The Birthplace of Apra

2020 Conference Speakers


Helen Brown is president of The Helen Brown Group LLC, a fundraising intelligence consulting firm based in Watertown, Massachusetts. She is co-author of the book, Prospect Research for Fundraisers; the essential handbook (Wiley). Helen is a past board member and longtime volunteer for both Apra and NEDRA. She is Special Advisor on Fundraising to the board of the North American Foundation for the University of Manchester, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts & Manufactures (RSA) in London. She is a former non-executive director of The Factary Ltd., a prospect research consultancy in Bristol, England. Helen was honored to receive the NEDRA Ann Castle Award for service to the prospect research community in 2006 and the APRA Distinguished Service Award in 2017. 


Katie Fanning is a St. Louis-based prospect research and data aficionado. She began her prospect research career at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2017, she joined the research staff at University of Chicago, where she specialized in international prospecting with a focus on Europe and the Middle East. She is currently the prospect research and data manager for the Missouri Botanical Garden.



Jessica Balsam is the Senior Director, Prospect Development at the University of Washington. She is past president of Apra-NW and the recipient of the Apra Professional of the Year award in 2016. Her 15 years in nonprofits have included positions in the arts, in small higher-ed orgs, and as a board member for several small nonprofits.


Jen Filla is President of Aspire Research Group LLC and CEO of the Prospect Research Institute. Deeply committed to advancing philanthropy and the fundraising profession, Jen is co-author of Prospect Research for Fundraisers: The Essential Handbook, part of the AFP-Wiley Fund Development Series and has authored numerous prospect research workbooks. She has also served as a volunteer and trustee for numerous organizations over the years including The Center Foundation and Habitat for Humanity of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Jen is a member of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA) and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), serving on both local chapter boards. She received a B.S. from Neumann University.





Moderator: Joe Gonzales is Director and Head of Prospect Development at the International Rescue Committee. His career spans across a variety of nonprofit institutions that includes higher education, university medical centers, faith-based and cause-based organizations. Joe has also volunteered his time with Apra in a number of roles on the local and national level over the past decade currently leading the Online Content Committee as Chair. His commitment to and advocacy for the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion has been a personal journey Joe welcomes to share in professional forums for the benefit of institutional change.

Panelist: Rodger Devine is the associate dean of external affairs for strategy and innovation at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California. Rodger brings 20 years of experience in information technology, business intelligence, organizational development, and cross-functional leadership. Prior to USC, Rodger served as the director of information, analytics, and annual giving at the Michigan Ross School of Business. Rodger completed his graduate studies in information science at the University of Michigan School of Information and is presently completing his doctoral studies in Organizational Change and Leadership at USC Rossier School of Education with a research focus on e-learning adoption and professional development. He is also the co-author of Data Science for Fundraising: Build Data Data-Driven Solutions Using R and Hand-On Deep Learning with R. You can keep in touch with him via his blog

Panelist: Chandra Montgomery is a veteran fundraising strategist and certified diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) speaker and practitioner. Her background in philanthropy spans academic medicine, higher education, public media and social services. She is chair of APRA International’s Advocacy Committee and is a founding member of APRA’s inaugural DEI Committee. Chandra also serves as co-chair of the Advancement DEI Council at the University of Southern California where she is the director of pipeline and prospect development for Health Sciences. Prior to USC, she led prospect development teams at National Public Radio and Virginia Commonwealth University. Chandra holds a BA from Hampton University and is pursuing a master’s degree at USC’s Gould School of Law. 

Panelist: Kevin Vollmers is the Director of Leadership Gifts at Augsburg University. His fundraising career started nearly twenty years ago in Washington, DC. at the George Washington University. During that time period he has intentionally worked with/for numerous nonprofit organizations and projects lead by individuals from marginalized communities. He and his partner live in Minneapolis with their three children.


Panelist: Divah Yap is currently director of the data & analytics team at the University of Minnesota Foundation. She supports projects in the areas of campaign analytics, goal forecasting, text analytics, and predictive modeling. Divah is a former Apra Minnesota board member. She holds a BA in statistics and Diploma in industrial engineering both from the University of the Philippines, and a Master of statistics from the University of Minnesota.


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