Brenda B. Asare Appointed as Chair of The Giving Institute, Advancing Thought Leadership in Philanthropy

Chicago, IL | Summer 2023 –  The Giving Institute announces Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO of Alford Group as the newly appointed Chair of the Board of Directors for a two-year term.

The Giving Institute, a revered trade association renowned for its dedication to thought leadership in the world of philanthropy, proudly announces that Asare’s term begins in summer 2023 and will continue through July 2025.

“Brenda’s appointment as Chair of The Giving Institute marks a momentous occasion for the organization,” said Erin Berggren, CAE, Executive Director of The Giving Institute and The Giving USA Foundation. “Her extensive knowledge of the nonprofit community, along with her past and current contributions to The Giving Institute make her the ideal choice to lead and deepen the impact of our organization. We are confident that with her at the helm, The Giving Institute will continue to champion thought leadership and drive positive change.”

Alford Group is one of the longest-tenured members in The Giving Institute and the only consultancy with its three CEOs having served as Chair.

Asare has been an active Giving Institute board member for more than ten years, serving as Co-Chair of the Summer Symposium and DEIA Committee and a participating on the Strategic Planning and Membership Committees before moving to the organization’s top post.

“I am truly honored and excited to take on this role,” said Brenda B. Asare. “Together with our member organizations and partners, I am committed to fostering thought leadership that empowers others and creates a more dynamic, inclusive community that grows generosity on a global scale. I look forward to leading The Giving Institute at this unique moment to continue its legacy of empowering lasting change in the world.”

As the new Chair, Asare brings her expertise in nonprofit and organizational change management to the forefront. With a passion for diversity and inclusion, Asare has mentored numerous development professionals and has been a passionate advocate for disrupting narratives in the nonprofit world. This work has led to the advancement of women and people of color in philanthropy, more organizations centering equity and inclusivity in their work, and communities expanding the definition of who is seen as a philanthropist and what counts as philanthropy.

Earlier in her career, Asare served as the Chief Development Officer with the American Red Cross in Chicago, where she spearheaded various disaster fundraising efforts that raised over $100 million. Recognized as Crain’s Notable Minorities in Consulting in 2019 and Crain’s Notable Black Leaders and Executives in 2021, Asare’s remarkable work in the nonprofit sector has earned her widespread recognition.

About The Giving Institute

The Giving Institute, formerly known as the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel, was established in 1935 with a vision to champion thought leadership in philanthropy. The organization’s member firms uphold the highest ethical standards and are dedicated to empowering generosity and developing extraordinary leaders in the philanthropic sector. Additionally, as the parent organization of the Giving USA Foundation™, The Giving Institute advances philanthropy through research and education, culminating in the annual report on charitable giving in the United States, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy.

About Alford Group

Alford Group is a national, full-service consultancy serving nonprofits in nearly every state in the country. Since our founding, we have partnered with over 3,000 nonprofits to accelerate their impact and advance social change. Together, we’re building a world where possibilities are endless and reflect the best of who we are as humans. Follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn

Read Brenda B. Asare’s full biography here.

The Challenges Serving the Homelessness – From a Fundraising Point of View (The Giving Institute)

March 10 | Scottsdale, AZ | The Giving Institute Board Meeting

This panel included CEOs and CDOs of the region’s 3-5 leading homelessness serving organizations, funders, and government agencies. Participants reflected on the specific challenges and opportunities of serving the homeless from a fundraising point of view. We explored the complexity of today’s issues, including homelessness, housing insecurity, food insecurity, substance use disorder, domestic violence and trafficking, mental health, wealth inequality / distribution, racial and cultural inequality, social justice, COVID and more. We discussed how to build the case for support for a problem that cannot be solved by philanthropy alone, how to report impact when the long-term results are not known, and how to build the case for support for a problem that has no resolution (or at least one that has been achieved thus far).

Moderated by: Sharon Tiknis, Chief Client Experience Officer, Alford Group


  • Carla Vargas Jasa, President and CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way
  • Jacki Taylor, President and CEO of Save the Family Foundation of Arizona
  • Dede Divine, CEO of Native American Connections
  • Amy Schwabenlender, CEO of the Human Services Campus


AFP Chicago Virtual Workshop: Building Resiliency, Recalibrating Mission, and Deepening Impact

Virtual Workshop | Online | January 21, 2022 | 12:00-1:15 p.m. CST

Building Resiliency, Recalibrating Mission, and Deepening Impact

As nonprofit organizations continue to adapt to the profound effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, strategic planning, collaborative relationships with board members, and a strong path forward is essential. Our panel of esteemed CEOs described their leadership journeys, shared how they have navigated their organizations to solid ground during the pandemic, and reflected on what is ahead for our sector. Attendees came away from this program understanding leadership principles that leverage change to advance mission and empowered to contribute to an organizational culture that overcomes challenges and articulates a clear, bold vision for the future.


Brenda B. Asare, President & CEO, Alford Group


Greg Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Joffrey Ballet

Jamal Malone, Chief Executive Officer, Ada S. McKinley Community Services

Bela Moté, Chief Executive Officer, the Carole Robertson Center for Learning

President & CEO Brenda B. Asare Selected for Crain’s Notable Black Leaders

CHICAGO, December 14, 2021 – Alford Group is proud to announce that President & CEO Brenda B. Asare has been selected as one of Crain’s Chicago Notable Black Leaders & Executives.

Crain’s Chicago Notable Black Leaders & Executives honorees are selected based on their professional excellence in the past year, their willingness to challenge and reroute the status quo, and their commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in their field.

Brenda joined Alford Group in 2004 and assumed ownership and the President & CEO role in 2014, bringing a wealth of experience in management, organizational development and fundraising, and a compassionate dedication to bettering the lives of those we serve. Alford Group has thrived under Brenda’s leadership for nearly ten years. We are grateful for Brenda’s genuine, deep care for others and her commitment to making the world a better place for all through sustainable equity practices.

“We are thrilled to see Brenda being recognized for her powerful leadership in the nonprofit community and extremely dedicated service to diversity, equity and inclusion practices,” said Sharon Tiknis, Chief Client Experience Officer at Alford Group. “There are many reasons that Brenda is deserving of such recognition. Her impressive practical know-how is matched by her enormous heart, both of which she employs daily to give organizations the resources they need to grow and impact their communities.”

With 34 years of sector experience in management and fundraising, Brenda has coached both her clients and Alford Group to new heights, encouraging growth in both professional and personal endeavors. 

Brenda has partnered with a variety of organizations, providing fundraising campaign execution, strategic planning, corporate partnerships and more – helping clients raise over $2 billion to support their missions. Prior to joining Alford Group, Brenda served as Chief Development Officer with the American Red Cross in Chicago, leading successful fundraising efforts totaling over $100 million. Brenda also serves as 2nd Vice Chair of The Giving Institute and sits on multiple boards for a plethora of philanthropic organizations, striving to create a world in which all people can thrive.

“I’m humbled and so very honored to have been selected for this recognition alongside so many remarkable peers who have deepened their resolve to create a more just society,” Brenda said. “It’s always reassuring to have a notable publication like Crain’s elevate the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging community-wide by highlighting individuals who are leading the way on this front. I take that as motivation to work even harder as a champion of DEI, pushing myself, our firm, our clients and sector toward a brighter future with determination to push through, despite the knowledge that the journey won’t always be easy…but well worth it.  

To quote James Baldwin, ‘A journey is called that because you cannot know what you will discover on the journey, what you will do with what you find, or what you find will do to you.’”  

In the previous year, Brenda has led the firm’s expansion of both its internal and external DEI practices, acting with conviction to create the equitable future we wish to see.

“Our entire firm looks up to Brenda for her incredible passion, dependability and grace,” said Sharon. “Brenda never misses an opportunity to share or gather wisdom, demonstrating a life-long commitment to learning that has made her sensitive to others’ needs and determined to help them succeed.”

We at Alford Group congratulate Brenda on her selection for Crain’s Notable Black Leaders & Executives and are thrilled to continue working with her at the helm, always grateful for her impactful and heartfelt leadership.

Read Brenda B. Asare’s Bio.

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Behind the Data: National Trends on Donor Advised Funds

Webinar | Online | November 10, 2021 | 2:45 p.m.CST

The Giving USA Foundation is pleased to announce the release of our DAF Research Report on November 10th.

To celebrate the release, we’re hosting a live special presentation highlighting strategies on humanizing this popular giving vehicle, featuring the experts behind the data:

  • Dr. Anna Pruitt, DAF Report Lead Researcher and Managing Editor of Giving USA’s Annual Report of Philanthropy at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
  • Kristen Carlson Vogen, Senior Director of Philanthropic Services at The Chicago Community Trust
  • Brenda Asare, President and Chief Executive Officer at Alford Group

Join us in learning how to interpret, utilize and leverage this hot-off-the press report with your staff and clients.

Click here to register.

Vice President Maree G. Bullock Receives Prestigious Philanthropy Award

CHICAGO, August 12, 2021 – Alford Group is proud to announce that Vice President Maree G. Bullock has been selected to receive the prestigious 2021 Benjamin Franklin Award at AFP Chicago’s 45th Annual Philanthropy Awards.

The Benjamin Franklin Award from AFP Chicago recognizes someone especially dedicated to the philanthropic sector over a long career during which they have achieved great things and become a mentor for others in their field. Maree G. Bullock, currently a vice president at Alford Group, has been selected to receive this year’s award.

Alford Group is honored to have had Maree on our team for the last 32 years and counting. She has provided invaluable service to organizations across many facets of the social sector and set a shining example of true philanthropic spirit and passion in the work of our firm.

As an equity-forward firm working to intentionally model diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, we admire and are inspired by Maree’s dedication to bettering the lives of ALL people.

“We are so proud to see Maree receive this award,” said Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO of Alford Group. “Maree has mentored, coached and served as a trusted advisor to so many in the sector – senior and new professions alike. She brings out the best in those she advises and raises their sights on possibilities their organizations can realize.”

Through her work over the past three decades, Maree has provided consulting services in fundraising, strategic planning, organizational and board development, interim staffing and executive coaching. Maree’s passion for this work has resulted in deepened impact across all sectors.

Prior to her work at Alford Group, Maree served as Executive Director of the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation for 29 years. Maree has also served on many nonprofit boards including The University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation, Forefront, The Council on Foundations, The John R. Houlsby Foundation, Children’s Home + Aid of Illinois, National Runaway Safeline and Sacred Heart Schools of Chicago. The depth of Maree’s philanthropy is significant and her generosity has benefited numerous organizations.

“I’m grateful every day I get to work with organizations that are making a real difference in the communities they serve,” Bullock said. “I want to thank AFP Chicago for recognizing me, without failing to acknowledge that my work is already incredibly rewarding. It’s allowed me to experience transformative partnerships with wonderful organizations and contribute to their missions in an intimate way. That, to me, is one of the greatest joys of working in philanthropy.”

In addition to her many accomplishments, Maree has volunteered at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago and Community Schools, and is an avid international traveler.

“Maree truly represents of the best of our field – determined, innovative and passionate about bettering people’s lives through the nonprofit sector,” said Asare. “We are excited to continue to work with and learn from Maree and look forward to all her future accomplishments.”

We at Alford Group congratulate Maree on being selected for this prestigious award and thank her for her continuing commitment to equity in the philanthropic sector.

Read Maree G. Bullock’s Bio.

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Update: AFP IDEA Women’s Impact Initiative

Alford Group is proud to sponsor the AFP IDEA Women’s Impact Initiative. Since its founding in 2018, the Initiative has conducted groundbreaking research on women’s issues in fundraising, created educational materials for charitable organizations and started a mentorship program that has guided and helped numerous women find their voice in the philanthropic profession.

So far this year, mentees in the mentorship program have each had an individual executive coaching session and have met with their mentors to develop both long- and short-term goals over the course of the program. Mentees have also been invited to attend virtual conferences, such as AFP ICON Virtual and a variety of educational sessions with complimentary registration. Since March of 2021, these educational sessions have focused on topics related to women’s issues in the philanthropic sector, encouraging women to build fulfilling and impactful careers. These session topics have included:

  • Finding Your Inner Mentor
  • Making Work-Life Balance Work for You
  • Women’s Guide to Personal Finance
  • Women of Color in Development and Fundraising
  • Imposter Syndrome

Upcoming sessions will include Mental Health and Resilience and a two-part workshop on Inclusive Leadership. Additionally, mentees have been encouraged to branch out and participate in other facets of AFP, creating upcoming content that centers their experience with the goal of helping others find their way.

From a mentee in the program:

“First of all, I think the level of interaction, programming reminders is just right! It did not feel over-curated or sterile, but authentic and warm. The sessions and webinars that I have participated in have been high quality and helpful. I love the focus on the some of the soft skills. I really appreciate the match-up with my mentor and for her time! I did not doubt that my mentor and I would get on great but at first was not sure what we might have in common – me from California and she from Ohio, she with the Girl Scouts and me with AARP Foundation! But the first time we met, little concerns were cast aside. I always look forward to our sessions – I appreciate that my mentor shares about her real life experiences and patiently listens to mine, and I really enjoy our shop talk! I feel very fortunate.”

For more information and news on the Women’s Impact Initiative, go to their website or take a look at the hashtag #WIILead on Twitter and Facebook.

For more content from AFP women leading the way, check out these blog posts:

From Charu Uppal, M.A., M.B.A., CFRE, mentee in the 2020 WII program: Equity in Development: Be Radically Intentional to Change the Lived Experiences of Diverse Fundraisers



From Danisha Bhaloo-Shivji, CFRE, member of AFP’s Women’s Impact Initiative committee: Fundraising as a Choice and Not an Accident

Greg Whitney Joins Alford Group as Vice President

Greg Whitney

SEATTLE, August 2, 2021 – Alford Group is pleased to welcome Greg Whitney, as a vice president of the firm effective August 2, 2021.

“We are very excited to welcome Greg to Alford Group,” said Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO of Alford Group. “He brings 25 years of experience in nonprofit management and fundraising. His knowledge in this field is tremendous and will significantly benefit our clients across the country.”

Throughout his career, Whitney has had hands-on experience in major gifts, planned giving, annual campaigns and events. He has deep knowledge of fundraising proven practices, relationship building and collaborative leadership.

Prior to Alford Group, Whitney served as the Director of Major Gifts & Individual Giving for Food Lifeline, a nonprofit providing food to more than 300 food banks, shelters and meal programs across Western Washington. In this role, Whitney led the department to triple its major gift support within three years.

In addition to Food Lifeline, Whitney has held numerous leadership positions in the nonprofit sector. He strengthened the development and implementation of the planned giving program at United Way of King County, directed all aspects of the fundraising and communications departments at Uplift Northwest (formerly Millionair Club Charity), spearheaded the planned giving program at YMCA of Greater Seattle and doubled giving during his time with Harvest Against Hunger (formerly Rotary First Harvest).

“I am thrilled to join the top-notch team at Alford Group,” Whitney said. “I look forward to building off my background in fundraising and philanthropy to serve and strengthen nonprofits across all sectors. I am excited to share my expertise and assist organizations in deepening their impact to create a better world for ALL people.”

Whitney serves his community in a number of ways. He is a past president and former board member for the Washington Planned Giving Council, served as the WPGC Conference Committee Co-Chair for two years, is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), past member of Childhaven’s Planned Giving Advisory Committee and current member with the West Seattle Rotary Club.

About Alford Group

Alford Group is a national, full-service, equity-forward consulting firm specializing in the social sector. Our work empowers organizations to reimagine what it means to make a difference – to aim higher, reach further and dream bigger. Services include fundraising, strategic planning, culture of equity assessments, governance, data analytics, interim staffing and more.

Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Read Greg Whitney’s Bio.

Giving USA 2021: Reviewing Philanthropy in the Year 2020

Free Virtual Event | Online | July 13, 2021 | 12:00 p.m.EST

The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties and Alford Group presented the just-released Giving USA 2021 report looking back at philanthropy for the year 2020. A panel of community leaders spoke on how the philanthropic landscape has and will continue to change since COVID-19. We discussed how the upheaval of daily life has impacted the philanthropic space.

This free webinar was approved for 1.5 points toward CFRE certification.


Sharon Tiknis, Chief Client Experience Officer, Alford Group


Vicki Pugh, CFRE, CAP, Vice President for Philanthropic Giving, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties


Danita D. Nias, President & CEO, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties

Patrick McNamara, President & CEO, Palm Health Foundation

Sabeen Perwaiz, Executive Director, Florida Nonprofit Alliance

Cathy Brown, Associate Director, The Fund Raising School at the Indiana University – Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Giving USA 2021 and Today’s New Normal

Free Webinar | Online | July 13, 2021 | 1:00 p.m.EDT

This past year has been like no other. The events of 2020 will forever change the social sector and philanthropy.

On Tuesday, July 13 Alford Group presented the recently-released Giving USA report looking back at 2020 giving, which will inform our look forward. How has COVID-19 impacted giving? Are funders changing priorities based on current events? We discussed these questions and more during our time together.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding of the data and trends around giving in America in 2020
  • Information on how COVID-19 impacted giving last year
  • Tips for how to apply this research to your organization’s strategy and approach

Giving USA Report Details

First published in 1956, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy is the longest running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in the United States. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The Giving USA 2021 report will be released June 15th by The Giving Institute. Alford Group is a longtime supporter of Giving USA and member of The Giving Institute.

Giving USA 2021: Looking back to look forward

How things have changed a year later in the Pacific Northwest

Free Webinar | Online | July 14, 2021 | 9:00 a.m. PT

Following a presentation of the new Giving USA data outlining 2020 results, a panel of experts revisited where they were this time last year and what has changed. The discussion included how COVID has changed fundraising; how this data and information will impact fundraising going forward; how the social unrest this past year has impacted philanthropy; and what are the lasting trends that viewers should be prepared for.

Giving USA Report Details:

First published in 1956, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy is the longest running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in the United States. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and released by The Giving Institute.

GIVING USA REPORT PRESENTER: Karen Rotko-Wynn, CFRE, Chief Business Enterprise Officer, Alford Group

MODERATOR: Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO, Alford Group


  • Robin Callahan, CFRE, Vice President of Philanthropic Services, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation
  • Elena Fracchia, CWS, AVP, Wealth and Philanthropic Advisor, Columbia Bank
  • Bernadine (Bernie) C. Griffin, Managing Director, The Fifth Avenue Theatre
  • Asa Tate, Chief Development Officer, Wellspring Family Services