2021 Keynotes

Building Philanthropic Partnerships that Lead to Transformational Giving with Ron Schiller

Each organization has donors with the potential to make that organization a priority in their giving–they will see that organization as a principal partner in their philanthropy, helping them achieve an impact on society that is important and meaningful to them. With deep belief and sustained confidence in that organization, some of these donors will make that organization the beneficiary of the largest gifts they will make in their lifetimes, and some of these gifts will be transformational for the organization. Examining what transformational donors say about their own giving, we will discuss how we can position our organizations, beginning with a donor’s first gifts, to build effective philanthropic partnerships that lead to the largest gifts of a lifetime.

Ron Schiller, Founding Partner and Senior Consultant at Aspen Leadership Group, is a nationally recognized advisor to presidents, chief advancement officers, board members, and other leaders and emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector. Since 2011, he has focused his attention on executive search, strategic consulting, writing, and speaking about philanthropy, drawing on his experience as fundraising leader, executive team member, board member, and search consultant built over a 30-year career.

Ron has held leadership positions in seven educational and cultural institutions, including the University of Chicago, where he led a team of more than 450 that completed a $2.3 billion campaign and facilitated two nine-figure gifts. He serves on the faculty of the annual CASE conference, “Inspiring the Largest Gifts of a Lifetime” and has served as co-chair of CASE’s Winter Institute for Chief Development Officers. He is the author of four books: The Chief Development Officer: Beyond Fundraising (Rowman & Littlefield), Belief and Confidence: Donors Talk About Successful Philanthropic Partnership (CASE), Raising Your Organization’s Largest Gifts: A Principal Gifts Handbook (CASE), and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Advancement: A Guide to Strengthening Engagement and Fundraising Through Inclusion (CASE), co-authored with Angelique Grant. He is a regular speaker for regional and national conferences of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, CASE, League of American Orchestras, and gift planning organizations, among others, and he is a recipient of CASE’s Crystal Apple Teaching Award.

Ron has served on the Cornell University Council and on the boards of the American Friends of Covent Garden, Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the Cornell University Glee Club, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Aspen’s Buddy Program, the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Salt Bay Chamberfest, and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.

Prior to founding Aspen Leadership Group, he served as President of the NPR Foundation, Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development at the University of Chicago, and in various leadership roles at Carnegie Mellon University, Northeastern University, New England Conservatory of Music, and the Eastman School of Music. He began his career in philanthropy at Cornell during the university’s groundbreaking $1.25 billion campaign in the late 1980s.

DEI Fundraising and Stewardship: Engaging Diverse Donors for Growth, Impact and Change, a panel discussion

As non-profits and institutions of higher learning look to increase new donors, working to increase engagement with diverse populations is key.  A panel of multicultural female leaders discuss the engagement tactics that have worked within their organizations, including targeted programs, culturally relevant giving opportunities, volunteer recruitment, stewardship and recognition. Increase your organization’s fundraising efforts by building stronger relationships with diverse donors using timely and impactful strategies from these pros.

Please join the esteemed panel below for this NEAGC 2021 keynote:

Rachel Vassel | Associate Vice President, Multicultural Advancement, Syracuse University

Rachel Vassel leads diverse alumni engagement and fundraising at Syracuse University. As the assistant vice president of the Office of Multicultural Advancement, she and her team host SU’s award-winning Black and Latino alumni reunion, “Coming Back Together (CBT),” targeted regional events and trips, and have oversight for the Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholarship program (benefitting high-performing underrepresented students with and unmet financial need). Under her leadership, these programs have resulted in a 60 percent increase in Black and Latino alumni gifts.

Prior to joining Syracuse, Vassel led nationwide multicultural marketing for the American Cancer Society. Prior to becoming a non-profit executive, she enjoyed a 20-year career in entertainment, brand marketing and account management, holding leadership positions with Turner Broadcasting, The Weather Channel, Music Choice and Young and Rubicam.

Vassel holds a dual BS in public relations and marketing from Syracuse University and resides in Atlanta with her husband and three children.  

Zuleika Johnson | Vice President of Opportunity and Outreach, El Pomar Foundation

Zuleika Johnson serves as the Vice President of Opportunity and Outreach and has more than 10 years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector. In her role at El Pomar, Zuleika oversees the Emerging Leaders Development (ELD) program; a program designed to cultivate diverse leadership potential in Southern Colorado through professional development and civic engagement opportunities. 

Zuleika began her career in philanthropy in New York City where she worked to support homeless families and raised funds for a cancer center and a girls’ mentoring program. Upon moving to Colorado, she worked with non-profits in Colorado Springs helping to expand their volunteer programs and corporate donor initiatives. In her last role, she served as an Associate Director of Development with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs where she helped to launch a diverse alumni outreach and fundraising initiative. 

Zuleika earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics and Gender Women’s Studies from Connecticut College in 2010. She also received her master’s in Public Administration from The City College of New York and in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

Clarybel Peguero | Sr. Director Volunteer Engagement, Duke Alumni Association

Dr. Clarybel Peguero has over 20 years in higher education administration and has provided consulting services for a variety of institutions, corporations, and associations. She is an expert in setting strategy, leadership development, implementation and administration of diversity and inclusion initiatives. She has designed and delivered trainings related to inclusion, unconscious bias, cultural competence, and microaggressions, just to name a few. She has extensive experience in organizational culture and change management and does this by identifying trends, using data analytics to create sustainable metrics. Clarybel is passionate about board governance and specializes in effective board management and developing high-performing boards.

In her current position at Duke University, she is responsible for volunteer engagement of over 16,000 Alumni which includes creating and developing processes and procedures with the goal of improving efficiency and the overall experience. She focuses on recruitment and retention efforts, that include coordinating strategy, identifying trends and data analytics. She is responsible for curriculum development and integrating leadership development by facilitating onboarding initiatives, trainings and opportunities. She also manages affinity program which consists of Black, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ+  Alumni. She serves as the primary staff contact for the DAA Board of Directors and is responsible for the development and onboarding/offboarding experience, coordinating three (3) on-site meetings and the mentor/mentee program.

Clarybel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the Maxwell School of Citizenship at Syracuse University and holds a Masters in Higher Education Administration from the University of South Carolina. She earned a Doctorate in Organization Leadership and Communications from Northeastern University. Her dissertation is entitled “The re-conceptualization of historically white fraternities and sororities; the black student experience”. Clarybel is a Life Member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., a member of the Links, Inc. Durham (NC) Chapter, National Smart Set and attends World Overcomers Christian Church.

Tarsha Calloway | Vice President, Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta (MODERATOR)

Tarsha Calloway has extensive experience in leadership development, business strategy and inclusion & belonging and process improvements, in both for profit and non-profit sectors. 

Ms. Calloway has held management positions in marketing and sales at Marriott International, US Airways and Porsche Cars North America, where she has been highly successful in developing and strategies designed to reduce costs, drive business growth, and respond to evolving customer and constituent needs.  In the non-profit sector, Ms. Calloway has developed strategies at the American Cancer Society designed to generate revenue and create partnership synergies, focused on corporate engagement, executive philanthropy and community mobilization.  She has also trained and coached fundraising professionals on effective fundraising techniques, prospecting and closing deals. Ms. Calloway has also led the Society’s efforts to develop and expand its organizational diversity and inclusion strategy.  

Ms. Calloway is currently the Managing Partner at Philanthropy Fortified, an advisory company focused on helping organizations with fundraising strategies, board development, inclusion strategies and training.  Previously, she was Vice President of Advancement for the Woodruff Arts Center.  Where she leads corporate fundraising, development operations, stewardship & donor engagement.

Ms. Calloway has experience leading shared services operational and fundraising functions, which include developing strategy and providing direction for multi-dimensional executive and corporate engagement initiatives for multi-million-dollar nonprofit organizations.  Ms. Calloway is a feature columnist for NonProfit PRO magazine and writes a monthly blog, Fundraising Connections, where she shares her insights and expertise on corporate engagement and philanthropy; diversity and philanthropy; and foundation funding strategies.  She also holds a professorship at LaGrange College, teaching The President, the Board and Strategic Planning for the Masters of Arts in Philanthropy and Development Program.

Ms. Calloway has also worked internationally helping executives and their teams develop the skills and strategies needed to compete in a global environment.  A highly effective workshop facilitator, her primary foci are developing effective communication skills, political savvy and executive presence.  Her international work has taken her to China, Africa, Europe, Latin America and United Arab Emirates. 

Ms. Calloway is very active in her community.  Some of her involvement include Tessitura Global Network Equity & Inclusion Council; Board of Trustees for Destination Imagination; Executive Committee for Leadership DeKalb; Board of Directors for Historically Black Colleges & Universities Hall of Fame; and the first African-American Board Chair of the Atlanta Shakespeare Theater. 

Ms. Calloway holds a M.B.A. in International Business from Mercer University Stetson School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Theater from Texas Southern University.  Ms. Calloway was named the 2018 Nonprofit Professional of the Year; the Atlanta Journal Constitution 2018 Woman of the Year for Nonprofit/Community and was named as a 2019 Woman of Distinction for Community by the Atlanta Region of March of Dimes.  

Ms. Calloway resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and son.

Karen Hamilton | Senior Associate Director of Stewardship, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

A native Philadelphian, Karen is an experienced communications and advancement professional at the University of Pennsylvania, where she has held various roles since completing her undergraduate degree in communications. She also holds a master’s degree in journalism from Temple University. Her passion for initiatives that support diversity and inclusion was shaped by her own experience with programs that provide access to education and opportunity. Currently as the senior associate director of stewardship at the Wharton School, Karen is responsible for the strategic planning of the School’s stewardship program to engage current and prospective donors, alumni, and friends. She manages a team whose efforts help cultivate lifelong relationships between donors and the School and advance their philanthropic support of priorities in global business education. As associate director of communications and stewardship in undergraduate financial aid development, she developed and executed stewardship and communications strategies for named scholarships with a special emphasis on annual reporting and personalized stewardship for major donors as well as the print and digital content related to these efforts. In other roles at Penn, Karen served as a member of the senior leadership team for the Vice President of Finance and Treasurer, where she helped develop and lead the communications strategy for the University’s distinct grant-based financial aid program; served as the department’s media liaison for campus, local, regional, and national press; and helped initiate efforts to collaborate with campus partners and student groups to support the needs of specific populations, including first-generation, low-income, and international students. She remains an advocate for underrepresented populations at Penn as a member of the Mayor’s Scholars Advisory Board, PennFirst mentor, and member of the James Brister Society, a Penn alumni group committed to shaping the campus experience of students, faculty, and staff of color. She served as the instructor of a communications workshop for the Pipeline for Promise program at Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice, which provides foundational skills for students exploring the field of social work, and taught as an adjunct instructor in the English department of the Community College of Philadelphia. Karen has served as a host/mentor and volunteer faculty member for the CASE Summer Advancement Internship Program, and was a member of the inaugural DAR Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force at Penn.