Dave Holmes, Candid
Dave Holmes is Programs Manager at Candid’s Midwest office, coordinating the training, reference, and research services for the Midwest region. He returned to the Foundation Center (now Candid) in 2015 from a position as Senior Consultant at Grants Plus, writing grants and doing research for a variety of large and small nonprofit clients. In his initial nine-year tenure with Foundation Center, Dave served in various roles including Regional Training Specialist, Interim Director of Foundation Center – Cleveland, and Director of Capacity and Leadership Development.
Earlier in his career, Dave served as a Program Officer for the Stocker Foundation in Lorain, Ohio, and as the Director of Grants and Prospect Research at Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio. He is a current board member of Joel’s Place for Children and Upcycle Parts Shop and a former board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Cleveland Chapter and of Joyful Noise Music School. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, an MA from Villanova University, and an MLIS from Kent State University.
Matt Carter, Grants Plus
Matt has more than fifteen years experience in grant development, corporate giving, individual fundraising, government relations, policy analysis, and project management for a variety of policy, social service, and cultural organizations.
Before coming to Grants Plus, Matt served as Associate Director of Development, Foundations and Grants, at the Western Reserve Historical Society, and as Director of Development at New Life Community (now Family Promise of Greater Cleveland). He has been published in journals in the US and Europe, and co-authored the book, Seen But Not Heard: Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy. Matt serves on the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland Chapter. He holds a BA in Political Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Program Director, Neighborhood Revitalization & Engagement
The Cleveland Foundation
Nelson is the Program Director for Neighborhood Revitalization & Engagement. He rejoined the foundation in January 2018 after spending four years at Saint Luke’s Foundation, where he served as Senior Program Officer for a Strong Neighborhood. In that role, Nelson oversaw their Strong Neighborhood program, with the goal of making enhancements to the built environment and improving social conditions in the Buckeye-Shaker, Mt. Pleasant and Woodland Hills neighborhoods. Before that, Nelson served as Program Officer for the Cleveland Foundation’s Responsive Grantmaking, focusing on community development, environmental sustainability and program management of the Summer Internship program.
Nelson has also worked for the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, University Hospitals Health System, Cole Managed Vision, and the American Red Cross. Nelson also served with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). He has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Psychology from Cleveland State University. Nelson and his wife are empty nesters and live in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland.
Director of Learning & Innovation
Catherine Smith’s passion for partnership cultivation, community development and program management has helped build social service organizations’ capacity. Prior to joining Sangfroid Strategy, LLC, Catherine worked in program management for various community-based social service organizations in Cleveland, OH. As Director of Learning and Innovation, she hopes to transform the way social service agencies function to create sustainable solutions for the problems they try to solve.
Catherine earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Case Western Reserve University and her Master of Science in Social Administration from the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. She was drawn to nonprofit systems work after creating a food-recovery program between the campus dining halls and the local community centers. Her course work in Community Practice for Social Change and Nonprofit Management and Leadership lead her to pursue this work professionally while being an active volunteer in the community.
After completing her degree program, she joined the 2015 Teach for America Greater Cleveland Corps, where she taught Common Core Mathematics and served on the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) committee. After her time in the classroom, she realized the importance of utilizing partnerships to support the education sector and moved into a role as Program Manager for the Cleveland Transformation Alliance, where she led the efforts related to community-facing engagement around the district complete Plan for Transforming Schools. Catherine has strategically and intentionally cultivated partners to support program goals through her work in the education sector. She has expanded support for organizations that address social issues such as disability services, education, housing, and child welfare needs. In addition, Catherine is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in the state of Ohio, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), True2U Mentor, and has served on various volunteer committees and boards.
Director of Grant Programs
Cuyahoga Arts and Culture
Heather Johnson-Banks is the director of grant programs of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, one of the largest funders for arts and culture in the country. Heather joined CAC in 2018 as a program manager overseeing a portfolio of organizations receiving General Operating Support and Project Support.
As director of grant programs, Heather leads the work of grant program team and guides the strategy and planning for more than $12million in annual grant making. Since joining CAC, Heather has led the General Operating Support grant program, co-led Support for Artists grantmaking, implemented a Capacity Building grant program, and supported the Project Support grant program. She has worked to improve grantmaking operations through the analysis and implementation of internal systems. Committed to racial equity, Heather initiated the organization’s internal equity team and worked to implement racial equity goals and related technical assistance for general operating support groups, including the Moving Toward Equity series.
Heather has more than a decade of experience working for nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Cuyahoga County. Prior to joining CAC, Heather was the development manager at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. There she managed the Museum’s membership, annual fund, grant writing, and exhibition and event sponsorships. During her tenure, she also initiated the Museum’s Interactive Biography Project, expanded programs and supported exhibition development. Heather has also worked at the Beck Center for the Arts advancing their fundraising efforts and has held various roles at Penton Media, SPACES and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Her volunteer work includes service on the board of the Lakewood Arts Festival, leading the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship Program Alumni Committee, and tutoring with Refugee Response.
Heather earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration and certificate in Nonprofit Management from Cleveland State University and holds degrees in Anthropology and the History of Art and Architecture from Miami University.
Prior to joining Global Cleveland as its top executive, Joe Cimperman served 18 years on Cleveland City Council, where he distinguished himself as a champion of the diverse peoples and cultures of Greater Cleveland. Joe, an immigrant’s son, grew up in a Slovenian-speaking household on East 74th Street in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood of Cleveland. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School and John Carroll University, where he was elected president of the student body. In 1997, he began the first of seven terms on Cleveland City Council. His diverse ward included the businesses and corporate offices of downtown as well as the cultures of Asiatown, Tremont, Ohio City, and the old neighborhood. Joe, a German Marshall Fellow, assumed the leadership of Global Cleveland in April of 2016. He and his wife, Nora, live in Ohio City with their two young children.
Denique “Neeky” Dennis
Social Impact Strategist
Denique “Neeky” Dennis facilitates the co-creation of sustainable strategies that transform communities. After spending 6 years engaged in social impact endeavours at the individual and community levels, Denique knows that the most transformative undertakings encourage stakeholder participation and honor their voice throughout the process – from design to implementation. This is the true measure of a successful strategy.
Denique has been immersed in the nonprofit field across the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean. Prior to joining the team at Sangfroid Strategy, she served as a Human Trafficking Survivor Advocate, Sexual Assault Crisis Responder, and a member of the advisory committee of It’s On Us, a national taskforce to reduce the prevalence of rape culture on college campuses. She has also had the opportunity to support the economic wellness of residents of Northwest Ohio through the creation and delivery of financial literacy curricula as a Financial Literacy Community Liaison and co-founder of a county pantry.
Denique is currently a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Ohio. She holds a B.Sc. in Social Work and Religious Studies from Defiance College and a M.Sc in Social Administration from the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She has earned certificates in areas of trauma-informed care, adult mental health, and social impact strategy.
Through her role at Sangfroid Strategy, Denique is most enthusiastic about working with nonprofits to be intentionally innovative and people-centered in all their endeavours.
Susan M. Fuehrer
Institute for H.O.P.E.™
The MetroHealth System
Susan M. Fuehrer joined the MetroHealth System on July 1, 2019 and serves as President for the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Empowerment). In this role she aims to address social determinants of health in an ambitious, comprehensive and coordinated manner. Ideally repairing the root causes affecting the overall well-being of people in the community so everyone can live their healthiest life.
Prior to this position, Susan served as the CEO and Director of the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System. She spent 34 years at the VA and rose from a management intern to CEO. For more than a decade served as the leader and visionary for one of VA’s largest healthcare systems with a strong reputation for excellent outcomes and value for patient care, academic education and research.
Susan completed her Bachelor of Science from University of New Hampshire in 1986 and Master of Business Administration from Case Western Reserve University in 1990. She is also a graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She currently serves on the boards of the Greater Northern Ohio American Red Cross, Cuyahoga Community College Foundation, the YMCA of Greater Cleveland and the Center for Health Affairs. Susan was a recipient of a Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious award in Federal career civil service, in 2019.
Cuyahoga Arts and Culture
Jill Marie Paulsen is the executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the local public funder of arts and culture organizations and activities in Cleveland, Ohio. Jill joined CAC in 2011 and has served in various roles, including interim director, deputy director, and director of grant programs.
Over the last nine years, Jill has overseen more than $130 million in grantmaking to more than 400 organizations. Jill has taken a leadership role in defining and implementing the agency’s commitment to racial equity. She led the expansion of the agency’s resident engagement efforts, including the 2016 Voices and Vision project, which helped guide the agency’s strategic plan, and a partnership with the Neighborhood Connections program to fund resident-led art in Cleveland and East Cleveland. She prides herself on working in coalitions and collaborating with other organizations to lift the voices of the underrepresented in the arts community.
Jill has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and local philanthropy, having held positions at the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and Minnesota AIDS Project (Minneapolis, MN), with additional consulting work at the National College Access Network (Cleveland, OH) and the Corporation for Community & National Service (Washington, DC).
Jill is an appointed board member of the newly-established Cuyahoga County Monuments Commission and chair of the Culture subcommittee for the 2020 Census and the Complete Count Committee. She is the past chair and 11-year board member of the AIDS Funding Collaborative, Cleveland’s public-private funder and advocacy collective; she serves as the Gund Foundation’s board designee. She is also on the board of Care Alliance Health Center, a multi-million-dollar Cleveland-based nonprofit employing more than 140 people and providing care to over 15,000 Cleveland residents annually; Jill served as board vice chair.
Jill earned a master’s in nonprofit management from Case Western Reserve University. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Grinnell College with bachelor’s degrees in French and sociology. Jill is a member of Leadership Cleveland (Class of 2017) and a graduate of the Wilder Foundation’s James P. Shannon Leadership Institute, the Diversity Center’s Lead Diversity program, and the YWCA’s Momentum women’s executive leadership program.
Jill lives in downtown Cleveland with her husband and daughter. She’s an avid fan of contemporary art, and enjoys painting, drawing and spending time at many of Cleveland’s arts and culture organizations.
Plexus LGBT + Allied Chamber of Commerce
Amanda Cole joined as the first Executive Director in March of 2019. Her work in the non-profit sector was jump started by an internship directing an AmeriCorps program serving at risk youth living in vulnerable communities. Amanda attended Wright State University where she pursued studies in non-profit management, after graduating she began a successful career in development and returned to her alma mater, Antioch College, to run the annual fund and alumni relations departments. Her move to NEO was spurred by the opportunity to lead the Museum of Contemporary Art’s development department. Additionally, her community involvement and training includes leadership and change facilitation through Points of Light Youth Leadership, People’s Institute for Undoing Racism, and Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.
Clients describe Founder Erica Merritt as a skilled coach, gifted facilitator and leadership and organizational development expert. A Gestalt-trained coach, Erica has extensive experience leading, designing and teaching organizational development, leadership program design and diversity management in environments ranging from community rooms to classrooms to board rooms.
Erica’s clients include many of Northeast Ohio’s largest and most respected corporations, agencies and institutions. As a trusted consultant and coach, she builds capacity in leaders to grow personally, develop professionally, transform organizations and engage communities.
By skillfully creating space to explore challenging and new dialogue, Erica allows for heightened self-awareness and experimentation with new behaviors that lead to powerful breakthroughs. Erica is a valued partner in her client’s growth and success who is equipped with an inclusion mindset and powerful set of expertise.
Erica holds a Bachelor of the Arts Degree in Public Relations from Ursuline College and a Master of the Arts Degree in Psychology with a certification in Diversity Management (NTL) from Cleveland State University. She also holds coaching certifications from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland and the Center for Credentialing Education. Erica is a graduate of the Cleveland Bridge Builders class of 2008 and was inducted into Kaleidoscope Magazine’s 40/40 Club in 2014. She has been featured in The Plain Dealer’s “At Work” section and Ursuline College’s Alumnae Magazine.
As an engaged community member, Erica serves on the Institute for Creative Leadership’s Advisory Board, Ursuline College’s Graduate and Professional Program Advisory Council, and is an active member of the Junior League of Cleveland.
Director of JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion) Programs
SHIFT Consulting, The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio
As a community social worker, Caitlin (she/her) is passionate about creative, authentic engagement in workplaces and communities. Her educational and professional experiences lead her to the understanding that relationships matter, and that relationships with people who are different from ourselves provide opportunities for immense growth and collaboration, as long as we know how to harness those connections.
In her role at The Diversity Center, Caitlin leads a team that works alongside businesses and organizations through every step of the consulting process and engages staff in customized workshops around the topics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Caitlin works with the express intention of facilitating the growth of inclusive and equitable workplaces.
Caitlin has a Master’s of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) and Master’s of Nonprofit (MNO) Organization from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wheaton College in Norton, MA. Throughout her education she concentrated specifically on Critical Race Theory and Feminist Theory.
Director of Public Policy and Advocacy
The Center for Community Solutions
Tara Britton joined The Center for Community Solutions in October, 2010, and currently serves as Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Edward D. and Dorothy E. Lynde Fellow. Located in the Community Solutions’ Columbus office, Britton leads Community Solutions’ public policy team, engages with state policymakers, and serves as an author for a variety of reports on different blogs and reports on a variety of health and human service topics. Britton serves on the Public Policy Committee of the United Way of Central Ohio, is a co-chair of Advocates for Ohio’s Future and is on the board of the Healthcare Collaborative of Greater Columbus. Prior to joining Community Solutions, Tara was an assistant for three years at a Columbus consulting firm, with a focus on the state legislative process. In that role, she tracked legislation and provided reports on hearings in the Ohio House and Senate. Ms. Britton obtained a Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, both from The Ohio State University.
Policy Matters Ohio
Hannah Halbert joined Policy Matters in 2010 as a policy liaison. She had previously spent nearly four years with the Equal Justice Foundation and the Legal Aid Society of Columbus where she protected homeowners from foreclosures during the housing risis. Halbert was named project director in 2018, overseeing work and wages research. Under her leadership, Policy Matters articulated a clear vision for working people with “A New Way Forward: 10 Ways to Support Ohio’s Working People.” Halbert has documented the growing prevalence of low-wage jobs in Ohio and promoted smart policies to ensure all Ohioans share in the economic growth their work produces. Her research and advocacy prevented Ohio workers from losing crucial unemployment compensation benefits and led to increased state support to protect working people from having their wages stolen. Halbert also serves on the board of the Central Ohio Worker Center and the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations.
Halbert has a master’s in nonprofit management, a law degree from Hamline University and a bachelor’s degree from Transylvania University. Her life experiences shape her dedication to Policy Matters’ mission of building an Ohio where everyone thrives. She grew up in rural Kentucky, raised by her mother and stepdad, who worked as coal miner.
Director, Government Advocacy
Greater Cleveland Partnership
Olivia Ortega currently serves as director of government advocacy at the Greater Cleveland Partnership, one of the largest metropolitan chambers of commerce in the nation, where she advocates the needs and priorities of the region on behalf of members to local, state, and federal policymakers. In her role she also helps lead the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, a collective of chambers of commerce across the Great Lakes region that jointly advocates on core policy issues. Prior to joining GCP, Olivia was named an inaugural Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellow, and spent her fellowship at Cleveland City Council with its policy research team. Throughout her professional experiences Olivia has had the opportunity to research, write, and advocate policies around immigration, sustainability, infrastructure, and economic development. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University in 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science.
Vice President of Talent
DeeDee leads Candid’s human resources, payroll, and facilities & office services teams. She’s responsible for developing effective HR strategies to drive improved and sustainable organizational performance, employee engagement, and productive work environments. Before Candid, DeeDee had been Foundation Center’s HR Director since 2010.
DeeDee’s own talent draws on 20+ years of experience in the financial services and nonprofit sectors where she gained extensive experience partnering with senior leaders. Throughout her career, DeeDee developed comprehensive knowledge of all facets of HR, including recruitment & selection, employee training & development, performance management & assessment, policy creation & implementation, and benefits & compensation analysis. DeeDee worked at Citigroup for many years, where prior to becoming the Vice President of Employee Relations and Programs, she held increasingly responsible leadership positions supporting employees in capital markets, finance, and the private client group. Following her tenure at Citigroup, she led the human resources, payroll, and administrative areas at the Harlem School of the Arts, a nonprofit community-based organization that trains more than 3,000 students a year in dance, music, theater, and visual arts. In her role as the HR Director from 2007 to 2009, DeeDee built the organization’s first HR function, including the introduction of annual processes for salary analysis, benefit plan reviews, and performance evaluations. She also served on the Personnel Committee of the Board of Directors.
DeeDee has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Howard University and a M.S. in HR Management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School.
President and CEO
Association of Fundraising Professionals
Mike Geiger is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), representing individuals and organizations that raise more than $100 billion in charitable contributions every year around the world for countless causes.
Prior to accepting the President & CEO role for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Mr. Geiger served for seven years, from 2010 – 2017, as Executive Director of the Chief Executives Organization, Inc (CEO) an international membership organization with a focus on education. In the role, Mike directed CEO’s day-to-day global operations, while supporting the Board of Directors and all organizational committees.
Mr. Geiger previously served for six years as the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a non-partisan international think tank and grant making organization.
Mr. Geiger was also Chief Financial Officer for seven years at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a non-partisan international policy research think tank organization.
Prior to his non-profit experience, Mr. Geiger held Chief Financial Officer and Director of Finance positions in the Washington, DC and Virginia areas in the hospital/medical provider industry.
Mr. Geiger sits on the board of the Romanian American Fund and the Romanian American Enterprise Fund – two organizations created by a 1995 act of the United States Congress.
Born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark, Mr. Geiger is a Certified Public Accountant, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond and a Master’s in Business Administration from Northeastern University. Mike moved to the U.S. to attend college and put his roots down, along with his family, in northern Virginia.
Lauren Steiner is the president and founder of Grants Plus, a national leader in grant seeking consulting. Grants Plus has secured $200 million in grant funding for nonprofit organizations around the country since 2007.
Under her leadership the company has received many awards for growth and innovation including a 2016 Smart Business: Progressive Organization Award, and a 2016 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award from the American Psychological Association.
Lauren is past president of the Grant Professionals Association Ohio–Northern Chapter as well as an active member and former board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Cleveland Chapter. She was awarded AFP Greater Cleveland’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional award in 2017. She is an active member of the Giving Institute and serves on the editorial review board for Giving USA. Lauren teaches a graduate-level course in philanthropy at the Mandel School of Applied Social Science at Case Western Reserve University. She holds a BS from Ohio University and a JD from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University.