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CCPG Annual Symposium 
Speaker Bios


Patchwork: Curatorial Vision and Donor Contributions United in a Textile Collection

Melinda Watt, Chair, Textiles, Christa C. Mayer Thurman, Curator, Textiles Art Institute of Chicago
Melinda Watt is Chair and Christa C. Mayer Thurman Curator, at the Art Institute of Chicago. In this role, she oversees the global textile collection and leads the acquisition and installation program throughout the museum. Prior to the Art Institute, Melinda was a curator at the Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for about 25 years. In addition to her work as curator, Melinda has served as an adjunct professor in New York for many years, teaching about worldwide textile history and trade. She is an internationally recognized author and lecturer on all matters related to textiles.

James Allan, Executive Director, Philanthropy, Art Institute of Chicago
James Allan is executive director, Philanthropy at the museumJames has been with the Art Institute for more than 25 years, holding a variety of positions at the museum, the School of the Art Institute, and Gene Siskel Film Center. His focus has long been connecting members and donors with institutional priorities and stewarding the generous gifts of previous generations.  James has a BSFS from Georgetown University where his coursework included art history, architectural history, and art and culture. James is also a docent with the Chicago Architecture Center.  While his specialty is the CAF River Cruise, he has given a range of tours over the last 25 years.

Sewing Life Insurance and Charitable Giving Together

 David Simon, Insuring A Better World Fund
David B. Simon is an attorney and the co-founder and president of Insuring A Better World Fund. The Fund allows donors to transform unneeded life insurance policies to their philanthropic ideals and support the charities of their choice at no cost to the donor or charity. David is a dynamic and engaging presenter who has spoken at numerous webinars and conferences for both financial and planned giving professionals. David is published in ThinkAdvisor on the 10 Top Ways to Use Life Insurance in Charitable Giving.

Navigating the Bias Seam -  Maintaining the Dignity of Clients While Also Demonstrating Their Needs

Speaker: Beth Lye, Director of Gift Planning, University of Illinois Foundation
Beth Lye loves to help people experience the joy of giving.  She has worked in various development roles for over 20 years, mostly in human service organizations.  Beth currently serves as Director of Gift Planning at University of Illinois Foundation where she works with colleagues across departments to raise planned and outright gifts, while also working with donors to help them create a lasting legacy. Previously, she worked at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, where she co-facilitated the organization's first Legacy Challenge and DAF Challenge.  Both campaigns were wildly successful and a whole lot of fun.  Beth also is a former CCPG scholar, during which time she proudly started Cara Chicago’s planned giving program and Legacy Society, and raised the seed gift that started the organization’s endowment.  Originally from Western Colorado, Beth now lives in Logan Square with her husband and daughter.  When not working, she enjoys walks on the Bloomingdale Trail and riding bikes on any trail available. 

Speaker: Megan Davis-Ochi, Gift Planning Officer, American Red Cross
For the past six years, Megan Davis-Ochi has served as the Gift Planning Officer for the American Red Cross currently focused on donors located in Chicago and Northern Illinois.   Over her 30+ year career, her passion for individual major gifts work and planned giving began at Rush Medical Center and transitioned to a first tour with the Red Cross.  Her career evolved with 10 years in child welfare and education at Children’s Home & Aid and Glenwood School.  This was followed by a commitment to higher education as Vice President of Advancement at Chicago Theological Seminary and later Purdue University Northwest. After an over 18 year hiatus, she returned to the American Red Cross and serves as a Gift Planning Officer.  In this role she strives to help donors fulfill their philanthropic vision, achieve personal financial goals and invest in the future of the Red Cross. Megan has a BA from Loyola University of Chicago and a MAAT from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  She resides in Northwest Indiana with her husband Bob. She is a mother to three and “MiMi” to two lovely granddaughters.

Speaker: Griffin Burris, Director, CCS Fundraising
Griffin is a passionate fundraising leader with a proven track record of empowering and supporting religious organizations to achieve financial resilience. Prior to his role as Campaign Director with CCS, Griffin served as the director of development for a Catholic missionary society, a chaplain at the Mayo Clinic, taught at a Catholic high school, and was a strategy and development consultant for numerous non-profits. As a lifelong learner, Griffin has a passion for experiencing new challenges. 
This varied background, combined with his experience helping non-profits to creatively imagine their revenue streams has given Griffin a wide set of experiences that help him to share a client's story, utilizing that story to support their financial needs. Having worked in ministry for over seven years, Griffin understands the practical realities faced by organizations dedicated to serving the poor, educating the young, and helping those in need. Taking his own experiences, Griffin works to make every fundraising journey one that is authentic, personal, and effective.

Improving Donor Conversations with Investment Knowledge and Next Level Charitable CGA Strategies

Speaker: Colin Connolly, VP, Senior Planned Giving Investment Specialist Colin is a senior planned giving investment specialist for PNC Institutional Asset Management®. He coordinates the delivery of investment solutions for Planned Giving client portfolios. His key responsibilities include: maintaining strong relationships with clients by providing thought leadership, education and insights; managing portfolios in accordance with the client’s investment objectives and applicable state annuity regulations; providing recommendations to allocations based upon the client’s needs; and supporting the development of new business relationships. His area of focus is investment programs designed for charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and pooled income funds.

Speaker: Chris McGurn, Senior Vice President, Director, Planned Giving Services Group, P
NC Institutional Asset Management
Chris is the director of planned giving group. His responsibilities include oversight of a team of Planned Giving relationship managers and investment professionals and ensuring that there is a consistent delivery of investment advice, administration and education to PNC’s local and national Planned Giving clients. His team provides insight in the areas of life-income gift administration and investments for charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and pooled income funds and works with clients to create specific administrative and investment programs designed to help meet their needs.

The Black Bequest Gap: Research Highlights, and How This Can Transform our Legacies and Values

Jennifer Lehman, Ph.D., J.D., CFP®, CAP®, Program Director, Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®, Wallace Chair of Learning and Professionalism in Philanthropy and Assistant Professor of Philanthropy | Academics, The American College of Financial Services
Jennifer Lehman earned her PhD in personal financial planning from Texas Tech University; Russell James was her dissertation chair. She also earned law and MPA degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, a Bachelor of Science from TCU, and CFP® and CAP® credentials. Dr. Lehman has published research in several different peer-reviewed scientific journals and has been quoted on charitable and financial issues in a variety of news sources. Prior experience includes university teaching in various formats (online, hybrid, and face to face), research, financial planning, planned giving for a university, career services for a law school, and appellate prosecution. Hobbies include hiking, yoga, and road trips, and she has traveled to all 50 U.S. states.

Understanding the Tapestry of Affluent Donors: Demographic Factors, Motivations, and New Approaches to Giving

Anna Pruitt, Ph.D. Associate Director of Research at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy 

Anna Pruitt, Ph.D., is the Associate Director of Research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, where she leads research on charitable giving trends over time, giving to equitable causes, generational giving differences, and donor-advised funds, among other topics. She also serves as the Managing Editor of Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, the longest-running annual report on charitable giving in the United States. Anna has a special perspective on today’s giving landscape as well as the most important trends on the horizon.

With the Best of Intentions:  Maximizing the Success Rate of Bequest Commitments

Speaker: Lisa Smith, Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Lisa Smith is Deputy Chief Planned Giving & Estates Officer for Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. Lisa oversees Hadassah’s legacy society of 1500 members and cultivates future bequest gifts through donor stewardship and marketing initiatives. She also leads a team that handles the administration of 500 open estates. Before working in the nonprofit sector, Lisa was an attorney for a large law firm and for the Federal Communications Commission. Lisa serves on the executive committee of the Philanthropic Planning Group of Greater New York. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and NYU Law School. 

It's a Stitch Working with Women: Trends, Do's, and Don'ts for Working with Philanthropic Women

Speaker: Jill Doherty, Senior Director of Gift Planning, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
Jill is the Senior Director of Gift Planning for Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. She works with alumni and other donors in the RFU community who are considering or have made planned gifts, as well as blended, donor advised fund grants and IRA gifts. Prior to joining RFU, she led the individual giving program for NorthShore University HealthSystem, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine individual giving program, and was a gift officer for the UChicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Previously, Jill had a successful career as a corporate banker for JPMorgan Chase and Northern Trust as well as Bank of Boston. She has structured financings for Rush University Health System, Advocate Health, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the Overture Center in Madison, WI, and other healthcare and nonprofit institutions across the US.

Speaker: Lauren Janus, COO and Director, Phila Engaged Giving
Lauren Janus is the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Phīla Engaged Giving, the nation's premier philanthropic advisory firm serving ultra high-net wealth families and individuals. Lauren leads client engagements with a focus on uncovering philanthropic values, relationships with wealth and addressing family dynamics that can affect the development of a meaningful philanthropic strategy. A native of the nonprofit sector, Lauren has held every seat at the nonprofit table from fundraiser to senior leadership roles and has a keen understanding of the unique challenges and critical role of nonprofit organizations and giving trends around the world. Professionally, Lauren serves on committees for PEAK Grantmaking and the Chicago Council on Planned Giving. She has an MBA from the University of California, Davis and a BA from Carleton College. 

Stitch Together More Gifts With This One Important Thread

: Wayne Olson
Wayne Olson is an author, planned giving mentor and speaker and trainer to nonprofits and for-profit organizations worldwide. Next month he will begin serving as Chief Development Officer for a national foundation. He has served as the head of planned giving for the Shriners Children’s Hospital system as well as Intermountain Healthcare Foundation, one of the largest healthcare systems in the world. He has served as a consultant to corporations and charities where he advised them on fundraising, sales, customer service and building stronger relationships with customers and constituents. He is a leading expert on planned giving and donor relations. An attorney with more than 25 years’ experience, he has worked with donors on hundreds of millions of dollars in donations and helped countless nonprofits build effective and dynamic fundraising and planned giving programs.

Six Types of Private Equity

Speaker: Matthias Mackay, Regional Director of Development - Midwest, National Philanthropic Trust
Matthias Mackay has a financial advising background with deep knowledge of the markets, financial planning and storytelling sales strategies. He has years of experience developing strong client relationships built on follow-through and customized solutions. Matthias is a Regional Director at National Philanthropic Trust, the nation’s largest independent DAF sponsor, where he supports donors and their financial advisors in 10 states across the Midwest. Prior to joining NPT, Matthias was Branch Manager for TD Ameritrade, with a range of responsibilities from managing award-winning teams and regional sales strategies to conducting large educational seminars. Previously, he was Manager, Financial Services at Prudential, where he was consistently recognized for high results; he has also worked with advisors and institutional clients providing research and software solutions for Morningstar.

The Warp and Weft of Donor Advised Funds

Ianna Kachoris, Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy, The Chicago Community Trust 
Ianna leads government engagement and the Trust’s local, state and federal public policy strategy. She brings to this role more than 20 years of experience in the government, nonprofit and philanthropic sector. Prior to joining the Trust, Ianna was director of strategy, research initiatives and philanthropic partnerships for the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement. Before that, she served as a senior program officer with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation overseeing the Foundation’s multi-year, $25 million How Housing Matters to Families and Communities housing policy and research initiative. Ianna also led The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project, guiding the project’s research agenda, publications, and communications strategy. She also served as senior policy advisory to U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy on economic development and economic policy. Ianna has held positions with the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Metropolitan Planning Council, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Understanding the Essential Elements of a Successful Planned Giving Program

Speaker: Katrina Pipasts, Senior Vice President | Director of Planned Giving Services | Foundation & Institutional Advisors, Northern Trust
Katrina Pipasts is the National Director of Planned Giving Services at Northern Trust and is responsible for the gift administration and investment strategy implementation for charitable gift annuity funds and charitable remainder trusts for institutional clients. She joined Northern Trust in 1998 as a Senior Equity Index Portfolio Manager and started her professional career in 1988 as ANB Investment Management & Trust Company. Katrina holds a M.A. in philanthropy and nonprofit development from the University of Northern Iowa, a B.B.A. in accountancy from Western Michigan University, a B.S. in mathematics and statistics from the University of Western Ontario and the Certified Specialist in Planned Giving (CSPG) designation from California State University Long Beach. She is an active member of the Chicago Council on Planned Giving, Board President of Apollo's Fire Chicago and Board Treasurer of the Latvian Foundation.

Stitching Together a Campaign Strategy that Drives PG Success

Kelsey Nelson, Senior Consultant, Campbell & Company

In her seven years with Campbell & Company, Kelsey has worked with a broad range of human services, education, and arts organizations on capital, programmatic, and endowment fundraising initiatives. Kelsey’s passion for nonprofits drives her efforts to help them achieve and sustain growth through the power of philanthropy. She enjoys partnering with organizations on strategic goal setting and intentional relationship building, always looking for opportunities to leverage their existing strengths. Prior to joining Campbell & Company in 2016, Kelsey worked as Assistant Director of Annual Giving in the University of Michigan’s central development office. She began her career in philanthropy at the Adler Planetarium, where she worked closely with the Board of Trustees and oversaw special events, publications, and partnerships designed to advance the Adler’s mission. Kelsey holds an MA in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in History of Art & Architecture and French from Middlebury College. She serves as Treasurer on the Board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago.
















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