Heller Fundraising Group Team
Peter J Heller - principal
With over 27 years in the nonprofit world, Peter Heller has raised millions of dollars for many organizations while also strengthening their strategic and financial assets. His firm’s current consulting success is bolstered by the team of hands-on professionals he brings to the table, his extensive experience as a development staff member prior to launching his own firm, and his deep experience working on cultivating individual donors. He understands the client’s needs not only from the outside looking in, but vice versa.
Since 2004 Peter has been offering fundraising and strategic consulting services to a diverse group of nonprofit clients. He taught Major Gifts Fundraising in Columbia’s Fundraising Management Graduate Program, has trained fundraisers at The Foundation Center, is Co-Chair of Gotham Networking's "Make a Difference" group, and a member of the Nonprofit Resource Group.
For the 10 years before beginning his consulting business (1994-2004) Peter raised major support as a fundraiser and administrator for Columbia University, becoming the Director of Development for Columbia’s Engineering School. In securing support for University funding priorities, he worked closely with the Engineering School’s Dean and other University administrators raising significant dollars through his personal efforts and dramatically moving the School’s organizational strength forward. He also traveled extensively in the US and Asia to meet donors and raise funds.
Prior to his years at Columbia, Peter held development positions at several world-class universities during their campaigns including UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco (Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations) and the American Friends of Tel Aviv University (Director of Corporations and Foundations). He started his career with a brief stint at his alma mater, College of the Atlantic (ME).
Peter attended Wesleyan University (CT) and College of the Atlantic, receiving a B.A. in Human Ecology from the latter in 1985. Before his nonprofit career, Peter ran his own vegetarian cooking and catering business in New York.
Peter is currently on the advisory board of the Inner Strength Foundation (PA) and has been providing pro-bono strategic advice to Earthdance (MA) for over 10 years.
Emma Camp - Office Manager and Production Coordinator
Emma has been working with the Heller Fundraising Group since 2016. In her role as Office Manager, she serves as the liaison between clients and the HFG team. Her client-based support work includes prospect research, scheduling, and the management of our suite of client campaign dashboards. She also oversees email marketing and ongoing administrative and technical support.
Emma is a proud graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts New Studio on Broadway, where she earned a BFA in drama with a concentration in musical theater and a minor in producing. In addition to her career as an actor, Emma has previously worked as a literary intern for The Atlantic Theater Company, a casting intern at Ulrich, Dawson, Kritzer Casting, and a production/teaching assistant at Idyllwild Arts Academy, California's premiere arts boarding school. You can catch her laughing at Lenny Bruce on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel episode 5, season 2.
Sonja Carter - Senior Campaign Advisor
Sonja brings several decades of experience in philanthropy to her role as Senior Campaign Advisor for the Heller Fundraising Group. She has run both capital campaigns and major gift programs, managed large teams of fundraising staff, and holds deep technical expertise in planned giving.
Most recently at Bank Street College of Education, Sonja served as the Vice President for Development and External Relations, overseeing multiple stages of their $40 million Centennial Campaign. She led Bank Street’s alumni relations, fundraising, and communications strategies, successfully building and strengthening connections between the College’s donors and its programs. She also served as liaison to both the Advancement and Governance Board Committees, providing input and advice on board recruitment, bylaws, gift policies, fundraising and alumni engagement.
Prior to joining Bank Street, Sonja was the Dean for Development, Alumni Relations, and Communications at Columbia University Law School. At Columbia, she closed the Law School's most successful campaign in its history in 2014, raising over $110 million. Previous to her work at the Law School, Sonja ran the university's Planned Giving Office, where she worked with alumni and friends of all 16 Columbia schools during its record-breaking $6 billion campaign.
Sonja has also taught courses on planned giving in Columbia’s Nonprofit Management Program. Before her time at Columbia she practiced law, focusing on patent litigation and antitrust law.
Sonja currently serves on the Board of bilingual preschool La Escuelita in Manhattan, where she leads the Development Committee and advises the organization on governance and board recruitment.
Originally from the Midwest, Sonja received both her BA and JD (cum laude) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also holds an MS in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University and a certificate in interior design and architectural studies from Parsons School of Design. Sonja lives in New York City with her family, and is training for her first triathlon this summer.
Jess Domain - Operations Manager
Jess has been working with The Heller Fundraising Group since April 2019; she has a degree in International Relations and Public Policy from Florida International University. As Operations Manager, Jess handles new client contracts and charity bureau filings. She also manages the organization's social media and online presence, in addition to developing graphic design, training materials and presentations. Originally from Michigan, Jess has worked with the Donate Life Coalition of Michigan, where she created and co-chaired Alive 2002, an annual benefit concert and auction to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation. Growing more popular each year, the event continues to unite NGOs and governmental organizations including the Michigan Department of State, National Kidney Foundation, The Gift Of Life, 35 area hospitals, and many local Detroit businesses. In addition to her work with nonprofits, Jess is also an accomplished multidisciplinary artist. She has won an ASCAPlus Songwriters Award, performed in Sleep No More, and toured with Aretha Franklin. Most recently Jess performed Off Broadway as the lead actor in her original play, The Culture Of Now.
Eryn Rosenthal - Special Projects Manager
Eryn has been working with Peter and the team at Heller Fundraising Group since January 2019. She is passionate about helping clients develop and realize their fundraising goals to create meaningful and impactful social good. In her role as Special Projects Manager, Eryn works on research, budgeting, strategic organization and messaging, interview analysis and communication. Bilingual in English and Spanish, Eryn is also an active international choreographer, performer and educator. She holds a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University, and an MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan, where she also studied in the Public Policy School. For her own research and performance, Eryn has won multiple fellowships and awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship to Spain and an Open Society Institute President’s Grant to South Africa. Eryn recently returned to New York City from the University of Michigan (U-M), where she was a King-Chávez-Parks Visiting Professor and Artist in Residence for Dialogue-Building, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives. Eryn is currently a proud Diversity Scholar at the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), and continues to serve as a +Inspire Steering Committee member of U-M’s Center for the Education of Women (CEW+). www.erynrosenthal.com
betsy stewarD, Senior Consultant
Betsy is a seasoned fundraising professional who brings a variety of experience and enthusiasm to her role as senior consultant. As Director of Development for Westchester Children’s Association (WCA), Betsy led WCA’s five-year Centennial Campaign, raising $6.6M and exceeding the goal for this ambitious project, virtually doubling the organization’s operating budget. She oversaw all campaign major gift in-person solicitations, conducting face-to-face solicitations and securing gifts ranging from $1K to $1.5 million. Over the course of her decade at WCA, Betsy also oversaw the growth of WCA’s annual benefit, whose net earnings increased during her tenure by 730% (from $26K to $212K). She added more formal structure to WCA’s fundraising efforts, instituted more effective development procedures that contributed significantly to the growth of the organization, and established deep, long-term relationships with board members. Betsy believes that successful fundraising depends on a combination of relationship-building and story-telling, and she is especially proud of the “WCA Stories of Advocacy” that she developed for effectively explaining WCA’s child advocacy mission, methods and history to donors and prospective donors.
Betsy’s experience at WCA provided her with a strong knowledge of Westchester County and its philanthropic community. She was named the 2017 Fundraiser of the Year by the Hudson Valley Association of Development Officers. Before joining the team at WCA, Betsy served as president of the Foundation for Public Education in White Plains, where donations increased during her term by 89%.
A 2006 graduate of NYU’s Certificate in Fundraising program, Betsy’s first career was in music. Prior to her enrollment at NYU, she maintained a career in opera as soprano Elisabeth Van Ingen. She holds a master of music degree from Boston University and a bachelor of music degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. She was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, and has written for Chamber Music Magazine.
After retiring from opera, Betsy became proficient in software programs, eventually earning master certification in Microsoft Office. She founded and managed a successful software training service, training staff members at non-profit as well as for-profit organizations. Her expertise in computer programs has been an important asset to the critical organizational component of fundraising, and allows her to help our clients get the most out of the Heller Fundraising Group’s Free Tools.
Dan Baker - Collaborating Consultant
Dan and Peter met in 2001 when Dan returned to Columbia University (his alma mater) and became Peter's boss - an experience that greatly helped to further Peter's career and fundraising knowledge. Now that we're both consultants, Peter has called upon Dan to help with team leadership and conduct feasibility studies.
Dan's career in the nonprofit sector has spanned more than three decades and focused on institutional advancement, donor and trustee relations, and management. He brings this experience to leaders in the field who seek performance improvement -- for themselves and their organizations -- with an emphasis on strategy and planning, leadership development, staff training, change management, executive coaching, relationship mediation and repair, and conflict resolution. LinkedIn
Karen Bloom - Collaborating Consultant
Karen is a fundraising professional with over thirty years of experience in non-profit administration and development including an expertise in building relationships with major donors to secure meaningful gifts and a lasting commitment to philanthropy. She is a fearless fundraiser who has raised millions of dollars. She has significant experience working with organizations, foundations and philanthropists. Most recently she has served as Chief Advancement Officer for Project Kesher, the largest funder of Jewish women's activism in the former Soviet Union and in the Russian-speaking community in Israel. In that role from 2003 through 2017, Karen instituted a Relationship Management System that transformed the relationship of board and staff with donors, resulting in the quadrupling of the organization's fundraising efforts in the first four years of her tenure. She increased the organization's NYC Annual Benefit revenue from $30,000 to $650,000 and raised over $17 million in revenue.
She is also an experienced facilitator who has developed and trained Boards of Directors, and is adept at advancing the relationship between staff and leadership to obtain maximum results. Working with international charities, including ORT America from 1989 to 2003, Karen developed strategies to connect funders in the United States to overseas’ programming by designing site visits via missions of all sizes, virtual travel opportunities, compelling promotional materials, special events, seminars and more.
Gary Friedmann - Collaborating Consultant
Gary hired Peter for his first fundraising job at College of the Atlantic 25 years ago and has been a mentor and colleague ever since. Recently, Peter and Gary have been collaborating on several consulting assignments including the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue campaign.
From 2004-2007 Gary was President of his Bangor, Maine Reform congregation, Beth El, and his firm – Gary Friedmann & Associates – led two capital campaigns for their growth.
Gary has helped dozens of nonprofits raise over $60 million over the last 30 years. In addition to designing and carrying out dynamic fundraising campaigns and writing many cases for support, Gary has trained more than one thousand volunteers and professionals in the theory and practice of successful fundraising in seminars and workshops. He founded Gary Friedmann & Associates in 1992 after serving as Director of Development for College of the Atlantic and Director of Operations for Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Gary lives in Bar Harbor, Maine. GaryFriedmann.com
Boots Garrett – Finance Coordinator
Boots and Peter have been fast friends for upwards of 25 years. When Boots transitioned into semi-retirement and Peter invited her to join his team as Finance Coordinator, she jumped at the chance.
Boots has worked in nonprofit agencies all of her career, serving her local community at a domestic violence project as a direct service court advocate and as the agency's volunteer coordinator, and most recently at a homeless shelter for youth as a street outreach worker.
She is pleased to now be working from home (Maine) as part of a team that helps to build the vital financial supports of valuable, interesting, and community minded agencies.
Kim Gerstman – Collaborating Consultant
Kim has almost 30 years of experience in development. She started consulting in 2015 and her clients have included Lantern Community Services, the Alpha Workshops, Citizens Union, JCCs of North America, and the Interfaith Center of New York. Her expertise includes major gifts, foundation relations, donor communications, online marketing, direct mail, large-scale campaigns, special events programs, and strategic planning.
Prior to consulting, Kim managed small and large development operations in organizations concerned with global health, the arts, scientific research, social justice and social services. She has held senior development positions with long tenures at the Population Council, American Civil Liberties Union, and NARAL Pro-Choice New York. She started her fundraising career at Bailey House and School of American Ballet.
Kim serves as Vice President of the Board of NOW-NYC, on the Board of Advisors to Exhale to Inhale, and on the Community Organizing Committee of East End Temple in New York. She is a member of the professional groups Women in Development and the Association of Non-Profit Professionals. Kim has a BA from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA with a specialization in arts management from Binghamton University. LinkedIn
Andrea Kihlstedt - Advisor / Nonprofit Thought Leader
Andrea and Peter have collaborated to help several nonprofits with feasibility studies and capital campaigns. Andrea has been an indispensable mentor and colleague since the early days of Peter J. Heller Consulting. In fact, we refer to her as our firm's "fairy godmother" due both to her wisdom and to the number of clients she has sent our way.
Andrea is one of the fundraising thought leaders in capital campaign fundraising and coaching. She cofounded Asking Matters and is now collaborating with Gail Perry to bring affordable pre-campaign training resources to people through mentoring programs and on-line training programs. Her book, Capital Campaigns: Strategies that Work, now in its 4th edition, is one of the standard texts in the field. Find out more about Andrea here capitalcampaignmasters.com and AndreaKihlstedt.com
Rachel Lobovsky - Collaborating Consultant
Rachel has been facilitating organizational growth through her expertise in fund development, special event planning and marketing for Jewish organizations for more than twenty years. Rachel has led many successful major gift campaigns for nonprofits including ORT America, The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) and Project Kesher. For ORT America, where she was the Chief Development Officer from 1996 - 2009, she oversaw an annual fundraising budget of $11 million. Rachel conceived and implemented the organization’s first multi-year Major Gift campaign, The Diamond Ladder, which has secured millions of dollars in upgraded donor support.
Rachel is a skilled facilitator and has worked with non-profit boards of all sizes in the United States and abroad. Rachel has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from New York University.
Ross Mudrick - Writer
Ross brings more than a decade of development experience to his work as a writer for nonprofit organizations, including two years as an independent consultant and nearly ten years in-house with organizations where he helped develop messaging to engage constituencies including individual donors, foundations, corporations, governments, volunteers, and voters. He has a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU Wagner, a Bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and hands-on fundraising experience working with organizations that build diverse communities committed to progressive values.
Organizations he has worked with include New York City Economic Development Corporation, Working Narratives, Citizen Engagement Lab, NEO Philanthropy, Coalition for Engaged Education, You Tell Me Stories, P.S. Science, Junior State of America, Seeds of Peace, Presente, Color of Change, 18 Million Rising, CoWorker.org, CultureStrike, The Peace Project, The Opportunity Agenda, The Urban Death Project, Seneca Family of Agencies, and Future Speak. RossMudrick.com
Mieke Vandersall - Collaborating Consultant
With over 15 years of executive leadership experience in the religious nonprofit arena, Mieke guides people and institutions to remove barriers in order to live into their dreams. She is a detail-oriented project manager and brings extensive development, fundraising, administrative, and supervisory knowledge, having successfuly begun multiple programs and organizations. She has been consulting with organizations and congregations since 2014. Clients include the Leo Baeck Institute, the Synod of the Northeast of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), St. Lydia’s Dinner Church, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and Astoria First Presbyterian Church.
In addition, Mieke coaches nonprofits, congregations and religious leaders as they work to fund their ministries; this work comes out of a deep knowledge of the particular exhilaration and stress of working for long-term structural change and beginning and sustaining programs.
She is also currently the Founding Pastor of Not So Churchy, a progressive, arts-based community which meets several times a month. This community has received attention in the New York Times and Presbyterians Today as an emerging community reaching those previously hurt by or uninterested in the church. Mieke provides pastoral care, organization, and vision for this community.
Prior to her consulting work she was the Executive Director of Parity, where she founded a program for LGBTQ Future Pastors. This post spanned from 2003-2014. Mieke and the Future Pastors Program are featured in the forthcoming documentary film, Out of Order. Before serving Parity, she was the Executive Director of Voices of Sophia while attending Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.