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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Giving USA 2022: The Annual Report on Philanthropy

Video Overview (8 minutes) by Karen Rotko-Wynn, CFRE, Chief Business Enterprise Officer, Alford Group

Learn the key takeaways from this year’s Giving USA report in this short video!

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. Alford Group is a longtime supporter of Giving USA and member of The Giving Institute.

Integrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Into Your Strategic Plan

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 | AFP ICON Conference | Las Vegas | 8am – 9:15am

To move the needle on DEI, organizations must do more than post a statement. Hear from Million Dollar Round Table Foundation, a global nonprofit that has stayed true to its DEI vision two years into its strategic plan. Learn to keep your plan fresh, meaningful and equity-forward.

Presenters:

  • Alexis Cooke, Vice President, Client Service and Innovation, Alford Group
  • Michelle Bibbs, Senior Consultant, Alford Group
  • Michele Stauff, CFRE, Executive Director, Million Dollar Round Table Foundation

DOWNLOAD THE PRESENTATION SLIDES: AlfordGroup_AFP ICON DEI Strategic Planning_May 4

Equity-Centered Philanthropy: Reaching donors of color through data

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 | AFP ICON Conference | Las Vegas | 10:15am – 11:30am

It’s time our sector puts diversity, equity and inclusion first in our work in the field of philanthropy. But how? In this session, you will learn the importance of starting with your donor data. See how you can mine, screen, analyze and interpret donor data to help diversify your fundraising.

Presenters:

  • Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO, Alford Group
  • Mary Hackett, Vice President, Alford Group
  • Jill Zimmerman, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Greater Chicago Food Depository

DOWLOAD PRESENTATION SLIDES: Equity-Centered Philanthropy AFP Icon May 3

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.

Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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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.

Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.