Instructor Biographies: Bayer Center

Instructor Biographies

Carmen Anderson is director of equity and social justice at The Heinz Endowments. She leads efforts to address social injustice and inequity in communities served by the Endowments. Prior to joining the Endowments in 2000, Carmen was the executive director of Healthy Start, Inc., a federal public health initiative to reduce infant mortality in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Carmen has a master’s degree in mental health, a bachelor’s degree in mass and interpersonal communications, and certificates in nonprofit management, business administration and victim services. She has received the U.S. Department of Human Services Commissioners Award for outstanding service in the field.

Lynette Asson, principal of New Place Collaborations, is an events and marketing maven who creates powerful marketing strategies for businesses and nonprofits. She produces events ranging from intimate receptions to large convention center shows. Lynette worked as national production manager for the International Beauty Show. Her expertise includes adult learning, artist relations, and trade show management for international corporations Goldwell/KMS, Wella, and Redken. This johannes factotum enjoys working with Pittsburgh-area nonprofits and corporations, including the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management and its clients, Crisis Center North and Pittsburgh Festival Opera.

Valerie Beichner, Executive Director of Friends of the Riverfront, is a seasoned nonprofit professional with experience in organizational efficiency, fundraising, community and economic development and more. At Friends, Valerie is tasked with reviving an organization in transition through program, fund development and volunteer diversification. She has significant experience in green building and green building products, sustainable corporate culture, advocacy and organizational leadership. Valerie is also President of Élan Evolutions, LLC, a nonprofit management consulting firm. Valerie earned a B.A. in political science at Clarion University and an M.S. in organization leadership from RMU. An avid runner and ultra-marathoner, Valerie is a volunteer coach for a local Girls on the Run team and a volunteer professional mentor for the RMU Women’s Leadership & Mentorship Program.

Dave Bindewald is Founder and Director of the Center for Play and Exploration. His training in Education, Theology, Psychology, and Philosophy have led him to a fascination with the power of curiosity to unlock potential in people and organizations. His experiences with the Center have convinced him that human life and work can be an act of playful exploration. He loves old couples, being surprised, and the rock and roll.

Paul Block has been a CPA for 40 years, working in the nonprofit arena as a tax preparer and consultant for over 20 of those years. He is a member of the AICPA and PICPA where he is a member of the Committee on Schools and Colleges and Community Involvement. He serves on the boards of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh (treasurer), Chatham Baroque (treasurer), Humane Animal Rescue, The Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program and Service Coordination Unlimited (treasurer). He is an Advisory Board member of POWER, The Tamburitzans and WQED. He is an ESC consultant for The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management and the Covestro Center for Community Engagement.

Stephanie Bucklew has over twenty years’ experience in enterprise risk management with a concentration in the financial services industry, serving primarily as a risk manager and consultant. Her ultimate goal is to provide services to advance the mission of nonprofits by cutting expenditures and adding to the bottom line.

Joel Burstein, the owner of Keep It Simple Training and Development, is a savvy entrepreneur with 19 years of business development experience. In 2016 Joel partnered with Sandler Training to provide a selling method shrouded in simplicity. Joel earned his bachelor’s degree in less than 4 years from The University of Miami. He then went on to achieve several professional certifications from NYU along with completing a prestigious, invite only program, at Wharton University of Pennsylvania. Joel’s Keep It Simple approach to business development has earned him three “40 under 40,” most recently the New Pittsburgh Courier’s “Fab 40.”

Wendy Burtner-Owens has more than 25 years’ experience managing and growing foundations and nonprofit organizations. Before joining Steeltown Entertainment Project as Interim CEO, Wendy led the Capital Region Collaborative in Richmond Virginia, was Executive Director of the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, COO of Comfort Zone Camp, founding Manager of the CarMax Foundation, and the Director of Grantmaker Services for GuideStar. She has also been an independent consultant to start-up businesses, foundations and nonprofit organizations. Wendy has a history of working collaboratively to develop strong internal and external relationships. She is also a successful fundraiser – obtaining individual donations, foundation and government grants from $30 to $3,000,000.

Esther L. Bush is President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. She has progressed in leadership since joining the Urban League movement in 1980, from Assistant Director, Labor Education Advancement Program for the National Urban League, to Borough Director of both the Staten Island and Manhattan Branches of the New York Urban League, to President of the Urban League of Greater Hartford, and is the first female to serve in each of her last four positions. She was one of ten Americans recognized in 2013 at the White House as a Champion of Change in educational excellence for African Americans.

Garrett Cooper has spent years immersed in the financial, nonprofit, and technology sectors. Today, Garrett is the CEO of BenefitMany, a web and mobile app development agency with offices in Pittsburgh, Reno, and San Diego. BenefitMany helps small businesses, startups, and nonprofits to bring their app ideas to fruition. Prior to BenefitMany, Garrett was the COO of MortarStone, a leading donor analytics software provider to churches. Garrett holds degrees in finance (B.S. and M.S.) and nonprofit management (M.S.) and is a graduate of Academy Pittsburgh. He is also the founder and Chairperson of The Robert M. Rodrigues Fund, a nonprofit that gives back to his high school community.

Michele Rone Cooper is Executive Director of McAuley Ministries Foundation, the grantmaking arm of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System. McAuley Ministries has awarded more than 350 grants with awards totaling more than $15 million and was selected in 2013 as the Outstanding Foundation by AFP Pittsburgh. Michele’s professional career includes positions at Magee-Women’s Hospital, the Health Systems Agency of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System. Michele is a member of the board of the Falk Foundation and volunteers with the Hill District Education Council and Everybody Wins!, a Reading is FUNdamental lunchtime literacy and mentoring program at Pittsburgh Weil PreK-5 in the Hill District.

Luci Dabney, Executive Director of PACE, has an eclectic and general professional background in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Her areas of specialty include organizational assessment, strategic and business planning, program development and evaluation and resource development strategy. An experienced consultant, facilitator, public speaker and trainer, she is the former Executive Director of the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County where she supervised an annual grants budget of over $7 million. Luci earned her bachelor of business administration from the University of Michigan and a master of business administration from the University of Houston.

Brenda Dare is the President of Dare Enterprises, Inc., a human resource business solutions that partners with clients in the nonprofit and for-profit arena, offering customized, outsourced consulting services to meet daily HR challenges without the expense of hiring staff. Additionally, larger organizations benefit by using Dare as an extension of their busy human resources team for special projects. Prior to founding Dare Enterprises in 1996, Brenda held various key management positions in HR and operations management during her career with a multi-million dollar division of Xerox Corporation. She serves as board chair of Lifesteps, located in Butler, PA and is a member of the SHRM and the PHRA.

John Denny has played a lead role in diverse humanitarian, corporate, public affairs, and philanthropic initiatives throughout his entire career, from his leadership with the Allegheny Regional Asset District, to the successful Save Our Summer Campaign, to his long career as special assistant and consultant to Mrs. Elsie Hillman. He has been honored with RMU’s Alumni Achievement Award, Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 under 40, The Pittsburgh Business Times’ Changemakers of the Year, and Pittsburgh Magazine’s Pittsburghers of the Year 2002. He is member of the Board of Trustees for numerous local organizations, including Carlow University, and the YWCA’s Center for Race and Gender Equity.

Jeremy V. Farrell, Esq. is a trial lawyer who helps employers with the many legal issues they encounter in the workplace. In addition to representing them in court and before administrative agencies, he assists them with the day-to-day legalities of managing a workplace, including complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act; reviewing pay practices; preventing and investigating discrimination and harassment claims; drafting non-compete, non-solicitation, and confidentiality agreements; revising employee handbooks and workplace policies; handling claims for unemployment compensation; and offering guidance on personnel matters, such as terminations and other disciplinary issues.

Jeff Fromknecht is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Side Project Inc. He has more than 10 years of experience working at nonprofit organizations in a variety of direct service and administrative roles. Most recently, Jeff worked as a community partner at United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh, where he developed and evaluated programs designed to help people with disabilities to build social capital. Jeff holds graduate degrees in both social work and law, is licensed to practice law in Florida and Pennsylvania, and has been admitted to practice before the United States Tax Courts throughout the country.

Jake Goodman is the Executive Director of the Opportunity Fund. He is an educator, performer, and activist with extensive experience in the nonprofit world. He is a founding member of the NY-based activist group, Queer Rising, which demands full equality and dignity for all LGBTQ people. BFA, Acting, Emerson College; MA, Experiential Jewish Education, Jewish Theological Seminary.

Phyllis G. Hartman, SHRM- SCP, SPHR, the founder and President of PGHR Consulting, Inc. has 25+ years in HR. A speaker on recruiting, workforce development and other HR and business topics, Phyllis is a member of the SHRM Ethics Expert Panel and the Government Advocacy Team. She has an MS in HRM, La Roche College and is a certified Senior Professional in HR. Phyllis has written three books, “A Manager’s Guide to Developing Competencies in HR Staff,” “Looking to Hire an HR Leader?” and “Never Get Lost Again: Navigating Your HR Career.” She is a volunteer HR consultant for the Ward Home, Inc., and a past Board of Trustee member for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund.

Michelle Pagano Heck, President of Nonprofit Talent, has worked with the nonprofit community to improve the capacity of organizations through leadership consulting, organizational assessment, transition management and executive recruitment for 30 years. A graduate of The College of Wooster, she received her M.Ed. in Educational Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to starting Nonprofit Talent, Michelle was Senior Consultant with Dewey & Kaye. In addition to her background as a strategy consultant and talent recruiter, Michelle was the Assistant Director of Admission for Allegheny

College, a therapist and a school counselor, holding her PA state license as a guidance counselor.

Yvonne Hudson, principal of New Place Collaborations, is a versatile marketing/PR expert who creates mission-driven solutions for nonprofits and businesses. She directed higher education communications for Carnegie Mellon, Chatham, New York Law, Yeshiva University, and University of Pittsburgh Theatre Arts. Her work in New York, DC, and Pittsburgh includes projects for the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management and its clients, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Crisis Center North, and Pittsburgh in the Round. A journalism and psychology alumna of Point Park University, Yvonne earned an M.A. in arts management and developed her solo show, Mrs Shakespeare, at Pitt.

Emma Kieran brings more than 16 years of fundraising experience to Pilot Peak Consulting. She has worked with over 50 nonprofits in her career as a coach, teacher and change agent. Previously, Emma was the Vice President for Fundraising and Development at Orr Associates, Inc. (OAI) and a consultant with Changing Our World (CW). Emma holds an M.A. from Columbia University in organizational psychology, an M.P.A. from American University in nonprofit management and a B.A. from Connecticut College. Emma is a dedicated volunteer for The Ellis School for Girls, her alma mater, and for Girls on the Run.

Lisa M. Kuzma is Senior Program Officer at the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for 20 years in the commercial banking industry, then shifted her financial management background to assisting nonprofits achieve long term sustainability with Deloitte & Touche and then at the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University. Over this period, Lisa had the privilege of working with nonprofits to build income streams, diversified contributed revenue bases and rationalized expense structures in many innovative and forward-thinking ways. She received her bachelor’s degree in finance from the Pennsylvania State University and M.B.A. from Duquesne University.

Catherine A. Lada, D.Sc. has 16 years of nonprofit experience including leading two foundations as executive director; managing over 800 volunteers and overseeing program and product development in seven professional development areas; and leading two national branding campaigns. She is adjunct faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University, and Robert Morris University. She recently served on the board of directors of New Sun Rising and is faculty advisor for Phi Gamma Nu. Catherine received her doctorate in Information Systems and Communications from RMU, her M.S. in Administration from Central Michigan University, and her B.A. in Economics from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Albert S. Lee is a seasoned employment and labor law attorney who has assisted employers with their human resources issues since 1992. Although his clients are quite varied, they are concentrated in the manufacturing, healthcare, service, hospitality and educational sectors. Albert has provided guidance on day-to-day personnel matters such as FMLA situations, employee disciplines and discharges. He is a member of the adjunct faculty of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Penn State University New Kensington, La Roche College and St. Francis University and has served as a guest lecturer at many other institutions of higher learning including Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University.

Ed Lettieri is a Vice President, and Director of Business Development at Hefren-Tillotson. Ed is an Investment Advisor Representative, and a Registered Representative. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where he has also been an instructor for the Emerging Leader program, and served as the Alumni President for the PAXO chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Ed is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh XXIX and is a board member at Magee Womens Research Institute and Foundation. He is a lector at his church, and involved with his neighborhood association.

Mark Lynch, principal of Mark J. Lynch and Associates, LLC, has more than 30 years of experience in fundraising, communications, marketing and branding, and organizational development for nonprofit organizations including fundraising consulting through Ketchum, Inc., and A.L. Brourman Associates, Inc. Mark is a registered fundraising consultant in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He is active in the community, currently serving on the Community Advisory Board of the Allegheny Regional Asset District, and has served on many other committees and boards for nonprofit organizations including Support Inc. and the Sewickley YMCA. He is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh, Class XIII.

Dave Onomastico is the director of the youth and media program at Steeltown Entertainment Project with over 10 years’ experience in video production, photography, multimedia management, sales, and marketing. A graduate of Duquesne University, Dave began his career by working as photographer/videographer with the documentary group ALT Project, where he was part of a team that won three Telly awards for cinematic excellence. Dave has worked in sales, management and marketing with companies such as Apple, Pythio, JSO Technologies, and FOX 53. He has worked with small business clients managing new ventures, start-ups, marketing, and multimedia projects.

Dr. Jo Ellen Parker is a former college president and museum executive with extensive fundraising experience. As President and CEO of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh she oversaw the successful campaign to expand the Carnegie Science Center. And as a long-time educator she loves sharing information to help nonprofit leaders and their organizations thrive.

David Primm is CEO of Primm Research Network, a crosssector team of experts specializing in economic impact, market research, and analysis. He has personally assisted more than 200 public and private organizations within the social enterprise, economic development, hospitality and tourism, and healthcare sectors. When not helping customers identify economic impact solutions, David volunteers his time; advocating for youth mentoring programs, community services, and eliminating food waste.

Jordon Rooney is the Founder/CEO of Never Fear Being Different. He started off as a speaker traveling to 140 schools in 14 states, then used that to build an online presence. Last year he grew to 140,000 followers receiving over 20 million video views. NFBD’s flagship program is “Vlog University: A social media marketing agency run by high school students.” He works with large companies and nonprofits on social media strategy and content creation.

Melanie Rutan works with a wide variety of nonprofit clients at Bookminders, where she serves as an accountant and trainer. She received her B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting from West Virginia State College in 1988 (Summa Cum Laude). Melanie was an Examiner-In-Charge with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for 11 years before joining Bookminders in 2001.

Abigail Salisbury, J.D., MPPM, is a PA-licensed attorney whose law practice, Salisbury Legal, LLC, focuses on serving the particular legal needs of nonprofits. As the former Executive Director of JURIST, a nonprofit legal news organization at Pitt Law, Abigail trained and managed several dozen volunteer staffers. Before starting her solo practice, she worked on international law and development projects in Kosovo, Ethiopia, and Senegal, and also worked as an academic research contract negotiator.

James R. Sismour Jr. has 29 years of experience building major gift relationships with donors in higher education, hospitals, and religious organizations. Currently he is a gift and charitable estate planning officer for the business schools at Pitt and he is a fundraising service provider for a select group of nonprofits across multiple sectors. Jim graduated from Gannon University in Erie. He is a board member of the Pittsburgh Planned Giving Council, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School and the Edgewood Foundation. Jim and his wife Jeanine have five children living across the United States, from Philadelphia to San Francisco.

Rev. Sally Jo Snyder is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and works in justice ministry settings as a community organizer on local, state and national levels, focusing on issues which impact marginalized populations, children, the impoverished, members of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. Since March of 2007, Snyder has been on staff of the Consumer Health Coalition where she is the Director of Advocacy and Consumer Engagement. Sally Jo serves as the Vice-Chairperson for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities and is chairperson of the Health Workgroup.

Lauren Steiner, President and Founder of Grants Plus, is past president of the Grant Professionals Association Ohio– Northern Chapter and an active member and former board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland Chapter. She is an alumna of Cleveland Bridge Builders and was named one of the “Top 25 Under 35” in 2007 by Inside Business Magazine. To fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a puppy washer, she volunteers at Love-A-Stray dog shelter where she walks dogs and cleans cages. Lauren holds a B.S. in Telecommunications from Ohio University and a JD from Cleveland State University, Cleveland Marshall College of Law, where she remains active in the Alumni Association.

Brian Tedeschi of Think Communications, Inc. is a 30-year public relations, advertising and product launch veteran – bringing strategic communications expertise to bear for leading healthcare, consumer and specialty brands seeking to define, separate and lift sales for their organizations. Founded in 1998, Think Communications, Inc., is a leading integrated marketing solutions firm based in Pittsburgh, delivering seniorlevel strategic communication experience, public relations, advertising and business planning alongside a passion for execution to move objectives forward for clients.

Christie Tillapaugh is a Director and member of the Corporate & Tax Group at Cohen & Grigsby with a focus on counseling public, private and nonprofit companies with respect to corporate matters, corporate governance, securities law compliance and corporate transactions. Christie currently

Chairs the Firm’s Talent Management Team and is a member of the Cohen & Grigsby Diversity & Inclusion Committee. She is currently serving her second appointment as co-chair of the Allegheny County Bar Association Gender Equality Committee, a strategic advisory committee, which launched the Women’s Institute of Leadership in Law. Christie is a member of the Penn State Law Board of Advisors.

Maria Townsend, PhD, is adjunct faculty for the University of Pittsburgh and president of Townsend Associates LLC, offering evaluation, training and consultation. Since 1999, Maria has worked independently and collaboratively evaluating local, state and national programs, conducting needs assessments, and identifying and measuring child indicators. She has taught graduate level courses in evaluation, quantitative and qualitative research methods, family and child issues, and policy analysis for the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, the School of Education, and the School of Social Work. Maria received her doctorate in developmental psychology from Michigan State University.

Trina Walker is the Lead Consultant for TLW Strategy, a consulting firm designed to help nonprofits create efficiencies in their plans, people and processes so they can have a greater impact. Trina has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership, strategy and marketing experience in healthcare,  advertising, consulting, education, religious and cultural organizations. She has helped organizations with strategic planning, organizational change, staff development, fundraising, marketing and communications. Prior to launching her own consulting company, Trina served as Director of Communications and Creative Services at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and Director of Marketing and Outreach at the University of Pittsburgh’s College of General Studies.

Todd Whiteman is the Executive Vice President at Enscoe Long Insurance Group, specializing in providing programs and consulting to the nonprofit sector. He is an active member of the community, including board service with Association of Fundraising Professionals and Pittsburgh Planned Giving

Council. Todd was a founding member and first President of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Pittsburgh, and worked to promote an efficient, viable and inclusive nonprofit sector focusing on the growth, learning and development of young professionals. His commitment to the sector also includes board service and volunteer work with the First Tee of Pittsburgh, Mental Health America Allegheny County, Junior Achievement and others.

Michael Yoon is a Senior Vice President and Director of Investments for PNC Institutional Asset Management. He has oversight of the nine investment advisors in Institutional, along with direct responsibility of various clients in Institutional. He has over 20 years of investment experience, including Bank of New York Mellon and Citigroup.