Our Vision is Simple:

Learn About Make Philanthropy Work

To ensure every nonprofit has the tools and expertise to take their fundraising to the next level and meet the needs of an evolving industry.


For six years, Make Philanthropy Work (formerly MPW Strategies) has partnered with inspiring nonprofit organizations and higher-ed institutions to generate immediate and lasting fundraising growth.

To date, we’ve partnered with nearly fifty organizations and institutions, offering innovative thinking and customized solutions that have transformed how they engage with their donors, resulting in significantly increased fundraising success.

Along the way, we’ve undergone a transformation ourselves. We now have a team of pros with diverse expertise across the full spectrum of fundraising disciplines. And we’re confident that our toolbox of innovative, relationship-driven strategies will be even more instrumental as we forge into the future, and continue to connect loyal donors with impactful missions. Meet our team; we cannot wait to meet you!

Our Mission

To guide and coach nonprofits along a path to more effective fundraising. We do this by:

Our Team

Patrick Gaines
Senior Advisor – Health Care, Human Services
Jaime Garcia
Senior Advisor
Kevin Jones
Senior Technology Advisor
Dr. Bruce Leslie
Senior Advisor
Alex Pera
AI Assistant
Dale Slusser
Senior Advisor
Jillian Sterns
Senior Advisor Foundations
Kaye Taavialma
Senior Advisor, Charter Schools

Let's work together to amplify your impact and advance your mission.


Patrick Gaines

Patrick Gaines has 28 years of fundraising experience with cultural arts, higher education, healthcare and medical research organizations. For nearly three decades, he has helped lead nonprofit organizations through strategic planning and implementation, business development, talent acquisition and board management. He has a strong record of accomplishment in major gifts initiatives, planned giving, capital campaigns, corporate development and sponsorship marketing, annual fund and membership programs, grant writing, and volunteer recruitment/management. As a nonprofit executive, volunteer and donor, Patrick passionately fosters a culture of philanthropy throughout the organizations and communities in which he works and lives.

Patrick served as the Executive Director of the University of Colorado’s Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine from 2011 to 2019, where he played a critical role in securing $50 million for operating and endowment, and an additional $17 million for capital construction. Prior to that, Patrick held the position of Director of Major Gifts with the American Cancer Society, where he helped secure the Society’s largest individual gift, $9.5 million, in its 100-year history. Patrick also piloted a new and innovative major gifts business model to increase the Society’s national investment in cancer research.

Patrick’s experience in the cultural arts spans over 15 years, including senior fundraising positions with the Des Moines Metro Opera, Westfield Symphony Orchestra in New Jersey, and the University of Colorado Denver College of Arts & Media. Concurrent with his early fundraising career, Patrick also enjoyed a brief tenure as a professional musician, holding positions with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller.

Patrick is a board member with the Brent Eley Foundation and volunteers with City Year Denver, CASA, and the ARC of Weld County. He has lived in Colorado for 18 years and enjoys hiking, climbing, skiing, cycling and ultra trail running. Patrick resides in Ken Caryl, CO and is the proud and grateful father of an eighteen year old son, Christopher, who will be enrolled in the University of Colorado’s College of Engineering and Applied Science in August 2019.


Jaime McMullen Garcia

With over 15 years of experience in fundraising and communication research, Jaime McMullen Garcia is the founder of Jovial Communication. Jovial provides philanthropy advising and fundraising consulting services. Throughout her career, she has excelled in development and leadership positions in higher education and other nonprofit organizations. Her passion lies in the joy that comes from connecting donors with their philanthropic passions and helping organizations benefit from this generosity.

Jaime previously served as the Chief Philanthropy Officer for Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, where she directed philanthropic activities. Additionally, she oversaw the successful execution of the UCCS Ent Center for the Arts Capital Campaign that raised over $60 million and opened its doors in 2018. Garcia started her fundraising career at the University of Colorado Foundation in 2003, and eventually served as Executive Director of Development for the Colorado Springs campus.

Jaime received an MA in Communication and a BA in Communication and Psychology with a minor in Professional Writing from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Jaime is currently an adjunct professor at Pikes Peak Community College and Purdue Global where she teaches Public Speaking and Persuasive Communication. She also served on the board of directors for Classical KCME FM and now serves as secretary on the board of directors for Leadership Pikes Peak and the Colorado State Fair Capital Campaign Committee. Jaime lives in Falcon, Colorado, with her husband, Leo, their two sons, and four dogs. She loves camping, paddleboarding, and hockey games.


Kevin Jones

Kevin is passionate about improving fundraising with new technology. He believes that increasing quality time with donors is always the top priority. Innovations in software can now focus staff time where it matters most. He sees technology as a cost-effective and efficient way to personalize communication, enhance relationships and improve campaign results.

Kevin is a Certified Conversica Partner Representative. He recognizes that AI is a key differentiator for nonprofits who wish to provide a personalized human touch at scale across the entire donor journey.

Kevin draws on his experience working with large nonprofits including hospitals, institutions of higher education, and regional chapters of national healthcare organizations. Kevin received his MPA in Nonprofit Management at Indiana University in the first cohort of students at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, formerly the IU Center on Philanthropy.

Additionally, Kevin works with an international custom software development agency that specializes in designing digital products for the HealthTech community. Kevin consults with physicians and researchers at the CU School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College to secure NIH grants and execute new technology innovations in healthcare.

Kevin is pleased to work with Make Philanthropy Work to introduce innovative and disruptive technology solutions to advance effectiveness and efficiency for fundraising professionals.


Dr. Bruce Leslie

Dr. Bruce Leslie has successfully implemented cohesive organizational systems and strategic, creative and accountable cultures, engaging all stakeholders and emphasizing leadership development for all members of the organization, especially the boards of trustees, resulting in dramatic, nationally recognized performance outcomes at each institution he has led.

A Navy Veteran and Chancellor Emeritus of both Houston Community College District and The Alamo Colleges District, Leslie retired October 1, 2018, concluding a 42-year career as a senior executive in community college systems. As Chancellor, of the AlamoColleges District, composed of five individually accredited colleges, the system received numerous state and national awards, most noteworthy, the 2018 National Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award for Performance Excellence; the only higher education, multi-college system to ever receive this national Presidential award.

As a result of Leslie’s leadership, Achieving the Dream awarded the District the prestigious Leah Meyer Austin Award in 2020 “for dramatic improvements in Student Success”. The District also received several Texas Star Awards, a record four National Bellwether Awards, several equity and sustainability awards and numerous state and national operational and fiscal performance awards, including four Texas Awards for Performance Excellence and multiple years of AAA bond ratings by both Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, one of only seven community colleges nationally to receive such fiscal performance affirmation. Recently, The Aspen Institute awarded Alamo Colleges
– San Antonio College with the Aspen Award for Community College Excellence, the best community college in the nation.

At each of the Colleges he has led, Dr. Leslie founded or reinvigorated the college foundation leading to rapid increases in donations, student scholarships, faculty support and facility development. By reinvigorating the Alamo CollegesFoundation, contributions increased 412%. Recently, as a result of The Alamo College’s high performance, McKenzie Scott donated $35 million to the District.

Leslie earned his bachelor’s degree from Baldwin-Wallace University in Ohio, master’s degree from Sam Houston University in Texas, and Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Leslie’s many recognitions include the inaugural FranklinCovey “Trim Tab” Leadership Award; the National Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award; Association of Community College Trustees Eastern Region and Western Region Chief Executive Awards and Charles Kennedy Equity Award; the San Antonio Business Journal C-Suite Award, the Phi Theta Kappa Leadership Award, the AARP Pinnacle Award for Service to Hurricane Katrina Evacuees, the Houston Hispanic Forum Leadership Award, the African Americans in Higher Education in Connecticut Association President’s Award, and the Diversity Leadership Award from the Syracuse Center for the Healing of Racism. Leslie also was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin in 1990.

Leslie’s skills include board development and board/CEO relations, the Malcolm Baldrige Quality program, FranklinCovey resources, especially The 4 Disciplines of Execution and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, employee leadership development, collective bargaining, strategic planning and international development. Leslie is a certified John Maxwell coach and speaker.

Dr. Leslie has led and engaged in several National Science Foundation Grants and his institutions have been awarded numerous NSF projects. Leslie currently teaches Ph.D. students enrolled in Fielding Graduate University and The Community College Leadership Program at Kansas State University. Leslie provides board/CEO Development workshops, strategic planning and organizational performance (Baldrige) consulting and CEO searches for The American Association of Community College Trustees.

Dr. Leslie serves as Treasurer of the Rocky Mountain Performance Excellence Board, the region’s Baldrige Organization serving Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming. Recently, Dr. Leslie was elected to the Broomfield City Council, Ward 4.

Leslie and his wife, Cheryl, are the parents of three children and eight grandchildren; both are actively engaged in community service, fly fishing, music, pickleball, skiing, photography and hiking.


John Pepperdine

In a professional fundraising career spanning more than two decades, John Pepperdine developed expertise in major and leadership gifts, raising over $150 million through campaigns and drives for all causes ranging from universities to one-person start-ups. As a senior leader for a $1.5 billion campaign and several half-billion-dollar campaigns, he developed talent, processes, and systems to ensure the success of those campaigns and the continued success of the development operations.

Bringing that experience, drive, and enthusiasm to Make Philanthropy Work, he partners with leaders of institutions and organizations, large and small, projects short term to ongoing — all with one goal: to help them leverage their strengths and opportunities to reach success in philanthropy.

At the Colorado School of Mines, Pepperdine implemented processes and systems to modernize the development and alumni engagement while working closely with the finance and operations of the School to collaborate and leverage opportunities. Much of this work facilitated the School’s largest gift in history, a $29 million donation to support facilities, programs, and create an endowment.

Pepperdine’s management experience is extensive, having managed campus-wide development and support staff while directly advising Presidents, Chancellors, their top leadership, deans, and institutional leaders. Additionally, he’s advised, coached, and trained executive directors and their support staff, all with the attitude that anyone can learn fundraising if they put the time and commitment into it.

Pepperdine holds a bachelor’s degree with a major in history and political science and a master’s in public administration, both from the University of Kansas. In addition, he holds the philanthropic certification and credential of Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and extensive training from Rice University’s Center for Philanthropy in their Fundraising Operations curriculum.


Alex Pera

Alex joins us from the Bay area. With over 10 years of front-line outreach experience, Alex is known for a polite, persistent, personal approach. When not working for MPW Alex, well, is always working.

Conversational AI Platform


Dale Slusser

With over 25 years of fundraising experience, Dale Slusser brings a wealth of experience in development and development leadership. He joined KU Endowment at the University of Kansas in 2000 as a member of their Corporate and Foundation Development Team throughout the KU First comprehensive campaign, which raised over $650 million for the University. In 2006 he moved to the role of Assistant Vice President, where for over 15 years he provided management, strategic direction, and mentoring for development professionals who led fundraising for the Schools of Education, Music and Social Welfare, Dole Institute of Politics, KU Libraries, scholarships, general fundraising, and Corporate & Foundation Development. He also managed the Prospect Research team for three years.

Dale oversaw multiple fundraising committees for the next University-wide campaign, Far Above, which reached a goal of $1.2 billion in 2016. He also served as lead fundraiser for the Natural History Museum, the Spencer Museum of Art, campus beautification, and international fundraising. He worked closely with the director of the art museum on two successful campaigns that together raised over $9 million to complete two phases of facility upgrades. Dale retired from KU Endowment with the title of Associate Vice President at the end of 2021.

Prior to joining KU Endowment, Dale managed a Japanese cultural arts nonprofit in Los Angeles for six years and then spent five years in Portland, Oregon, with a historic preservation education nonprofit; he remains passionate about advancing knowledge in both these areas. He has an engineering degree from California Maritime Academy, a three-year degree from the Urasenke Gakuen Sado Senmon Gakko (College of the Urasenke Tradition of Tea) in Kyoto, Japan, and a Master of Arts in East Asian Languages and Cultures from UCLA, as well as a certificate in nonprofit management from Portland State University.

Dale lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife, Sherry, a professor at the University of Kansas. He currently serves on the board of the Lawrence Humane Society, Lawrence Preservation Alliance, Historic Mount Oread Friends and the KU Campus Historic Preservation Board. He is a former board member and president of both the Douglas County Historical Society and the Old West Lawrence Neighborhood Association.


Jillian Sterns

Starting as an educator and counselor, Jillian is skilled in identifying and addressing barriers to equitable access to resources for at-risk and underserved populations. Throughout her career, Jillianhas combined her talent for technical writing and research with her passion for education, social justice, and program development. She has extensive experience in program design and evaluation,grant writing and management, and team leadership. Additionally, Jillian is formally trained as a mental health professional and school counselor.

Jillian developed her technical writing skills throughout her career and education. Before completing her BA in Psychology and Human Development at Metropolitan State University of Denver (2013), Jillian led multiple research projects, presented at conferences and was published in two peer-reviewed journals. Her research focused on equity in education, issues of diversity and discrimination, and learning styles. Concurrently, Jillian applied what she learned while working in a local high school where she wrote, implemented, and evaluated two school-wide programs for Post-Secondary/Workforce Readiness.

After completing her MA in Counseling from University of Colorado Denver (2017), Jillian joined the inaugural leadership team of a new charter high school. Before ever writing her first grant, Jillian’s first love was teaching underserved youth how to write scholarship essays; teaching them to developaward winning narratives to raise money for college and advance their personal goals. Inspired by her students, Jillian turned to grant writing as an opportunity to advance programmatic growth in her school. She took the lead on a competitive State grant application including research, planning, and writing which resulted in $270,000 awarded to the school. She then led a multidisciplinary team to implement program objectives, evaluated outcomes and managed reporting and budgets.

Grant writing unlocked an opportunity to combine program development, evaluation, and advocacy; she maintains a strong focus on promoting social justice. Since her humble beginnings, Jillian continues to broaden her scope of practice as a writer across various industries, including behavioralhealth, arts and culture, and even rural development. She takes a compassionate approach to working with clients, recognizing that background narratives often hold deep personal meaning to those driving the mission. Jillian replenishes her energy by spending time in the mountains, walking with her dog, and spending time with her husband, Travis.


Kaye Taavialma

Kaye Taavialma’s work in education is rooted in her passion for serving unique charter schools created with clear missions and populations. Her first charter experience as a teacher was in a youth detention center and crystalized her calling to work with the “most forgotten” in our system. Throughout her almost 20 year journey through the ed world, Kaye has worked as a teacher, founding Dean of Academics, School Leader, and Executive Director with schools serving the most marginalized of communities at stand-alone schools (Academy of Urban Learning) to national networks (KIPP). Yet it is the role of “Coach” that resonates most deeply over all those titles and is the focus of her consulting business, Kaye’s Coaching. And her expertise in coaching school teams goes beyond those on staff and extends to the board as well.

As a result of almost a decade in the trenches of charter school leadership, Kaye knows what it means to go from “start-up” to “sustaining” and how to survive those “triage” times. And she also knows what it takes to keep a school in the black and how to fundraise like a champ. In 2018 Ricardo Flores Magón Academy, the CSI school she was leading at the time, was awarded a $15.5M BEST Grant for a new building – a first for CSI and virtually unheard of across charters in the state. Kaye also secured over $300,000 that year in additional grants and awards to support the new building.


Matt Wasserman

With over 20 years experience in the field of fundraising Matt Wasserman is the founder of MPW Strategies. Throughout his career, he has developed and integrated innovative fundraising practices, and in this role, he continues to realize a passion for guiding institutions to reach to new heights in funding.

Wasserman previously served as the vice chancellor of development for the University of Colorado Denver, where he directed philanthropic activities for CU Denver since 2010, achieving 300 percent revenue growth in three years. Additionally, he oversaw the successful execution of the CU Denver Creating Futures Campaign that raised over $84 million. Wasserman started at the University of Colorado Foundation in 2007, overseeing development for the CU Denver Business School. He played a prominent role in the campaign for the school’s new home, which opened in early 2012.

Before joining the CU Foundation, he was co-founder and partner of the Denver Development Group (DDG), a nonprofit and political fundraising consulting firm that represented several area organizations and Colorado elected officials. Wasserman also served as the membership manager for the Denver Art Museum, where membership numbers reached an all-time high in 2004 under his management. He previously worked for several state and national political campaigns.

Wasserman received a BA in political science from Colorado State University and an MBA from the University of Colorado Denver. Matt is a frequent presenter and trainer for the Colorado Nonprofit Association, Institute for Leaders in Development, and Association of Fundraising Professionals. His community involvement includes serving on the board of the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund and the Downtown Denver Partnership Membership Committee. Matt lives in Aurora, Colorado, where he and his wife, Jackie, spend time with their two children and two dogs.


Rebekah Wells

For more than thirteen years, Rebekah has successfully partnered with nonprofits to help achieve their revenue goals. Her experience working with donors, writing grants and leading fundraising campaigns have given her the opportunity to collaborate with a variety of nonprofits. She has partnered with organizations at the local, national and international levels to raise support for their missions.

For more than a decade, Rebekah has raised funds to help improve outcomes and the quality of life for individuals and families facing a cancer diagnosis. She has worked for both large and small nonprofits committed to serving patients and their families undergoing a difficult medical diagnosis. Additionally, Rebekah has partnered with a variety of nonprofits to pursue grants and fund programs for at-risk youth, prisoner reentry programs, faith-based ministries and international foster-care.

Holding a B.A. in Public Relations from Northwest Missouri State University, Rebekah is also a Certified Fund Raising Executive. She enjoys travelling with her husband, Jared.