2014 BootCamp Speakers

A team of highly experienced leaders led BootCamp sessions in the focus areas of mission, board governance, leadership style and capabilities, strategic management, financial management and planning, resource development, and legal and ethical issues. Additional professionals contribute to a Resource Development Panel and Executive Director Panel.

Rob Acton
Robert B. Acton, J.D.
Executive Director
Taproot Foundation (NYC)

Rob Acton is the Executive Director of Taproot Foundation in New York City, a national nonprofit dedicated to engaging business professionals in pro bono service in order to strengthen the nonprofit sector and, in turn, our nation’s largest urban communities. Rob leads the organization’s strategic effort to build a multi-billion dollar pro bono marketplace in New York that nonprofits can access for high-impact consulting.

Rob previously led Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) in Chicago. During his seven year tenure as Executive Director, CGLA grew substantially in size, reputation and community impact, expanding ten-fold the number of indigent clients served, adding policy work as a key aspect of its programs, tripling the agency’s annual revenue, scaling pro bono, and doubling the organization’s staff. Under Rob’s leadership, CGLA received Chicago’s prestigious Alford-Axelson Award for Nonprofit Managerial Excellence.

Rob’s current community engagement includes serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York & serving on the Board Governance Committee of the NYC Anti-Violence Project. He was previously appointed by Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL) to serve on a state commission investigating police abuse. Rob frequently writes, speaks and teaches on nonprofit leadership, engaging nonprofit boards, leadership life-balance and pro bono service. He has taught nonprofit leadership at DePaul University School of Law, North Park University and the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management. He previously served on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Spring Arbor University.
Rob is a member of the Bar of the State of New York. He attended Michigan public schools, Spring Arbor University & Brooklyn Law School. He tweets at: @RobertActon.

Catherine Brown
Catherine Brown
Chief Operating Officer
Chicago Public Library Foundation

Catherine Brown joined the Chicago Public Library as its COO in December 2013. From 2010 to 2013 she headed her own consulting practice, Integrative Solutions. Her clients included the Chicago Public Library Foundation, the Childcare Network of Evanston, the Center for New Community, the National Endowment for the Arts, Housing Action Illinois, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Lake County Community Foundation, the Axelson Center at North Park University, the Family Empowerment Center of Chicago, and the National Center for Family Homelessness.

She has more than 25 years of experience across the non-profit sector. Her areas of expertise include fundraising, grantmaking, program design and evaluation, strategic planning, and internal and external communications.

From 1994 until 2010, Catherine held positions of increasing responsibility at the McCormick Foundation, one of Chicagoland’s largest public charities.  Prior to joining the Foundation, Catherine was the Director of Individual Giving at the Lincoln Park Zoological Society in Chicago. 

She serves on the boards of Friends of Writers and the Center for New Community.

Amina J. Dickerson
Dickerson Global Advisors

Amina J. Dickerson incorporates a wealth of diverse experience in her consulting practice, Dickerson Global Advisors, founded in 2009 as an outgrowth of leadership experience over a 35 year career in the nonprofit, corporate and philanthropy sectors. As a consultant, professional coach and strategist, she works with the philanthropic community, nonprofit organizations, senior leaders, business professionals and social/civic organizations. She is especially committed to the advancement of the next generation leadership, coaching through organizational transitions and the development of the global NGO community. The focus of her consulting practice is on leadership advancement, succession planning, program development and strategic partnerships. Previously she headed multi-national philanthropic programs in hunger relief, the arts and education at Kraft Foods and held executive posts with the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Chicago Historical Society and DuSable Museum of African American History.

Her work has been recognized with many awards, including from the Association of Black Foundation Executives as the James Joseph 2009 Lecturer, Chicago Women in Philanthropy, Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy's Handy Lindsay Award, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Grantor of the Year. In 2009 she was added to the History Makers' national video archives of outstanding African American leaders and was named to The Network Journal's Class of 25 Influential Black Women in Business. Previously, she served as Distinguished Visitor with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and a Newberry Library Fellow.

Renee Joiner
Renee Joiner
Chief of Staff

A Chicago native, Ms. Joiner currently serves as the Chief of Staff and Vice-President of Human Resources for ChildServ, a non-profit, child and family service organization. A human resource practitioner for over 25 years, Ms. Joiner has spent most of her professional career working and volunteering in underserved communities. She has spent the last 20 years of her professional career in senior administrative positions and has a unique background that blends operations, programs and human resources. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management and Development and a Master’s in Business Administration from National-Louis University in Chicago.

Ms. Joiner has served on several community organization boards and has provided consultation on board and management development, supervisory training and human resource management. She has a passion for strength-based community development work that seeks to empower families and embrace self-sufficiency. Ms. Joiner currently volunteers as the program coordinator for a girls' mentoring program on the west side of Chicago and serves on the Axelson Center’s Advisory Board.

Richard Jones
Richard L. Jones, PhD
Organizational Consultant and Executive Coach

Richard L. Jones, PhD has served in major leadership roles in the nonprofit sector throughout the country. In 2013, he served as the Senior Vice President of Community Investment of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. He was responsible for leadership, planning and measurement and execution of United Way’s strategic investments in the areas of income, education and health. Jones also served as the Administrator of Employment and Family Services and the Cuyahoga Support Enforcement Agency for Cuyahoga County in Ohio. Prior to this position, for 13 years, he served as President and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services in Chicago delivering more than $290M in programs and services to more than 600,000 people during his tenure.

Dr. Jones’ leadership is recognized nationally and internationally. Prior to joining Metropolitan Family Services in 1998, he served as Executive Director of Boston Children’s Services in Boston, Massachusetts and also President and CEO of the Center for Families and Children in Cleveland from 1991 until 1998. Dr. Jones has received many awards and served in major leadership roles throughout his career. He was presented the Leadership in Non-profit Award by the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University in 1997; a fellowship to the Harvard Business School in 2005; and the Lifetime Achievement Award for the State of Illinois by the Illinois chapter of the National Association of Social Workers in 2011.  He has lectured about non-profits in Nicaragua and Kenya and at Boston College, Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University. In the Spring of 2010, Dr. Jones was one of a select group of delegates to participate in the Congress on Social Work and in 2010 and 2011 he served as a co-leader of a delegation of social workers studying the social service system in Russia and Brazil.

Dr. Jones completed his MSSA and Ph.D. at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western University. He has served as the chairman of the board of directors for The Alliance for Children and Families, The Chicago Alliance for Collaborative Effort, and Assurance Services which is the for profit arm of the National Association of Social Workers. Previous leadership responsibilities have included serving on the Board of Directors of Leadership Cleveland and the Cleveland United Way; serving as the co-chair of the International Year of the Family and co-chair of the Commission on Chemical Dependency and Child Welfare for the Child Welfare League of America. Recently, Dr. Jones was honored with the title of President Emeritus of Metropolitan Family Services and a building named in his honor.

A graduate of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 1993, Dr. Jones is a member of the Visiting Committee of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University and the Program Strategy Committee of the Saint Luke’s Foundation.

Marilyn Foster Kirk
Marilyn Foster Kirk, MA, CFRE
Vice President
The Alford Group

Marilyn’s experience in the not-for-profit sector includes more than 35 years as a fundraising professional in educational, faith-based, and cultural organizations.  She has served in senior leadership roles for the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and the Kansas State Historical Society. Her expertise includes strategic planning, executive and board leadership development, campaign planning, major and principal gifts, development staff management and performance, and fundraising ethics.

Marilyn holds a bachelor of arts degree from Kansas Wesleyan University and a master of education degree from the University of Oklahoma.  She pursued doctoral studies at the University of Kansas and holds diplomas from the Institute for Educational Management, the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, the Executive Leadership Institute of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. She is the recipient of her alma mater’s Young Alumni and Alumni Achievement Awards, the Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Award from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the President’s Award from the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

She is an active volunteer with professional and community organizations and is a frequent presenter on nonprofit management and fundraising topics. She enjoys singing in her church choir, cross-country skiing with her husband, and walking their Labrador retriever.

Catherine Marsh, EdD
Professor of Leadership and Management
North Park University

Catherine Marsh is Professor of Leadership and Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University. In addition to her teaching and scholarship at North Park, Catherine plans and conducts seminars and workshops on Diversity Management, Change Management, Conflict Transformation and Team Building for organizations in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Her expertise stems from her experience working in the three sectors in five countries as well as urban and rural areas in the United States.  Catherine has a B.A. from the University of California, an MBA from North Park University, and a Doctor of Education from Northern Illinois University.

Mary F. Morten
Morten Group

Mary Morten is the President of Morten Group (MG), a consulting firm specializing in social change through skills development, public policy and advocacy. Morten Group focuses on organizational and resource development including workshops on diversity and building communities of inclusion and access, executive coaching and succession planning, board recruitment and retention, and film/video production. Clients include nonprofits, foundations and corporations in Illinois and across the country. Ms. Morten has over 20 years of executive leadership experience at nonprofits and a past mayoral appointment in city government that provides clients with a unique skill set and access to decision makers.

Ms. Morten has served as Director of the Office of Violence Prevention for the Chicago Department of Public Health; in addition, she was an appointee for Mayor Richard M. Daley and served as the Director/Liaison for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. She has worked with foundations across the country and locally including The Chicago Community Trust, Crossroads Fund, and Women's Funding Network. Ms. Morten is also a past appointee to the Illinois Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Over the last several years, Ms. Morten has served as an interim executive for several organizations: Interim Executive Director of Chicago Foundation for Women, the region’s largest women’s fund; Interim Executive Director of Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM); and Interim Vice President of Development at Howard Brown Health Center. 

Ms. Morten has received several acknowledgements for her work on issues impacting women and girls as well as ethnic and racial inclusion. Recent acknowledgements include: in 2013, a Leppen Leadership Award from About Face Theatre; in 2012, a Black Excellence Award for Documentary Film from the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago; in 2007, the Visionary Award from Rape Victim Advocates and the Women’s Bar Association Community Service Award; in 2004, the Changing the Face of Philanthropy Award from the Women’s Funding Network. This fall, she will receive the YWomen Leader Award from YWCA Evanston/North Shore.

Ms. Morten holds a B.A. in communications with an emphasis in radio and television from Loyola University Chicago. She is a member of the Donors Forum of Chicago, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits.

Cori Smaller
Cori Moschberger, LCSW
Counselor and Organizational Development Consultant

Cori Moschberger is a therapist and organizational development consultant that specializes in the not-for-profit sector. Her experience includes administration, management, team building and training, leadership mentoring, and counseling. Having successfully led her own staff as an executive director of an organization in Chicago, Cori brings to her clients the real-world “know-how” needed to effectively mentor and manage employees and teams.

Cori is a highly regarded trainer in the areas of attracting and retaining quality personnel, workplace communication, and coaching and motivating employees. She is a certified PDP Administrator and TrakStar Professional. She holds a master's degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Tim J. O'Brien, PhD
Practitioner Faculty at North Park University
Consultant with Millennia Consulting

Tim O’Brien serves as practitioner faculty specializing in nonprofit finance at North Park University’s School of Business and Nonprofit Management. He has 30+ years’ experience as a financial manager in commercial and nonprofit organizations. He also has managerial experience in church-based organizations, Tim is a successful educator both in face-to-face and online venues. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Spertus College, JFK University, North Park University, and the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management. Tim provides a variety of consulting services for nonprofits and faith communities and has served on several nonprofit and church-based boards.

Gretchen Slusser
Gretchen Slusser
Executive Director
Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA)

Gretchen comes to CGLA from thredpartners, a Chicago-based management consulting firm she co-founded in 2004.  Gretchen has over 18 years of experience in designing and implementing project-based, technology and business solutions.  Her industry focus has been education, financial services and high-tech.  A subject matter expert with a passion for developing creative solutions that drive change has contributed to her success in the Management Consulting arena.  She first became involved with CGLA as a volunteer and a donor, and has a long history of volunteerism and service both locally and internationally.  Since she joined CGLA in 2011, the organization has adopted a new strategic plan, increased the operating budget by 28% and most recently acquired Chicago-based nonprofit Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM).

A passion for community and people and the desire to provide opportunities for the people of Chicago is what drives Gretchen today.  She believes that making a difference in the lives of others is at the core of finding a happy and satisfying career.

Gretchen graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in Marketing and minor in Political Science.  She also earned her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute.  Gretchen lives in Chicago with her son.

Carol B. White
Carol B. White

Carol White has helped clients turn information into high-impact marketing strategies for over 25 years through marketing research on stakeholder preferences, perceptions, and needs. 

She founded CBWhite in 1999 to help nonprofit organizations use market research to further their missions. Carol leads projects that reveal critical information about all types of constituents – current/prospective users of services, members, community partners, donors, volunteers – and guide the creation of effective strategic, service, and marketing plans. In the planning phase, she works with clients to define goals, identify issues and broaden the view of possibilities. She then designs and implements market research, from focus groups and interviews to large surveys. Once information is in hand, she provides insightful analysis and synthesis that clients use to make decisions and take well-reasoned action.

CBWhite results are used to transform the way nonprofit organizations present themselves, to re-brand, to kick-off strategic planning with objective market insights, to design and price programs, to enhance efforts to reach target audiences, and to create a platform for consistent, high-impact marketing implementation (e.g., events, communications, websites, brochures). The firm has been fortunate to work with a wide variety of organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, Northwestern University, as well as museums, schools, universities, environmental groups, health causes, grant-making foundations, and others.

Carol is a firm believer that marketing can help organizations be more effective without compromising their missions. Carol received a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

Amy Wishnick
Amy Wishnick
Wishnick & Associates, LLC

Amy Wishnick is passionate about organizations. With skill, sensitivity, and good humor, Amy works with diverse organizations to enhance their management, leadership, and adaptive capacities to be more effective. Since founding Wishnick & Associates in 2004, she has worked with an array of nonprofit clients on strategic planning, organizational assessments, transition and succession planning, board development, and more. Clients include community development, human services, arts, educations, religious organizations, and foundations.

Wishnick & Associates is a natural outgrowth of Amy’s broad-based experience in business and as a volunteer. She began her career at the National Endowment for the Humanities managing grants to libraries and archives. She then ventured into the private sector managing attorney recruiting for a Chicago-based international law firm. During her seven years in executive search, Amy consulted with clients ranging from small and family owned businesses to publicly traded Fortune 500 corporations.

Amy has served on numerous nonprofit boards. She currently is on the KAM Isaiah Israel Foundation Board, which oversees the synagogue’s endowment, and chaired the synagogue’s rabbinic transition committee in 2013 – 2014. From 1993 – 1995, Amy had the unique opportunity to serve on the United States Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), a committee of civilian volunteers appointed to advise the Secretary of Defense. As a member of the executive committee, Amy trained new committee members to conduct visits to domestic military installations to gain deeper understanding of career opportunities, forces utilization, and quality of life issues for active duty women. She also served as the primary author of two reports for the Secretary of Defense highlighting findings and making recommendations based on the executive committee’s overseas trips to military installations in Europe (1994) and the Asia (1995).

Amy is a past president of the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits and co-authored the Association’s 2013 publication, Nonprofit Leaders Guide to Hiring and Engaging Consultants. In addition to teaching at the Axelson Center’s New CEOs BootCamp, she is a member of the Center’s Advisory Board and serves on the selection committee for the Alford-Axelson Awards for Managerial Excellence.

Amy lives downtown with her husband; they are the parents of two wonderful sons.

The Axelson Center for Nonprofit Managment at North Park University.