Presenter Bios

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  • September 29, 2023 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Erik Tomalis is a proven fundraising professional and has always been forward thinking, donor and people driven, but most of all results oriented. With over 20 years of professional fundraising experience, Erik has made over 4,000 face-to-face donor solicitations where he raised millions of dollars for many non-profit organizations, including areas of: healthcare, education, human services, Greek, athletics and youth-based organizations.

    His expansive range of expertise includes: mid-level giving, major giving, capital campaign management, annual fund management, case/program development, direct mail development, strategy development, relationship building, volunteer management, board recruitment & management, gift officer training & development, and non-profit management.

    During his experience at Pursuant Ketchum and TrueSense Marketing, Erik counseled many successful capital campaigns ranging from $1M to $100M, managed over 100 face-to-face gift officers, provided coaching and guidance to organizations with revenue ranging from $500k to $50M. At Pursuant and TrueSense, Erik created, managed, counseled and lead all the mid-level and major giving initiatives and strategies for these agencies.

    His experience at the Boy Scouts of America and Sigma Nu Foundation, Erik has a keen understanding of what it takes to be a successful frontline fundraiser, annual giving director, special events planner, foundations manager or foundation executive; as he served in all of these roles in his career.

    At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Allegheny Health Network, Erik developed and executed comprehensive fundraising programs including: grateful patient programs, gift planning, strategic partnerships, patient liaisons, marketing and cultivating relationships among physicians, surgeons, medical personnel and corporate leadership.

    Through all of, Erik understands the ways to be successful in your nonprofit organization and career. Erik resides in the Pittsburgh area with his wife, Kate and their excited sheltie puppies (Winnie & Willett). He is an Eagle Scout and is a graduate of Duquesne University and The Lilly School of Philanthropy.

    Erik is active in his community and participates in local organizations: Boy Scouts of America, JDRF, Duquesne Alumni Council and St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Erik is an avid Duquesne Basketball and Pittsburgh sports fan; he enjoys skiing, trapshooting, outdoor activities, and spending time with family and friends.

    To connect with Erik, please connect by email at or cell phone at 412-427-9834

  • September 29, 2023 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Dr. Stephanie J. Adam is an Associate Professor of Management, focusing on Human Resource Management, as well as the MBA Program Coordinator for PennWest University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from Mercyhurst University, her Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management from La Roche University and her Doctorate in Business Administration Human Resource Management emphasis, from Northcentral University. Prior to joining the full-time faculty at PennWest-California in the fall of 2016, Dr. Adam taught for several universities both online and in person as an adjunct faculty member. She worked for seven years in Human Resources for a small manufacturing company in Western PA while attending graduate school prior to that. Her research interests include: innovation in MBA design, online learning best practices, service learning, and small business-education alliances in the classroom.

  • September 29, 2023 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Jim Olsen’s fundraising journey began over three decades ago in Wisconsin. As administrator and teacher for a newly-established music program for children, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Jim was surprised to learn that “and duties as assigned” would include fundraising. And even more surprised to discover that he enjoyed it!

    That discovery led to an MBA degree, a CFRE certification, and a new career path. Jim’s full time fundraising positions have included Director of Annual Giving at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Major Gifts Officer at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, and his current role as Director of Development for New Hope for Families.

    New Hope is an independent social service agency located in Bloomington, Indiana. New Hope provides emergency shelter and evidence-based supportive services for local children and families experiencing homelessness, and an early learning program that prepares children to succeed in school. Jim directs annual fundraising and manages the agency’s first capital campaign.

    In his presentation, Jim will describe the critical role that real estate agents have played in New Hope’s capital campaign. Borrowing from the work of Dr. Russell James, Jim will encourage you to consider the potential partnership between your charitable cause and your local real estate agent, as he or she embarks upon “A Hero’s Journey” with you as their guide.

  • September 29, 2023 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Kara Mostowy has over 25 years of experience in fundraising, including securing and managing grants. She has a track record of building relationships across departments to include finance and program staff. In her role she assures that grant-funded programs are delivered with fidelity, with evaluation and outcomes measurement achieved in accordance with the grant. She is both a CFRE and a GPC, and is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh (Class 28) and is a GPA-Approved Trainer.

  • September 29, 2023 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Sophie Penney Leach's expertise includes corporate and foundation relations, unit leadership, capital campaigns, major and planned giving, and building, rebuilding or taking programs and teams and organizations to the next level. As Penn State's Director of Foundation Relations, she collaborates with a team of six professionals that interface with university partners at Penn State's 24 campuses to seek independent foundation funding for Penn State. Sophie has also led fundraising campaigns ranging from $600k to $80M, co-created two online certificate programs in fundraising for Penn State's World Campus and developed and taught two of the core courses, co-edited/authored two books about fundraising for student affairs, and founded i5 Fundraising (a consulting firm enabling nonprofits and nonprofit leaders to achieve bold visions through fundraising).

  • September 29, 2023 1:15 PM | Anonymous

    Melissa Sylvester is a senior planned giving investment specialist for PNC Institutional Asset Management®. She coordinates the delivery of investment solutions for Planned Giving client portfolios. Her key responsibilities include: maintaining strong relationships with clients by providing thought leadership, education and insights; managing portfolios in accordance with the client’s investment objectives and applicable state annuity regulations; providing recommendations to allocations based upon the client’s needs; and supporting the development of new business relationships. Her area of focus is investment programs designed for charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and pooled income funds.

    Prior to assuming her current position, Melissa served as an investment consultant and senior investment management analyst with Atlanta Consulting Group, a division of Raymond James and Associates. Previously, she was also a sales assistant with the firm and held the same position with Morgan Keegan.

    Melissa graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and finance from The University of Florida and with a Master of Business Administration from The University of West Florida. Melissa holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA), Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA), and Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF) designations. Melissa is a member of the Pittsburgh Planned Giving Council and the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners. Melissa also serves on the Board of Directors for the American Council on Gift Annuities. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation, currently serving as Vice President.

  • September 29, 2023 1:15 PM | Anonymous

    Dr. Carey Scheide Miller joined the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh in August 2023 as the Vice President of Development, overseeing fundraising and membership for the four museums. She previously worked at Chatham University, first as Associate Vice President (2015-2017) and then as Vice President of University Advancement from 2017-2023. At Chatham, she was responsible for donor philanthropy, alumni engagement, institutional partnerships, career development, and government relations. Miller led the efforts for the successful completion of Chatham’s largest comprehensive campaign, which raised more than $101M, implemented a new alumni engagement program, a Day of Giving, and fundraising efforts that resulted in the highest levels of support both in dollars and donors in decades. Prior positions include serving as Senior Director of Development for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and as Associate Director of Major Gifts for Carnegie Mellon University.  Miller holds a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University’s Schreyer Honors College, a master’s degree from Duquesne University, and a doctorate in education in organizational leadership from Northeastern University. For her dissertation, she studied the effects of flexible work on job satisfaction and feelings of belonging. She found that providing training and creating leadership cohorts for supervisors could improve both job satisfaction and belonging for their staff.

  • September 29, 2023 1:15 PM | Anonymous

    With nearly two decades of experience working in philanthropy, Jennifer Belliveau has a demonstrated commitment to the nonprofit field. She has worked for organizations focused on secondary and higher education, community and economic development, global health and healthcare, human rights, religion and faith, and poverty solutions. Jennifer has extensive experience with a variety of development initiatives, including major gifts, capital campaign design and implementation, running a development office, staff training, and planning and feasibility studies.

    Jennifer is currently overseeing CCS’s client work in Pittsburgh, as well as leading a campaign design phase with Villanova University for a $1.2 billion campaign. She lived in London for many years, where she led multi-million-pound engagements for key European clients – running landmark capital and endowment campaigns, meeting with major donors, building prospective donor pipelines, conducting specialist prospect research, and developing overall and individual fundraising strategies.

    In addition to her client work, Jennifer co-leads the Human Capital initiatives for her team at CCS. She is a founding member of the firm’s Pro Bono Working Group and the Crypto-Philanthropy Working Group, and she was Chair of the firm-wide Executive Summit Committee. Jennifer is a repeat Reunion Co-Chair for the Yale School of Management as well as a liaison to the For Humanity. Campaign Committee. In Pittsburgh, she is a board member of the Sewickley Area Mother’s Club, as well as a guest lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University. 

    Jennifer earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a BA from the University of Notre Dame. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and three children. An avid traveler, she enjoys high-altitude trekking and global vegetarian cuisine.

  • September 29, 2023 1:15 PM | Anonymous

    Gordon C. Fraser, MSW coaches social agency and higher educational fundraising professionals how to transition from a "transactional fundraising" strategy to a highly "relational fundraising" process resulting in increased annual fund, major gift and planned giving financial results. He believes that "The gift should be as meaningful to the donor as it is beneficial to the institution." He has enjoyed a successful major outright gift and estate gift planning career in religious affiliated social agencies and higher education institutions. His most recent full time employment was with the University of Pittsburgh for 17 Years and previously served at 3 liberal arts colleges (Thiel College, Allegheny College and Upsala College, NJ, and 2 social agencies, Presbyterian Senior Care and two Presbyteries in New Jersey. His employment has resulted in securing private foundation and state funding for urban literacy programs, and the naming and endowing of higher education Deanships, scholarships, departmental funds, study abroad funds, research funds, and buildings. He is competent at creating major gift solicitation strategies, using special events for major gift cultivation, marketing and estate and life income gifts, and developing estate gift planning strategies. He currently serves as the Planned Giving Adviser to the French Creek Council, BSA, Erie, Pa. and the Narragansett Council, BSA, Rhode Island, and for the last decade as the Chairperson of the Development Committee of the Board of Trustees of St. Paul’s, a senior care Community in Greenville, Pa. Mr. Fraser holds degrees from Rhode Island College, Rutgers University and Princeton Theological Seminary. Mr. Fraser has enjoyed the natural beauty of Western Pennsylvania for the past 30 years, especially sailing, pontoon boating, kayaking, and paddle boarding at Pymatuning State Park as well as clearing hiking trails and waterfront at Goddard State Park. He also continues to seek to learn and practice how social justice and the power of money can further a more just and equitable American Society. Mr. Fraser is a member of the Pittsburgh Planned Giving Council and the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Western Pennsylvania Chapter.

  • September 29, 2023 1:15 PM | Anonymous

    Abigayle Tobia has served as Verland’s Vice President of Philanthropy since 2021. She leads the philanthropy, external communications, and volunteer engagement efforts. Throughout her more than 20 years of fundraising experience, Abigayle has raised millions of dollars for a variety of organizational missions.

    She currently serves as the president-elect for the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Western Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Verland, Abigayle led the North Allegheny Foundation (NAF) as Executive Director. In that role she quadrupled funds raised, developed the alumni engagement program, implemented a comprehensive fundraising program, and established a board of trustees reflective of the community. Abigayle has also played a vital role on the fundraising teams for the Cherokee National Historical Society, Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, and Price Tower Arts Center.

    Abigayle is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and one of few professionals in the field to hold a master’s degree in nonprofit management, which she earned from Regis University. Abigayle also received her bachelor’s in social work with an emphasis in juvenile studies from the University of Iowa.

    Abigayle regularly presents at regional and national conferences, including events hosted by the National School Foundation Association, Association of Pennsylvania Education Foundations (APEF), Erie Nonprofit Partnership, Alpha Phi Omega, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) of Western Pennsylvania.

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