Speaker Bios – Giving USA 2021

Peter Fissinger
President and CEO
Campbell & Company



Peter Fissinger is President and CEO of Campbell & Company, a national consulting firm serving the nonprofit sector. In his 25 years with Campbell & Company and throughout his 35-year career, Peter has served as an advocate and a student of generosity. He is a second-generation fundraiser with a lifelong commitment to collaborating with donors and nonprofit organizations to advance critically important missions. Peter has worked to help Campbell & Company evolve from a fundraising consulting firm to a diversified professional service firm addressing the full scope of institutional advancement needs of the nonprofit sector. A frequent speaker and writer on philanthropy and generosity, Peter serves as Vice Chair of the Giving Institute and is a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Managers of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. He is a graduate of College of the Holy Cross.

Larry Benders 
President & CEO
Cleveland Sight Center

Mr. Benders is the tenth President in the Cleveland Sight Center’s 115 year history.

He has a BA from Yale University and an MBA from the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and has extensive experience in the Private, Public, and Not For Profit sectors of the economy. He worked for nearly 20 years for large companies including Johnson & Johnson, Nabisco, and Coors Brewing managing brands such Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Reach Toothbrush, Cream of Wheat Cereal, Grey Poupon Mustard, A1 Steak Sauce, and Splenda Low Calorie Sweetener. He was the Chief Marketing Officer at publicly-traded Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream based in Vermont. He was then recruited to Cleveland to become the Vice President of Marketing and Sales for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Mr. Benders spent 7 years as a senior, local government official. As the Executive Director of the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Investment Board, he achieved national recognition for the transformation of the public workforce system into a model of excellence. For 4 years he was the Director of Development for Cuyahoga County where he has managed a $100 million economic lending program and oversaw numerous federal and state community development grants.

Larry Benders has a long track record of accomplished leadership, organizational transformation and outcome achievement.

Dena Rhodes Adler
Director of Development
Beck Center for the Arts

Dena Rhodes Adler joined Beck Center in November 2017 as Director of Development. Dena has 28 years of fundraising and experience, including 20 years in leadership positions at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Hathaway Brown, The Children’s Museum of Cleveland, Magnificat High School, Gesu Parish, and the Sisters of Notre Dame. Her alma maters include CWRU (Master of Nonprofit Organizations), Ohio State University (Bachelor of Science in business management and HR management, and Magnificat High School). In her current position at Beck Center, Dena Adler, raises over $1.5m every year for operating as well as well over $1m for the Capital Campaign. Her biggest strength is her ability to build relationships and to steward donors. Knowing the organization well, being able to tell the story, and really feel passionate about what you do is critical to effective fundraising, and she does that well. Of special note is strategically working with the campaign leadership to secure the first $1m gift to the Capital Campaign. Campaign communications to donors as well as production of other online and printed materials are of a high standard, and the Campaign kick-off event, just prior to the pandemic closure, was highly executed. The stewardship program that was implemented prior to the shutdown of business due to the pandemic was really effective. She and her staff successfully transitioned into planning online donor events, and kept volunteers engaged to implement the Spotlight gala at a new date, juggling around the changing pandemic conditions. Dena, her husband, Dan, and four sons reside in Westlake.

Leta Obertacz, MPA
Director of Advancement
Cleveland Zoological Society

Leta Obertacz has led a dynamic career in nonprofit administration, donor relations, workforce development and the arts. She has served as the Director of Advancement at the Cleveland Zoological Society for the past two years leading the Advancement team in individual and organizational giving, three capital projects and creating strategies to enhance relationships and philanthropic support. Previously, she held positions as Senior Advancement Director, Corporate & Foundation Relations Officer and Corporate Relations Officer at the Zoo Society.

During her tenure in New York City, Leta developed relationships with individuals and corporations around the country to support Career Gear, a nonprofit organization, which helps the formerly incarcerated re-enter society and the workforce. In addition, she expanded the organization to five markets across the United States. Prior to Career Gear, Leta developed the individual giving strategy to reconnect alumni, executives and current members to a national labor union focused on improving medical care.

Leta had the unique opportunity to tour the world as a professional performer with a variety of artists and groups, including the New Jersey Nets. Concurrently, she served as a judge at numerous dance competitions across the country and taught dance and choreographed shows up and down the east coast. Leta continues to share insight and tips with aspiring performers on how to navigate the performer’s life in NYC. She believes in the importance and value of health, wellness, confidence and self-esteem for all dancers of all backgrounds.

She is a graduate of Brown University with a Bachelors of Arts in History with Honors and Masters in Public Administration, Pi Alpha Alpha from Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs. She was honored to be a Senior Fellow in the United Way of New York City’s Nonprofit Leadership Development Institute.

Leta is a board member at EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute and serves as the Advancement Chair. She is a founding board member of Motogo Cleveland and the organization’s first President of the board. She is also active on committees at The City Club, Near West Theatre, and the new Van Aken District. Leta has served on a committee for the City of Shaker Heights, as an Alumni Interviewer for Brown University and is a current Reunion Chair.

Leta participated in Cleveland Leadership Center’s Civic Leadership Institute, fall 2016 cohort and in Cleveland Bridge Builders class of 2019. She is a member of Association of Fundraising Professionals and Grant Professionals Association.

She resides with her husband Mike and two sons in Shaker Heights.