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November Education Session - Funders Panel

  • Thursday, November 16, 2023
  • 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
  • Virtual Panel
  • 49


Registration is closed

Program Description

Back by popular demand, the annual Funders Panel!

Moved up to the popular fall and end of year giving season, this session will include multiple panelists from local and regional foundations and granting organizations.

Session objectives include: 

  • Learn, first-hand, how grant makers determine their giving priorities,
  • Hear how they prefer to build relationships with charities, 
  • Discover what grantmakers are currently looking for in proposals,
  • Understand what they expect from your organization in regards to communication.

About Our Speakers:

Robert N. DiLeonardi, Executive Director, VNA Foundation

Rob DiLeonardi has served as original executive staff for two different newly-created private foundations. He is currently Executive Director of the VNA Foundation, which provides grants to support community-based healthcare and health services in underserved communities in the Chicago area.

Rob is cofounder and two-term former Chair of the Board of the Association of Small Foundations, in 2014 renamed Exponent Philanthropy (EP), the nation’s largest philanthropy membership organization with 2,000 members collectively holding over $80 billion in assets. He has also contributed to guides and podcasts for the Foundation Center’s GrantCraft program, and served on the Selection Task Force for the Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking sponsored by the Council on Foundations (COF). He has been a presenter at COF, EP and Grantmakers in Health national conferences, and at numerous local and regional events.

One of Rob’s special interests is the work of free and charitable clinics. In 2010 VNA provided seed funding for the creation of the Illinois Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (IAFCC), and subsequent VNA funding supported IAFCC as it became a unique resource allowing free clinics a platform to share challenges, establish best practices, and—for the first time—speak with a collective voice. In 2022, Rob was appointed as an original member of the IAFCC Funders Advisory Workgroup, which helped oversee the disbursement of the first state funds (~$9 million) awarded to support the work of free clinics.

Prior to his involvement in philanthropy, Rob was a freelance writer whose work was featured in a variety of newspapers and magazines. For several years he enjoyed utilizing his communication skills to create VNA Foundation’s annual reports and website, which won several national awards for effective and transparent philanthropic messaging. Rob is a double-major, honors graduate of Beloit College in Wisconsin.

Tovah McCord Executive Director, Executive Director, Northern Illinois Community Initiatives, Nicor Gas

In February of 2021, McCord was named Executive Director of Northern Illinois Community Initiatives, and brings 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. In this role, McCord oversees all of NICI’s strategic planning, operations and grantmaking.

Most recently, McCord was Foundation Director for the Chicago Blackhawks. During her tenure, McCord served as the public face of the foundation and raised awareness of its engagement in the community, especially with diverse audiences. Additionally, McCord led a brand renovation of the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation, led the development of a new arm of the foundation by creating a direct service pillar, launched six individually branded programs, and pioneered innovative fundraising campaigns including events with NHL players and top chefs in Chicago.

Julia Olafson, Co-Chair of the Western Suburbs Giving Circle, Chicago Foundation for Women

Julie Olafson is a Co-Chair of the Western Suburbs Giving Circle (WSGC) of the Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW). This Giving Circle consists of leaders in the fields of health care, finance, law, education, IT, and design who combine their donations to leverage the power of collective gifts to nonprofits in the western suburbs. Since 2016, WSGC has awarded over $225,000 to organizations focused on women’s health and reproductive justice, economic well-being, and safety from violence. CFW, which has 7 Giving Circles, was founded in 1985 and has invested over $45 million in hundreds of organizations focused on women and girls throughout metro Chicago. As we like to say – help a woman, help a family. Help a girl, empower the next generation.

Julie’s career was in the technology space, of which twenty plus years were spent with IBM. She has extensive expertise in negotiating and closing multi-million-dollar global contracts as well as management experience leading global teams. While she claims to have retired, Julie is currently back at IBM doing consulting work as she represents the Legal team in designing and building a Contract Lifecycle Management application, including training the AI functionality to provide insights into such contracts. She earned her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law – Illinois Institute of Technology.

Julie’s passion has been mentoring and coaching young women to recognize their potential and intellect, seize opportunities and dream big. While transitioning from the corporate world to nonprofit work, she has remained focused on the ability to continue providing a meaningful way to give back to other women. WSGC is near and dear to her heart and gives her joy working with a diverse group of women for the common good of their grant recipients.

Moderator: Megan Lynch, Manager, Charitable Fund, Duly Health and Care

Megan Lynch is a social impact leader with experience across the private, nonprofit, and public sectors. In her current role, Megan is the manager of the Charitable Fund at Duly Health and Care, where she leads grantmaking, community investments, and volunteerism initiatives in collaboration with Duly’s stakeholders and nonprofit partners. Megan also serves on Duly’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council and is the chair of the Inclusion Engagement Initiatives Committee.

Prior to joining Duly Health and Care, Megan was the director of corporate relations for North Central College in Naperville and led corporate fundraising for the college’s $150 million Brilliant Future Campaign. She previously managed corporate partner relationships for two global policy think tanks — The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations — and got her start working in New York City at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

Megan also serves on the Board of Directors for Social Responsibility Chicago and Loaves & Fishes Community Services, as well as the Steering Committee for Impact DuPage. A 2023 WSPN Awardee for Grantmaker of the year and 2021 winner of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce’s 4 Under 40 Award, Megan earned her MA in Politics from New York University and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).

This session has been approved for 1.25 CFRE credits. 

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