speaker information
Michelle Anderson, Esq.
Fisher Phillips LLP

Michelle is a partner in the New Orleans and Tampa offices of Fisher & Phillips LLP. She represents employers against claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, breaches of contract, violations of leave and disability laws, wage and hour violations, unfair labor practice charges, ADA public accommodations and workplace safety violations. Michelle also enjoys a successful, national employer advice practice that includes: state and national employee handbooks, policies, and procedures; workplace investigations; ADA compliance; human resource management and systems; supervisor training for employment and labor law compliance; multi-state employment applications, criminal background check compliance, and wage and hour audits. Prior to attending law school, Michelle had a successful career in workforce development where she operated and managed employment and training programs for a private non-profit corporation under contracts from various state, federal and local governments.

Darlene J. Bigler

Darlene has led Blueprints, the Community Action Agency serving Greene and Washington counties in Pennsylvania, as the Chief Executive Officer since 1993. In 2014, Darlene and her team undertook the acquisition of a community based non-profit organization providing foster care and adoption services, and completed a merger in 2015. The merger expanded Blueprint’s service area into West Virginia. Darlene is a co-founder and a board member of several corporations affiliated with Blueprints, including Keystone Hope Development Corporation, Threshold Housing, Southwestern PA Community Development Corporation, and the Tri-County Loan Fund. She also leads Action Resources, Inc., a property management company for nonprofit organizations. Darlene is a long-time board member and past president of the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania. She serves as a member of the Southwest Corner Workforce Investment Board, a trustee of the Washington Health System and a board member of Community Action Legal Services, Inc.. She has been honored by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce with the Outstanding Woman in Business and ATHENA awards. She received the Community Award from the Academy of Adolescent Health and the Community Engagement and Innovative Program of the Year awards from the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Blueprints, Darlene worked at the Indiana County Community Action Program (ICCAP) in Indiana and served as that organization’s Executive Director from 1985 to 1993. Darlene is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in sociology and criminology.

Jenae Bjelland, NRCT
National Association for State Community Services Programs

Jenae is the Executive Director of the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP). Prior to accepting the position of Executive Director, she was the Director of Healthy Homes for NASCSP and previously the Director of Research for NASCSP. Jenae brings fifteen years of experience in the anti-poverty and energy efficiency network - working at the local, state and national level. She is results driven, adept in analyzing process management, data, and technology needs and is certified as a National Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) trainer.

Jean Block
Jean Block Consulting, Inc.

Jean is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer and consultant on nonprofit management, FUNdraising, board development and social enterprise. She has more than 45 years’ experience in the nonprofit sector as both board and staff leader. Jean is the author of “The Invisible Yellow Line: Clarifying Nonprofit Board and Staff Roles”, “The Nonprofit Guide to Social Enterprise: Show Me the (Unrestricted) Money!”, “FUNdraising! 180+ Great Ideas to Raise More Money”, “The ABCs of Building Better Boards”, and “Fast FUNdraising Facts for Fame & Fortune” as well as other manuals. Visit her web site at www.jblockinc.com to learn more, sign up for her free newsletter and download free useful forms.

Tai Blythe, MS, CCAP
WiseCap Consulting

Tai Blythe is a consultant at WiseCap Consulting and also serves as Pace Community Action Agency’s Associate Director handling agency communications and working within the Head Start and Early Head Start Programs. She is currently an adjunct professor and has held past positions of ERSEA Specialist and Program Coordinator. She has worked with a variety of non-profit organizations that include hospitals and youth development programs. Tai has also worked with Fortune 500 companies in developing employee wellness initiatives, workplace safety, smoking cessation and parenting classes. She holds a Master’s in Leadership Development and a Bachelor's in Psychology with a minor in Sociology.

Jarle Crocker, PhD
Community Action Partnership

Jarle is the Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the Community Action Partnership. He is responsible for developing, planning, implementing, and directing training and technical support for the national network of CAAs that help low-income people achieve economic security. His expertise includes strategic planning, performance measurement, community involvement, education reform, and early childhood systems and services. He has also served as a consultant to CAAs and managed training and technical assistance for public agencies and nonprofits. Prior to joining the Partnership, Jarle served in a number of roles at other national organizations, including Assistant Director for Community Services at the National Civic League and most recently as Program Manager at the National Human Services Assembly. Jarle has a doctorate from George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution—where he also serves as adjunct faculty, teaching graduate classes on organizational change and the design and facilitation of public policy consensus-building processes.

Andrea Elkon, PhD, ABPP
Alliance Spine and Pain Centers

Andrea is the Director of Behavioral Health Services for Alliance Spine and Pain Centers; a 19-office interventional pain management practice in the Atlanta Metro area. Specializing in Pain Psychology, Andrea’s clinical work helps patients become empowered to manage their chronic pain without over-relying on opioid medication and other medical interventions. She also helps patients struggling with opioid addiction secure appropriate treatment, so that they might also more effectively recover from chronic pain. Prior to joining Alliance Spine and Pain Centers in January 2016, Andrea spent 10 years working in public mental health at both the State and Federal levels. Andrea obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Haverford College. She then completed a two-year research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Andrea obtained both her Masters and Doctoral degrees from the University of Virginia. She received additional specialized clinical training at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Andrea is board-certified in Clinical Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology, and she is a member of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the Academy of Integrative Pain Management.

Michael Elkon, Esq.
Fisher Phillips LLP

Michael is a partner in the Atlanta office of the national employment law firm, Fisher Phillips. Michael advises clients and handles litigation regarding a bevy of employment laws, including Title VII, Section 1981, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and state assault and battery laws. He specializes in providing advice and handling litigation relating to covenants not to compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure provisions, employee raiding, trade secrets, the duty of loyalty, deceptive trade practices under state and federal law, the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (CFAA), and state computer protection statutes. In addition to litigating, Michael drafts restrictive covenants for numerous different types of agreements and counsels clients on protecting their confidential information and customer relationships, as well as recruiting talent. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan with High Distinction and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Patty Emord, PhD
Collaborative Solutions Consulting

Patty is the principal consultant of Collaborative Solutions Consulting (CSC) which provides customized consultation to organizations that empower and build capacity with participatory processes. She has many years’ experience working with community organizations, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and private corporations. Her practice is guided by a philosophy of building capacity and empowerment, providing her clients with new perspectives and insights into their strengths and possibilities for growth and development. Empowered with new capacities and knowledge, organizations can move forward effectively. Patty has performed a variety of services that include strategic planning and design, program evaluations, building evaluation capacity, coordinating state-wide research programs, developing evaluation plans, collecting and analyzing data, writing evaluation reports, and facilitating focus groups. Patty is a member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and American Educational Research Association (AERA). As a charter member of the New Mexico Evaluators, she served as President and VP of Communications. Patty is trained in Utilization Focused Evaluation, Empowerment Evaluation, Appreciative Inquiry, Social Network Analysis, and Concept Mapping in Evaluation. Patty received her Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technologies with an emphasis on using evaluation as a means to organizational learning from the University of New Mexico.

Eleanor Evans, Esq.
Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc.

Eleanor is Executive Director and General Counsel of Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc. (CAPLAW) and General Counsel to Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (ABCD). She advises Community Action Agencies nationwide on a broad range of legal, governance and compliance matters; writes publications; and presents workshops throughout the country on those matters. Before holding these positions, Eleanor was CAPLAW's Deputy Director and Senior Counsel. Prior to joining CAPLAW, she practiced with the Boston law firm of Hill & Barlow, where she represented nonprofit and for-profit organizations in corporate, tax and employee benefits matters. Eleanor is co-author of Being a Player: A Guide to the IRS Lobbying Regulations for Advocacy Charities, published by the Alliance for Justice. She is a graduate of Smith College and Georgetown University Law Center.

Denise Harlow, NCRT, CCAP
Community Action Partnership

Denise is the Chief Executive Officer for the Community Action Partnership. Prior to this position, she served as Interim Chief Operating Officer and the Senior Director of Training and Technical Assistance. Denise has more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit and governmental sectors. Prior to her tenure at the Partnership, she served as the CEO for the New York State Community Action Association, Senior Vice President for Capacity Building at the New York Council of Nonprofits and started her Community Action career as a social worker at Schenectady Community Action Program. Denise has served on several nonprofit boards of directors as was an appointee to the Governor's Early Childhood Advisory Council (NY). She has a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University at Albany with a focus on nonprofit management where she was also a Fellow on Women and Public Policy at the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society. Denise holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Work from Valparaiso University.

Seth Hassett, MSW
Federal Office of Community Service

Seth is the Director of the Division of Community Assistance (DCA) which administers the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). He oversees all program activities for CSBG grants to states, territories and tribes to support community-based services and strategies to help low-income people achieve economic opportunity and security. Seth and other DCA staff coordinate grants and contracts for technical assistance, monitoring and performance management in CSBG. He has been with OCS in his current role since 2008. Prior to coming to OCS, he served in a variety of roles at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) including service as Chief of the Emergency Mental Health and Traumatic Stress Services Branch in the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) and as Director of the Office of Program Planning and Coordination for CMHS. He completed his master’s degree in social welfare from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993. He has an undergraduate degree in psychology and history from Guilford College. He began Federal service in 1993 as a Presidential Management Intern. He recently completed the Federal Executive Institute’s Leadership for a Democratic Society executive development program.

Sarah Hidey, MBA
Joining Vision and Action

Sarah is the Co-Managing Director/Director of Resource Development for Joining Vision and Action (JVA), an organization focused on helping and inspiring local change makers to succeed, sustain and scale. As the Director of Resource Development, Sarah works with JVA clients to access funding—helping build their capacity for increased social and community change. Sarah has been working in the social change sector for 13+ years, providing program development and management, grantwriting, facilitation, and strategic and social enterprise planning for nonprofits and government agencies both internationally and in the United States. At JVA, she has written more than $10 million in successful grants for clients. Sarah is also a social entrepreneur dedicated to helping create businesses that accomplish a social mission and provide opportunity for vulnerable populations. She is the co-founder of Tribe Apparel, a fair-trade fashion line with the mission to create ethical employment for women with barriers to employment, including refugees in the United States and trafficking survivors in Cambodia. Previously, Sarah was the grants manager at Denver Rescue Mission, the senior program officer for an international humanitarian organization, and an international development consultant in Africa and Asia. Sarah was recognized as one of Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2014 for her social enterprise work at JVA. Sarah received her undergraduate degree from University of South Carolina and her MBA from Eastern University.

Dawn Z. Hommer, CCAP, MBA
Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico

Dawn is the Chief Executive Officer at the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico. Dawn is a Certified Community Action Professional, a Certified Business Incubation Manager through the National Business Incubation Association, and a certified instructor for the NxLevel Entrepreneurial Training Program. She serves on several Community Action Boards including the New Mexico Association of Community Partners, Region VI Community Action Partnership, and CAPLAW. She holds a Master of Business Administration from NMSU where she also received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, with Distinction in University Honors. Dawn is a 2014 Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest Woman of Distinction and was nominated for Business Woman of the Year in 2015.

Keith Hundley, CPA
Carr, Riggs & Ingram

With 21 years of diversified CPA experience, Keith provides accounting and auditing services to governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations across the United States. As a part of the firm’s governmental and not-for-profit audit team recognized throughout the South for its knowledge of government auditing standards, Keith participates extensively in audits of community action agencies, Head Start programs, state and local government, specializing in the Single Audit Act and the OMB Uniform Guidance. Additionally, Keith provides accounting and consulting services to not-for-profit organizations in the areas of budgetary compliance, cost allocation plans, tax planning and compliance, special transactions accounting assistance, fiscal operations training and technical assistance, and board training. As a consultant for the Head Start National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operation’s Fiscal Consultant Initiative, Keith provides T/TA services to Head Start programs across the nation. Keith regularly serves as a continuing education leader for CRI as well as a certified facilitator in the CRI Leadership Academy. Keith is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants (ASCPA). Keith is a 2011 inductee to the Troy University Accounting Hall of Honor.

Katy Kujawski
National Association for State Community Services Programs

Katy is the Research Director at the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP). She has over 12 years of experience in the Community Action network. She began her career in Boise, ID at a Community Action Agency as a Homeless Outreach Coordinator and ran the HIV Prevention Programs. She then worked for the State Association where she provided training and technical assistance to CSBG Eligible Entities and managed the day-to-day activities of the Community Services Block Grant, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Weatherization Assistance Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program contracts in partnership with the State. Most recently, Katy has worked with NASCSP as a consultant providing training and technical assistance to states, support to NASCSP on the CSBG IS Survey, and assistance with implementation of the new Annual Report. She holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science with an emphasis in Public Policy from Boise State University.

Edward Leeds, Esq.
Ballard Spahr LLP

Ed is Counsel at the law firm Ballard Spahr LLP. His practice focuses primarily on the legal requirements that apply to employer-sponsored health and other welfare benefit plans. He helps clients implement programs to comply with rules under the Affordable Care Act, HIPAA, COBRA, cafeteria plan requirements, and other federal and state laws. He assists clients with the design, implementation, and administration of health plans and initiatives, such as employee wellness programs. He negotiates contracts with plan vendors and assists in the drafting of plan documents and communications. Ed received his law degree from Harvard Law School and his undergraduate degree from Haverford College.

Anita Lichtblau, Esq.
Casner & Edwards

Anita is a partner in the Nonprofit Organizations Law practice of Casner & Edwards, a Boston law firm which provides comprehensive legal advice to tax exempt organizations and businesses and individuals involved in nonprofit matters. Her areas of legal expertise include nonprofit formation and affiliations, governance, fundraising, lobbying and political activity, employment, and government and foundation grants and contracts. Before joining Casner & Edwards, Anita served for fifteen years as both the General Counsel for Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), a large nonprofit human services organization and Community Action Agency (CAA) that provides Head Start and other services to low-income people, and Executive Director of Community Action Program Legal Services (CAPLAW), a nonprofit providing legal training and technical assistance to the approximately 1,000 CAAs across the country. In those positions, she advised, provided training, and wrote numerous articles and publications on many issues. She presented hundreds of in-person workshops and webinars across the national Community Action network. Prior to holding those positions, Anita was a senior trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice handling white collar criminal cases in federal courts in New England and practiced with the Boston firm Hill & Barlow and the Washington D.C. firm Steptoe & Johnson. Anita is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Cornell University.

Ann Linehan, MEd
Federal Office of Head Start

Ann is the Acting Director of Office of Head Start (OHS). Prior to this position, she has held senior management positions in OHS for 20 years overseeing the Divisions of Program Development, Quality Assurance and Program Operations. Ann’s leadership has been instrumental in the roll out of improvements to the monitoring systems and in OHS’ efforts to implement risk mitigation strategies to improve program performance and increase accountability. Ann began her federal career in 1992 in Region I as the Head Start Regional Program Manager responsible for Head Start programs in New England. Before joining the federal government she was the Executive Director of a non-profit agency for nearly a decade that provided Head Start and Child Care services in eight communities in Massachusetts. Ann began her career as a special needs teacher for medically fragile children. She holds a BS in Sociology and Psychology and a Masters in Education from Boston State.

Christopher Logue, Esq.
Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc.

Christopher is a Staff Attorney at CAPLAW. Christopher trains and advises community action agencies on a range of legal issues, including governance, employment law, Head Start, board responsibilities, and tax-exempt organization law requirements. Before joining CAPLAW, Christopher managed the Legal Advocacy Program at Casa Myrna, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that provides services to low-income victims of domestic violence. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and Northeastern University School of Law.

Allison Ma'luf, Esq.
Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc.

Allison is Deputy Director and Senior Counsel at CAPLAW. She advises community action agencies on a wide range of legal issues, including board responsibilities, Head Start, employment law, and tax-exempt organization law requirements. Prior to joining CAPLAW, Allison practiced law as a corporate associate at Goodwin Procter LLP in Boston, Massachusetts and Troutman Sanders LLP in Atlanta, Georgia where she represented public and private companies and nonprofit organizations in general corporate matters. She also completed a two-year appointment to the Staff Attorney’s Office at the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit. Allison received her undergraduate and law degrees from Wake Forest University.

Neil V. McKittrick, Esq.
Olgetree Deakins

Neil is a Shareholder of the national employment law firm Olgetree Deakins in its Boston office. He has extensive experience counseling and advising employers on their compliance with anti-discrimination laws and other employment-related matters, including contract claims, employee privacy rights and workplace security issues. He also has extensive trial experience in employment and business disputes. He has represented clients in a wide array of litigation, including (1) allegations of workplace discrimination and harassment; (2) cases involving disputes over trade secrets, non-disclosure, non-competition and non-solicitation covenants in financial services, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, high technology and other industries; and (3) the defense of class and collective actions, with particular experience in the hospitality and retail sectors. In addition, Neil provides traditional labor law advice and has represented employers in collective bargaining, interest and grievance arbitration, unfair labor practice charges, picketing and other threatened work. He is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Frank Mirabal, PhD
Office of the Mayor, City of Albuquerque

Frank is the Director of Community Engagement and Innovation at Office of the Mayor, City of Albuquerque. In that capacity, he engages community stakeholders in collective problem-solving at the municipal level. Frank’s leadership in collective impact efforts has led to the successful design and implementation of Launch to Learn, a nationally recognized summer learning initiative, the Molino Project, an emerging initiative focused on growing immigrant entrepreneurship, and the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, which focuses on leveraging opportunities for immigrants and refugees to thrive. Prior to his work in the Mayor’s Office, Frank served as the President of Contigo Research, Policy & Strategy, a national consulting firm that provides research, public policy and strategic thinking services. During this period, Frank was also highly regarded as an expert in race equity for his work with National Council of La Raza and its affiliate organizations. Frank has been a featured contributor to Education Week and The Hechinger Report. He spent over 15 years working in the workforce, education, and youth development sectors focusing his work on building the capacity of service providers, providing training and professional development for youth development practitioners and managing a range of service initiatives in education, workforce development and youth development. Frank obtained a PhD at New Mexico State University in Educational Leadership and has both a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Journalism from the University of New Mexico. Frank recently completed a one-year fellowship in cross-sector leadership at the Presidio Institute.

Sunita Moonka, CISSP
National Nuclear Security Administration

Sunita consults as Cyber Security Assessment and Cyber Transformation Specialist to National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) where, she provides subject matter expertise on risk and vulnerability management, cloud, application security, continuous diagnostic and monitoring, endpoint protection, security policies, ICS etc. Previously, Sunita worked at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) for 15 years where she served as a Cyber Security Program Manager. As the Cyber Security Manager, she was very effective in establishing strategy and executing corporate IT security process and solutions that aligned with enterprise goals and objectives mitigating risk factors by 25%. Sunita's dedication to her work is matched by her dedication and generous contribution of time to programs that support non-profit cyber security and youth education. Her volunteer work includes guest speaker at University of New Mexico Gen Cyber Camp, Cybersecurity Defense (InCyD) at Global One to One, Cyber Security Educator and Trainer for Albuquerque Community Foundation, Oaisis and United Way. Sunita has a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Cell Biology and Masters in Information Technology. She is also a Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Jerralynn Ness, CCAP
Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc.

Jerralynn is the former Executive Director of Community Action serving Washington County, Oregon. She served with Community Action since 1973 and has been recognized as a leader in the larger Portland metropolitan area for her ability to bring the community together and facilitate positive change for those less fortunate. Jerralynn has dedicated her life to eradicating poverty, with the mission of helping low-income families achieve economic security. In addition to her role as a CAPLAW Board Member and Vice President, Jerralynn also serves as a CCAP Commissioner on the Community Action Partnership’s CCAP board of directors. In Oregon, she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Hillsboro Community Foundation and an advisor to the Friends of the Oregon Caves & Chateau.

Jackie Orr, NCRT
National Association for State Community Services Programs

Jackie is the CSBG State Assistance Director at the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP). Prior to working at NASCSP, Jackie was the Operations Director at the New York State Community Action Association (NYSCAA). Jackie is a Certified Result Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) Master Trainer and has several years of experience in facilitation and training. She has also worked in community–based organizations in the areas of mental health and literacy.

Richard W. Pins, Esq.
Stinson Leonard Street, LLP

Rick is a Partner in the labor and employment law practice groups at Stinson, Leonard, Street LLP. He splits his practice equally between the labor and employment disciplines, and both counsels and litigates on behalf of clients. Rick also has considerable commercial litigation experience. He has appeared before numerous state and federal judges and administrative agencies, including the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Rick counsels clients daily in a variety of employment-related areas, including wage and hour, drug and alcohol testing, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), discrimination, hiring, discipline, separation, privacy, background checking, record keeping and workplace violence. He also counsels clients on compliance with state and federal prevailing wage laws and transportation regulations. Rick frequently trains supervisors and employees on the basics of employment law, positive employee relations and preventing workplace harassment and discrimination. He has been regularly selected for inclusion in both Super Lawyers® and Top 40 Employment Super Lawyers®. Rick received his bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Bertha Proctor, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CCAP
WiseCAP Training & Consulting

Bertha is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Head Start Director at Pace Community Action Agency. She is also a Lead Consultant for WiseCAP Training & Consulting. Certified as a Senior Human Resource Professional, she serves on various boards, conducts state and national trainings, and has served as an adjunct faculty member at local universities. She also has developed and implemented a variety of management systems and business initiatives. Leadership training and staff development are her forte and stem from her advanced education in Communications, Human Resource Development, and Educational Leadership.

Ken Robinette
South Central Community Action Partnership, Inc.

For 38 years Ken has been with the South Central Community Action Partnership (SCCAP) in Twin Falls Idaho. He has been the Chief Executive Officer for the past 17 years. He started his career with Community Action in 1979 as the Weatherization Crew Foreman and his responsibilities were to oversee a federal program called CETA that was designed to provide carpentry and home weatherization job training for youth’s ages 16 to 18 years old. In 1981 Ken became the Director of the Weatherization/Housing Rehab program for SCCAP. Ken is the current Vice President of Energy Outwest, an organization of energy conservation professionals in the western United States that promotes and advances the technical capacity of the region’s environmental and energy services network and to provide quality service targeting but not limited to low-income households.

Stephanie Sample, MEd
Sample Consulting Studio

Stephanie is the Chief Executive Officer of Sample Consulting Studio. With experience in the nonprofit sector since 2006, she trains and consults with nonprofits in the areas of development planning, grant writing and management, fundraising, and organizational development. Prior to founding Sample Consulting Studio, she served in a variety of nonprofits in the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest. Her work is informed by her Masters in multicultural studies. She draws on traditional best practices, innovative perspectives and creative energy to offer fundraising and development solutions. Stephanie received her undergraduate degree from University of Southern Maine and her Masters from The University of New Mexico.

Lana Shope
Iowa Community Action Association

Since November 2004, Lana has been the Executive Director of Iowa Community Action Association. She has more than seventeen years of senior level executive experience leading statewide nonprofit organizations and thirteen years experience leading a small business. She is a registered lobbyist, advocating for a variety of social justice issues, including those relating to low income children and families, minorities and women. She is a strong community collaborator, skilled at working with multiple agencies and organizations to develop and maintain strong, productive partnerships that achieve positive outcomes and has over eighteen years experience developing new programs and initiatives that improve the lives of low income children and families. Lana had provided a vast array of training at the local, state and national levels.

Susan Simons
Simons Consulting Services

Susan has worked with and for nonprofits for over 25 years in fundraising, grant writing and event planning. She has helped write bylaws and has filed requests for nonprofit status with the IRS. She has worked in small organizations as the sole employee or as the only person in the development office. She now has her own consulting business, Simons Consulting Services. She volunteers on the New Mexico Association of Fundraising Professionals Board and on the board of an animal protection organization in her home town of Edgewood, New Mexico. Susan has a Masters in Nonprofit Management and has been a Certified Fundraising Executive for 20 years. She and her husband served with the Peace Corps in Liberia, West Africa.

Kay Sohl, PA
Kay Sohl Consulting

Kay has provided training and consultation for Executive Directors, CFOs, and Boards of Directors of over 6,000 nonprofit organizations throughout the United States. She focuses her work on rethinking nonprofit strategies for financial sustainability, Board financial oversight, compliance with federal funds management requirements, and the challenges of nonprofit accounting and financial reporting. She is a frequent presenter for state and regional coalitions of nonprofits, and continuing professional education programs for attorneys and accountants serving the nonprofit sector. She has worked extensively community action agencies, CAPLAW, and the Community Action Partnership. Kay has authored multiple financial management toolkits for CAAs and other nonprofits, including resources for cost allocation, financial reporting, dashboard development, and the new OMB Uniform Guidance. She is a licensed public accountant and graduate of University of California at Berkeley. She has a masters in teaching from Reed College and completed post-graduate work in accounting and business law at Portland State University.

Marie Thames, MBA
The Thames Group, LLC

Marie is the CEO of The Thames Group, LLC and has over three decades of executive experience serving nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurs in the industries of community healthcare, human services, education and retail. She has served in the roles of CEO, COO and CFO, bringing this broad experience to her management consulting practice. As CEO of The Thames Group, LLC, a boutique management consulting firm in Albuquerque, NM, Marie’s team provides services in the areas of board and executive training; strategic planning; operational implementation; grant compliance review preparation; financial audit and compliance preparation; grant writing; contract negotiation & implementation; and policy & procedure development. Marie’s style is to bring innovation, new resources, customer focus and team building to the project at hand. Marie possesses an MBA in Finance from the University of New Mexico.

R. Brian Tipton, Esq.
The Private Client Law Group

Brian is the Managing Director at The Private Client Law Group in Atlanta, Georgia. Previously, he worked in Montgomery, Alabama for the law firm Sasser, Sefton, Brown, Tipton & Davis, P.C. as a Shareholder. Prior to entering private practice, he completed a judicial clerkship with Senior United States District Judge James H. Hancock, of the Northern District of Alabama. His practice is concentrated in the representation of nonprofits and other tax-exempt organizations. He regularly represents Community Action Agencies and Head Start Programs in the areas of regulatory compliance, audits, funding source disputes, administrative appeals, and litigation. In addition, Brian consults with organizations on governance, human resources, programmatic, and corporate matters, and develops and presents training programs for nonprofits. He is a summa cum laude graduate of both the Louisiana State University and the Cumberland School of Law of Samford University.

Denes Tobie, CPA
Wipfli, LLP

Denes is a Certified Public Accountant and Partner in Wipfli LLP’s nonprofit practice (NPO). She oversees audit engagements and consulting opportunities and works with clients to maintain compliance with laws and regulations. In addition, she also oversees the NPO’s training practice. As a leader of this practice, Denes trains nonprofits and government agencies in regulations, best practices, and governance. She graduated from University of Wisconsin, Platteville with a degrees in accounting and business administration.

Yasmina Vinci, MPA
National Head Start Association

As a seasoned leader in both executive and policy roles, Yasmina's professional experience and capabilities have delivered improvements in the lives of children at the national, state, and local levels. She is now Executive Director of the National Head Start Association (NHSA). Yasmina came to the National Head Start Association after several years as principal and founder of EDGE Consulting Partners. At EDGE, Yasmina pursued local, national and global projects that utilized the knowledge, experience, and connections of her years in human services and early education, to enhance the capacity of organizations to thrive as competent, strategic entities capable of influencing policy. Yasmina founded EDGE after receiving her Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Yasmina brought to her NHSA role over ten years of executive director experience at another national organization. As the first Executive Director of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (now Child Care Aware America) she led NACCRRA's transition from an all-volunteer association of fewer than 200 child care resource and referral agencies to a powerful national network of 860+ community-based organizations. In this role, she worked with affiliate organizations, other national advocacy and research organizations, the press, federal and state governments, and the US Congress to implement NACCRRA's system-building public policy agenda on early care and education. Under her leadership, NACCRRA organized the national grassroots campaign that was instrumental to securing the funding for child care in the welfare reform legislation. Yasmina’s portfolio of experience is grounded in service as executive director of an early care and education program serving low-income families and as development director for a cluster of non-profit child care centers. In State government, she had the opportunity to supervise Head Start research, administer the federal Dependent Care Grant and plan for New Jersey’s implementation of the very first Child Care and Development Block Grant. Yasmina currently serves on numerous advisory boards and is a member of the International Organizing Committee for the World Forum on Early Care and Education.

Vernetta Walker, JD

Vernetta is the Vice President, Programs & Chief Governance Officer of BoardSource, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is a recognized leader in nonprofit board leadership and supports, trains, and educates nonprofit leaders from across the country and throughout the world. Vernetta has worked with many national and international nonprofit organizations addressing a wide range of governance issues, from restructuring complex entities to implementing exceptional governance practices. Vernetta leads BoardSource’s diversity, inclusion, and equity (DI&E) work to help nonprofit boards successfully develop and integrate inclusion strategies. She also is a frequent speaker on DI&E, as well as effective board engagement for impact. Her clients have included the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, YMCA of the USA, The National Aquarium, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Independent Sector, and National Council of La Raza.Prior to joining BoardSource, Vernetta practiced law in Orlando, Florida, for several years, served as associate general counsel for the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations, was foundation advocacy counsel at the Alliance for Justice, and served as Director of the Administration of Justice Grants Program for the Florida Bar Foundation. Vernetta is an adjunct lecturer in the masters of nonprofit management degree program at Columbia University School of Professional Studies. She is also a faculty member of NeighborWorks America and received its Kenneth Jones/Tony Austin Excellence in Training Award. She is a contributing author to Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals, a Jossey-Bass publication (2011), and Investing in Change: A Funder’s Guide to Supporting Advocacy, an Alliance for Justice publication (2004). Vernetta has served on several boards, including Planned Parenthood, Lynx (Orlando’s regional transportation authority), and the Paul C. Perkins Bar Association. She received a JD degree from the Washington University School of Law and a BA degree from the University of Maryland.

Edward (Ted) Waters, Esq.
Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP

Ted has served as Managing Partner of the law firm Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP since 2003, and as a member of the Health Law and Federal Grants practices since 1992. He focuses his practice on helping organizations to solve problems, often in crisis situations. A national authority in the area of federal grants, he advises hundreds of Community Health Centers and Head Start organizations as well as other federal grantees in the health and community services arena on all aspects of program requirements, including issues such as cost-based reimbursement, governance and the never-ending list of grant administration matters. Ted's expertise in financial, cost reporting, reimbursement, and administrative issues is widely recognized, and illustrated by his selection as a 2014, 2015 and 2016 Washington, D.C. Super Lawyer in health care. From his more than a decade of experience running the firm, he understands acutely the challenges of keeping an organization running, and offers practical, down-to-earth counsel to support organizational leaders in doing just that. Ted frequently conducts trainings for countless groups across the country such as state and national organizations, local, state, and federal agencies, and private non-profit organizations. He is a Professional Lecturer in Law at the George Washington University Law School, where in 2014, he began teaching the first law school class in the nation on federal grant programs. Ted received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of law and his undergraduate degree in Economics from Washington University.

Wendy Wintermute, PhD
SHARE New Mexico

Wendy is the Outreach Manager for SHARE New Mexico, New Mexico's largest, most up-to-date and comprehensive community information website. SHARE is for individuals and organizations who are working to improve quality of life for New Mexicans and was built by and for New Mexicans to share information and resources and support collaboration for change. Wendy has extensive training and experience in an array of research and evaluation methods, both quantitative and qualitative, with a commitment to participatory action research, involving community residents as partners, and focusing on timely and practical utilization of research and evaluation findings. Dr. Wintermute has an MA degree in family and community relations from Columbia University Teachers College, an MSW and Ph.D. in sociology and social work from the University of Michigan. She credits her education to the communities in which she has learned and served and the community members who have generously educated her in the fine art of working together.

Veronica Zhang, Esq.
Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc.

Veronica is a Staff Attorney at CAPLAW. She advises community action agencies on strategic and operational matters as well as on a broad range of legal issues, including tax-exempt law, employment matters, Head Start and other government grants law and governance matters. Prior to joining CAPLAW, Veronica was a corporate associate at Goodwin Procter LLP, where she focused on mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, and strategic collaborations. She also worked with nonprofit organizations on formation and governance matters. Veronica is a graduate of Yale University and Boston University School of Law.