Alford Group at AdNet Bi-Annual Conference 2024

March 18-20, 2024
San Antonio, Texas

The Advancement Network (AdNet) is the premier networking and professional resource for community foundation team members serving in fund development, philanthropic advising and donor services. The 2024 conference was held in San Antonio, Texas. From immersive and practical education opportunities to unparalleled networking amongst our peers, AdNet 2024 promises to be one of the leading conferences in the community foundation sector.

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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.

Anh Vo Joins Alford Group as Chief Culture Officer

headshot of Anh Vo in purpe topChicago, IL January 4, 2023 – Alford Group welcomes Anh Vo as Chief Culture Officer effective January 2023.

“Alford Group is very pleased to bring Anh on board,” said Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO of Alford Group. “The position of Chief Culture Officer is more important than ever as Alford Group further advances our commitment to creating a world where possibilities are endless and reflect the best of who we are as humans.”

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Donald A. Cooke Joins Alford Group as Vice President

CHICAGO, July 20, 2022 – Alford Group is pleased to welcome Donald A. Cooke, Vice President effective July 20, 2022.

“We are very pleased to welcome Don Cooke to Alford Group,” said Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO of Alford Group. “He brings decades of experience in nonprofit management and significant expertise in fundraising with foundations and grant-making organizations. His knowledge and leadership in the national nonprofit community is tremendous and will significantly benefit our clients across the country.”

Throughout his career, Cooke has had hands-on experience in major gifts, multi-million-dollar campaigns, grant-making, board governance and leadership development. He has expertise in establishing fundraising best practices, relationship-building and collaborative leadership.

Most recently prior to Alford Group, Cooke served for 17 years as the Senior Vice President for Philanthropy of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. His responsibilities included providing strategy, oversight and leadership to the Foundation’s grant-making programs in democracy and civics, communities, education, violence and justice reform, veterans affairs, and special initiatives. He supported race equity training, including with colleagues from other foundations.

Prior to his leadership position with the McCormick Foundation, Cooke worked at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, serving as director of the Fels Planetarium, vice president for external affairs, and acting museum director. He subsequently headed up fundraising and marketing at the Philadelphia Orchestra and at Chicago’s Field Museum. In these roles, he has raised over $1 billion (including running six capital and endowment campaigns).

“I am excited to join the highly-respected and innovative team at Alford Group,” Cooke said. “I look forward to bringing my expertise and experience to support nonprofits and accelerate their impact across the country. More than ever, it’s a critical time to focus on creating a better world for ALL people, and having worked diligently to promote equity and inclusion, I am particularly pleased that Alford Group holds equity-centered practices as a core value.”

Cooke serves his community in a number of ways. He is an author and frequent lecturer and has served on several nonprofit boards, including the USO Board of Governors (and Chairman of the Midwest region), Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Chairman of Forefront and Illinois Joining Forces. He has been honored by Forefront and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

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. Alford Group is a Black-owned and -led consultancy, and a proud WBENC-certified women’s business enterprise. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Read Donald A Cooke’s full biography here.

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Putting our fundraising cards on the table: A conversation with funders and practitioners on equity-centered philanthropy

Monday, May 2, 2022 | AFP ICON Conference | Las Vegas | 9am-10:15am

COVID-19 and the national dialog on social injustice have revealed deep gaps in health care, economic opportunity, quality of education, and access to justice for communities of color. Fundraisers are tasked to increase the capacity of their organization to bridge these gaps, in partnership with major donors, public and private foundations, and the corporate sector. This session will use Las Vegas, ICON’s host city, as an example in how philanthropy can be part of a community’s response to expanding inclusion, diversity, equity, and access.

Alford Group is proud to sponsor the ICON2022 IDEA workshop.

Client Spotlight: LifeWire

Groundbreaking ceremony for construction and renovations to begin May 2022

LifeWire is a Washington-based nonprofit that provides compassionate services, safe housing and hope to domestic violence (DV) survivors, children and families in need. LifeWire is the largest DV housing provider in King County, providing emergency and relocation services for survivors and their children who would otherwise have to remain in an abusive home or become homeless. They are recognized nationally as a leader in providing innovative, survivor-driven, trauma-informed care. Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children in the nation. Continue reading “Client Spotlight: LifeWire”

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

Panelists:

  • 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.

Moderator:

Brenda B. Asare, President & CEO, Alford Group

Panelists:

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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