Peter J Heller Bio

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With over 27 years in the nonprofit world, Peter Heller has raised millions of dollars for many organizations while also strengthening their strategic and financial assets.  His firm’s current consulting success is bolstered by the team of hands-on professionals he brings to the table, his extensive experience as a development staff member prior to launching his own firm, and his deep experience working on cultivating individual donors.  He understands the client’s needs not only from the outside looking in, but vice versa.

Since 2004 Peter has been offering fundraising and strategic consulting services to a diverse group of nonprofit clients.  He taught Major Gifts Fundraising in Columbia’s Fundraising Management Graduate Program, has trained fundraisers at The Foundation Center, is Co-Chair of Gotham Networking's "Make a Difference" group, and a member of the Nonprofit Resource Group.

For the 10 years before beginning his consulting business (1994-2004) Peter raised major support as a fundraiser and administrator for Columbia University, becoming the Director of Development for Columbia’s Engineering School.  In securing support for University funding priorities, he worked closely with the Engineering School’s Dean and other University administrators raising significant dollars through his personal efforts and dramatically moving the School’s organizational strength forward.  He also traveled extensively in the US and Asia to meet donors and raise funds.

Prior to his years at Columbia, Peter held development positions at several world-class universities during their campaigns including UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco (Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations) and the American Friends of Tel Aviv University (Director of Corporations and Foundations).  He started his career with a brief stint at his alma mater, College of the Atlantic (ME).

Peter attended Wesleyan University (CT) and College of the Atlantic, receiving a B.A. in Human Ecology from the latter in 1985.  Before his nonprofit career, Peter ran his own vegetarian cooking and catering business in New York.

Peter is currently on the advisory board of the Inner Strength Foundation (PA) and has been providing pro-bono strategic advice to Earthdance (MA) for over 10 years.


Collaborators

Meet our collaborating consultants! These professionals have been on our team for various client assignments and along with our other experts, help us reach deep into the fundraising world for extensive knowledge on best practices for your nonprofit.


Betsy Steward Senior Consultant

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Betsy is a fundraising professional who brings a variety of experience and enthusiasm to her role as consultant. She served as Director of Development for Westchester Children’s Association (WCA) for over ten years. During that time, she led WCA’s five-year Centennial Campaign, completed in April 2016, that raised $6.6M, exceeding the goal for this ambitious project, and virtually doubling the organization’s operating budget. She oversaw all campaign major gift in-person solicitations, conducting face-to-face solicitations and securing gifts ranging from $1K to $1.5M. Betsy’s responsibilities included oversight of WCA’s annual benefit, whose net earnings increased, over the course of her tenure, by 730% (from $25,595 to $212,345). She added more formal structure to WCA’s fundraising efforts, instituted more effective development procedures that contributed significantly to the growth of the organization, and established deep, long-term relationships with board members. Her experience at WCA provided Betsy with a strong knowledge of Westchester County and its philanthropic community. She was named the 2017 Fundraiser of the Year by the Hudson Valley Association of Development Officers. Prior to her work with WCA, Betsy served as president of the Foundation for Public Education in White Plains, where donations increased during her term by 89%. Before entering the world of development, Betsy founded and managed a successful software training business.


Andrea Kihlstedt  Advisor / Nonprofit Thought Leader

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Andrea and Peter have collaborated to help several nonprofits with feasibility studies and capital campaigns.  Andrea has been an indispensable mentor and colleague since the early days of Peter J. Heller Consulting.  In fact, we refer to her as our firm's "fairy godmother" due both to her wisdom and to the number of clients she has sent our way.  

Andrea is one of the fundraising thought leaders in capital campaign fundraising and coaching. She cofounded Asking Matters and is now collaborating with Gail Perry to bring affordable pre-campaign training resources to people through mentoring programs and on-line training programs. Her book, Capital Campaigns: Strategies that Work, now in its 4th edition, is one of the standard texts in the field. Find out more about Andrea here capitalcampaignmasters.com and AndreaKihlstedt.com


Emma Camp - Office Manager and Production Coordinator

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Emma is a recent graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts New Studio on Broadway where she gained a BFA in drama with a concentration in musical theater and a minor in producing.  In addition to her career as an actor, Emma has previously worked as a literary intern for The Atlantic Theater Company, a casting intern at Ulrich/Dawson/Kritzer Casting, and as a production/teaching assistant at California's premiere arts boarding school Idyllwild Arts Academy.  


Eric Sweeney - Project Manager

Eric has been working with Peter since January 2016 supporting all of our direct client work as the Project Manager. He skillfully manages everything from supporting our capital campaign clients to our proposals and contracts and other client logistics. 

In addition to his work with the Heller Fundraising Group Eric continues to build a LA-based, multi-platform lifestyle company, initially focusing on high-end women’s fashion and now with a strong focus on home furnishing.

Eric received a B.S. in Economics from Binghamton University.

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Boots Garrett – Finance Coordinator

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Boots and Peter have been fast friends for upwards of 25 years. When Boots transitioned into semi-retirement and Peter invited her to join his team as Finance Coordinator, she jumped at the chance.

Boots has worked in nonprofit agencies all of her career, serving her local community at a domestic violence project as a direct service court advocate and as the agency's volunteer coordinator, and most recently at a homeless shelter for youth as a street outreach worker.

She is pleased to now be working from home (Maine) as part of a team that helps to build the vital financial supports of valuable, interesting, and community minded agencies.


Karen Bloom Collaborating Consultant

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Karen is a fundraising professional with over thirty years of experience in non-profit administration and development including an expertise in building relationships with major donors to secure meaningful gifts and a lasting commitment to philanthropy. She is a fearless fundraiser who has raised millions of dollars. She has significant experience working with organizations, foundations and philanthropists. Most recently she has served as Chief Advancement Officer for Project Kesher, the largest funder of Jewish women's activism in the former Soviet Union and in the Russian-speaking community in Israel. In that role from 2003 through 2017, Karen instituted a Relationship Management System that transformed the relationship of board and staff with donors, resulting in the quadrupling of the organization's fundraising efforts in the first four years of her tenure. She increased the organization's NYC Annual Benefit revenue from $30,000 to $650,000 and raised over $17 million in revenue.

She is also an experienced facilitator who has developed and trained Boards of Directors, and is adept at advancing the relationship between staff and leadership to obtain maximum results.  Working with international charities, including ORT America from 1989 to 2003, Karen developed strategies to connect funders in the United States to overseas’ programming by designing site visits via missions of all sizes, virtual travel opportunities, compelling promotional materials, special events, seminars and more. 


Rachel Lobovsky Collaborating Consultant

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Rachel has been facilitating organizational growth through her expertise in fund development, special event planning and marketing for Jewish organizations for more than twenty years. Rachel has led many successful major gift campaigns for nonprofits including ORT America, The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) and Project Kesher. For ORT America, where she was the Chief Development Officer from 1996 - 2009, she oversaw an annual fundraising budget of $11 million. Rachel conceived and implemented the organization’s first multi-year Major Gift campaign, The Diamond Ladder, which has secured millions of dollars in upgraded donor support.

Rachel is a skilled facilitator and has worked with non-profit boards of all sizes in the United States and abroad. Rachel has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from New York University.


Arik Thormahlen – Collaborating Consultant

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Arik has been a fundraiser at a handful of well-known organizations including Habitat for Humanity of New Orleans (2000-2001), Tompkins Cortland Community College (2001-2004), Columbia University (2004-2008), University of California, Berkeley (2008-2011) and the Mount Sinai Health System (2011-2017).  He has extensive frontline fundraising experience working on capital campaigns and transformational gifts including $10 million to implement palliative care training while working with Mount Sinai. 

Throughout his career, Arik has implemented dynamic volunteer programs including; recruiting and training TC3’s capital campaign board, expanding the alumni volunteer solicitation program at Columbia University, planning and conducting UC Berkeley’s full-day volunteer solicitor training conference, and recruiting various boards, committees, and philanthropic leadership councils at Mount Sinai.  His experience building committees, training and engaging volunteers, and working with top donors on transformational gifts has helped organizations leverage their current resources to expand their sphere of influence and engage new donors in their mission.

Arik recently formed the consulting firm O’Connell & Thormahlen Development Solutions after a successful career as a frontline fundraiser spanning almost two decades.   He holds a B.S. in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication from the State University of New York at Geneseo and an M.S. in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University. 


Kim Gerstman – Collaborating Consultant

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Kim has almost 30 years of experience in development. She started consulting in 2015 and her clients have included Lantern Community Services, the Alpha Workshops, Citizens Union, JCCs of North America, and the Interfaith Center of New York.  Her expertise includes major gifts, foundation relations, donor communications, online marketing, direct mail, large-scale campaigns, special events programs, and strategic planning.

Prior to consulting, Kim managed small and large development operations in organizations concerned with global health, the arts, scientific research, social justice and social services. She has held senior development positions with long tenures at the Population Council, American Civil Liberties Union, and NARAL Pro-Choice New York.  She started her fundraising career at Bailey House and School of American Ballet.

Kim serves as Vice President of the Board of NOW-NYC, on the Board of Advisors to Exhale to Inhale, and on the Community Organizing Committee of East End Temple in New York. She is a member of the professional groups Women in Development and the Association of Non-Profit Professionals. Kim has a BA from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA with a specialization in arts management from Binghamton University.  LinkedIn


Mieke Vandersall - Collaborating Consultant

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With over 15 years of executive leadership experience in the religious nonprofit arena, Mieke guides people and institutions to remove barriers in order to live into their dreams. She is a detail-oriented project manager and brings extensive development, fundraising, administrative, and supervisory knowledge, having successfuly begun multiple programs and organizations. She has been consulting with organizations and congregations since 2014. Clients include the Leo Baeck Institute, the Synod of the Northeast of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), St. Lydia’s Dinner Church, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and Astoria First Presbyterian Church.

In addition, Mieke coaches nonprofits, congregations and religious leaders as they work to fund their ministries; this work comes out of a deep knowledge of the particular exhilaration and stress of working for long-term structural change and beginning and sustaining programs.

She is also currently the Founding Pastor of Not So Churchy, a progressive, arts-based community which meets several times a month. This community has received attention in the New York Times and Presbyterians Today as an emerging community reaching those previously hurt by or uninterested in the church. Mieke provides pastoral care, organization, and vision for this community. 

Prior to her consulting work she was the Executive Director of Parity, where she founded a program for LGBTQ Future Pastors. This post spanned from 2003-2014. Mieke and the Future Pastors Program are featured in the forthcoming documentary film, Out of Order. Before serving Parity,  she was the Executive Director of Voices of Sophia while attending Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.


Dan Baker - Collaborating Consultant

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Dan and Peter met in 2001 when Dan returned to Columbia University (his alma mater) and became Peter's boss - an experience that greatly helped to further Peter's career and fundraising knowledge.  Now that we're both consultants, Peter has called upon Dan to help with team leadership and conduct feasibility studies.

Dan's career in the nonprofit sector has spanned more than three decades and focused on institutional advancement, donor and trustee relations, and management. He brings this experience to leaders in the field who seek performance improvement -- for themselves and their organizations -- with an emphasis on strategy and planning, leadership development, staff training, change management, executive coaching, relationship mediation and repair, and conflict resolution.  LinkedIn


Gary Friedmann – Collaborating Consultant

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Gary hired Peter for his first fundraising job at College of the Atlantic 25 years ago and has been a mentor and colleague ever since.  Recently, Peter and Gary have been collaborating on several consulting assignments including the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue campaign.

From 2004-2007 Gary was President of his Bangor, Maine Reform congregation, Beth El, and his firm – Gary Friedmann & Associates – led two capital campaigns for their growth.

Gary has helped dozens of nonprofits raise over $60 million over the last 30 years. In addition to designing and carrying out dynamic fundraising campaigns and writing many cases for support, Gary has trained more than one thousand volunteers and professionals in the theory and practice of successful fundraising in seminars and workshops. He founded Gary Friedmann & Associates in 1992 after serving as Director of Development for College of the Atlantic and Director of Operations for Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Gary lives in Bar Harbor, Maine.   GaryFriedmann.com


Ross Mudrick - Writer

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Ross brings more than a decade of development experience to his work as a writer for nonprofit organizations, including two years as an independent consultant and nearly ten years in-house with organizations where he helped develop messaging to engage constituencies including individual donors, foundations, corporations, governments, volunteers, and voters. He has a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU Wagner, a Bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and hands-on fundraising experience working with organizations that build diverse communities committed to progressive values.

Organizations he has worked with include New York City Economic Development Corporation, Working Narratives, Citizen Engagement Lab, NEO Philanthropy, Coalition for Engaged Education, You Tell Me Stories, P.S. Science, Junior State of America, Seeds of Peace, Presente, Color of Change, 18 Million Rising, CoWorker.org, CultureStrike, The Peace Project, The Opportunity Agenda, The Urban Death Project, Seneca Family of Agencies, and Future Speak. RossMudrick.com


Don Heymann - Writer

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Each feasibility study and campaign we conduct needs exciting written materials.  That's Don's specialty.  He works with our nonprofit clients to write Case Statements that will inspire their donors.

Don has more than 25 years of experience as a writer and communications strategist, working across many disciplines and industries, including healthcare, consumer products, technology, social services, education, public affairs and philanthropy.  Don is also an adjunct instructor in marketing communications writing at New York University. Clients have included such leading non-profit and social service organizations as the Forest Stewardship Council, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Save the Children, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The New York Academy of Sciences, The Fund for Public Health in New York, and NYU Cancer Institute, among others.  Corporate clients include Pfizer, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, GE, Merck, IBM, Citibank and Unilever, as well as specialty niche businesses. DonHeymann.com


Gail Bower - Corporate Sponsorship Consultant

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Our search to find a national leader in corporate sponsorship ended when Peter was introduced to Gail.  Gail advises our clients on how to build strong relationships with companies that will result in sponsorship and long term value.

At Bower & Co. Consulting, Gail transforms organizational complexity into strategies that result in sustainable revenue, increased growth, and greater value. Author of How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times, she’s a consultant, coach, writer, and speaker, with more than 25 years’ experience in marketing and managing some of the country’s most important events, festivals, and sponsorships. A trusted media source, Gail’s been quoted in Time magazine, Fox Small Business Center, among many others. GailBower.com


Gail Koelin - Foundation Strategies and Grants

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Gail Koelln is President of GK Grant Writing, a grant writing consulting firm established in 2006. She is also the Co-Director, with Co-Director the Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner, of a new not-for-profit organization called One Earth Conservation that will receive its tax exemption status later in 2016. As the former Development Director at Queens Theatre in the Park in New York City, Gail has many years of experience researching sources of funding and preparing proposals and reports for foundations, corporations and government agencies. She also worked as the Grants Specialist for Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, where she provided technical assistance regarding fundraising to nonprofit organizations in New York City’s borough of Queens and processed grant awards from the Borough President to Queens nonprofits. Her more than 20 years of experience make her well suited to serve the needs of nonprofits looking to increase their unearned income through fundraising from public and private institutions. GK Grant Writing is a grant writing consulting firm that offers grants research, grant writing, and report writing services to nonprofit organizations that do not have their own development staff or need additional help to supplement their existing development staff. This service provides nonprofits with the means to make the world a better place, each in their own way. GK Grant Writing provides its grant writing services to not-for-profit organizations in fields such as the environment, arts, and animal welfare, as well as organizations serving people with special needs. GKGrantWriting.com


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Infinite Money... The Story about Our Logo

Bill Gates once said that he has infinite money since his money earns more in interest alone than he can ever spend.  He is also one of the most generous philanthropists.

Our logo is the infinity symbol with dollar bills shooting out. It expresses potential …and an opportunity to examine the accepted philanthropic norms.  The non-profit sector puts generosity before money and rightfully so.  Making a charitable gift is about the feelings of generosity and the positive connection to the organization that the donor receives.  The money is simply the exchange that takes place as a result.  In fundraising, if you focus only on the money, you’ve missed the boat.

This is all true.

And still there is the money. If you’re going to embrace the quest for some money – for your non-profit, for your own bank account, to give to others – why not go for broke?   Infinite money.   What a great thing to contemplate.