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3-5 Learning Network Advisors 



Session 1: Careers in Prospect Research

Moderator:

Melissa Bank Stepno, DAFinitive (The Helen Brown Group)

Melissa is the Vice President of Data Insights and Managing Director of DAFinitiveĀ® for The Helen Brown Group. Based in NH, Melissa has worked in the non-profit industry for more than two decades, spending the majority of her time consulting with organizations on using wealth screenings, predictive modeling and other analytics to drive prospecting efforts and strategic decision-making. As a thought leader, her areas of interest include the impact of high net-worth philanthropy on major giving programs, and developing best practices for prospect research and prospect management. An Ann Castle winner, Melissa is a previous NEDRA and Apra Board member, most recently leading Apra as President from 2021-2022. Melissa has also served on the boards of AFP NNE and the Brandeis University Alumni Association.


Panelists:

Regina Alhassan, ResearchPRO

CEO of ResearchPRO, Regina Alhassan enjoys helping non-profit leaders reach their highest goals. Her work as a prospect development legend continues to fuel multi-million-dollar charitable giving campaigns across the United States.

 

With a career-long history of industry leadership and current Faculty for Apra Fundamentals, Regina is also an award-winning artist, writer, philanthropist, and TEDx Speaker.


Jacqui Coones, Missouri State University

Jacqui serves as the Executive Director of Prospect Development at Missouri State University. During 12 years at Missouri State, her roles have included Resource Development, Director of Development, and Director of Prospect Management & Research. She currently focuses on ensuring fundraising and engagement success through relationship management, research, pipeline management, prospect strategies, and portfolio optimization. Additionally, she was on the core team for the conversion from Banner to CRM. Jacqui holds a BS in Music Industry and an MSAS in Applied Communication from Missouri State University.  She is the President Elect for Apra VA and held previous volunteer leadership roles with Apra International, Junior League of Springfield MO, and the Greater Ozarks Bluegrass Society.


Susan Grivno, University of New Hampshire
Susan is Senior Prospect Research Analyst for Research Standards at the University of New Hampshire, providing leadership and vision to the prospect research team. Before joining UNH in 2010, she was a Prospect Research Analyst at Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT. Earlier in her career, Susan held positions in licensing at a small game and book publisher. She earned a B.A. in English literature from Southern Vermont College. Susan served on the NEDRA board for six years and is a past NEDRA president. During her time on the board, Susan was the NEDRA News/Marketing chair and co-chair for three annual conferences.  


Nhu Huynh, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
Nhu (she/her/hers) is currently the Director of Prospect Development and Campaign Management at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. In this role, she oversees prospect research, prospect management, and assists with capital campaign strategy. She previously worked at Loyola University of Chicago as the Director, Prospect Management & Research. Prior to that, she spent seven years at Harvard where she started as a prospect research analyst and eventually pivoted to overseeing more prospect management responsibilities under the title of Associate Director, Prospect Management. One of her greatest accomplishments includes helping implement a prospect management program in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. She was a member of APRA International's Nomination Committee (2022). Nhu has a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree from Harvard University. She resides in Chicago, Illinois.


Robby West, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Robby is the Senior Associate Director, Analytics at Dana-Farber. In this role, he drives the application of data analytics to fundraising programs across the Division of Philanthropy. In addition to development, evaluation and delivery of predictive models, he is responsible for identification and acquisition of external data sets and the advancement of the Division’s prospect management goals. He began his career in prospect development as a research analyst at Wesleyan University and subsequently spent 5 years leading the prospect research team at the University of New Hampshire. Beyond his work at Dana-Farber, Robby serves on the board of his daughters’ pre-K school and is an enthusiastic trail runner. 



Session 2: Prospect Research


Dave Owens, Boston Children’s Hospital Trust
Dave is a Principal Analyst at the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust, where he began his development career as a Prospect Researcher in 2001. Prior to his tenure at Boston Children’s Hospital, he worked in clinical administration at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the departments of Pulmonary Care and Oncology. He received his M.A. degree in Political Science from Northeastern University, a B.A. degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from UMass/Boston, as well as an A.A. degree in Mathematics/Science from Cape Cod Community College. Dave has served on several NEDRA Committees, and has been a presenter at past NEDRA Conferences and Seminars in areas ranging from ADV filings to international research. He is currently a member of NEDRA’s Programming Committee.


Session 3: Specialized Research


Shauna Meegan, Harvard University
Shauna is a managing director of Research and Prospect Management at Harvard University. In her role, she supports a number of core initiatives including international and due diligence. Shauna has worked at Harvard since 2007.

Stephanie Snow, Harvard University
Stephanie is an assistant director, Due Diligence and Research at Harvard University. She has worked at Harvard since 2008 and in her current role, supports the University's international efforts and due diligence. Stephanie is Vice President of the NEDRA board and co-chairs the Advocacy and Professional Development and Scholarship committees.


Session 4: Prospect Management


Nicole Fonsh, Harvard Law School
Since 2019, Nicole has held the role of Director of Prospect Development at Harvard Law School. Previously, she spent five years as the director of prospect development at The New School where she was responsible for providing strategic vision, leadership, and planning for the university’s prospect development program with an emphasis on major gift development and solicitation. She began her prospect research career over a decade ago at Harvard University. Previously, she worked at Bain Capital in their Research Library providing global staff with industry-specific research and due diligence. Before receiving her master's degree in library and information science from Simmons University, Nicole spent seven years working on the Agency Lending Desk at Goldman Sachs. She holds a bachelor's degree from Northeastern University. 


Session 5: Data Analytics


Steve Grimes, Legal Defense Fund at the NAACP

Steve started his career in prospect research in 2006 at St. John's University as a development researcher. In 2012, he moved on to academia as a doctoral student at Rutgers University studying the sociology of emotions. Just as the Trump administration came into the White House in 2016, he felt that the academic route was not the path for him and decided to return to fundraising as a prospect research analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the national office. In 2018, when an opportunity came available to work at Jazz at Lincoln Center, he became the organization's first Director of Development Strategy & Analytics. In 2020, at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, Steve was fortunate enough to be recruited by the NYC Mayor's Office as their Assistant Director of Data Analytics for the New York City Mayor's Office of Data Analytics (MODA), where he was proud to serve his home as a native New Yorker. Wanting to return to something familiar, but different, Steve came back to the fundraising world in 2021 as a consultant with The Helen Brown Group (HBG) where he served as the firm's Assistant Director of Data Insight. Recognizing that his strengths were best suited for a brick-and-mortar organization, Steve moved on from HBG to the Legal Defense Fund at the NAACP in 2023 as the organization's first ever Director of Prospect Development and Analytics.

 

When time allows, Steve enjoys video games, journaling, baking oatmeal cookies, breathing, and marveling about the amount of luck he has had during his career.


Session 6: Directors/Leaders Panel


Moderator:

Jackie Arko, Harvard University

Jackie is the Managing Director of FAS Research at Harvard University Alumni Affairs and Development. In this role, she works in close consultation with Faculty of Arts and Sciences senior leaders and AA&D Prospect Management to devise, direct, coordinate, and implement high-level research strategies for the FAS fundraising teams. Jackie started her development career at an arts education nonprofit that supported a roster of more than 100 teaching artists across Massachusetts and the surrounding states. In 2012, she began her Harvard career as a Development Coordinator with the FAS Campaign Initiatives team during the Harvard Campaign and later transitioned to an Assistant Director role on the Development Operations team. She officially shifted her career path to prospect research in 2015 and has been dedicated to the work ever since. Jackie has a BA in Theater from Boston College, where is currently an adjunct faculty member, teaching two courses in the Theater Department. Additionally, she is on the staff of the Independent Film Festival Boston, produces and hosts a comedy variety show that has been running since 2011, and volunteers with a canine rescue organization that transports dogs from the southern United States to Massachusetts, where they are adopted into loving homes.

Panelists:

Katie Macrina, Massachusetts General Hospital
Katie is the Managing Director of Prospect Management and Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. Prior to joining MGH, Katie was the Associate Director of Development Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She has also contributed to the prospect research efforts of both Boston University and Northeastern University. Katie received her BA in English from Saint Anselm College and MA in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University. She is passionate about investing in the growth of her team and collaborating with development colleagues to find solutions leveraging data and systems. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family, trying new recipes, gardening, and all things Disney! 


Jill Meister, Yale University

Jill is the Director, Prospect Development at Yale University. Jill has over 25 years of prospect development experience and she has held director level roles at multiple institutions. Her areas of focus and responsibility have included: advancement services and operations, prospect management, analytics, research, records management, reporting, annual fund, stewardship, and donor relations. Throughout her career she has been a part of eight capital campaigns. Jill is a former president of Apra, and also a former president of NEDRA. Over the past 15 years, she has been involved with setting best practice and education for the profession. Jill has an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a BS in Management from Franklin Pierce University. 


Colleen O’Donnell, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Colleen is the Director of Research & Prospect Development at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she oversees prospect research and prospect management.  Prior to joining the MFA in 2016, she worked in prospect research at Northeastern University for ten years, most recently serving as Associate Director with a focus on prospect identification.  She currently serves on NEDRA’s Board of Directors as co-chair of the programming committee.



3-5 Learning Program Guides


Ruthie Giles, University of New Hampshire and Staupell Analytics Group

Ruthie is a renowned thought leader in the field of prospect management. With over two decades of experience in prospect management, Ruthie teaches courses on how to develop prospect management systems and offers targeted trainings in various aspects of prospect management work. Ruthie is the Director of Prospect Research and Management at the University of New Hampshire. She is also Partner, Prospect Development with Staupell Analytics Group. Previously she worked at Westfield State University, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, The Loomis Chaffee School, and the Williston Northampton School.  Ruthie is a NEDRA board member. She is also a member of the AASP Best Practices - Prospect Development committee. She is the former Board President of the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the former Board Vice President for Women in Philanthropy of Western Mass. Ruthie holds a BA from Smith College, and MBA from University of Massachusetts at Amherst – Isenberg School of Management, and an MS in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy from Bay Path University.


Steve Grimes, Legal Defense Fund at the NAACP

Steve started his career in prospect research in 2006 at St. John's University as a development researcher. In 2012, he moved on to academia as a doctoral student at Rutgers University studying the sociology of emotions. Just as the Trump administration came into the White House in 2016, he felt that the academic route was not the path for him and decided to return to fundraising as a prospect research analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the national office. In 2018, when an opportunity came available to work at Jazz at Lincoln Center, he became the organization's first Director of Development Strategy & Analytics. In 2020, at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, Steve was fortunate enough to be recruited by the NYC Mayor's Office as their Assistant Director of Data Analytics for the New York City Mayor's Office of Data Analytics (MODA), where he was proud to serve his home as a native New Yorker. Wanting to return to something familiar, but different, Steve came back to the fundraising world in 2021 as a consultant with The Helen Brown Group (HBG) where he served as the firm's Assistant Director of Data Insight. Recognizing that his strengths were best suited for a brick-and-mortar organization, Steve moved on from HBG to the Legal Defense Fund at the NAACP in 2023 as the organization's first ever Director of Prospect Development and Analytics.

 

When time allows, Steve enjoys video games, journaling, baking oatmeal cookies, breathing, and marveling about the amount of luck he has had during his career.


Elana Pierkowski, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Elana is an Associate Director at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Prior to joining DFCI as a Senior Research Analyst in 2015, she was a Development Services and Prospect Manager at the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and a Director of Advancement Operations at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Previously, she worked at MIT Sloan. Before her career in non-profits, Elana was a consultant in Web design and content management. She has B.A. degrees from Wesleyan University in English Literature and in Spanish Literature. Elana previously served on the NEDRA Board, including two years as Vice President. Her Golden Retriever, Lilly, thinks Elana is the absolute best at throwing tennis balls in the park, but Lilly says that about everybody.


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