Speaker Bios


Rocky Mountain Philanthropy Institute 2021 will feature an enlightening fireside chat and Q&A with keynote speaker, Edgar Villanueva, the globally-recognized racial justice activist, philanthropist, and author of “Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance.”

Learn more about Edgar

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Joining RMPI’s incredible speaker line-up as this year’s Featured Speaker is Sundance Award winning, Emmy and Academy Award nominated, Filmmaker, Director and Cinematographer Nadia Hallgren
Most recently widely recognized as the director of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s documentary ‘Becoming’, and Oscar-shortlist film ‘After Maria’, Nadia Hallgren will bring her elite storytelling experience to help RMPI attendees think bigger about the possibilities that lie ahead for our sector.

Learn more about Nadia

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Farduus Y. Ahmed is a resident of Denver Colorado. Farduus is a former refugee and has 13 years of experience working with refugees and immigrant communities. Currently social worker and care coordination Specialist at UCHealth Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic - Anschutz Medical Campus.

She is a Professional certified interpreter/translator who speaks different languages (Somali and English) she provides services for courtrooms, hospitals, conferences, schools, and social services.

Learn more about Farduus

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There will be six engaging and informative breakout session workshops to choose from on Thursday, September 9th, and an additional six breakout session workshops on Friday, September 10th. Our speakers bring a wealth of knowledge and new perspectives, and we are excited to offer workshops from speakers who champion inclusivity in fundraising and our communities.


The Future of Board Fundraising

Leslie Allen and Ann Goldman

The very bedrock of philanthropy is shifting. Exciting new opportunities are opening as we embrace more equitable and inclusive approaches to generating support. Where do the fundraising responsibilities of the nonprofit board fit in this evolving landscape? In this session, we’ll explore the latest thinking on board fundraising and share real-world examples of how nonprofits are mobilizing their leaders to advance their organizations.

Learn more about Leslie and Ann

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Stop Raising Awareness and Change Behaviors Instead

Robert Austin

"Raising Awareness" is a strategy, not a goal. Nonetheless, an extraordinary number of nonprofits have awareness goals, and they spend considerable resources on trying to raise awareness. But what exactly does awareness do for the organization? Robert Austin, APR, explains the communication science behind why so many believe awareness will spur action, as well as why it usually does not. Using researched examples and case studies, you'll learn how to move awareness from an end goal to a strategy to get what you want: action.

Learn more about Robert

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Find Your Place in the Community-Centric Fundraising Movement Community

Rachel D'Souza-Siebert and Amie Bossi

Community-Centric Fundraising is a movement grounded in equity and social justice. This resource development model encourages organizations to prioritize the entire community over individual organizations, foster a sense of belonging and interdependence, present the work not as individual transactions, but holistically, and encourage mutual support between nonprofits. While fundraisers, organization leaders, and donors begin an exploration of what a fund development practice centered in equity could mean for community impact, many fundraisers and marketers are wondering where to start transformation at their organization today. In this presentation, we will explore the Community-Centric Fundraising principles and actionable steps to integrate Community-Centric Fundraising into your fund development and marketing programs.

Learn more about Rachel & Amie

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Branding With Purpose: Messaging for Colorado “I Have a Dream”
Through an Asset-Based Lens

Zach Hochstadt and Kimberlee Sia

Your organization can contribute to a more just and equitable world by actively using asset-based framing when you communicate about those you serve. This means defining communities and people by their aspirations and contributions rather than their challenges and deficits. Shifting the narrative enables you avoid inadvertently reinforcing stereotypes and racism, while also lifting up those you seek to serve. Mission Minded co-founder Zach Hochstadt and Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation CEO Kimberlee Sia will share examples of messaging from Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation, inspire participants to strive for asset-based frames in their own communications, share best-practices for getting there, and spotlight available tools for post-workshop engagement.

Learn more about Zach & Kimberlee

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Stewardship Magic: Create Lifelong Individual Donor
Partnerships Through Stewardship

Kimberly Urish

How do you share your organization’s most special work in a way that creates deep engagement and partnership? Does your stewardship ensure your donors have you top of mind when hearing a news story related to your mission? Do your donors feel delighted when they interact with your organization? In this session, I will share stories and ideas for outstanding stewardship activities aimed to make donors speechless and earn you a place at the top of their charities list. Ideal for Major Gifts Officers and Directors who have resources, time and interest to create significant stewardship practices. We welcome sharing of your examples for the group as well.

Learn more about Kimberly

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Think Strategically: How to Build an Effective Communications Plan

Kristy Koken

Effective communication doesn’t happen on its own – it must be planned for. Understanding the components of an effective communications plan is crucial for any organization to achieve a strategic fundraising, policy, or marketing goal. During this training, participants will learn how to build a communications plan that includes important components such as:

• Setting a clear objective
• Targeting audiences
• Crafting key messages
• Controlling the narrative
• Differentiating between strategy and tactics
• Drafting a clear and well organized communications framework

Learn more about Kristy

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ABCs of Event Fundraising
Miranda Graul
Are you thinking about starting a new fundraising event and aren't quite sure where to start? Do you have an event that just isn't hitting the intended goals and needs a refresh? This training will walk you through the A(audience), B(budget), C(community) of event fundraising and determine how you can bring excitement and structure to your event fundraising strategies.

Learn more about Miranda

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Manifesting Our Values Into Practice
My Lo Cook

The COVID pandemic has forced the philanthropy field to look inward at its own grantmaking practices to effectively support local responses to the crisis. Beyond this crisis management, many grantmakers have embarked on a real-time evaluation of stated organizational values and how those are tangibly translating into practices in all areas of the organization including our grant-making, programs, monitoring and evaluation, communications and leadership. The presentation aims to explore what this anti-antiracist, anti-colonialist audit revealed for Shadhika and concrete steps the organization is taking to live out and uphold its values more deeply and practically.

Learn more about My Lo

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The Thin and Dangerous Line between Tokenism and Inclusivity

Julie Meyers & Lynnette Adams

An interactive and perhaps uncomfortable conversation on how to truly embrace Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at your non-profit organization.

Learn more about Julie & Lynnette

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Learning to Build Bridges: How Doing Evaluation Out Loud Can Connect Nonprofits with Funders

Laura Sundstrom and Judith Steed

Nonprofits and funders have the same intention to make positive impacts, maximize alignment, and build relationships. Yet, there is often a disconnect on approaches, language, and values. Evaluation and purposeful learning are tools that you can leverage to bridge this gap. Our session will emphasize how evaluation and learning can strengthen and advance organizations' understanding of their programs, how programs impact the community, and how they can best connect with funders to support their work. By harnessing the power of people and organizations in evaluation, you elevate your unique stories and can connect with the most aligned funders. We will share examples of how this happens, including an inclusive understanding of what evidence is and how learning can happen to benefit the whole organization.

Learn more about Laura & Judith

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Transform Storytelling: How to Tell a Story That is Not Your Own

Uma Trivede

This presentation will begin with a short narrative of the presenter's experience as a woman of color in the fundraising world. Next, the presentation will dive into a discussion about positionality as a fundraiser and storyteller of an organization. Then, the presenter will provide best practices on how to transform and tell a story of the members of their organization. This discussion will address how maintain the integrity of story, especially when you may not be a part of the community that the story represents. Attendees will walk away with: 1) Understanding positionality in diversifying the field of fundraising; 2) Presenting a story that is not their own without speaking on behalf of that community; 3) How to avoid the dangers of a single story.

Learn more about Uma

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The Dynamics of the Major Gift Ask

Melanie Ulle

Step by step guidance on the most effective system for making a major gifts ask. Real life examples of how to succeed or fail in a solicitation. Review of the prep work needed to finally make the ask.

Learn more about Melanie

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