Conference Speakers


President, Catapult Fundraising

Anthony is one of the nation’s leading fundraising consultants with over three decades of expertise in direct marketing and telefundraising. Anthony’s out-of-the-box thinking, visionary style, and passion for success has led him to raise close to a billion dollars for his clients over the last ten years. 
Prior to co-founding Catapult Fundraising, Anthony served as the Founder and President of Advantage Plus Consulting for over 20 years. Anthony has served on the boards of AFP New Jersey, The Giving Institute, Giving USA, the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy, and was a founding member of the AFP Industry Partners Council. He is a proud recipient of the AFP New Jersey Chapter Award for Consulting Excellence. Anthony is a past president of the AFP Las Vegas Chapter.

Executive Director, University Hospital's Foundation

Jess Backofen spent the first 10 years of her career growing her scope of responsibility at the American Cancer Society through creating meaningful corporate partnerships and engaging influential executives. She launched an innovative advisory board known as CEOs Against Cancer of New Jersey, which recruited chief executives from Fortune 1000 companies to directly support the Society's mission to eradicate cancer.

In 2013, Jess joined Friends of the Children, as their national vice president of development. In this role, she scaled the organization's social impact - aimed at breaking the generational cycle of poverty - by creating and implementing a more effective fundraising strategy. She worked closely with the national board of directors and supported local chapter boards.

In her role at JDRF International - the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research - Jess' leadership during the merging of 3 New Jersey chapters led to unprecedented financial growth (more than 600% over 5 years). This was achieved by creating a new board structure with thriving committees, increasing patient support services, deepening healthcare provider collaboration and building strategic corporate partnerships.  Jess later took on the role of associate vice president of corporate development & strategic alliances for JDRF International, overseeing $20M in partnership revenues aimed at accelerating JDRF's mission. 

As the new executive director for University Hospital's Foundation, Jess Backofen works alongside Hospital executives and the Foundation's board of directors to raise significant funds to update facilities, invest in technology and improve patient care. 

Author, Filmmaker, Philanthropist, Thought Provoker - Impact Performers LLC

As a keynote speaker, writer, thought provoker, philanthropist, and film producer, Greg Bennick uses a humanitarian perspective to examine the intersection of personal development, social issues, and compassion. 

A two-time humorous speaking champion, Greg Bennick engages and inspires audiences while making them laugh. He has spent over thirty years on stage and has connected with audiences live in over twenty-five countries in the last decade, and of course via Zoom, Skype, Facebook live, telepathy, and any other mode you can imagine.

He speaks on the subject of BUILD A BETTER NOW® which explores how regaining focus yields increased self-esteem and stronger teams. Having managed ADHD throughout his life, he inspires us to consider the importance of focus. He speaks to corporate and association audiences worldwide. When we focus on our process and supporting those around us, opportunities are everywhere. It is in the way we interact, how we think of ourselves, how we manage change and how we collaborate.

We can’t predict the future, but we can definitely set ourselves on powerful, focused tracks to be ready for what’s to come.

We have just begun to emerge from one of the most challenging eras in human history. How will we move forward, and what will our future hold? Greg’s keynote helps us define that by helping us refine what we do, why, and how important knowledge of this is for our sense of self and team dynamics.

Prior to the pandemic, Greg spoke and performed globally, starting from the age of thirteen! During 2020-2022, Greg presented from such prestigious locations as his home in Seattle, his home in Seattle, and his home in Seattle. Now, he is overjoyed to be live and in person again. He’s been flown everywhere from Syracuse to Singapore to share his unique brand of engaging ideas.

Greg is the founder of One Hundred For Haiti, an international humanitarian initiative focused on rural Haiti, and rooted in development, listening, and community, and he founded the World Leaders Project which focuses on the relationship between fear and violence. Greg is also a co-founder of the Portland Mutual Aid Network whose mission is building a strong community by recognizing the need to support the development of both hope and direction and creating an essential foundation from which all growth is possible. He also is a co-founder of The Legacy Project which works in countries struggling to reconcile legacies of aggression and promotes an international dialogue about overcoming trauma, achieving justice, and understanding reconciliation. 

Founder & Philanthropic Adviser, IMPACT Philanthropic Partners

After 45 years serving in the Financial Services Industry, 40 of those years as a client-facing Wealth Advisor and First Vice President with Morgan Stanley Geof founded his own firm, IMPACT Philanthropy Partners.

Drawing on his client and donor centric experience aiding High Net Worth families meet their financial and philanthropic goals, Geof has established himself as a independent Philanthropic Advisor.

Geof has held on numerous leadership positions on non-profit boards and planned giving advisory councils and is recognized as a sought-after thought leader in the field of Gift Planning.

President, Community Foundation of New Jersey

Hans Dekker has served as president of the Community Foundation of New Jersey since June 2003. During his tenure, the Foundation’s fundholders have granted more than $950 million to charitable causes across New Jersey and beyond.

A key element of the Community Foundation’s mission is to play a leadership role on the critical issues facing New Jersey and nationally. This work has recently focused on pandemic relief, tenants’ rights, reforming the state’s juvenile justice system, and expanding access to healthy food and breakfast in low-income communities.

He is a past chair of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers and a trustee of the Hyde and Watson Foundation, Ohl Foundation, St. Benedict’s Preparatory School, and Miraclefeet.

Mr. Dekker graduated from Bates College with a Bachelors of Arts degree in History and received a Masters degree in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley.

Director of Gift Planning, University of Pennsylvania 

Anne DeVivo DeMesa is the President of the Gift Planning Council of New Jersey. During her 24 years as a professional fundraiser, Anne has worked in a variety of roles and settings. Most recently, as the Director of Gift Planning at The Peddie School, Anne and her planned giving program were responsible for 45% of the capital campaign total. She has also worked as a grant writer, Director of Development, Donor Relations and Stewardship Officer, Associate Director of Major Gifts and Director of Planned Giving, Director of Major and Planned Gifts for the New Jersey Symphony. She is currently Director of Gift Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. Anne is from Connecticut and attended Fairfield University. After graduation, she served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Sacramento, CA and returned to the east coast to earn her M.A. at Rutgers University. She lives in Middlesex County with her husband Alex and their four children.


Laura Fredricks, JD is the Billion Dollar ASK Maker Powerhouse, who as CEO and Founder of THE ASK© and an international consultant, trains and coaches individuals, businesses, and nonprofits on How to ASK and GET exactly what you want. She is the first to combine the most trusted professions, law and philanthropy. “Laura’s 5 Laws for ASKing” has brought resounding sustainable monetary success worldwide. Her latest book: “Hard Asks Made Easy: How to Get Exactly What You Want” (Advantage/Forbes 2023), her 7th, has helped hundreds of global executives, industry trailblazers, marketing and communication leaders, boards, fundraisers, entrepreneurs, teenagers, artists, philanthropists, and everyday people get their Best Professional and Personal Life Possible, through THE ASK. 
Laura has been a member of AFP since 1991. She was bestowed the Ralph E. Chamberlain Award for extraordinary leadership in the field of fundraising and lifetime of service to the profession and New York Nonprofit Network’s 50 Over 50 Award for excellence in Media and Philanthropy. To keep life in perspective, Laura  mountaineers the high peak mountains in the winter in the Adirondacks and the Catskills, and kayaks the Hudson River, spring, summer, and fall.  

Principal, Arts, Culture & Media Philanthropic Advisors

Peter is an accomplished fundraising executive with over 30 years of experience who has raised over $425 million for prominent institutions. Prior to forming Hansen Philanthropic Solutions, he was the Senior Vice President of Development of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) from 2007 to 2016. He directed all fundraising for NJPAC, one of the nation’s largest performing arts centers, and managed its $11+ million annual fund. Hansen successfully completed NJPAC’s last comprehensive capital campaign, the Campaign for NJPAC, which concluded above goal. From 1992 to 2002, he served in several fundraising leadership capacities at NJPAC, including Vice President of Development, and was a member of the initial management team that built NJPAC. Prior to returning to NJPAC, Hansen was Director of External Affairs for The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri where he managed marketing and media relations, directed annual fundraising, and launched an endowment campaign. During his tenure, annual philanthropic support increased by over 40%, Museum attendance reversed a three-year decline, and the endowment increased by $85 million within 24 months. Previously, he was Assistant Vice President of Development at Bowdoin College, one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, where he managed a $23 million annual advancement program. He has also served as Director of Development and Marketing for Dance Theatre of Harlem and Director of Special Projects for the US Fund for UNICEF.

Hansen Philanthropic Solutions is a strategic fundraising consulting firm providing counsel and solutions to nonprofits in the performing and visual arts and public media. The firm’s primary goal is to assist clients in strengthening and growing their fundraising/advancement programs to ensure sustainability and to support mission. The firm’s services include fundraising capacity assessment; major and principal gift program enhancement; capital campaign planning and counsel; prospect management system analysis; fundraising training for staff and Board; corporate sponsorship; and Board pipeline development. Current and past clients include NJPAC, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts ,the 5th Avenue Theatre, bergenPAC, Paper Mill Playhouse, Miami City Ballet, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, The WNET Group and Mason Gross School of the Arts among others.

Hansen is Immediate Past President of the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). He currently serves as a Trustee of the AFP US Foundation for Philanthropy. He received AFP New Jersey’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award in 2012. Hansen also serves on the AFP (international) Committee of Directorship (nominating committee). He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Trinity College. He has served as a guest lecturer at Seton Hall University’s Museum Studies Program, Rutgers University Business School and New York University School of Continuing Education (now NYU School of Professional Studies). He has also presented at many conferences including AFP’s International Conference, Fundraising Day in New York, IEG’s Sponsorship Conference, the New Jersey Council on the Arts, AFP New Jersey’s Conference on Philanthropy, the Arts & Business Council, and the Kansas Museum Association.

Vice President, Inclusive Solutions, Prudential Financial

Sarah S. Keh is a vice president of Inclusive Solutions at Prudential Financial. In her current role, she leads strategic philanthropy and partnerships to help advance the company’s purpose and commitment to inclusive economic growth. She oversees philanthropic grants, business integration partnerships, and employee community engagement programs to expand work and wealth opportunities for financially vulnerable populations, build inclusive and equitable communities, advance racial equity and justice, and support disaster response and recovery efforts.

Sarah currently serves on the board of JerseyCAN, the Devils Youth Foundation, and on the investment committee of PGIM Real Estate’s Impact Value Partners. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wellesley College and a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Calvin R. Ledford Jr.
President, PSGE Foundation

Calvin R. Ledford Jr. is President of the PSEG Foundation and Director of PSEG Corporate Social Responsibility. In this role, Mr. Ledford has oversight of the philanthropic areas of corporate citizenship: volunteerism, corporate giving and the Foundation’s programs operations. Prior to this role, Calvin’s over 30-year career at PSEG has allowed him to work extensively with communities and stakeholders all across our service territory.

The PSEG Foundation has been named one of the state’s top foundations by New Jersey Monthly Magazine. It is the philanthropic arm of PSEG and an established 501(c)(3) charitable organization, prioritizing investments in the environment, safety, emergency preparedness and disaster relief, STEM education and workforce development, diversity & inclusion, and the communities served by PSEG. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, PSEG and the PSEG Foundation supported the efforts of the health care community and organizations that support vulnerable groups, committing $2.5 million to support medical, social and economic needs of New Jersey communities. In June 2020, PSEG and the PSEG Foundation announced the launch of the new Powering Equity and Social Justice Initiative, which includes a $1 million commitment to support organizations that address equity, racial injustice and human rights in communities of color.

Mr. Ledford is very active in the community. He serves as chairman of the Newark Regional Business Partnership. He is also a board member of the Foundation of University Hospital, Education Foundation of the League of Municipalities and Leadership Newark. Mr. Ledford is a graduate of Hampton University. He is also a distinguished alumni of Leadership Newark and Lead New Jersey.

Principal and Chief Operating Officer, DR/Waterstone Human Capital

Nancy Racette is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of DRi. Driven by the belief that every person can have a fundamental impact on the world, Nancy spent decades designing innovative fundraising and communications programs to fuel the growth of sustainable non-profit organizations. In 2001, she began providing executive search and strategic consulting to help non-profits across the country build their own capacity to grow, thrive, and excel.

Nancy’s development consulting has helped numerous non-profit organizations design and fill powerful staff structures. Working with national organizations such as AAUW, the Armed Services YMCA, and Help Hospitalized Veterans, Nancy has advised Boards of Directors and CEOs on how to identify their most transformative initiatives and how to invest in staffing structures that advance them.  Nancy’s advice has turned strategic plans into strategic hires for start-ups and established organizations engaging a new generation of stakeholders in imaginative ways.

In addition to designing staff structures, Nancy has also led executive searches for more than 250 leaders who have reshaped critical non-profit operations. Some of Nancy’s most recent executive searches have placed executives who are creating new digital models of youth engagement at the award-winning public health organization Truth Initiative; reimagining national operations for Kids in Need of Defense, a rapidly growing legal services organization defending unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children; and building a development program from the ground up to support influential research at the Urban Institute.

Under Nancy’s leadership, DRi has developed partnerships with major environmental organizations, such as Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife fund; top-ranked hospitals and healthcare organizations, such as MedStar Washington Hospital Center and the National Council on Aging; and to International NGO’s such as Habitat for Humanity and Action Again Hunger.

Nancy’s development consulting and executive search draw on her decades of experience developing initiatives that reshaped fundraising at the American Red Cross and Girl Scouts of America. Her broad expertise spans cause marketing, disaster fundraising, major giving, and fundraising campaigns, and she continues to mentor non-profit innovators today. She has led teams of up to 130 and driven campaigns that raised anywhere from $4 million to $88 million.

Beyond DRi, Nancy has been an innovative volunteer in the non-profit sector. She currently serves on the Board of Directors at YWCA USA. She has been a past president for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) - Washington D.C. Metro Area Chapter. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy, has chaired AFP’s Education Advisory Committee, and has been a member of the Professional Advancement Division committee. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Ellington Fund for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

Nancy is a graduate of Boston University’s School of Public Communications. She attended the Executive Management Program at Harvard University and held a Certified Fund Raising Executive credential from CFRE International for 24 years. Nancy lives with her husband, a math teacher for special needs children, in Falls Church, VA.

Associate Vice President, DonorSearch Ai

As a highly accomplished fundraising AI strategist, Scott brings a wealth of expertise in leveraging Artificial Intelligence and big data to drive impactful insights for nonprofits. With a successful track record of leading data science teams, he has played a pivotal role in helping organizations harness the power of AI for actionable results.

Throughout his career, Scott has demonstrated analytical prowess and forward-thinking strategies, advising both nonprofits and for-profit entities on establishing and implementing data-driven projects. His innovative approach and dedication to finding creative solutions have consistently overcome the everyday challenges faced by organizations, optimizing operations and driving meaningful outcomes through comprehensive AI-driven strategies.

In addition to his expertise, Scott is highly skilled in effectively communicating technical concepts to audiences with varying levels of technical understanding. This ability has allowed him to foster strong connections between technical and non-technical stakeholders, bridging the gap and ensuring successful project implementation.

Scott's commitment to ethical practices and making a difference through AI has earned him recognition, including being honored by Fast Company through their prestigious World Changing Ideas awards. With a unique blend of academic knowledge, holding a Master's Degree in Psychology from Loyola University, and extensive practical experience as a founding member of Fundraising.AI, Scott brings valuable expertise to the nonprofit sector in harnessing the potential of AI and big data.

Business Executive Advisor & Author

Chris Salem is an accomplished CEO, certified workplace coach, business acceleration strategist, business executive coach, professional keynote speaker, corporate trainer, award-winning author®, certified mindset expert, and radio show host & media personality mentoring business leaders and organizations toward solutions for enhancing corporate culture, improving workplace communications, and increasing employee engagement.

In addition, he mentors business leaders and organizations to scale their brands and business by raising their level of influence as trusted advisors. His book Master Your Inner Critic / Resolve the Root Cause – Create Prosperity went international best seller in 2016. He also co-authored the recent edition to "Mastering the Art of Success" with Jack Canfield. His weekly radio shows, Sustainable Success is part of the Voice America Business Channel and Business Influencers with TAL Radio, part of the Touch-A-Life foundation.

Senior Vice President, Data Analytics, CCS Fundraising

John is a Senior Data Scientist for CCS and brings more than 25 years of experience with statistical analysis and predictive modeling. He has devoted more than 10 years of his career to charities, universities, hospitals and other nonprofit institutions, helping them produce models and use the results to achieve their fundraising goals. At CCS, John helps philanthropy and fundraising professionals apply leading-edge data analytics tools to address specific organizational objectives. He is constantly reviewing the latest statistics tools and innovations to ensure that CCS applies the best approach for each client.

John is part of the CCS Analytics team and is the primary producer of customized predictive models for CCS clients. He is an expert in the areas of exploratory data analysis, interactive model building, model diagnostics and data vetting and cleaning.

Account Executive, FreeWill

Briel Steinberg is an Account Executive at FreeWill, where she is fortunate to work with nonprofit professionals to help them leverage technology to advance extraordinary missions.

Prior to FreeWill, Briel was a Corporate Vice President at CCS Fundraising, where she managed capital campaigns with goals ranging from $5M to $100M. Briel started her career at Playwrights Horizons, an off-Broadway theater company in New York City. She holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and an AB in English Literature from Brown University. She resides in New York City with her husband and her dog, Rocket.


Chief Development Officer, The Bipartisan Policy Center, and AFP Global Board

Tycely Williams, an award-winning C-Suite executive, leads inclusive and innovative teams who have raised & managed more than $600 million dollars in her twenty-five-year career. As chief development officer for The Bipartisan Policy Center, she crafts strategies to fuel the best ideas from both political parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans.

Tycely most recently served as chief development officer for America’s Promise Alliance, the largest alliance of youth-serving organizations in the U.S. She’s also advanced philanthropy as vice president of development of YWCA USA, chief development officer for the American Red Cross National Capital Region, association director of major gifts for the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington, director of development for two health and human services organizations, artistic director of two community-based dance studios, and executive director for a nonprofit organization founded by a Fortune 500 company.

Tycely is past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Washington DC Metro Chapter and the inaugural chair of AFP’s Women’s Impact Initiative. She is the immediate past global chair of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Committee of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and serves as a director. She chairs the governing boards of The Nonprofit Alliance Foundation, Monument Academy Public Charter School, and YWCA National Capital Area. She also serves as a director for Leadership Greater Washington, The Institute for Responsible Citizenship Rising Media Stars, and The Blackbaud Giving Fund, where she represents the not-for-profit sector at the 10th largest donor-advised fund in America. Since 2020, The Blackbaud Giving Fund has transferred over $1 billion to more than 195,000 nonprofits. 

A cum laude graduate of Wake Forest University, Tycely earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication with distinguished departmental honors and a minor in Journalism. Tycely possesses an Executive Master’s in Leadership from The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University with postgraduate certificates in Fundraising from Boston University, Nonprofit Management from Duke University, and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard University. She teaches Fundraising and Leadership at The Pennsylvania State University, while consulting on global social impact projects with Changing Our World. 

Tycely is a joyful divorcée who enjoys stamping her passport, crashing charitable fundraising galas, taste-testing fried green tomatoes and conversing with values-driven leaders in preparation for her first book. In her spare time, she volunteers with Junior League of Washington, The Links, Incorporated, Tri Delta, and Women’s Foundation of Alabama, where she co-founded The Brilliant Black Girl Collective, a giving circle exclusively benefiting brilliant Black girls in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.