AFP SLO County
2019 Board of Directors and Officers
Debby Nicklas, President
Debby is currently the vice president of philanthropy for French Hospital Medical Center Foundation in San Luis Obispo, California. Ms. Nicklas led the effort to establish the hospital foundation in 2004 when Dignity Health acquired French Hospital Medical Center. Since then, the Foundation has raised more than $35 million to support French Hospital and its patients. Under her leadership, the Foundation was named “Foundation of the Year” by Dignity Health for fiscal year 2015. Prior to her current role, Ms. Nicklas held numerous senior-level management positions in health care marketing, business development, public relations, and fundraising, and was a part-time lecturer at California Polytechnic State University. She also served as board chairwoman for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, which named her Citizen of the Year in 2002. She received the Woman of Distinction Award from Cuesta College in 2006, and continues to be a dedicated volunteer in her community. Ms. Nicklas holds a master’s degree in health service administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ithaca College.
Monica Grant, CFRE, Past-President
Monica has been the CEO of the San Luis Obispo County YMCA since May, 2013. She has over 20 years of management experience with the YMCA, including the YMCA of Honolulu, where she served as Vice President for the $27 million island-wide association. Monica has thirty years of experience as a nonprofit and development professional, including work with UC Santa Cruz, The Nature Conservancy, United Way, and Sierra Club. She has also run her own consulting firm, providing fundraising consulting, planning, organizational development, training and facilitation for nonprofits with a focus on capacity building and sustainability. She has a BS in Recreation Administration and an MS in Organizational Leadership. Monica currently serves on the SLO Chamber Board of Directors, the Board of Leadership SLO, and is the current Chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, SLO County Chapter. She lives in Arroyo Grande with her wife, Colleen Murphy.
Shannon Hill, Treasurer
A development professional with two decades of experience in nonprofit and educational leadership, Ms. Hill holds a B.F.A. from the University of Tennessee and a M.S. in arts administration from the University of Oregon. She transitioned to working in higher education in 2002, first as the Director of Annual Giving and then as the Director of Alumni Relations at CSU, Bakersfield. At CSUB, she led a wide variety of successful annual fundraising campaigns and supervised the advancement services for the university, which was followed by successfully increasing programs and activities with the alumni association and its chapters.
She joined Cuesta College in 2011 as the Executive Director for Institutional Advancement and the Foundation where she is in charge of all fundraising, alumni relations, marketing and communications for the college. Since coming to Cuesta, her leadership guided the Foundation’s efforts in celebrating the college’s 50thAnniversary, launching The Cuesta College Promise Scholarship and subsequent campaign, reinvigorating the college’s grant development program, and passing the college’s first bond in 40 years. The Foundation raises over $2 million annually and holds over $35 million in assets to support student success.
Loren Leidinger, Membership Chair
Loren is currently the Outreach and Development Director at CAP-SLO. She started in February 2019. Prior to joining CAP-SLO she was the Regional Chief Development Officer for the American Red Cross Central California Region covering 10 counties for four years where she led the fundraising team to be
one of the top performers in the country. Prior to taking on the lead fundraising role for the region, she was the Executive Director for the Pacific Coast Chapter
of the Red Cross covering Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties for three years. Prior to the American Red Cross she served as Vice President of Development for AIDS Foundation in Chicago. In her role, Leidinger successfully lead a highly talented team of fundraisers in raising more than $5 million annually through the cultivation of strategic relationships with corporations, foundations and individuals, coupled with the execution of annual
events and endurance training programs. Prior to joining AIDS Foundation, Ms. Leidinger spent 11 years with CARE International in a variety of roles, including managing regional administrative staff, fundraising and advocacy activities covering 14 states. Loren is also the Membership Chair for the San Luis Obispo AFP Chapter. Loren lives with her husband, Joel, three teen-aged children, two cats and one dog in Morro Bay. They enjoy hiking, camping and exploring the beauty of the Central Coast.
Allie Burnett, Membership Chair
Allie has more than 16 years of professional fundraising experience working at university, hospital and local non-profit organizations. Allie has been in San Luis Obispo since 2006 when she joined Cal Poly as the Scholarship Coordinator. At Cal Poly, Allie has held numerous development roles including Regional Development Director, Director of Development for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, and currently as the Senior Director of Gift Planning. Allie holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of San Diego and a master's in public policy from Cal Poly. Allie enjoys hiking, cooking, traveling, and loving her three-year-old daughter.
Elena Romero, Program Co-Chair
Elena has more than 20 years of successful fund development and nonprofit management experience, with a focus on health and human service organizations. Her fund development expertise includes annual giving, capital, major gifts, planned giving and special project campaigns. Past employers include Marian Regional Medical Center, Santa Maria; Valley Children’s Hospital, Madera; Big Brothers Big Sisters in Central California; and United Way Silicon Valley. Elena has also consulted with nonprofit organizations providing fund development training, strategic planning and board development. She has served in the philanthropic community as board member, volunteer and donor. Elena has been an AFP member since 1994 and currently serves on the AFP San Luis Obispo County Board as Program Co-Chair.
Cozy Faber, Program Co-Chair
Cozy is the Development Director at SLO Classical Academy. She has worked with the school during a growth of over 200% during the past 10 years. Her work has included a constant evolution in funding methods as the population has grown and changed. Entering the nonprofit world from the start up environment of Silicon Valley, Cozy has found an equally exciting set of challenges in her current role. She is thrilled to be serving on the board of the AFP here in SLO County and to be a part of an organization slated to grow and support our community.
Patty Thayer, Marketing and Communications Chair
After earning a BA in Theatre and Speech Communications, Patty began her professional life in the San Diego area, working as an actress, box office and house manager, as well as in tour scheduling, fundraising, marketing and even bookkeeping. Thus are launched lifelong arts administrators. Since then, she has spent her entire professional career working on behalf of nonprofit performing arts organizations. She has been the Communications and Development Director for the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre since March of 2013 and is thrilled to be a part of this 70 year old arts institution. From 1997-2013, she worked under three different titles and filled multiple roles in marketing, fundraising and development at the San Luis Obispo Symphony; part of a dedicated team who helped to transform that organization from a small community orchestra into the respected, successful organization it is today. A graduate of Leadership SLO Class XI, Patty currently serves on the Parking and Access Committee and the SLO Cultural Arts Committee for the SLO Downtown Association, on the Steering Committee for Arts Obispo’s AE5 project and on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, SLO County Chapter. Patty and her husband David live in San Luis Obispo.
Jeff Al-Mashat, Member At Large
Jeff has been in nonprofit management for more than two decades. Before moving to San Luis Obispo, Jeff spent 22 years in Atlanta where he worked in fundraising, public and government affairs, and strategic planning for a variety of organizations including the Atlanta Ballet and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. Jeff’s undergraduate degree is in communications and writing styles from Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, and his graduate work is in painting and fine arts from Georgia State University. In addition to nonprofit work, he has taught art at multiple universities. Jeff moved to the Central Coast in 2016 to run the capital campaign for the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. Since his arrival in SLO he has gotten involved with the local Association of Fundraising Professionals chapter, the Downtown SLO Association’s Cultural Arts Committee and the SLO Chamber of Commerce's Economic Development Committee. Jeff has been a member of AFP since 2010 as well as a member of the board in Atlanta in 2014.
Richard Ellison, Member At Large
Bernadette Bernardi, Member at Large