Apra Premier Webinar: Building Community: A Culture of DEI in the Workplace
Diversity, Ethics and Inclusion (DEI) is a top-of-mind subject for many of us in the industry. This webinar will kick off with a panel discussion on talent management and inclusive leadership in your organization. Invited speaker, Sharon Parkinson will discuss the steps that Vassar College took as a campus community to become a more inclusive, just and diverse institution. Sharon will discuss how Vassar’s Advancement Office incorporated DEI into their office culture and the work that she did to “center” DEI within prospect development. Sharon’s presentation will leave you with critical tools and ideas to help you define how you want to transform your office culture! Attendees are also encouraged to utilize the new Apra DEI Data Guide.
This webinar is worth (2) CFRE points.
Assistant Director of Development Research
University of Michigan, DEI Initiatives
Kelli North is the Assistant Director of Development Research, DEI Initiatives, at the University of Michigan. She assists multiple academic units, as well as the Alumni Association and the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, with prospect research, prospecting, and fundraising strategy. Her current areas of focus are diversity, equity, and inclusion and NextGen fundraising. She is the President and former Advocacy Lead on the board of the APRA Michigan Chapter, a member of the FORUM Planning Committee and former Chair of the Research Committee for the Great Lakes Prospect Development Forum, and is also a founding member of APRA Great Lakes Collaborative.
Chief Impact Officer
Cara Bradshaw is a communications and fundraising professional who has worked on communications and fundraising teams at international humanitarian organizations, in higher education, and in the media to promote social justice and community engagement. Cara studied Political Science and Spanish at Drew University in Madison, NJ and International Affairs and Media at The New School in Manhattan.
She currently serves as Chief Impact Officer at Family Promise, a national non-profit that provides community-based solutions to empower working families. With a dedicated team at Family Promise, Cara works to elevate the Family Promise brand, engage stakeholders through powerful storytelling, and deliver long-lasting social change through meaningful philanthropy. Cara’s curiosity about good leadership and organizational development inspires her work. An outdoor enthusiast, Cara lives in Brevard, NC with her family and enjoys mountain biking and hiking with her dog, Blu.
Executive Director of Research & Prospect Management
University of Georgia
Nedra serves as Executive Director of Research & Prospect Management for the University of Georgia’s Development and Alumni Relations division. Before that, she served as Senior Director of Development Research and Prospect Management for Georgia State University’s Development and Alumni Affairs division. During her tenure at GSU, she provided leadership in critical areas of prospect development. She partnered with senior advancement leadership to support a $300 million campaign, including developing prospect pools, managing the prospect management system, and conducting fundraising performance analysis.
Nedra is a fundraising and development professional with more than 25 years of experience in philanthropic fundraising and non-profit management, including all aspects of prospect development (prospect management, prospect research, information engagement, and data mining/analytics).
Previously, she served as Manager of Prospect Research at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, where she worked for more than 14 years. In addition, Nedra has been an active member and volunteer of Apra and served as President of the local Apra-Georgia Chapter.
Senior Associate Director of Prospect Development and Research
Sharon Parkinson (pronouns: she/her/hers) is Senior Associate Director of Prospect Development and Research at Vassar College, which stands on Wappingers, Stockbridge-Munsee, and Delaware Indigenous peoples’ homelands. She collaborates with the Associate Vice President for Individual Giving and the fundraising and engagement teams to plan and implement research projects designed to identify new donors and build a robust pipeline of potential campaign donors.
Sharon provides strategic guidance to fundraising program directors and gift officers on assessment and qualification of newly discovered prospects, portfolio management, and cultivation strategies through consultations and training sessions. She oversees professional development and manages research projects assigned to PDR’s Research Specialist and freelance Research Analyst.
A key component of Sharon’s role is to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable work environment for the Prospect Development and Research team and other Advancement colleagues. She plans and facilitates team retreats and serves on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) staff development group within Advancement. Sharon is also a steering committee member of the Carolyn Grant ‘36 Endowment. This committee reviews applications and provides Vassar faculty and staff funding to integrate expressive and experiential processes into their teaching and work, including movement, drawing, meditative arts, group process and dialogue, and other creative models of instruction and expression.
In partnership with the Office of Campus Life and Diversity, Sharon facilitated a Conversation Dinner, “Creating Contemplative Community,” and a workshop for All College Day, “Using Contemplative Practices to Navigate Life at Vassar.” She is one of several administrators who provides resources and support to Vassar's first-generation, low-income, and undocumented students involved in the Transitions program. Her favorite time spent with students is during Transition’s Wisdom Dinners, which provide opportunities for students and employees to bond together over their shared identities.
Sharon holds an undergraduate degree in Communication with a second major in Business Administration and advanced degrees in Organizational Communication and Sociology. She is a long-time member of the Apra New York chapter whose mantra is “Share the Knowledge.” Sharon served as the chapter’s Social Media Sage and as a board member for several years. She has also been a member of the Apra Greater New York chapter and facilitated a workshop, “Envisioning Change: Transforming Prospect Development Offices,” for Apra GNY’s ProspectCon. Sharon also participates in the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance and the Mid-Hudson Association of Women in Higher Education.
Assistant Director of Development Research
April is Assistant Director of Development Research at Bowdoin College. Before joining Bowdoin in 2018 she was Senior Research Analyst for the University of California, Davis, and began her career in prospect research at Amherst College. A California native, April holds an undergraduate degree from UC Davis and an MA in English literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. April has served in volunteer roles for NEDRA since 2019 and was elected to the NEDRA Board in July 2021. She additionally co-chairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion working group in Bowdoin’s office of Development and Alumni Relations. When not working April enjoys exploring Maine with her husband and two little boys.
Deputy Director of Development Research
Felice Gomez-Spencer is the Deputy Director of Development Research at Earthjustice, where she oversees the organization’s prospect development arm. Felice joined Earthjustice in 2013 after earning a master’s degree in library and information science and has over 20 years of nonprofit fundraising experience. Prior to Earthjustice, she worked in prospect development and corporate and foundation relations for the University of California, Berkeley. Felice began her career as a grant writer for community health centers in Tucson, AZ, and San Francisco, CA. She has worked for a number of arts, education and health organizations in the Bay Area, as well as for a Hispanic marketing agency. Felice holds a BA in anthropology from the University of Arizona