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Alford Group Mentoring and Leadership Development Program 2020 Participants Announced

(Arlington, Va.) The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has announced the participants—11 mentors and 11 mentees—for its 2020 Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA): Alford Group Mentoring and Leadership Development Program.

Women represent more than 70 percent of the profession, but only hold roughly 30 percent of senior-level fundraising positions. The Alford Group Mentoring and Leadership Development Program works to address this gap by providing guidance, education and leadership development opportunities to talented and exceptional women in the profession who have a desire to secure senior-level positions.

“AFP is committed to creating and supporting an inclusive, diverse and equitable sector,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “Through this mentoring program, we are preparing future generations of fundraising professionals to lead the sector in a direction that provides opportunities for success and advancement for everyone—regardless of gender or any other characteristic. Many thanks to the Alford Group for wholeheartedly believing in this incredible program and investing in the future of the profession and leaders of tomorrow.”

The Alford Group Mentoring and Leadership Development Program was first created in 2019 as part of AFP’s Women’s Impact Initiative, which is addressing women’s equity issues in the profession. This year, 22 mentors and mentees are participating, working together to form meaningful, lasting mentor-mentee relationships to guide and help each other grow and succeed.

“As the chair of the Women’s Impact Initiative, I believe that mentorship is imperative to increasing diversity and inclusion in our sector,” said Liz LeClair, CFRE, longtime AFP member and chair of the Women’s Impact Initiative, which is sponsored by DonorPerfect and the African American Development Officers Network. “Women continue to be underrepresented in senior leadership and boards in our sector. We continue to be paid less than our male peers and disproportionately suffer discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This is amplified for women of color. This has to change. It is our duty to lift one another up and to create a more just and equitable workplace for all.”

This year’s mentors include:

  • Heidi Gider, Senior Director of Development, Young Invincibles in Washington, DC
  • Carme Williams, Vice President of Development, Prairie A&M University in Prairie View, Texas
  • Jan Bonner, Executive Director, Good Samaritan Medical Center Foundation in Lafayette, Colo.
  • Vicki Allen, Chief Development Officer, ExercisAbilities in Rochester, Minn.
  • Gina Garrett, Executive Director of Advancement, Lyon College in Batesville, Ark.
  • Patricia Moran, Retired, Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Diane Lebson, Co-Founder and CEO, Evergreen Philanthropic Solutions in Camden, Maine
  • Esther Landau, Director of Development and Corporate Communications, Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, Calif.
  • Steven Miller, Decatur, Ga.
  • Karen Mercier, Capital Campaign Director, Regina Humane Society in Regina, Sask.
  • Ann Hale, Chief Development Officer, Anchorage Museum in Anchorage, Alaska

“I am truly honored and excited about this opportunity,” said Miller, one of the mentors. “My success is rooted in the guidance that my own mentors provided at every stage of my life and career—and I still have mentors. Based on my gratitude for their gifts, I am so pleased to have this opportunity to provide guidance, to learn in the process and to help someone else in their professional development."

Mentees participating in the program include:

  • Kiana Barcelona, Development Associate, Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington, DC
  • Charu Uppal, Annual Fund and Donor Communications Manager, Oregon Zoo Foundation in Portland, Ore.
  • Stephanie Maurice, Director of Annual Giving and Marketing, Focus: Hope in Detroit, Mich.
  • Daisy Perez, Nutcracker Market Associate Director, Houston Ballet in Houston, Texas
  • Erin Douget, Associate Director of Development and Philanthropy, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank in Baton Rouge, La.
  • Rose Maria Lesniak-Mendez, Special Events Manager, Catholic Charities in Chicago, Ill.
  • Allison Quintanilla Plattsmier, Executive Director, Jordan Thomas Foundation in Nashville, Tenn.
  • Katie Houck, Director for Philanthropy, Washington Office on Latin America in Washington, DC
  • Sheena Rayford, Manager, Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, Ill.
  • Nichole Guerra, Director of Development and Communications, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in New York, N.Y.
  • Cheri Taylor, Major Gifts Officer, Unitarian Universalist Association in Wisconsin Dells, Wisc.

“I can’t wait to learn from my mentor,” said Maurice. “I am looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunities this experience will afford. I am particularly eager to work on developing leadership skills, cultivating relationships with other fundraisers and continuing to deepen my fundraising knowledge.”

All program participants receive benefits that include AFP ICON and AFP LEAD registration; a waived Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) initial certification fee, if the CFRE exam is taken within two years of graduation; and a leadership education program curated to their interests and development areas.

Additionally, mentees receive a one-hour coaching session with a certified executive coach and registration to the Emerging Leaders pre-conference session at AFP ICON.

More information about WII and the Alford Group Mentoring and Leadership Development Program can be found by visiting

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