Gathering Presenters 2016

Jodi Berman

Consultant, Professional Trainer, Development Coach and Owner of Berman Leadership Strategies

Jodi Berman is a consultant, professional trainer, and development coach and has presented and keynoted at multiple leadership conferences. She was an adjunct faculty member at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.

She is a certified trainer of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and other leadership growth tools and has conducted leadership training and Board development for Jewish groups around the United States including private companies, Federations, synagogues, nonprofit agencies, schools and camps, and serves as a consultant to many of these organizations with regard to their leadership and development needs.

Jodi Berman is the Director of Engagement and Leadership at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. She served as the Executive Director of Synagogue 3000/Next Dor from 2012 - 2014. Prior to joining the S3K team, she was the Director of Development at Milken Community High School. She was Senior Vice President for Leadership Development at The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, where she served the community for 13 years. Before creating that role, she led the Real Estate and Construction campaign division, which experienced unprecedented growth during her tenure, both in fundraising and volunteer engagement and leadership.

Jodi earned her Masters Degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Colorado State University. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Arizona.

Penelope Burk

Author, trainer, presenter and President of Cygnus Applied Research, Inc.

Penelope Burk has over forty years of experience in not-for-profit management, fundraising, and research. A native of Montreal, Canada, Penelope began her professional career in market research, public relations and fundraising, becoming known as a “turn-around specialist” who advocates innovative solutions to improve revenue and institutional performance.

Penelope and her company, Cygnus Applied Research, Inc., are known for their leading-edge research with donors and their skill in helping clients adapt their fundraising operations to reflect donors’ changing needs and preferences.

Penelope’s innovative work, her advocacy for donors, and her passion for the philanthropic spirit led, in 2003, to the publication of her second book, Donor-Centered Fundraising. This best-selling text established her as the industry's foremost authority on fundraising research, training and strategic planning based on the principles of Donor-Centered Fundraising. The book is the only statistically-based research ever published on the effect of meaningful communication on donor retention and gift value.

In 2013, Penelope published Donor-Centered Leadership, which focuses on making more money by building and sustaining a high performance staff/volunteer team in fundraising. Informed by five years of research with 12,000 professional fundraisers, CEOs, Board members and Donors, Donor-Centered Leadership tackles one of the most frustrating and costly problems in fundraising (and in business) today -- the high turnover rate of staff. The book has been hailed as "timely, transformational and totally essential".

Penelope authors the industry-acclaimed Cygnus Donor Survey that investigates how donors are changing the ways in which they give and how fundraisers can raise more money in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Penelope Burk is a highly sought-after educator and public speaker whose training sessions and forums are widely acclaimed as unique, engaging and among the most effective in the third sector. She has written more than sixty seminars, training programs and dramatic plays, all written specifically for not-for-profit organizations.


Laurie Herrick

JCamp 180 Mentor and founder of RAINMAKER Consulting, whose mission is to help non-profits build a strong culture of philanthropy

Laurie Herrick is a Mentor for JCamp 180. Laurie has more than 25 years' experience in fundraising, community organizing, board development and strategic planning and has served in a variety of professional and volunteer roles in social profit organizations. She joined the Institute in 2007 and has since worked with numerous camps and day schools. In 2003, she started RAINMAKER Consulting and is currently co-launching an online educational course series, Quantum Jump. The emphasis of her work is empowering organizations to create a culture of resource abundance leading to a breakthrough in fundraising.


Michael Johnston

President & CEO of Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford

Michael Johnston is the President & CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, CT whose mission is to unlock the transformative power of individual and collective philanthropy to solve problems, strengthen community organizations, and provide permanent support for our Jewish community. The Foundation is currently in the midst of a historic 28 institution joint endowment raising campaign to build and sustain the Jewish community in perpetuity.


Aaron Lansky

Founder and President, Yiddish Book Center and Author of Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

Aaron Lansky was a graduate student in Montreal in the late 1970s when he discovered that large numbers of Yiddish books were being discarded by younger Jews who could not read the language of their parents and grandparents. So he took what he expected would be a two-year leave of absence from graduate school, founded the Yiddish Book Center, and, in the summer of 1980, issued a public appeal for unwanted and discarded Yiddish books. At the time, scholars believed just 70,000 volumes were still extant and recoverable. Lansky and a handful of young colleagues recovered that number in six months and went on to collect more than a million volumes. Their work has been described as “one of the greatest cultural rescue efforts in Jewish history.”

A native of New Bedford, Massachusetts, Aaron Lansky holds a BA in modern Jewish history from Hampshire College, an MA in East European Jewish studies from McGill University, and honorary doctorates from Amherst College, the State University of New York, and Hebrew Union College. Early in his career he was included by Esquire magazine in its first annual register of “The Best of the New Generation: Men and Women Under Forty Who Are Changing America,” and he received a so-called “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 1989. His bestselling book, Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, won the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction in 2005.


Kevin Martone

Technology Program Manager, Harold Grinspoon Foundation

Kevin Martone is the Technology Program Manager for the Grinspoon Institute for Jewish Philanthropy and PJ Library. He focuses on ways organizations can effectively use technology for fundraising and outreach. Through presentations, webinars, and one-on-one consultation, Kevin helps Jewish overnight summer camps and PJ Library Communities utilize technology to reach their outreach and fundraising goals. Kevin holds a BS in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from Cornell University.


Jerry Posner

Facilitator, Speaker, Training Specialist, Team Builder, Motivational Entertainer, Author, Ukuleleist

Jerry Posner is a creative, dynamic speaker and training specialist. Since 1993, he has given over 1,500 motivational and inspirational programs for guests at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires and has inspired tens of thousands of people who aspire to positive change in the workplace ... and in life. Jerry travels the country as a speaker for conferences and as a professional development trainer for corporations and organizations. He is considered an expert in the field of customer service and is continually researching and developing new material for his presentations and seminars. Jerry graduated magna cum laude from Emerson College in Boston with a degree in mass communications. After college he worked as a recording engineer, radio producer, and performed original music in Boston coffee houses (he currently rocks out on the ukulele). In the 1980s he worked as program director for an all-comedy radio station in Thousand Oaks, CA (KMDY Radio) and produced and voiced "976-POSI" — a positive motivational telephone service in Los Angeles. In 1987, after a stint as creative director for an advertising agency, Jerry was hired to interview, train and motivate an international sales force working with military base exchanges. In the 1990's, he founded and published The Positive Times magazine and hosted a weekly radio show, "Positive Radio." His books include, Attention Late Bloomers: You’re Right On Time! which was published in 2006; and Eternal Cosmic Wisdom at Bargain Basement Prices, published in 2011.


Julia Riseman

JCamp 180 Mentor, Consultant, Executive Coach and Fundraiser

Julia Riseman is a Mentor for JCamp 180. Julia is a consultant, executive coach and fundraiser to non-profit organizations. She has co-founded two non-profit organizations, served as the development director for a private elementary school, and has helped raise more than $200 million for organizations with which she has worked. Julia has a breadth of experience that includes youth leadership and community service-learning programs, international environmental, and human health programs, peace and social justice organizations, universities and independent schools. Julia earned a BA in Psychology from Reed College and received her MBA at the Simmons School of Management.


Tracie Bluse Ward

President & Founder, Celebrations of Life

Tracie is passionate about helping individuals and families live with intention and find meaningful ways to share their wisdom, values, stories, and generosity with loved ones. She launched Celebrations of Life in 2007 with the Legacy Journey® serving as a platform to make these services more accessible for everyone. Her 20+ prior years as a strategic consultant to corporations nationally have provided her with the experience to help for-profit and nonprofit organizations in senior living, financial services, and other sectors integrate the Legacy Journey into their business models. She also trains and certifies independent legacy facilitators internationally, and speaks to a wide range of audiences about the importance of the Legacy Journey in all stages of life. Tracie authored the workbooks and training materials for Life Reflection Stories and Making a Difference Plans.

Lynne Wester

Donor Relations Guru

Lynne Wester, widely known for her Donor Relations Guru blog and website, has quickly become the leading resource for creating donor-focused fund raising strategies. Using her expertise and hands-on approach, Lynne works with organizations to keep their focus donor driven, technologically savvy, strategic, and always with a splash of good humor.

Lynne has been featured in The Washington Post, CURRENTS magazine, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and other industry publications. The DRG website and blog receive more than 100,000 visits a week and Lynne’s monthly webinars regularly draw hundreds of viewers.

A loyal University of South Carolina gamecock alumna, donor, and fan, Lynne also holds a master's in strategic fundraising and philanthropy and is the author of two books on fundraising, The Four Pillars of Donor Relations and T-Rexes vs Kangaroos and Other Stories: Improving Your Fundraising and Donor Relations.