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AFP Honors Five Outstanding Young Fundraising Professionals for 2022

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(Arlington, Va.) Five fundraisers under the age of 31 have been named Outstanding Young Professionals for 2022 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the largest community of fundraisers in the world.

The award is given to fundraisers who, after just a few years in the profession, have already shown exemplary work in raising funds, inspiring donors, helping manage campaigns and giving back to the profession.

The Outstanding Young Professionals for 2022 are:

  • Sara Paracha, Director of Development, North Side Community School, St. Louis, Mo.;
  • Dana Patterson, Director of Development, Kidango, Inc., Fremont, Calif.;
  • Natalie Reilly-Finch, MPP, CFRE, Director, Foundation Development, Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation, Jacksonville, Fla.;
  • Casey Saunders, CFRE, Director of Planned Giving, The ALS Association National Office, Washington, D.C.; and
  • Terrel White, Director of Advancement, The Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Charlottesville, Va.

The five honorees will be recognized at AFP’s ICON (International Conference) 2022 in Las Vegas, Nev., on Monday, May 2, during the Opening General Session.

“While this honor has the word ‘young’ in its title, these five fundraisers have already demonstrated the level of incredible skills, knowledge, and expertise that you’d find in an experienced profession,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “We are recognizing them not just for what they’ve already achieved in their career, but also for serving as role models for other fundraisers new to the profession. They’re an exciting and vibrant group of fundraisers, and we look forward to hearing more from them in the future as their careers develop.”

About the Outstanding Young Professionals

Terrel White

“Winning this award is a great honor. In my community alone, I work with some incredibly dynamic and inspiring young professionals, so to have been selected amongst a global audience feels epic,” said Terrel White. “It feels fantastic to be seen and supported by colleagues who recognize my passion for my work and what I do, even outside of work.”

White has served as a fundraising professional for 12 years, building his frontline fundraising career by supporting nursing education initiatives at the Wayne State University College of Nursing. During his time there, White transformed the college’s Giving Day campaign and Nurse’s Week event programming and implemented new initiatives that significantly increased donor engagement and donor-centric solicitations. He will be taking these experiences and successes into his new role at The Center for Nonprofit Excellence.

For more information about Terrel, click here.


Casey Saunders

“It’s a real honor to be selected—I genuinely love fundraising and the power of philanthropy,” said Casey Saunders. “I spend much of my time getting to know some of my organization's most dedicated donors, sharing their stories, and helping them make what will likely be their largest gift ever to advance our shared mission. It's a real privilege. I’m thankful to AFP for its continued support of my career and professional development.”

Saunders has been involved in the fundraising profession for nearly seven years. In his current role with The ALS Association—where he’s worked since April 2019—Saunders manages the planned giving marketing efforts and estate administration in addition to a 150-person portfolio of planned giving prospects. He has surpassed new planned giving commitment goals for the past two years, totaling more than 45 new commitments roughly valued at $1.6 million, along with bringing in more than $1 million annually in planned giving revenue through estate administration.

For more information about Casey, click here.


Natalie Reilly-Finch

“As a young professional, this recognition speaks to the impact of mentorship throughout my career,” said Natalie Reilly-Finch. “After working in philanthropy for ten years now, I could not imagine a career in any other field. We as fundraisers are so blessed to be able to connect generous people to causes that change and improve communities. I hope to one day be a mentor to others like my mentors have been for me.”

Since her start in the nonprofit sector, Reilly-Finch has worked tirelessly to raise millions of dollars for the initiatives and communities she cares about. In her role with Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation, an organization that provides quality, compassionate health care to vulnerable communities, she focuses on major gifts, grateful patient fundraising and supporting a large capital campaign. Prior to her work with the Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation, she served as a development officer with Ascension Providence Foundation in Michigan.

For more information about Natalie, click here.


Dana Patterson

“I’m honored the award committee saw something in my work that deserves recognition,” said Dana Patterson. “But, more importantly, the work and recognition are 100% intertwined with the efforts and achievements of my coworkers, boss, and peers. There is not a more prestigious award I could achieve at this point in my career, and it will help me continue on my career path with confidence.”

Patterson has been a professional fundraiser for more than four years, most recently helping to drive success at Kidango, an organization that provides early learning services to children. There, she started as its grants manager overseeing a nearly $50 million budget. In that role, Patterson also secured a $13 million Head Start federal contract to support more than 500 children and families living in poverty in the Bay Area. She also doubled the organization’s      foundation revenue within two years. Now under Patterson’s leadership as director of development, Kidango is projected to raise over $2 million in total foundation revenue.

For more information about Dana, click here.


Sara Paracha

“As an emerging professional, AFP has been a tremendous resource for me and my growth,” said Sara Paracha. “I am so grateful to the leaders of the St. Louis AFP Chapter and those at the organizations I have worked for—they have provided mentorship and opportunities for me to learn, lead and contribute to the community in meaningful ways. Above all, I am committed to strengthening the organizations’ capacity to serve and making our community a more equitable place to live.”

Paracha is four years into her fundraising career and is already making waves. In her current role with North Side Community School, she leads fundraising initiatives to support the school’s current programs and initiatives. In her first 15 months, she raised more than $900,000, towards a capital campaign and general operations, through an overhaul of their online donation systems and by crafting an effective development strategy.  Previously, she worked for the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club and assisted in raising $4.2 million in her first two years in a lead development role.

For more information about Sara, click here.

For more information about this year’s Outstanding Young Professionals and AFP ICON 2022, May 2 – 4, in Las Vegas, Nev., please contact Michael Nilsen at


Since 1960, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has been the standard bearer for professionalism in fundraising. The association works to advance effective and ethical philanthropy by providing advocacy, research, education, mentoring, collaboration and technology opportunities for the world’s largest network of professional fundraisers. AFP’s nearly 26,000 members raise more than $100 billion annually for a wide variety of charitable organizations and causes across the globe. For more information, visit

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