Because sound judgment, experience and expertise are the most important contributions of professional counsel, it is the firm’s policy to assign senior staff members (with an average of more than 15 years of experience in the development field) to every project. Members of Skystone Partners work as teams. Each consulting engagement is directed by a lead consultant, and other consultants will be involved in its various aspects.
Liz Knuppel’s expertise includes major donor, foundation and corporate giving, and development and strategic planning. Before joining Skystone Partners, Ms. Knuppel held executive level positions with Starling Project Foundation and Women Helping Women. As executive director with the Starling Project Foundation, Ms. Knuppel oversaw international programs that served over 18,000 individuals worldwide to promote artistic excellence and musical pedagogy. Her service to nonprofit organizations includes Saint Louis Zoo, Knoxville Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cleveland Zoological Society, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church, Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Zeta, TMS Foundation and Soroptimist International of the Americas.
She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and actively volunteers for the Women's Committee of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation. A former board member of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Ms. Knuppel continues as an active member of the association and served as a founding membrer of Cincinnati Chapter's Ethics Committee. Liz currently sits on the AFP International Publishing Advisory Committee, is a member of Leadership Cincinnati Class 39, and in 2015 was named the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce WE Celebrate Woman of the Year Entrepreneur. Contact Liz at 800.883.0801 or via email at email@example.com.
Director of Business Operations
Elizabeth Kohler Knuppel
President & CEO
Julie Wallace has over 30 years' experience in support, administration and project management in a variety of industries, which include telecommunications and publishing. Prior to joining Skystone Partners, Ms. Wallace held numerous positions at Cincinnati Bell where she supported executive levels, managed an incoming call center, and worked in Network Operations analyzing outages. Most recently, Ms. Wallace worked at F+W Media, where she supported the CEO, CFO and COO. Julie volunteers at the SPCA on their annual Fur Ball campaign, working on the Silent Auction committee to seek donation items for the Silent Auction at the event. Contact Julie at 800.883.0801 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pam Wallace has over 20 years in business management with experience in both manufacturing and service industries. As Skystone Partners director of business operations, Ms. Wallace is responsible for managing and controlling the firm's finances, policies, information systems and support systems which enable the firm to operate smoothly and effectively. Ms. Wallace ensures the firm is in compliance with all government regulations in relations to human resources, insurance policies, workers compensation, taxes, operating permits, and accounting policies and procedures. Pam is an active volunteer with the CF Foundation and holds a bachelor's in Accounting from Indiana Wesleyan University. Contact Pam at 800.883.0801 or via email at email@example.com.
Lori Rassati has more than 20 years of development experience and as a respected fundraising consultant has assisted numerous nonprofit organizations through the management of feasibility studies, development assessments, annual fund programs and direction of capital campaigns. Before joining Skystone Partners, Dr. Rassati held senior development positions with the University of Kentucky, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Louisville and the University of Cincinnati, as well as Baptist Hospital East and Hosparus. Lori is an active volunteer with St. Peter in Chains Cathedral and holds a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism and communications, respectively, from Morehead State University and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Kentucky. Contact Lori at 800.883.0801 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lori Rassati, Ed.D.
Julie Bergantino is a development professional with more than 15 years of experience with arts and cultural organizations. Julie’s wide-ranging roles include strategic leadership and virtually all aspects of management and execution of annual campaigns, major gifts, direct mail marketing, donor cultivation, event planning, young professional engagement, and data systems implementation for cultural attractions and other types of nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining Skystone Partners, Julie spent more than 12 years as an integral member of the Cincinnati Opera’s development team and served as Campaign Manager for Cincinnati Opera’s $20 million New Century Campaign. She oversaw all aspects of the campaign, including volunteer orientation and engagement, prospect research and solicitation, timeline and budget tracking and accountability, brand positioning, donor focus groups, and message development. Julie is a graduate of Kenyon College where she studied Psychology and Mandarin. She was a member of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s C-Change class of 2007. She also serves on the development committee for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati.
Karen Bledsoe has more than 15 years of fundraising experience working with various nonprofits. Karen's expertise is in a wide range of fundraising activities including directing campaigns, database management, sponsorship and corporate giving programs, event management, volunteer recruitment and management, board and donor relations/stewardship. Prior to joining Skystone Partners, Ms. Bledsoe held development positions as Director of Sponsorship & Corporate Giving for Victoria Theatre Association and as Director of Development for Planned Parenthood SW Ohio. Karen also has more than 10 years of media and marketing experience and has held positions with Cox Media Group Ohio as National Account Executive and as Advertising Director for the Dayton Business Journal. She has served as a board member for WYSO Public Radio, Antioch Writer's Workshop, and as a volunteer for various nonprofit fundraising committees.
Timothy R. Burcham, CFRE
TImothy R. Burcham, CFRE, former Vice President of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), comes to Skystone Partners with 40-years of success in development and fundraising for institutions of higher education. He is the former International Board Chairman for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, having also served for more than 20 years in a variety of AFP international committee, division and board leadership positions. He is the founding chair of the AFP Political Action Committee for Philanthropy. He currently serves on the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy (USA) Board of Directors and chairs the committee on External Major Gifts. During his career, Tim has successfully led institutional campaigns that have raised in excess of $165 million in private gifts. He is also credited with attracting grants and contracts totaling more than $800 million. Tim's expertise in the areas of private fundraising, strategic planning, grants and contracts, marketing and communications, governmental affairs, and project and event management offers our clients a broad perspective backed by a wealth of experience.
Cynthia Perry Colebrook
As a senior staff development officer and Skystone Partners consultant, Cynthia Colebrook has been a fundraising professional for nearly 30 years. During this time, and previously as a fundraising volunteer, she has assisted numerous social service agencies, major cultural institutions and other nonprofits to plan and carry out successful advancement initiatives. Her areas of expertise include pre-campaign planning activities, capital campaign direction, developing and implementing strategic plans with startup organizations, Board recruitment and training, and the organization of large special events. Ms. Colebrook has served the Greater Cincinnati chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in various capacities, including president, and has been active with the national organization. She was a member of Leadership Cincinnati and an active volunteer for her local church. Ms. Colebrook is also a national trainer for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Jack has been leading successful fundraising programs for over 35 years. While still in college, he directed his first campaign when he led alumni brothers in a project to improve the fraternity house. Throughout his career, Jack has served as a member of senior management and as chief development officer with organizations such as the Boy Scouts; Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital; Samaritan Health Foundation in Dayton, Ohio; Missouri Baptist Health Foundation; Westmorland Health Systems; and Detroit Medical Center, with primary responsibilities for Grace and Huron Valley-Sinai Hospitals, including the Wayne State University School of Medicine Family Medicine Residency and community outreach programs. During his time with Detroit Medical Center, it was one of the top 125 fundraising organizations in the country per the Philanthropic 400. Jack served as Vice President of Philanthropy for Memorial Health in Savannah and Hamot Health Foundation in Erie. An Ohio University alumnus, and past chair for the Michigan and Ohio State Associations for Healthcare Philanthropy and volunteer Scout leader, Jack’s personal goal is to help nonprofits secure their futures through assisting them to establish and maintain sustainable fundraising programs.
Noted for his marketing expertise, John Dreves has received numerous awards in public relations and advertising. He joined Skystone Partners after managing a Cincinnati-based advertising/public relations firm for five years. His over 25 years of fundraising experience includes staff management of highly successful annual giving and capital campaign efforts with four major hospitals. Mr. Dreves has led or participated in many fundraising assessments and is the co-author of a chapter on fundraising assessments for a handbook on nonprofit management. He has directed a number of capital campaigns and is especially experienced with colleges, social service and health agencies. Mr. Dreves is a graduate of Creighton University and completed graduate work in public administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Mark Drozdowski, Ed.D.
Mark Drozdowski is a writer and consultant with expertise in nonprofit branding, capital campaign marketing and development communications. He has more than 20 years of management experience in educational advancement, and has written and edited materials for dozens of colleges, universities, schools, hospitals and social service agencies. Dr. Drozdowski has held senior executive positions at the University of New Haven, Fitchburg State University, Franklin Pierce University, Newbury College and the University of Connecticut Foundation. He is a columnist with Inside Higher Ed and wrote a popular monthly column for The Chronicle of Higher Education, the industry's premier publication, for nine years. A widely published author, he has written extensively on American higher education, including his books, A Peculiar Calling: Confessions of a College Fund Raiser and The Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Education, along with numerous articles for The New York Times, Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun and other major publications. Dr. Drozdowski holds a bachelor's degree in American history from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree and doctorate in higher education from Harvard University.
Blanche B. Gaynor
Blanche Gaynor has over 30 years experience in administration. She has coordinated and assisted in the development of fundraising planning studies; campaign, annual fund and planned giving plans; solicitation and volunteer guidelines; and executive search. Mrs. Gaynor joined the firm after serving as a coordinator of subscriber education programs for a health insurance company and manager of administrative services for another consulting firm in the Greater Cincinnati area. She earned her Bachelor's of Business Administration degree from Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. Her volunteer activities include serving on the Transportation and Infrastructure and Women’s Initiative Committees of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, as an eWomenNetwork Cincinnati chapter advisory board member, and supports local Special Olympics events. Additionally, she is a contributing author of the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky.
Carla Goring-Madden has fifteen years experience in fundraising with expertise in donor research, information/database management, donor relations/stewardship, and communications/marketing. She has identified major gift prospects and devised cultivation strategies for multi-million dollar gifts to capital campaigns, annual funds, and new fundraising initiatives. One new prospect identified by Ms. Goring-Madden subsequently contributed a $60 million lead gift and enabled the recipient institution to expand its capital campaign goal. In addition, she has designed and implemented information systems to track solicitations and report on campaign progress, enhancing efficiency and productivity of development operations. Ms. Goring-Madden has worked for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Trinity College, and Georgia State University, where she received her bachelor’s degree.
Kay Marsh Green
Kay Green has nearly 30 years of experience working with colleges, universities, hospitals and national organizations in all aspects of fundraising. Ms. Green has previously served both as an institutional development officer and fundraising consultant for colleges, private schools and political organizations. Prior to moving to Dallas, she was head of a consulting firm in Maryland. Her experience includes senior development positions at Hood College and Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts. She has been actively involved with the United Way as a volunteer instructor in Board/staff relations and resource development. She is a frequent speaker and trainer for organizations on numerous fundraising topics and her writings on fundraising have appeared in professional publications. Ms. Green has been active in AFP for 25 years, is past president of the Dallas chapter, past Board member of AFP and past member of the national Board of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.
Robert W. Grove
Senior Design Strategist
Bob Grove has designed and produced a variety of fundraising support materials for Skystone Partners clients. He is experienced in developing comprehensive campaign branding programs which include designing a distinctive visual identity for the campaign and implementing it in every item produced to support the campaign strategy. Over the quarter of a century that he has been affiliated with the firm, Mr. Grove has created materials used in fundraising programs by numerous associations and foundations, civic, cultural and community organizations, religious organizations, educational institutions, health agencies and hospitals, and social service organizations. He brings over 30 years of experience in design, including assignments with a number of Fortune 500 companies, to his work with nonprofit organizations. Mr. Grove holds a bachelor of science degree in design from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning.
For fifteen years before joining Skystone Partners in 2005, Mr. Harris was located in Europe where he developed his own professional fundraising consulting practice serving leading international business schools and universities, civic and cultural organizations and NGOs throughout Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Among the Skystone Partners client organizations he has served are Athens College (Greece) and Winchester College (England) to help launch their fundraising programs in the United States and ActionAid in South Africa to strengthen the fundraising program for its U.S. affiliate. He has also served wide ranging nonprofits as the Maryland Zoo and ProLiteracy Worldwide in Syracuse, New York. During his distinguished career he helped found and served as the first chair of the World Fundraising Council. He authored the first reference book on international fundraising, published by John Wiley & Sons. He earned his undergraduate and masters' degrees from John Hopkins University in Baltimore, and is a graduate of the International Institute of Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Melanie Hoffman has served as a senior development officer and a successful fundraising consultant for over 30 years. Her experience spans the fields of higher education, academic medicine, the arts, and the environment. Ms. Hoffman's strengths include capital campaign planning and management, board development and governance, major gifts strategy development, annual giving programs, strategic planning, and interim development program management. She has successfully directed major fundraising programs and campaigns at such leading organizations as Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the National Audubon Society. As a consultant, her clients have included Penn State University, the University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, the Saint Louis Zoo, Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC, and the Hartford Stage Theatre in Connecticut.
Jennifer V. Howard
Jennifer Howard came to Skystone Partners after working at Fontbonne College, the Combined Health Appeal of Greater St. Louis and in a volunteer capacity for the St. Louis Alzheimer’s Association. As a respectful fundraising consultant, Ms. Howard has served numerous clients through the management of feasibility studies, development assessments, annual fund programs and direction of capital campaigns. Ms. Howard has had significant experience in working with nonprofit organizations that are embarking upon their first capital campaign as well as those seeking to enhance their annual giving program through the launching of a major gifts initiative. She has also worked extensively in the area of staff training and recruitment, prospect research and volunteer coordination. In addition to her consulting assignments, she is currently an executive committee member of Gateway Greening. Ms. Howard graduated cum laude from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Barry Joffe has extensive experience in consulting practice working with organizations in a broad range of industries in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors including higher education, financial, pharmaceutical and healthcare. He has consulted with three major hospital systems in the areas of executive search and organization change. Barry has personally run several fundraising projects including large capital building campaigns and chaired several annual appeals. Over the last 15+ years, Barry has held consulting management positions with the Blue Harbor Group, Drake Beam Morin Inc. and Bason Associates Inc. In addition to his work with Skystone Partners, Barry coaches business students – undergraduates & MBAs – in the Williams College of Business at Xavier University. His familiarity with a broad range of organization structures, industry sectors and disciplines and community sensitivity has enabled him to be a versatile consultant. Barry has assumed numerous leadership roles in the community. He has an extensive background in local government in both a professional and representative capacity. He was first elected a member of Council of the City of Montgomery, Ohio, in December 2005 and re-elected in November 2009 for a second term. He currently serves as Chair of the Law and Safety Committee. Prior to his position on Council, he was Chairman of the Civil Service Commission of the City. He also serves on the Advisory Board of Cincinnati Career Net. He is a Certified Arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau. Barry received his Bachelor of Social Science (Honors) and Master of Arts degrees in sociology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from Bar Ilan University, Israel.
Clyde W. Kaminska
Clyde Kaminska’s extensive career in educational and religious administration and development has included positions with four colleges and seminaries in the United States and Canada. Before joining Skystone Partners, he was vice president for institutional development at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. He has served various nonprofit organizations both as a Skystone Partners consultant and as president of a professional fundraising and marketing consulting firm based in Edmonton, Alberta. He has had particularly broad experience in the areas of long-range planning and in deferred giving and foundation cultivation, where his writing and conceptual skills have been especially valuable. An ordained minister, Dr. Kaminska received his master of divinity degree from Concordia Seminary, a second master’s degree from Columbia University and his doctorate from Fordham University. Dr. Kaminska has been a featured speaker at many professional seminars and conferences.
John W. Kerber
Jack Kerber has served a broad range of nonprofit organizations in his professional career, including the planning and management of capital campaigns and feasibility studies for youth, cultural, education, health and social service organizations. He is highly regarded for his ability to develop a creative approach to developing planned and annual gift programs, grant writing, membership development and endowment programs. Mr. Kerber was the director of Civic Affairs & Development for the Muny in St. Louis for over ten years before joining Skystone Partners. Mr. Kerber is a frequent speaker and instructor in development seminars, with a strong background in corporate strategies, Board development and marketing for nonprofit organizations. He is past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) St. Louis chapter and holds a bachelor of science degree in political science from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.
John B. Lee
John Lee has over 20 years experience working with federal and state contracts and researching and writing grant proposals for state and federal public sector funding initiatives. His firm specializes in federal finance and policy issues. Dr. Lee earned his Ed.D. in higher education from the University of California, Berkeley and his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the State University of California at Sacramento. He has provided assistance to clients in identifying federal funding, proposal writing and evaluation of public/private partnerships. His background includes service to the Education Commission of the States, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the state governments of Illinois and South Carolina and numerous departments of the federal government, including the United States House of Representatives and executive branch agencies. Dr. Lee is currently an adjunct faculty member at The George Washington University.
Sarah (Sally) Leyman
Director of Business Development & Consulting
Before becoming a Skystone Partners’ consultant, Sally served as a Trustee on The Seven Hills School Board where she chaired the Development Committee and served on the Trusteeship and Marketing Committees. Sally currently serves on numerous Boards, including the Cincinnati Zoo Foundation Board, Athletes for a Better World in Atlanta, Harbor Point Association Board in Harbor Springs, Michigan and the Cincinnati Squash Advisory Board. Sally has served Board positions for The Cincinnati Opera Guild, Kee-Way-Din Ski Club, Barrett Center Think Pink Lunch, and Greater Cincinnati Paddle Tennis Association.
Anne Ward Stern
Anne Ward Stern has over 30 years of experience in fundraising, with expertise in major gifts, capital campaigns and planned giving. She served for 14 years as Director of Development at The Summit Country Day School, where she successfully exceeded a $20 million capital goal. Anne was also Director of Development of Oak Knoll School in Summit, New Jersey for 10 years. Anne has served on boards of professional fundraising organizations and has volunteered in fundraising for arts, education and social service institutions. She has been a presenter at national and local conferences. Anne received her bachelor of arts in drama from Sweet Briar College and her masters of education in theatre from the University of Virginia. She taught theatre, French and English on the secondary level for 10 years.
Marketing & Communications Consultant
Candice has more than 10 years of experience leading comprehensive, strategic, marketing and communications initiatives and campaigns, integrating and utilizing digital, social and mobile strategies alongside traditional marketing techniques. She most recently led the University of Cincinnati Foundation’s marketing and communications team, where she was responsible for all marketing, branding, public relations, media relations, web, mobile and social media efforts. Candice is skilled in developing and executing strategic messaging and plans, and with aligning marketing efforts with organizational goals. She specializes in increasing constituent engagement and developing engaging, persuasive communications to cultivate private support. She is accustomed to working collaboratively with non-profit teams and executive leadership, providing strategic oversight and direction, streamlining workflows and maximizing marketing budgets. Candice also has extensive media relations and PR expertise, as she worked at WCPO Channel 9 in a variety of roles prior to her 8 years at UC.
L. Christine Visnich
Christine Visnich has over 25 years of professional experience in executive search, executive coaching and due diligence, personnel assessment and human resource related consulting. Her executive search background covers a broad range of senior executive functional areas and numerous businesses and nonprofits. For thirteen years, she was a senior consultant at Bason Associates, an executive search firm, serving as its vice president for four years. Her prior experience includes ten years with another executive search firm and two years as an independent consultant. Ms. Visnich has gained extensive experience recruiting and evaluating senior executives for nonprofit organizations, health care institutions, manufacturing, financial, and professional services agencies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. She is a graduate of Muskingum College and is recognized in “Key Women in Retained Executive Search.” She is a past chapter president of the National Human Resources Association.
Ann Charles Watts, MA, ACFRE
Ann Charles Watts has served hundreds of nonprofits across the country as a trainer, coach, and consultant, specializing in fund development. She guides her clients in the creation and implementation of donor-centric fundraising strategies designed to increase long-term return on investment. Alumna of the US Peace Corps, she earned her BA and MA in political science from Ohio University, has been rated Superior (fluent) in Spanish by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), is certified by the Institute of Cultural Affairs as a ToP® facilitator, and in 2013 became a designated Master Trainer with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Over the course of her career, she has served as communications director for a statewide political party, executive director of two non-profits, and a member of the field staff at Habitat for Humanity International where she served on the $3.9 billion A World of Hope: It starts at home global capital campaign team. She received her certificate in fundraising management from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is Harvard-educated in strategic nonprofit management. She was the founding chair of Habitat for Humanity of Ohio and currently serves on the board of the Dayton, Ohio, Region Chapter of AFP and as chair of the Mentorship and Advanced Professionals Committee. In January 2015, she became the 103rd person since 1992 to receive the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) designation.
Alan's career spans over three decades as a senior executive, consultant and MBA faculty in arts administration. He has served as Director of Marketing at the Pittsburgh Symphony and Managing Director of Shakespeare & Company, led the MBA/MA Program in Arts Administration at the University of Cincinnati and consulted with such organizations as the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the Tennessee Center for the Performing Arts, Enertex Marketing and The Gallup Organization. His strategic planning projects include work with such local organizations the May Festival, Contemporary Dance Theatre, Visionary & Voices, concert: nova and Catacoustic Consort,
Most recently, Alan has worked with the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and the Brown University Arts Literacy Project in evaluating and planning their joint arts education programming. He continues to lecture on arts management in the United States and Europe, including the Audencia School of International Management (Paris) and the University of Economics (Prague) in 2016-17.
A distinguished fundraising authority, Bob Pierpont has enabled many of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations to achieve milestone successes. For seventeen years before joining Skystone Partners, he was a senior partner and chairman of Pierpont & Wilkerson Ltd., based in New York. His client service activities include capital campaign management, directing major gift programs, conducting fundraising assessments and studies, constituency building and board development. Earlier in his career he also served as vice president for development at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and at Widener University in Pennsylvania, his alma mater. An active and influential volunteer in professional development circles, Mr. Pierpont is former chair of the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Foundation for Philanthropy, chaired AFP’s ethics committee and the professional certification board. In honor of his contributions to the field of philanthropy, Mr. Pierpont is one of only nine individuals to receive the Association of Fundraising Professionals Founder’s Medallion. A 1970 graduate of Harvard's Institute for Educational Management, for more than ten years he served on the faculty of The Fund Raising School at the Center on Philanthropy, where he co-wrote the three day capital campaign course. Contact Bob at 800.883.0801 or via email at email@example.com.