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AFP/Blackbaud Emerging Leaders Mentor Program Participants Announced For 2021

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Arlington, Va.) The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has announced the participants—six mentors and six mentees—for its 2021 Emerging Leaders Mentor Program, sponsored by Blackbaud.

According to AFP’s 2020 Compensation and Benefits Report, two-thirds of young professionals and emerging leaders want to improve their leadership and team management skills, but 63% feel unprepared for their job, and only 30% have a mentor. 

“Through the Emerging Leaders Mentor Program, we are preparing future generations of fundraising professionals to lead the charitable sector and serve communities across the country and around the world,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “This program is part of our larger commitment to ensure that all fundraisers, especially young professionals, find support and success throughout their career, ultimately working toward the advancement of the sector. I am so pleased to be partnering with Blackbaud on this initiative, a strategic partner of AFP, which has long been a champion of the fundraising profession and its impact on society.”

Based on data from AFP’s 2020 Compensation and Benefits Report, mentors provide significant benefits to their mentees, including:

  • supporting self-confidence; 
  • increasing problem-solving skills;
  • encouraging networking and connecting with colleagues; 
  • providing active coaching and guiding mentees in how to more effectively perform aspect(s) of the job; and
  • challenging mentees to learn more and be more active in their organizations. 

“We are proud to support the Emerging Leaders Mentor Program to strengthen the skills of young professionals, further growing and sustaining the fundraising profession,” said Catherine LaCour, chief marketing officer of Blackbaud. “Attracting and developing highly talented, emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds allows the profession to benefit from a wide variety of experiences and perspectives, creating an inclusive and equitable future for fundraising to better serve our communities.”

This year’s mentors include:

  • Lisa Chmiola, CFRE
  • Linda Frank, Ph.D.
  • Cherian Koshy, CFRE
  • Jeff Mendola
  • Daniel Sims
  • Michelle Vryn

This year’s mentees include:

  • Dolores Dodson
  • Julissa Garza
  • Maliha Hasan
  • Miguel Lopez
  • Mario Racicot
  • Samantha Scott

“Full-on Imposter Syndrome sets in when I think about being a formal mentor,” said mentor Cherian Koshy. “Who am I to mentor anyone? But I'm looking forward to three things: remembering the mistakes I've made and pointing them out, learning from another person's perspective and lived experience, and most importantly, going on a journey together. I've been blessed with many formal and informal mentors and look forward to honoring them through this experience.”

More information about the Emerging Leaders initiative can be found by visiting

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 26,000 members in more than 240 chapters raise over $100 billion annually for a wide variety of charitable organizations and causes across the globe. For more information, go to

About Blackbaud
Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the world's leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community—nonprofits, higher education institutions, K–12 schools, healthcare organizations, faith communities, arts and cultural organizations, foundations, companies and individual change agents—Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through cloud software, services, expertise and data intelligence. The Blackbaud portfolio is tailored to the unique needs of vertical markets, with solutions for fundraising and CRM, marketing, advocacy, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate social responsibility, school management, ticketing, grantmaking, financial management, payment processing and analytics. Serving the industry for more than three decades, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

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