KDD Philanthropy is proud to partner with the following individuals who are leaders in their respective fields. Their expertise and experience strategically aligns with the needs of our clients, allowing us to provide a customized approach to help each organization grow and succeed.
Associate Vice President of Philanthropy
Carol Spychalski’s specialty is building: from teams to fundraising initiatives to comprehensive campaign infrastructure, Carol has a track record of helping people and programs achieve greater levels of excellence. As a coach and manager, Carol supports professional success through a focus on:
- Identifying and strengthening an individual’s unique strengths
- Creating clarity around challenges and how to overcome them
- Embracing accountability
- Establishing professional presence
Through a career in higher education, healthcare, and community nonprofits, Carol has developed an expertise across a broad spectrum of advancement activities. As Associate Vice President of Philanthropy, at San Diego Humane Society, Carol raises the significant gifts that are essential to a cause she is passionate about while leading a team of planned, foundation, and major giving professionals. Additionally, Carol plays a significant role in developing the organization’s $200 million comprehensive campaign.
Previously, as Senior Director of Development at University of California, San Diego, Carol led the creation of, and fundraising for, several campaign initiatives while she hired, trained, and managed a large advancement team. Carol’s talent-focused approach provided her a critical role in the division’s staff development programs. She led a cohort of mid-level fundraisers for the university’s academic units; this process included setting clear goals and standards, building a cohort group for strategy and skill set development, and providing ongoing one-to-one coaching.
Connect with Carol on LinkedIn.
Praise for Carol:
“I worked as a fundraiser under Carol’s leadership for about 18 months and can say with complete sincerity that she was one of the best managers I’ve ever had. Carol cares deeply about her work and that is reflected in her management style. She is a champion for her team, a patient and thoughtful mentor, a dedicated coach, and an excellent supervisor. Under her guidance, I was able to sharpen my development skillset and to progress from being an entry-level development professional to a strategic major gift officer. Carol is an expert in brainstorming donor strategy, all facets of management (up, down, and at parallel levels), building team culture, and writing effectively as a fundraiser. She imparted many of these skills to her team at UC San Diego, and I am fully confident that I wouldn’t be where I am today without her support. It is rare to work with someone who is so committed to elevating the people around them. Carol does exactly that.” — Zachary Colombo, Associate Director of Development, Division of Social Sciences, UC San Diego
Sarah Schmidt is an advancement professional with a strong career in successful major gift fundraising, alumni and grateful client engagement, relationship building, strategic philanthropic team management, event planning experience, and gift planning expertise. Her 17-year background in advancement has provided a strategic and creative view of how to maximize efforts to achieve the greatest return on investment, while bringing empathy and compassion to the art of clearly articulating the impact and legacy of philanthropy. She has developed a true diversity of skills in both academic and healthcare environments that she has either led or supported.
Sarah currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) at Colorado State University (CSU). Before that, she was the college’s Executive Director of Development. Since 2020, Sarah’s team has raised more than $100 million in planned and current gifts. Sarah strategically, collaboratively, and collegially leads the highest functioning Advancement team on CSU’s campus. She also fostered relationships with the college’s most highly recognized faculty partners, as well as the CVMBS Executive Leadership Council, leading to healthiest and most successful and effective advancement/college partnership to date. Previously, Sarah served as the Program Director of Gift Planning at CSU, and the Interim Executive Director for the College of Business’ advancement team. Since joining CSU in 2016, she has actively managed a portfolio of 85 donors, and personally raised more than $50M while taking on increasing levels of roles and responsibilities.
Before joining CSU, Sarah served as the Director of Development for the Kremen School of Education and Human Development and Associate Director of Alumni Relations at California State University, Fresno and as the Development Coordinator at Children’s Hospital Central California Foundation.
Sarah’s broad experiences contribute to her ability to coach, mentor and grow staff in an energetic and practical way, as well as strategically and joyfully find solutions to growing advancement teams productivity.
Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.
Writer, Marketing Coordinator and Webinar Concierge
Leah R. Singer
Leah Singer is a freelance writer and editor, with a background and experience in philanthropic writing. She is known for uncovering unique angles and hidden gems, and then creating clear and compelling communication that creates impact.
Leah has developed a niche within higher education, healthcare and non-profit organizations, writing content designed to engage donors, prospective students, alumni, and friends of universities and organizations. Leah writes cases for support, fundraising proposals, one-page fund language, appeal letters and emails.
Her higher education portfolio includes University of California San Diego, San Diego State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, DePauw University, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Indiana State University, and California Institute for Human Science. Included in her healthcare and non-profit portfolio are Sharp Healthcare, City of Hope, YMCA of the Wabash Valley, Wabash Valley Community Foundation, Maple Center for Integrated Health, Wabash Valley Road Runners, and California Charter Schools Association.
Leah worked more than 13 years in-house for both San Diego State University and UC San Diego. She was a speechwriter and communications manager for two college presidents at San Diego State, a writer in SDSU’s University Relations and Development Division, and Director of Communications for the Enrollment Services Department. Leah worked as a senior writer for UC San Diego Annual Giving, and in marketing and fundraising at KPBS public broadcasting station. She also taught a series of development writing classes for UC San Diego, including Foundations of Development Writing, Advanced Development Writing and Creating Donor-Centric Development Writing.
Her published writing has appeared in USA Today; Indianapolis Star; The Huffington Post; The Good Men Project; Edible Indy and Edible San Diego magazines; Terre Haute Living and Tribune Star; Thought Catalog; Medium; and numerous other national publications.
Connect with Leah on LinkedIn.
Erin Kathleen Jones, CFRE, CSPG
Erin Jones has a passion for helping donors create their legacy through a strategic approach to planned giving. She is currently the Director of Gift Planing for The Salvation Army. Prior to that, Erin was Principal of Shamrock Philanthropy, where she provides planned giving consulting services for a variety of nonprofit organizations and universities. She also served as Regional Director for the University of Notre Dame. In this position, Erin worked with alumni, parents, and friends of the Fighting Irish to create lasting legacies.
Her engagement with higher education philanthropy did not start with Notre Dame. She spent five years as the Senior Director of Planned Giving at San Diego State University. During her tenure at SDSU, the planned giving program raised more than $75 million. Before SDSU, Erin served as the Director of Planned Giving at San Diego Hospice where she spearheaded the acquisition of a Gift Annuities License for the agency. Under her leadership, the organization raised over $40 million in planned giving efforts.
Erin also worked for the Catholic Diocese of San Diego, Grossmont Hospital Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. She began her 25-year fundraising career with a national consulting firm where she ran 42 capital campaigns over a five-year period, which raised more than $40 million, collectively, through her efforts. Erin also expanded the firm’s West Coast presence when she relocated to San Diego.
Erin earned her bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in New York. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive, Certified Senior Advisor, and received a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving credential from the College of Continuing & Professional Education at California State University Long Beach.
Connect with Erin on LinkedIn.
Amy Lomas is highly skilled at project management, administrative management, and travel planning and coordination. She is described by colleagues and coworkers as organized, detail-oriented and professional. Able to work quickly and carefully on any task, Amy demonstrates her superior administrative skills in every project she works on.
Currently, Amy serves as an executive assistant for the Senior Vice President and Chief Philanthropy & Communications Officer at the San Diego Humane Society (a perfect match as she has quite a passion for animals). Prior to this position, Amy worked as an executive assistant to the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of a public pharmaceutical company for two years. Additionally, Amy has managed a co-working space part-time, which allowed her to put both her administrative and customer service experience to use in one role. She has experience as a kindergarten teacher, in the customer service industry and as a personal banker for a large bank in the United Kingdom.
Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.
KDD Philanthropy Affiliate Alumni
We are grateful to the individuals who gave their time and talent to KDD Philanthropy as affiliates and interns in the past.
- Allyson Heart, Administrative Support
- Nicholas Mancuso, MFA, Strategic Talent Management
- Michelle Mason, Social Media Contributor
- Isabel Ricon, Social Media Intern
- Lucille Schindler, Leadership Giving and Project Management
- Emma Sidell, Social Media Contributor