the moments when burnout is on the horizon, I try to take a few moments to go back to my ‘why.’ When I was at the museum, walking through the galleries, and at SFGC, I sit in on rehearsals and just listen. Development isn’t always the easiest path, it’s constant problem-solving with a potent mix of emotional labor. It’s important to take time to refuel, however, this might look, both in and out of work. I’m resolving to do this more in 2023!” 

DER Spotlight: Lisa Radler, Associate Director, Annual Fund at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation

As the Associate Director of the Annual Fund at The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Lisa sets the vision and strategy for their annual giving program, which includes overseeing all the direct response channels – direct mail, email, social media, and the website, among other duties. The Foundation is a community-based organization that promotes health, wellness, and social justice for communities most impacted by HIV, through sexual health and substance use services, advocacy, and community partnerships.

After a career in publishing for tech, gaming, and lifestyle publications, she decided to make a change. Lisa explains, “When the UK-based publication company I worked for shut down their US office, I decided that it was the right time for me to pursue work that felt meaningful to me, where I could make an impact on my community and fulfill promises to friends that I had lost during the AIDS epidemic. That’s when I saw a job posting at San Francisco AIDS Foundation and I joined the team.”

During COVID-19, she helped lead the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in embracing new technology and impact-focused storytelling in their fundraising efforts. “San Francisco AIDS Foundation stayed open, we were meeting the needs of the community when other organizations were shuttered. It was a critical time for our organization and the annual fund team was focused on getting donations for the services.”

Lisa adds, “I launched a multi-channel fundraising campaign where we featured our frontline staff who were providing essential services for our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to ensure that we were humanizing our frontline staff to help demonstrate their organizational courage and commitment.”

Lisa has been a member of DER for a couple of years and finds the webinars and in-person sessions (pre-COVID) to be “super informative and-I have met wonderful people at the events.” Outside of work she loves being with her two kids and dogs, getting together with neighbors for drinks and potlucks, and going to see the Warriors play.

When reflecting on her most notable achievements, she states that the heart-wrenching loss of friends to the AIDS epidemic still drives her motivation to work in the nonprofit sector. She says, “one of the things I’m most proud of was starting a nonprofit in the mid 80’s that helped raise direct funds for AIDS-related services. My friends were suffering and dying from AIDS and, at the time, there were no resources to help them with rent, food and transportation to doctors. Although we were unable to sustain the nonprofit, it never left me that this is the work that I was meant to do.”

DER’s New Job Posting Policy

The DER Board recently reviewed its job posting policy and has made a change to better align with our goals to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our new policy is in effect as of June 1, 2022. The new policy will require that groups posting a job provide the salary information. Pay transparency has been shown to address gender and race salary inequities, increase candidate interest, and illustrates a commitment to the organization’s values. There is also a California legislature bill, CA SB 1162 – Pay Transparency for Pay Equity – that if enacted will require employers to have both internal transparency and public listing of salary ranges on job postings. You can see a summary here. Here are some articles on the subject: We appreciate your assistance in this as we work toward advancing employment equity. If you have any questions, please reach out to Melissa Perez, DER Board President, at Thank you. DER Board of Directors

DER Spotlight: Melanie Hamburger, Instructor and Consultant

For over 30 years Melanie Hamburger has worked in staff and consulting roles focused on helping mostly small nonprofits grow sustainable revenue.  She has helped raise over $10M for racial, social, and economic justice, health equity, and the environment in the Bay Area and nationwide. Major donor fundraising is her favorite, “There’s just nothing like asking someone what they care about, and then giving them an opportunity to invest in it,” she exclaims.

Currently, she is focused on removing barriers to this career, building an ecosystem to support more people transitioning into fundraising roles, explaining,” My work through Community Grantwriters offers fundraising consulting and career pathways and I am having so much fun teaching Careers in Nonprofits and Grantwriting at a few community colleges and at the YWCA. Of nearly 100 students, some join me on projects as paid interns, building skills and work samples for their future fundraising jobs. My consulting work focuses on small nonprofits with 0-1 fundraising staff, helping with whatever they need. It usually starts with grantwriting, but often morphs into individual donor development, capital campaigns, and recruiting and training permanent development staff.” 

Melanie continues, “Over a long career in fundraising, I’ve tried to make sense of how the stories of diverse clients served by nonprofits are told mostly by middle-class, white fundraisers like me. I teach to support greater access to this career and am committed to supporting community members, clients, staff, and others in their desire to bring their deep, lived experience to rewarding roles as fundraisers. I ask colleagues: do you really need that degree requirement in your fundraiser job posting? We all know that college isn’t what makes us good fundraisers—we’re good at storytelling and authentic conversations that inspire giving because of things we learn in life.”

Like many of us, Melanie did not set out to work in fundraising.  She thought she would be an international banker in Paris but, instead of getting an MBA, she moved to SF for a summer job at Levi Strauss. “I fell in love with the Bay Area and real-world experience seemed more relevant than a degree,” she says, “I was volunteering, planning lots of events with the young alumni network for University of Colorado.”

When she got laid off from corporate finance, she decided to see if she could make a living doing nonprofit events. That grew to major gift officer and development director roles. “Early in my career I worked in conservation, but in 2015 my environmental interests shifted to people and racial justice,” she explains, “When a job came up a few miles from my home to be the first fundraiser for Marin City’s public health clinic, I jumped at the chance.”  She is grateful to colleagues who’ve schooled her on equity and my privilege and continues to serve on the Marin City Health & Wellness Center board.

Melanie has found that parenting has taught her skills useful in her work. She says, “Raising children (now young adults) taught me humility, curiosity, the power of listening, and the joy of seeing things from new perspectives. Now, as I travel back and forth to Florida to care for my 94-year-old dad, I’m seeing another skill related to my own parent—patience and the ability to find shared values that bridge widely differing ideologies.”

Melanie has been a member of DER since the 1990s and loves the group’s collegial spirit and its utter “unstuffiness.” She also appreciates DER’s jobs page as a fantastic resource which she shares with her students.  Currently, she is in discussion with a few members to explore how mentoring can support those new to this field or help nonprofit colleagues transition over to fundraising.

Outside of work, Melanie loves DIY projects around the house, “It’s so rewarding to see things transform with a little paint or a new fixture or something more ambitious.  A few years ago, I bought a tiny home houseboat, with walls that slope out to make it look larger. Painting an exterior wall turned into a project to replace siding and I didn’t want the same, bland plywood. With the encouragement of my partner, we put up beautiful, barn-red aluminum siding that had to be installed in a crazy pattern to accommodate the lack of 90° angles!”

Member Spotlight: Erin Branagan, Communications & Development Director at the Center for the Art of Translation

Erin Branagan is the Communications & Development Director at the Center for the Art of Translation, a San Francisco-based organization that champions literary translation and builds understanding across culture and language through their award-winning small press, events with international authors, and translators, and poetry and translation school curriculum. However, she didn’t begin her tenure at the Center in a development role. Her introduction to the development field came within the first few weeks of starting her role as the Center’s Marketing Manager when she was asked to lead the organization’s year-end fundraising appeal. 

That massive undertaking was her crash course introduction to the world of fundraising and since then she’s helped lead the Center through its nonprofit start-up phase and created the organization’s fundraising and communications programs from the ground up. 

Reflecting on 15 years plus at the Center, Erin is proud of her work and shared, “It’s been exciting to have been able to take on a range of responsibilities and see the organization grow.” She notes that fundraising fundamentals haven’t changed, but the tools development professionals have are more varied. “It’s still about building relationships—but the ways that we do that have been transformed with the growth of online giving, email fundraising, and social media.”

While some people might think that only extroverts succeed as development professionals, Erin, a self-identified introvert knows that being a good listener helps her in doing her job. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has concentrated on sustaining relationships with donors through Zoom conversations, small presentations, or more engaging email updates and news. 

As a relatively new DER member, she joined in 2020, Erin has found DER’s resources, workshops, and community to be “a fantastic help as a one-person development department.” She’s even had the opportunity to contribute to the DER community by co-leading a conversation about small Development Shops with DER Board member P. Tyrone Smith. 

“I find that COVID-19 has forced me to be very intentional about setting boundaries between work and home life since it’s so easy for them to blend together during remote work.” When she’s not leading and learning with DER or the Center, Erin enjoys reading (fitting for someone working at a literary organization), taking walks in her neighborhood, traveling, and spending time with her children.

Member Spotlight: Karolo Aparicio, Annual Giving Officer, San Francisco Foundation

While working on the program team at Global Exchange nearly 20 years ago, Karolo got his first taste of fundraising by watching the director of major gifts in action at a fundraising event. He was impressed saying, “She knew everyone by name. Struck up conversations. Before the event, she had prepped the staff and everyone knew their assigned roles and executed them. By the end of the evening, we had raised several thousand dollars. I thought to myself, I want to learn how to do what she just did!”  Fortunately, a position opened up on the development team and Karolo got the job, “She was a great mentor who helped me learn on the job and pointed me to training opportunities.”

Since he began work in fund development in 2002, one of the most marked changes that Karolo has seen is our relationship with technology.  He explains, “Everything from analytics to integration of communications systems, to communications technologies has changed so much from the time that I started in the profession.”

One of the ways he has approached work differently since the pandemic is having to be more intentional about maintaining healthy boundaries between work and home, “Without a commute, I’ve had to be intentional about marking the time when I start work and when I end work. I tend to do that by going for a walk first thing in the morning and ending the workday by either exercising or practicing for the weekend’s music lessons; I’m learning how to play the tenor sax.” 

Karolo is also handy in the kitchen and has found that taking the time to prepare and eat nutritious and delicious meals is a good way to unwind and recharge after a busy day.  He also enjoys spending time outdoors and says, “While I’m not a particularly gifted rock climber I am an enthusiastic one.”

Karolo has found that working as a fundraiser for causes that align with his values has been fulfilling and has provided him with some great experiences, “With EcoViva, I’ve been able to help produce some award-winning documentary films with amazing documentary filmmakers, host a panel discussion on mangrove forest conservation at the Global Climate Action Summit (you can listen to a segment on Yale Climate Connections).  I’ve also had the opportunity to share what I’ve learned about fundraising by facilitating workshops through Berkeley Extension. I’m also really proud of the work that I’m doing at the San Francisco Foundation.

Karolo first joined DER in 2010. “The programming provides great learning opportunities and when we could do in-person lunches, I enjoyed catching up with my colleagues in a social setting.”

DER Member Spotlight: Sonja Fitz, Director of Development & Marketing for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS),

Sonja Fitz is the Director of Development & Marketing for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS), the organization where she has worked for her entire nonprofit career.  BOSS was established in 1971 in Alameda County and strives to end mass homelessness, mass incarceration, and community violence.

In the mid-1990s, Sonja was studying English Lit at UC Berkeley, unsure of her career direction, and started as a part-time administrative assistant at BOSS, before they had any development staff.  Mailings and proposals were a collective effort of the E.D., program staff, even the bookkeeper.  “When the Executive Director gave me development work she saw I was good at it,” she says, “So when we received a grant to hire their first development director, she put me in the role.  I love the organization’s mission so much that I never left.”

In her years working in development the biggest changes Sonja has seen are the digital transformation (she remembers typing and re-typing entire proposals when changes were made), and the growth in donor-directed giving, which she doesn’t see as entirely positive. “I feel it lays too much at the whim of the giver versus collective community planning,” she explains.

Unfortunately, she hasn’t experienced enough change in the funding of anti-poverty, and social, economic, and racial justice work.  “We still see piecemeal funding patching up symptoms instead of addressing underlying systemic change,” she says, “However, I am encouraged by changes of late, with the twin crises of racial injustice by the police and COVID-19 laying bare some of the broader system changes that are needed.”

Because BOSS addresses emergency needs and income, housing, and resource gaps, the pandemic did not change the level of urgency, just the modes of operation.  “The people we serve (homeless, disabled, low income, reentry and justice-involved) have been at the back of the line, disadvantaged, discriminated against, and excluded for decades. COVID 19 put the life-threatening impact of inequity on display for policymakers.”

Sonja finds adaptability to be a key skill needed in development. “Where I work the only constant is change – funder and community priorities evolve, programs come and go as funding runs out or new programs come online, vendors and tools come and go, rules and regulations change, and crises pop then fade… Adapt or Die.”

Outside of work, Sonja enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking and eating, and watching “entirely too much” TV.  She is a fan of reading biographies and sci-fi and has written two unpublished books (a Young Adult novel and children’s book).  She has participated in the Sharkfest Swim (from Alcatraz to San Francisco) and is the go-to helper for her aging parents.

She has been a member of DER for about five years and appreciates the useful information she has gotten through the lunchtime workshops.

DER Member Profile: Rachel Loud, Associate Director of Development and Alumni Affairs, Presidio Graduate School

Rachel started her career as an “biology and environmental science nerd” and educator which led her to work at NatureBridge in the Marin Headlands, teaching and providing children with new experiences in the natural world. While at a fundraising gala, her supervisor suggested she consider work in development.  “After learning what development was and realizing that I was ready to take the next step in my career, I landed in fundraising and feel that it’s the right place for me. It energizes and inspires me to meet people with similar values who want to make a difference in the world.”

In the past eight years, Rachel has had the opportunity to hold a large variety of roles with both small and medium-sized fundraising teams.  “My experience has taught me the facets of a strong fundraising program and given me a variety of perspectives into the field. Having always worked in environmental and educational fundraising, I’ve seen giving priorities shift. In the past two years there’s been an increase in giving to climate change and social justice initiatives as more and more people are realizing how urgent those problems are. I’ve also seen innovative thinking on how best to support nonprofit organizations so they can achieve the greatest impact towards their missions.”

Last August, Rachel began working at the Presidio Graduate School.  “I’m proud to be part of the first and only independent graduate school focused entirely on environmental sustainability and social justice. I’m leading the school’s fundraising and alumni engagement efforts and am essentially a mighty team of one.”

“Starting a new job in the midst of a pandemic is admittedly strange,” she said, “I have yet to meet any of my coworkers in person. I had to transition to working from home, which necessitated reliance on Zoom to connect with board members, donors, and alumni.  In some cases, I think Zoom is wonderful since it allows more flexibility in scheduling and lets you avoid the distractions of a public location. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also resulted in a change in philanthropic priorities away from education, which has made it harder to raise money for the school. We’ve had to do a number of different financial scenarios in order to be prepared for how the next fiscal year goes.”

Rachel’s interest in nature goes beyond work.  On Monday nights you can find her volunteering on an animal care crew at The Marine Mammal Center which she’s done for the last 13 years. She also volunteers for a coral reef conservation organization called OneReef.  “I’m very proud to have been the first volunteer for OneReef, traveling to Palau to work with a local community to help them conserve their coral reefs, which they still rely upon for food and other resources. I lived with community members and worked on a variety of projects including cultural education activities for their youth and community events promoting conservation. The experience was life-changing, and I even returned to volunteer again a few years ago.”

Rachel joined DER just last year and has taken advantage of the programming. “I participated in a wonderful Major Gift Mastermind series which provided me with support and camaraderie during a difficult time. I also joined an Educators of Color salon conversation which allowed me to connect with other BIPOC fundraisers and discuss our shared experiences. I look forward to seeing what else is offered in the future.”

DER Member Spotlight: Melissa Perez, Senior Consultant, Glavin Jacobson

While working at AT&T, Melissa coordinated the March of Dimes and United Way campaigns for her business unit, reaching thousands of employees.  Realizing she wanted a more fulfilling career, she began to take classes at Jewish Vocational Services which helped her transition from a for-profit to a nonprofit career.

Although officially working in development for 15 years, during a recent conversation with a client, Melissa realized that she has been fundraising much of her life, “When I was in 8th grade, I established the first-ever class gift to the middle school.  I then seemed to always fall into student leadership positions that required fundraising.  I’m not sure that I realized that this was a life calling until recently.”

Over the years, Melissa has seen many changes in the field. “I believe that younger donors are more philanthropic and engaged now than they were when I started,” she says, “Many generous donors in their 40s and 50s, and younger donors are actively fundraising through peer-to-peer online platforms. Years ago, someone had to be sent a letter or called, but with social media, friends can passively and easily bring attention to organizations that they care about. I’m excited to see how this transforms giving and philanthropy and develops a stronger culture of philanthropy in the broader community.”

Melissa also believes that donors are more educated and engaged with the community, having a deeper understanding of systemic problems and root causes.  She sees a new generation of board members and community leaders ready to step in.

Melissa sees the growth in technology to be a great asset. “For example,” she says, “Visiting with donors is so much easier with Google Maps. I have no sense of direction so meeting with donors and clients was extremely challenging for me.  I used to handwrite thank you notes in between meetings on the road. Now, I can do research on my phone, borrow Wi-Fi from a restaurant, work on my laptop in the car and even hold a video conference call with a client.”

During COVID, Melissa rediscovered the outdoors and is more committed to exercising intentionally and not relying on a walk to BART or coffee shop as exercise.  “I was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia in 2019 and now feel better than I have in years,” she explains, “Riding a bike and climbing hills brings me so much joy.  Also, I really shut down on Friday night and try not to work on the weekends and set business hours. I may glance at my emails but I try to delineate the work week from the weekend.”

Melissa has been a member of DER on and off for 15 years, initially attending programs focused on board and volunteer management, and major gifts.  Since joining the board in 2018, she regularly attends programs and learns something new every month. “I have found DER to be very supportive and non-competitive.  Everyone wants to help their peers be successful.  Being a development officer can be a challenging job, call on peers for help and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Fundraising is experiential and we can all learn from each other.”

Member Spotlight: Melissa Irish, Managing Associate of Partnership Resources Group

Melissa Irish is the Managing Associate of Partnership Resources Group (PRG) a northern-California based fundraising consulting firm. She and the founder, Elliot Levin, share responsibility for running the firm and delivering high value through capital, endowment and major gift projects.

Melissa started her nonprofit career nearly 30 years ago after a year of volunteering in Nicaragua following college.  She explains, “When I came home, my parents said they were not going to pay for me to go to school or volunteer anymore so I had to get job!  I had been writing grants to support the project in Nicaragua, and was hired at Job Train in East Palo, where I learned from a master, Sharon Williams.”

Over the years, Melissa has seen changes big and small in the development field, one being the democratization of philanthropy through the rise of the internet and social media.  She notes, “Giving and supporting your favorite organizations is now wide-spread among all age groups. People have realized the power to mobilize support for causes that matter to them by using social media and a few clicks of a button.  The Presidential campaigns in the early 2000’s (especially Obama) paved the way, showing the power of grassroots online fundraising and how small gifts can move the needle through scale. This brought the power of philanthropy to almost everyone anywhere in the world.”

She has also seen a growth in professionalization of the field.  She asserts, “While I think anyone over 35 would say that they ‘fell into’ fundraising, younger fundraisers can take college courses and formal career tracks, and the choice to become a fundraiser is more intentional. However, I think the role of the fundraiser is still a mystery to the general public. Most think it’s only asking for money. It’s getting to the ask that is the art and science.”

Melissa took a 4-year break from development to get her MBA and work in the for-profit arena. She’s proud to have migrated back to the nonprofit sector using her business education and skills while leveraging 10 years of hands-on fundraising experience.  She says, “That combination of perspective and experience allowed me to bring something special and valuable to the table – a keener business sense to apply in the nonprofit, values-driven world.”

During the pandemic, Melissa has come to believe more than ever in the importance of listening – to our clients, colleagues, team, and the world.  “We need to understand what is happening to folks and pivot our programs and services to meet the needs,” she observes, “It has been very rewarding to lean-in to these relationships and come up with new ideas and solutions to meet the moment.  I look forward to continuing to learn from my colleagues how they navigated, and continue to navigate, their way through this life-altering pandemic.”

Melissa has been a member of DER off-and-on for over 20 years.  “I have always enjoyed and valued the excellent programming, and the opportunity to connect with colleagues. I have also posted many, many jobs on the DER listing and am grateful for that resource!”

Outside of work, Melissa enjoys travel, soccer, biking, hiking, and swimming in beautiful Marin. She also relishes her role as mom and the many adventures she shares with her two wonderful boys, aged 16 and 11.

Member Spotlight: Dharna Obermaier, Director of Philanthropy, Save the Children

Dharna Obermaier joined Save the Children as Director of Philanthropy in February 2020, after a 5-year tenure at CARE USA. Save the Children is the world’s leading humanitarian organization for children, dedicated to giving kids in the US and around the world a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm.

An early experience as a volunteer for Hospice by the Bay propelled Dharna to support their compassionate work with fundraising. This led to professional fundraising opportunities with organizations aligned with her passions for gender equality, education, and for fighting hunger and poverty. Over a decade ago, she moved from annual fund responsibilities to managing major gift portfolios.

Over her 15-year development career she has seen many changes. Working closely with supporters who fund international programs, she’s learned that they increasingly expect organizations to go beyond band-aid solutions, address root causes and aim for sustainability and systemic change.

She asks herself, “Can I just show up, be curious, ask questions? What matters most to this donor? How can I be the best matchmaker, connecting generous donors with the children and families who need resources and skills to reach their potential? How do cash transfer programs lead to self-reliance in impoverished communities?

Dharna takes inspiration from Melinda Gates, who recently wrote,  “Its going to those places where your heart really hurts for everybody, not just your own sense of loss. And so I cry a lot, and then I come back and I say, How do I take what that person shared with me and what I learned, and how do I plow that back into the work to try and make the world better?”

The COVID-19 environment has presented added challenges, including finding effective ways to connect with donors. Her office has changed into a Zoom space to commiserate over pandemic precautions and quarantine, wildfires on the West Coast and tornado watch on the East Coast, and to meet colleagues’ kids and pets.

Outside of work, Dharna waits impatiently for a post-COVID world when she can go to movies in theaters and return to the yoga studio.  In the meantime, she spends more time in the kitchen,  cooking her way through Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook Plenty More – from the tomato and almond tart to root mash with wine-braised shallots and ash-e reshteh, a Persian noodle soup.

Dharna has attended DER events since her early days of fundraising. “DER has helped me develop strong relationships that have supported and sustained my enthusiasm and commitment to the field.” She met her mentor at DER, Lisa Hoffman, a nonprofit consultant and  extremely talented executive coach who exemplifies the generous spirit of the DER community.

In closing, Dharna shared a wonderful story told to her by a philanthropist that helps keep perspective during these challenging days:

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “Why are you throwing starfish back into the ocean?” The boy replied, The surf is up and the tide is going out, so they will die if I dont throw them back.” “Son,” said the man, dont you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You cant make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. I made a difference for that one,” he said smiling.

Member Spotlight: Laura Bergman, Network Engagement, Candid

Laura Bergman is on the Network Programs team at Candid that provides resources, training, and data to nonprofits to enable them to work more effectively.  She started as an Online Librarian and began teaching classes on the Foundation Directory Online, their online database for nonprofits seeking institutional funding.  She currently works with a team that offers training on wide variety of nonprofit topics, with a focus on fundraising.

Laura has worked in development for over 20 years in many roles including development consultant, executive director, development director, programs manager, and board member. “What strikes me about fundraising is that it doesn’t fundamentally change,” she notes, “Whether you’re looking to foundations, corporations, or individual donors, there is always a personal connection you need to make in order to be successful. What has changed is the myriad ways we now have for researching and communicating with people.  We can use email, LinkedIn, social media, or just the phone.  You can do your homework on a funder so much faster and accurately than before, giving more time for connecting.”

She “accidentally” started in development after college when she worked for a political consulting company. “I soon realized that raising money was maybe the most crucial part of a successful campaign,” she explains.  She went to work for a favorite client, Kathleen Brown, when she became State Treasurer but when Brown lost her bid for Governor, Laura went back to graduate school.  “When I entered the nonprofit field, I used my previous experience in political fundraising, knowing that whether it’s a campaign or a nonprofit cause, raising money makes things possible.”

Right after graduate school, Laura moved to Prague to witness a young democracy at work and landed at an NGO. “I came up with this crazy notion based on my time as an intern in DC when I was in college,” she recalls. “I created the first ever parliamentary internship program in Eastern Europe. The goal was to get desperately needed resources to newly elected officials from the Czech Republic, who essentially had one secretary in the whole building.  Interns provided research and administrative help while gaining an amazing experience. I raised money from the European Union for the pilot, and the following year the funding was renewed by the Czech Parliament. Looking back, I can’t quite believe I pulled it off!”

Laura finds that her work benefits from many different skills. “People skills are obviously important, but so is analytical thinking, interest in current events, even hobbies,” she asserts, “I come from a big family, have a lot of interests, and love to travel, so I can generally find something in common with just about anyone.  I’m that person who is seated next to crazy Aunt Gretchen at a family dinner because I can talk to anyone!”

Laura first joined DER in the 1990s and recently renewed her membership.  As part of Candid’s regional outreach strategy, she recently met with the DER board and as a result, is hoping to collaborate on a few trainings this year, including a Corporate Philanthropy program in November. 

DAF Transparency Bill AB 2926 Killed by California Senate Judiciary Committee

On July 23, 2020, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held in committee a bill, critically important to nonprofits, which had already passed in the Assembly. This unwelcome move prevented it from being heard in the State Senate and effectively killed it for 2020. AB 2936 is designed to bring modest transparency to donor-advised funds and simply calls for: a) defining the terms “donor-advised fund” (DAF) and “donor-advised fund sponsor” in California law, and b) affirming the authority of the Attorney General to ask for reports from DAF sponsors. Sponsored by CalNonprofits, the bill was strongly supported by DER plus about 400 California nonprofits as well as statewide associations like the California Association of Museums, California Association of Food Banks, United Ways of California, and Californians for the Arts – as well as the United Domestic Workers and the Women’s Foundation of California. 

Even with the nonprofit community’s overwhelming support, it seems that Senator Jackson’s decision was swayed by powerful Wall Street DAF sponsors Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwab, and the League of California Community Foundations who opposed it by arguing that even modest reports burden them and would deter donors. DER deeply regrets the Senate’s Judiciary Committee’s denial of a vote for AB 2926 and their disregard for the nonprofits from the Senate districts of many Committee members that asked for and held meetings with their Senators to advocate for the DAF transparency bill. AB 2936 was staunchly fought for by Calnonprofit’s Jan Masaoka and authored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (East Bay). 

DER will continue to support Calnonprofits in this heroic effort, and we call on our members to join us as nonprofits, community activists, partners, collaborators, and system disruptors in the struggle against the grave and increasing inequality caused by DAFs. Thank you! 

Member spotlight: Lisa Handley, Development Director for St. Vincent de Paul of San Francisco

Lisa Handley is the Development Director for St. Vincent de Paul of San Francisco, overseeing development, communications and marketing operations.  SVDP runs homeless shelters and domestic violence housing in the City, including contracting with the City of San Francisco to operate some of its largest 24-hr shelters, Navigation Centers and wrap-around services.

About her work during COVID-19 she says, “It’s been a crazy few months since we had clients and staff alike contract the virus. Thank goodness, we moved past that hurdle and now are working closely in tandem with the Department of Public Health on shelter operations.”

Lisa first became interested in development during her Master’s Museum Studies program at SF State.  “I had a great professor who taught a nonprofit development course and I loved it,” she explains, “I sought out an internship at SFMOMA and was determined to outlast all the other development interns until I could get a paid job. Amazingly, it worked!”

She has worked in development since 2003, but took 7 years off to work as a funder for a corporate foundation.  When asked about the changes she’s seen over the years she answers, “We have more technology tools imbedded in our process which ultimately helps us improve our relationship management.  I also think we use less words, but more data, which has been a necessary evolution!  I recall early on working on such lengthy proposals that were so dense. But I’ve learned that most people don’t read that much, or have the time.  Concise, data-driven and compelling is a much better formula to get your message across in print. But you can never mess with solid donor stewardship. It never goes out of style.”

During the last few months, Lisa has worked harder at staying in touch with donors and sharing what’s happening on the ground.  “I’m doing much more communications than fundraising at the moment,” she says, “It’s strange but I’m finding myself writing more handwritten thank you notes. And I have more time to make phone calls.  I think without office distractions, it’s opened up a lot of time, oddly.  More broadly, I’m trying to think about what it means big-picture to do development if I can’t be with donors and they can’t volunteer in our shelters or come to an event.”

A skill that Lisa feels is essential to her job is listening, “I try to listen to hear what people say, how they say it, and understand why they are saying it. I think it helps immensely with donors, staff, clients and it also really informs my decision-making.”

Lisa has been a member of DER for three years, “I think the programming is terrific, timely and super value-for-money. At the lunch programs, I’ve learned about cryptocurrency, DAFs, and recently, how to get political within my nonprofit. I’ve enjoying meeting others in my tribe. I’ve also taken in the view from the gorgeous Lighthouse for the Blind offices!”

Member Spotlight: Paul Blaney, Manager of Individual Giving for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Paul Blaney is the Manager of Individual Giving for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, working with a five-person Development team, who is responsible for acquisition, cultivation and stewardship of a broad-based portfolio of major donors.  LightHouse provides education, training, advocacy, and community for blind individuals in California and around the world. Founded and based in San Francisco since 1902, LightHouse is one of the largest and most established comprehensive blindness organizations in North America.

Paul came to development after working in several nonprofit leadership positions centered on human and social services.  He moved to San Francisco in 2001 and began at Larkin Street Youth Services in a direct service role.  In 2005, he was invited to join Larkin Street’s small but mighty development team as a Donor Relations Coordinator.  He says, “I ‘took’ to Development with enthusiasm and worked my way towards providing support directly to Board members and individual donors.”

In his years in development, he has seen how technology and communication has narrowed the window of opportunity to pique and maintain someone’s attention and engagement.  “The ability to assess and capture the essence of what’s needed to bolster your organization’s case for support and removing all barriers to access are essential,” he explains, “No longer do we have a guarantee that donors will read the entirety of every message received. We are now responsible for delivering bullet point messages that resonate with donors in the flash of a few moments. We have less time to make a lasting impression.”

Paul has a very interesting “side hustle” working as a professional voiceover actor for radio, TV and film.  Two years ago, he was an audio describer for a major motion picture starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan, directed by Paul Dano.  “Audio description is narration added to the soundtrack to describe important visual details that cannot be understood from the soundtrack alone,” he explains. “Audio description informs individuals who are blind or have low vision about visual content essential for comprehension of the film.  In my work with LightHouse, I support many blind and low vision donors. This experience helped galvanize my view that everyone should have the right to information that is fully accessible.”

Outside of work, Paul writes poems, incessantly grooms his 13-year-old black pug, Seymour, shoots A LOT of photographs, travels (recent notable trips include Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Brazil), and goes to the cinema (averaging one film per week on the big screen).

Paul has been a member of DER for about three years.  “DER has opened my world to a community of development professionals from across the Bay Area that I would otherwise not meet, “he said, “The workshops and webinars broaden my knowledge base and affords me the opportunity to learn from extraordinary fundraisers.”

Paul was recently invited to join the Board of AFP Golden Gate Chapter – one of the largest chapters in the nation. He also sits on the National Philanthropy Day Tributes committee.

Member Spotlight: Valerie Schutz, Sr. Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, Cal State East Bay

Valerie Schutz is the Sr. Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Cal State East Bay, where she’s worked for three years.  Her job is focused on raising philanthropic support from private foundations and corporations for priority projects and programs across their Hayward and Concord campuses.  She collaborates with fundraising and development colleagues, as well as deans, faculty leadership, and staff across campus. 

Her fundraising career started 20 years ago, after a short career in business development in the for-profit sector.  “I was seeking personal and professional fulfillment from my work, and I was driven by wanting to make a difference,” she explains, “I managed to get a job doing PR for a grassroots auxiliary for Children’s Hospital Oakland. My short stint there led to landing my dream job writing grant proposals and web copy for the hospital’s newly formed foundation.  Making that transition was a combination of having a fierce desire to make a difference and getting lucky. Every job after that was guided and landed with the help of my network.”

Cal State East Bay is wrapping up a 10-year, $60 million Rising in the East Campaign.  When she started, University Advancement had been without her position for six months and prior to that the position had been filled sporadically for about 3 years. “At that time, many external relationships needed nurturing and trust among internal partners restored,” she said. 

The campaign will close having raised more than $77 million to modernize facilities; reinforce existing programs and launch new ones; expand learning opportunities; and grow much needed scholarships (80% of students rely on financial aid and 60% are first generation).  “I’m proud to be part of this success, helping to deepen relationships, and contributing to the university’s most successful three years of fundraising in its history,” she says.

Over the years, Valerie has seen donors approach philanthropy differently, “They seek a more genuine connection with the organization and to see the return on their philanthropic investments through real and immediate impact. This requires fundraisers to use data to tell compelling stories. It requires us to take the time to really understand our donors’ values and the real impact they hope to achieve.”

“I also see that companies pursue philanthropy in a way that is more aligned with their business mission and supports the bottom line. The days are over when companies give based on emotion – instead giving is completely linked to meeting business goals.”

Outside of work, Valerie enjoys spending time outside exploring nature. “I’ve become a birder,” she shares, “and most recently took a class on birding by ear. The learning is really endless and the process is meditative. It takes great focus to be still and to listen to all of the birds around us, whether in the mountains, at the beach or in our neighborhoods.”

Valerie joined DER early in her career and it’s been an important part of her professional growth ever since.  She was on the DER board for 5 years. She co-chaired a now-defunct program called Major Gifts Magic and also served as Governance Chair. She says,“Many valuable relationships, both professional and personal, have grown out of DER, and I love this profession even more because of those relationships and the community I find with DER. I’m deeply grateful for all that DER has given me.”

Member Spotlight: Shaké Sulikyan, Executive Director, ValleyCare Charitable Foundation

For more than two decades, Shaké Sulikyan has worked in nonprofits.  She started in the finance office of an organization that was just beginning its fundraising efforts and because Shaké was interested in development, she decided to take this role on top of her regular responsibilities.  “The organization was unable to create a full-time position for development/fundraising,” she explains, “So they paved the way for me to take a role with another nonprofit, and the rest is history.”

Her career has included development work for social service, education, and healthcare organizations in New England and California, as well as providing consulting services to nonprofits throughout the United States.

Shaké has seen many changes in the field of development over the years.  She’s witnessed a change in volunteerism, as well the recognition that staff members need to be paid a living wage.  As a result, she feels nonprofits have become more “professionalized.”  She has also seen an increase in professional associations/organizations and in the number of consultants.  “As the profession grows and the sector begins to operate more like a business, so do the opportunities to learn from each other through professional associations and to engage consultants in our effort to become more efficient and effective.”

As Executive Director, Shaké is responsible for all aspects of the ValleyCare Charitable Foundation (VCCF), which is the fundraising arm of Stanford Health Care – ValleyCare hospital in the Tri-Valley. “I provide long-term vision and strategic leadership for the organization while also overseeing the day-to-day operations, programs, and activities of the Charitable Foundation to raise funds in support of our local hospital and its innovative medical programs and services,” she explains. “It is an interesting position that combines many of my previous experiences and positions, both in the nonprofit and the corporate sectors.”

In December, VCCF completed the Campaign for Stroke Care, raising an unprecedented amount for the Hospital in the shortest amount of time, a fact of which Shaké is especially proud. She shares, “The Campaign provided funds to launch a stroke program and receive certification as a Primary Stroke Center, which allows us to accept ambulances carrying stroke patients. With stroke, every second counts, so being able to treat patients close to home or work and having helicopter access to Stanford Palo Alto is an incredible addition to the healthcare offerings in our community. I am proud to have played the role of funding this project and making a difference in the lives of people I’ve come to know and care about in my community.”

Outside of work, Shaké enjoys spending time with her husband and 8-year old son.  She’s a big reader and recently started a Kids and Parents Book Club with her son and his friends.  When not reading, she likes to work out at the gym, to go on runs with her son, hike with her family, and to take classes. “I am a natural leader, so I enjoy taking on leadership roles as a way to fulfill my mission in life, to make the world a better place.”

About DER, Shaké says, “Attending DER presentations is a great reminder that I’m on the right track. In addition, as a transplant to the Bay Area, DER has helped me meet other professionals in the area.”

Member Spotlight: Lisa Hoffman – Coach, Consultant, Zen Priest

Lisa Hoffman is a solo-practitioner coach, consultant, facilitator, and trainer to nonprofit boards and staff (  She is also an ordained Zen priest.  This may be a unique combination, but she has found that the practices of mindfulness, compassion, and inter-connectedness help enormously when working with people and groups to navigate situations that are often complicated and emotionally charged. She adds, “These skills are also wonderful assets to my facilitation, which I think is one of the best mindfulness practices ever.”

Her specialty as a consultant is in major gifts, board, professional, and volunteer development. “Many leaders also turn to me as a thought partner–to think through with them how to meet challenges, grow their organizations, and support their staff, board members and volunteers,” she says, “I facilitate staff and Board retreats, special meetings, as well as facilitating conflict resolution.”

As with many, Lisa got into the development field by accident.  Originally, she planned to become an attorney, “To do some good in the world,” she explains.  Although she decided that the law was not her path, an attorney she worked with recommended her to a legal services nonprofit that supported artists, to work on their annual art auction fundraiser.  “That was my start,” she says, “I did well, enjoyed it and especially appreciated how much I learned and how satisfying the whole experience was. It has led me to a career that remains rewarding and interesting beyond what I could have imagined!”

In more than 30 years of working in development, she has seen both positive changes and new challenges.  “I have seen greater professionalism on the part of staff and board members, and I’m always inspired by how committed our community is to social justice and offering a helping hand to those who need it,” she explains, “The challenges that have grown include how undercapitalized many nonprofits are, combined with the cost-of-living in the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly office and housing costs. The latter are a double challenge – paying staff adequately who need to cope with housing costs, and skyrocketing office rentals.”

Lisa has been a member of DER since it was a small and informal group, led by her, Julie Ver Steeg, Dan DeVries, Greg Lassonde, and Jack Soares. “It has been amazing to watch the organization grow after I stepped out of leadership about 10 years ago.  DER has had a wonderful impact on my life – giving me a network, helping me hone my skills, providing an opportunity to give and receive mentorship. I think DER is a gift to our profession!”

Outside of work, Lisa enjoys spending time with her spouse and friends, cooking, reading, walking, lap time with her cat, and making sure she notices those little moments of joy.  A go-to book on her shelf is Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know, by Jill Geisler.  “This is one of the best books about leadership I’ve ever read.  It’s accessible, practical, human, and applicable well beyond bosses,” she shares, “I’ve used the ideas, techniques and tools with every type of volunteer and professional I work with. There is also a chapter on up managing your boss, which I share quite frequently.”

In closing, she says, “A shout out to DER’s founder, Hank Rosso, and his emphasis that all we do is about fostering the joy of giving and supporting our community and world.”

Member Spotlight: Patrick Heryford, Director of Development, Corporate, Goodwill of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin

Patrick Heryford passed away on October 16, 2020.

Patrick joined the fundraising profession in 1996 and worked for a broad variety of causes, most recently at Goodwill San Francisco. He began volunteering with DER in 2011, eventually serving as President of the Board from 2015 to 2016.  During his leadership, DER rebranded and began work on the current website.  He also volunteered with the Foundation Center (now Candid) from 2009-2012, with the Association of Fundraising Professional’s Fundraising Day in 2010, and rode in the AIDS Lifecycle.  Patrick will be missed and fondly remembered for his kindness and sense of humor by the many colleagues and friends who knew him.  Patrick’s obituary is here.

Patrick’s spotlight written in December 2019:

Patrick Heryford has worked in development for 22 years.  He took his first position as the Stewardship Director at a church, with little knowledge or experience in development.  To learn about the field, he enrolled in the University of San Francisco’s one-year Director of Development certificate program.  “I enjoyed and did well in the classes, which validated that this was the field for me,” he says.

In his current position at Goodwill of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin, Patrick manages corporate partnerships and grant seeking, as well as builds relationships with local companies and employees that benefit Goodwill’s job readiness and career services mission.

During the two decades he’s been in the field, Patrick has seen a greater shift from transactional to relational fundraising.  “This change reflects my own thinking,” he explains, “When I started, I could send out the same proposal to a large pool of funders and sit passively at my desk waiting for responses. Today, I prefer to talk with giving officers, building relationships with them, so that my applications are focused and have the greatest chance for funding. In the past, the writing came first; today it’s nearly the last step I take when applying to a funder.”

Patrick approaches his work, and life in general, from a perspective of gratitude.  “I don’t stress about my work, meeting goals, or get nervous when asking for gifts. Rather, when starting from a place of gratitude, I believe donors recognize their value to me is beyond the amount on a check. That, coupled with the good, transformative work by the organization, is a recipe for successful fundraising.”

“I have a bell on my desk and joyfully ring it when a gift is received to celebrate our donors’ generosity.” He enjoys sharing donors’ stories with his co-workers, focusing less on the amounts and more on the reason why the gifts were made.

Patrick has been a very active member of DER for at least 15 years. He’s served on the Board, including one term as President, and co-led the former affinity group Grantseekers Anxiety Support Group (GASP).  “I attend as many luncheons as I can,” he says, “Even if the topic is not directly relevant to my work, I enjoy the networking and camaraderie, reconnecting with longtime friends and making new professional connections.”

He continues, “I always learn a lot of practical tips by attending DER sessions. I tell prospective members, I often attend a DER luncheon, and then immediately put into practice some of the techniques I learned.”

Outside of work, Patrick enjoys being in nature, especially hiking in the redwood groves.  He also enjoys bicycling and has ridden 550 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles three times with AIDS/LifeCycle.

Patrick loves all things cultural and is a long-time member of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and SFMOMA, as well as being a season ticket holder to the San Francisco Ballet and Broadway San Francisco.  “Lately I’ve also taken weekend trips to explore where I want to retire in about ten years. I’m looking for a place that is more affordable and less hectic than the Bay Area. I’m currently leaning toward Tucson, Arizona, but if anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them!“

Advocacy: DER & AFP AB 1712 Letter

November 4, 2019

The Honorable Mark Stone,  Chair Assembly, Judiciary Committee
1020 N Street, Room 104
Sacramento, CA, 95814

Re: Assembly Bill 1712 (Wicks) Donor Advised Funds- SUPPORT

Dear Chairman Stone:

Development Executives Roundtable and The Association of Fundraising Professionals
(AFP) Golden Gate Chapter strongly support AB 1712 (Wicks), which requires organizations
that sponsor donor advised funds (DAFs) to report additional information about their DAFs,
subject to new rules and regulations developed by the California Attorney General’s office.
DAFs have grown significantly over the past several years. The national share of total
individual charitable giving contributed to DAFs increased from 4.4% in 2010 to 10.2% in
2017, and DAF sponsoring organizations held more than $110 billion in charitable assets in
2017. This trend is alarming and controversial because:

  • The State of California spends millions of dollars annually on tax expenditures
    resulting from charitable contributions made to DAFs – while many operating
    nonprofits that provide vital benefits to California communities struggle to obtain
    the funding they need to stay afloat.
  • Recent media coverage of DAFs suggests that some DAFs provide substantial
    benefits to Wall Street financial firms and their wealthy clientele, while providing
    relatively few benefits to grassroots charitable organizations.
  • Despite their rapid growth and prevalence, very little is known about the rates at
    which DAFs distribute funds or where or to what causes those funds are given.
    Recent analyses express concerns about the impact of DAFs on nonprofits and
    communities – especially DAFs held by for profit firms like Schwab and Vanguard –
    so the need to understand their impacts has become imperative.
  • News reports indicate that in some cases political donors may be using anonymity
    provided by DAFs to conceal their support for candidates, ballot measures and other
    efforts to influence policy or the public.

The current lack of transparency around DAF giving makes it difficult to determine the
accuracy of these critiques. By gathering more reporting and financial information about
DAFs to determine levels of contributions and disbursements, AB 1712 will help
policymakers and members of the public analyze how much charitable benefits DAFs
produce and understand what entities manage them and how they are managed.
As two nonprofit membership organizations dedicated to providing exceptional
fundraising education in the San Francisco Bay Area, Development Executives Roundtable
and AFP-Golden Gate believe that thoughtful regulation will help to assure good
stewardship of charitable funds. We strongly support AB 1712 and urge you to vote in
favor of this vitally important legislation.


Christine Poremski Rodrigues

President, Development Executives Roundtable

Chandra Alexandre

President, Association of Fundraising Professionals Golden Gate Chapter

Member Spotlight: Brenda Laribee

Brenda Laribee, Senior Development Officer at the East Bay Community Foundation

Brenda caught the “fundraising bug” towards the end of graduate school, after a career in corporate finance. The AIDS epidemic was her first call to action; she began volunteering with the AIDS Action Committee in Boston, then transferred her passion to ignite a career in the AIDS community in the Bay Area. Social justice as always been at the core of her fundraising work, and her background in finance and budgeting has been very useful in her development career. “I love numbers, and that has come in VERY handy in all of my various organizations!”

For the last 15 years, Brenda has been the principal of her own consulting firm, working with a variety of organizations on fund development strategies and evaluations, capital and major donor campaigns, board trainings, annual fund management, and coaching/mentoring.

This summer, Brenda decided to join the East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) as a Senior Development Officer.  This position draws on her myriad skills of fundraising and relationship building, as well as adding philanthropic advising to the mix.   She will have an opportunity to partner with a portfolio of funders, while also fundraising for initiatives that support community organizing and social movements as a key strategy to create social, political, and economic power for low income and communities of color in the East Bay.

In 30 years working in development, the biggest change she has seen is the advent of online fundraising and electronic communications, “Email allows us to be in touch with our donors more often, but I still believe that nothing replaces a personal visit, or a handwritten note card once in a while.”

Brenda was introduced to DER by her fundraising mentor, Debra Kent, many years ago.  About her experience with DER she says, “I attend at least 2 or 3 monthly lunches each year; I’ve also participated in panels at DER events.  I often gain new perspectives at the events I attend, and it’s always great to see colleagues from around the Bay Area.”

Outside of work, Brenda loves music, especially the singer-songwriter genre (Americana/folk), “I go to several concerts each month, often in smaller venues and/or in peoples’ homes (aka house concerts). There’s an incredibly rich music scene in the bay area, and I feel blessed to be able to see and hear so many talented artists!”

Her go-to book for work is Susan Howlett’s Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully. She says, “I first saw Susan Howlett present at a DER lunch.  Inspiring Boards to fundraise (joyfully or not) seems to be a consistent challenge among nonprofits. For personal reading, she often turns to books by Pema Chodron, a beloved Buddhist teacher, author, nun, and mother, especially during these trying political times.”

Brenda is most proud of building many strong relationships in the nonprofit community that has helped sustain both her consulting business and professional development for so many years.  She adds, “And, I so appreciate everyone in the DER community!”

Member Spotlight: Louise Yokoi

Louise Yokoi, Principal, Anchor & Seed Philanthropic Consulting

Like most of us in development, Louise came to the nonprofit world through an interesting and circuitous path.  She started working in sales in the book publishing field, followed by a stint as an educator in public schools.  She then attended grad school in museum studies at JFKU, which led to a new career working as a fundraiser.

She says of the transition, “Throughout my various careers, helping make the world a better place has been the common theme, so it makes perfect sense that I’m working with nonprofit organizations. I’m happiest and most motivated when my work is aligned with my personal philosophies and ethical outlook on life.

Louise feels that her diverse career experiences enable her to be a more successful fundraiser, strategic thinker, and interim leader. She explains, “In an organization, we often wear many hats besides our role as a fundraiser. My experiences in the corporate field and education have given me both hard skills such as strategic planning, marketing, and graphic design, as well as soft skills including leadership, teamwork, problem-solving and adaptability. I believe that effective nonprofit organizations grow and thrive by learning from other fields.”

Louise finds that curiosity is directly related to being an effective fundraiser, “As a consultant who can be working with 2-3 clients at one time, being curious encourages me to ask questions and helps me get up to speed very quickly with new clients and staff. Curiosity motivates me to get to know board members, donors, and funders in a meaningful way. I have a natural ability and desire to work on improving and amplifying fundraising and other organizational efforts. I particularly enjoy developing new strategies and systems to make nonprofits more successful at fundraising, marketing, and communicating their impact to funders and the public. ”

When asked what she’s seen change in the 10 years she’s worked in development, she answers, “In the last 2-3 years I’ve seen nonprofits struggle to recruit and retain both new and experienced fundraising professionals.  This is due to multiple factors related to the Bay Area environment: including the high cost of living and the difficulty in paying competitive salaries, compounded by tech companies’ ability to offer high salaries and rapid career advancement opportunities. I’m very interested in thinking about the long-term health of our field and nonprofit organizations in general. What are the new strategies for attracting, developing, and training the next generation of fundraisers? I’d like to see fundraisers, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and other groups coming together to solve this pressing issue because nonprofits cannot meet their missions and survive without skilled fundraisers.”

Louise has been a member of DER off and on for three years.  When her consulting schedule allows, she attends the monthly luncheons and Hank Rosso Forum.  “As a consultant who often works at home by myself and doesn’t work full-time with one organization, I value being part in the DER community of fundraisers” she explains, “I enjoy catching up with my wonderful fundraising colleagues and meeting new ones at DER events.”

Outside of work, Louise enjoys hiking in Oakland Hills and Marin County, urban treks in SF, skiing, searching out vintage neon signs, and researching her next travel destination. She adds, “I’m happy that I’ve discovered the joy of traveling by myself (in between trips with my partner and friends). I’m proud that I can travel alone anywhere in the world to experience the wonders of other cultures and make new friends wherever I go.”