2023 Midwest Regional Conference

July 27, 2023 | Rotary International | Evanston, Illinois

Keynote | Sessions | Sponsor

Thank you for joining us at the 2023 Midwest Regional Conference in Evanston, Illinois. We hope you had a meaningful experience and plan to join ADRP at more of our upcoming events. 


Being the Story Guardian

Michael T.S. Lindenmayer, Nonprofit Organization and Philanthropy Faculty, Northwestern University

To realize a truly meaningful, abundant and resilient donor relationship requires joining them on their journey and co-creating a mutual story of positive impact.  And all too often in today’s world of hyper-specialization, philanthropic organizations tend to lean towards slicing up the activities of the donor journey and split it up among a group of individuals.  This often leads to missed opportunities to craft an exceptional donor experience and ensure that their journey is cohesive and lasting. This is where the donor relations can be the guardian of the story that threads through the entire donor journey.  The donor relations professional can help from day one to bring out the best in teams that interact with the donor.  Regardless of an organization’s size or resources, there are ways in which to create breakthrough experiences for donors.

The session will concentrate on the donor relations professional as the story guardian.  And it will incorporate insights, tools and cases from the world of donor psychology, experience design and future-proofing technologies.  


Michael Lindenmayer is on faculty at Northwestern University for the Philanthropy and Non-profit Program.  He co-authored Charity and Philanthropy for Dummies.  For the past 20 years he has worked closely with leadership in both donor and non-profit organizations in the US, Europe and South Asia.  These ranged in size from start-up organizations up to the largest non-profits and donors.  He is also a trusted advisor for family offices.

Michael has held appointments at University Chicago Booth School of Business, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Stanford School of Medicine and UC Berkeley School of Engineering.  He is an avid champion of the donor profession and is always exploring ways in which to help others grow their expertise in this field.  



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Full participation in the 2023 Midwest Regional Conference is applicable for 4.5 points in Category 1.B - Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification. This 2023 CE Tracker is available to assist in tracking your CE points



Wednesday, July 26


6:00 - 8:00 PM

Welcome Reception (Optional)

Interested in another opportunity to socialize and network with peers?
We'd love for you to join us at an optional gathering to kick off the conference on Wednesday evening! 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Sketchbook Brewing Co. taproom

Pizza will be available on a first-come, first served basis starting at 6:30 p.m. Please note: you are
responsible for the cost of your own beverages.

RSVP by July 24 - Questions? Email conference co-chairs Megan Pratt ([email protected]) and Alexa Cottrell ([email protected])

Thursday, July 27


8:30-9:00 AM


Light Breakfast, Coffee, and Visit Exhibitor Booths

9:00-10:15 AM

Welcome Remarks 

Keynote Presentation

10:15-10:45 AM

Morning Coffee Break & Visit Exhibitor Booths

Optional Tour of the Rotary Foundation's Donor Gallery

10:45-11:45 AM

Breakout Sessions

Breakout Session I: Marketing Is Impact 

Brandon Davis, VP of Brand Engagement, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago

Breakout Session II: Pandemic Pivot, Digital Disrupt, and the Engagement Evolution

Carlos Terrazas, VP University Partnerships, BrightCrowd; Rebekah Nowak, Director of Donor Relations, University of Chicago; Jasett Ktsanes, Associate Director, Donor Relations & Stewardship, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

11:45 AM-1:15 PM

Lunch on your own (details on nearby options)

1:15-2:30 PM

Panel Discussion:  Principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Donor Relations

Aja Castillo, Manager of Global People and Culture/DEI, Rotary International, Moderator

Natalie Coles, Senior Director of Midwest Advancement, The Obama Foundation

Jessica Grimmett, Senior Director, CCS Fundraising

Megan Whitney, Senior Manager II, Network Fundraising Services, Feeding America

2:30-3:00 PM

Afternoon Coffee Break and Visit Exhibitor Booths

3:00-4:00 PM

Workshop Sessions

Workshop I: Recognition Refresh 

Caitlin Foster, Senior Gift Officer, Donor Relations, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation

Workshop II: The Secrets of Great Stories 

Etelka Lehoczky, Digital Content Editor/Writer, Rotary International

4:00-5:00 PM

Networking Reception


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Thank You, Sponsors

Keynote Sponsor







Many thanks to our 2023 Midwest Regional Conference Planning Committee

  • Co-chairs: Megan Pratt, Rotary International & Alexa Cottrell, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation
  • Board Liaison: Analisa Gama, Rotary International
  • Robby Bardwell, Evanston Community Foundation
  • Alyson Bell, University of Illinois
  • Kate Hemmingsen Berge, The Nature Conservancy
  • Jasett Ktsanes, Northwestern University
  • Rebekah Nowak, University of Chicago
  • Holden Scheidel, Rotary International
  • Rosie Tarlton, Butler University
  • Emily Thornton, Butler University
  • Andrew Waldner, University of Chicago

 Past Events

2022 Midwest Regional Conference