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2018 Ask The Experts Conference Overview
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The Association of Fundraising Professionals -
Greater Houston Chapter presented the


on Friday, June 15, 2018 at the Houston Food Bank.


Thanks to all who made this conference a huge success. If you would like to download the conference presentations, please click here.


If you're interested in serving on the ATE Committee and playing a larger role in planning the 2019 event, please contact 2019 Chair, Rebecca Lamb, CFRE, at





2018 Conference Overview





8:00 A.M.




9:00 A.M.



John Scales

Retired, Texas Children’s Hospital
Repack Room


Over the course of a 30+ year career, John Scales helped manage campaigns, create new visions, establish institutional priorities, and raise hundreds of millions of dollars. He went to countless donor meetings, sat with different Presidents / CEOs, hired staff, negotiated with faculty, edited proposals, approved marketing materials, and dealt with the economy. During his presentation, John will give us a peek into how did he it. How did he avoid burnout, stay connected to the mission, and keep the job fresh and new? How did he measure personal success and keep himself motivated to tackle another year? Nonprofit organizations take on some of the world’s biggest challenges, some of which we will never solve in our lifetime. So how do we show our own impact and steward ourselves?



Immediately following the Opening Keynote, don't miss out on an Exhibitor Pop-Up in the Repack Room, brought to you by Your Part-Time Controller, LLC.



10:15 A.M
(Architects Open)


Panel of Funders: Get inside the heads of decision makers for three major local foundations. Learn how foundation leaders view the issues facing our region, how they make strategic funding decisions and determine desired outcomes, what they really want from their nonprofit partners, and how you can more successfully position your organization for funding.
Kristi Cooper, McNair Foundation; Don Titcombe, Rockwell Fund; Scott Wise, Cullen Foundation

Community Room 130A

Improving Annual Fund Performance: How do you keep the donors you have and get them to give more every year? This session will include best practices on growing your annual fund by keeping your donors happy, engaged, and eager to support your cause. From direct marketing to one-on-one interactions, from younger donors to more seasoned ones, this breakout will cover all the bases Come ready with questions for an interactive session.
Emily Hilber, Rice University; Jennifer Wijangco, Houston Grand Opera

Community Room 130BC

Planned Giving with Limited Resources: Every nonprofit with a long-term vision can lock in future support from their current individual donors. Many of your ordinary annual donors can, and will, make extraordinary gifts in the latter stages of their lifetimes. This applies to any size organization with any size budget. Get ready to set up your own successful planned giving program, with a minimal budget, in this highly interactive workshop.
Cindy Atmar, MD Anderson

Noble Energy Room 246

Fundraising in the Face of Adversity: When disaster hits, organizations such as the Houston Food Bank have just moments to start their response efforts whether there is funding or not. How do you move that fast to raise money? Where do you start? What about your employees? How do you respond to your board and major donors? In this session, we will answer these questions and offer practical steps that any organization can take in the face of any adversity.
Amy Ragan, Houston Food Bank

Howard Cheek Room 252A



Immediately before the Luncheon Keynote, don't miss out on an Exhibitor Pop-Up in the Repack Room, brought to you by Qtego.




11:45 A.M.


Maureen Hackett
Founder, Hackett Family Foundation
Repack Room


Join our luncheon keynote, noted Houston philanthropist Maureen Hackett of the Hackett Family Foundation, for an inspiring discussion about transformational giving, venture philanthropy, and successful partnerships between philanthropists and the nonprofit sector. Come with your questions to capitalize on this unique opportunity for conversation with one of our city’s leading change agents in the behavioral and mental health arena. Dedicated to serving the interests that make up the heart of every strong community: family, faith, health, and education, Maureen will share how that very dedication, combined with her knowledge and expertise from decades in philanthropy, influenced her family’s recent transformational gift to establish The Hackett Center for Mental Health, the primary policy development and operating presence of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for Texas in the Houston region.



1:00 P.M.

(Architects Open)


Metrics Matter: Performance metrics and benchmarks often measure success by the total number of dollars raised, but these measures alone are not entirely accurate, nor particularly inspiring. This session will focus on core competencies and other indicators of success that will help motivate and incentivize your major gift and annual fund field officers.
Victor Brooks, Baylor College of Medicine; Patrina Johnson, Houston Grand Opera

Noble Energy Room 246

Managing Change/Rebuilding a Shop: While managers cannot always predict how their teams will change over time, especially when companies make organizational changes, they can flex with the changes and use the tools and strategies they already innately have to regroup and strengthen their team.
Angela Hodson, Dini Spheris

Howard Cheek Room 252A

Sexual Harassment in the Industry: Join us for a candid conversation on sexual harassment in the nonprofit industry. We will offer practical solutions that you can implement in all aspects of your organization from volunteer agreements to gift acceptance policies.
Kristi Cooper, McNair Foundation; Nancy Davis, Baylor College of Medicine

Community Room 130A

Advanced Professionals Session: Our panel of seasoned professionals will tackle questions submitted in advance by conference participants.
May Cahill, CHI / St.Luke’s Foundation; Nick Espinosa, Houston Zoo; Kevin Foyle, UTHealth; with moderator Melissa Simon, AFP-GHC President

Community Room 130BC



2:15 P.M.

(Architects Open)


Transformational Gifts: Philanthropic gifts can transform a charitable organization and bring its mission to a new level. This panel discussion will give insight into who makes transformational gifts, what motivates them, and how organizations can develop these gifts.
Sandra Nauert, UTHealth; Kaiti Kling, Baylor College of Medicine; Susan Coulter, Houston Methodist

Community Room 130A

Career Moves: Whether you are a recent graduate, looking to transition into the field, or a seasoned professional looking to make your next upward move, this presentation is for you. Learn strategies to take your career exactly where you want it to go.
Lisa Garces, DePelchin Children’s Center

Community Room 130BC

Building a Culture of Philanthropy: Research shows that culture affects all areas of the organization, including philanthropy. In this session, you will learn tips to make sure everyone - from your CEO to your newest volunteers - are immersed in a culture of philanthropy that will help improve your organization’s effectiveness.
Kirsten Schachter, Dini Spheris

Howard Cheek Room 252A

Crowdfunding Panel: Crowdfunding was once the province of startups and political campaigns. But over the past five years, it has ballooned into a multibillion-dollar philanthropic industry. This panel will cover the basics of how this new medium works for fundraising in 2018.
Virginia Craig, UTHealth; Megan Ortiz, Big Give Houston

Noble Energy Room 246

Director of Development and CEOs: In a nonprofit organization, no single internal relationship is more important than that between the executive director and the development director. This session will explore this sometimes contentious relationship, how to deal with potential conflicts, and ultimately, how to work together to raise the most money for your agency.
Virginia Ballard, Camp Aranzazu; Beth Wilson, UTHealth

Bonner and George Ball Room 252B



Immediately before the Reception, don't miss out on an Exhibitor Pop-Up in the Texans Cafe, brought to you by Community Brands.




3:15 P.M.


Stay with us after the conference, mix and mingle with your colleagues, and enjoy a lite post-conference reception.






Our 2018 Ask The Experts Conference will earn you five CFRE continuing education credits.




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