Laura Svolos

Laura comes to Elevate with 17 years of institutional giving experience in which she has directed programs on behalf of local, national, and international nonprofits. Throughout her career, she has gravitated to organizations serving children and the environment because she is most passionate about giving a voice to those or that which don’t have a voice. Most recently, she directed the institutional giving program at Stand.earth, an international environmental advocacy organization that campaigns in the areas of forest and ocean protection, climate and energy, and environmental justice. Earlier in her career, she owned a nonprofit consulting business in Chicago that provided comprehensive institutional giving services to organizations representing issue areas such as child abuse prevention, early childhood development, children and family services, school reform, workforce development, health care, and juvenile justice reform. In addition to her nonprofit experience, Laura has worked on Capitol Hill for a US Senator, as a Certified Professional Coach, and as mindfulness meditation teacher.

Laura graduated from Northwestern University where she earned a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s degree in communication studies. As a graduate student, she received grants from the Renee Schine Crown Scholarship, Josephine Baskin Minow Scholarship, and the Institute for Modern Communications to study the effects of glasnost on press freedom in Moscow.

Outside of work, Laura enjoys cooking, painting, and hiking the trails of the Coachella Valley where she loves to spot bighorn sheep in the wild (see photo!).

Chris made his first successful fundraising pitch almost thirty years ago and comes to Elevate with decades of nonprofit development and leadership experience. He most recently worked for a global environmental justice network, fundraising and capacity-building for member organizations trying to mitigate climate change, reduce plastic pollution, and enact zero waste systems. He has prior experience as an executive director and has helped organizations develop strategic plans, fundraising strategies, and internal systems.

Having recently opened his eyes to the atrocities of factory farming, Chris has become a vegan and wants to see the end of this horrific practice as soon as possible. He earned his Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and his BA from Swarthmore College.

Chris owns an obsessively and overly curated tabletop game collection. He is a sometimes aspiring game designer who currently gets his design fix through the creation of Magic: the Gathering cubes. He has a lifelong goal of visiting all of the U.S. National Parks and pretty much finished phase one (visiting all parks outside of Alaska) a long time ago. He has not started on phase two.

Jennifer brings over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and education sectors to her role at Elevate. With a strong passion for the transformative power of nonprofits and philanthropy, she is dedicated to creating a more just and equitable society, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized individuals. At Elevate, Jennifer is eager to establish meaningful connections with clients and provide them guidance to achieve their mission through fundraising.  Throughout her career, she has worked in various issue areas, assuming roles as a direct service provider, leader, and volunteer. She has led programs serving individuals affected by violence and poverty, worked in secondary and post-secondary education, and excelled as a grant writer and fundraiser, driving progress in workforce development, coalition-building, and access initiatives.

Jennifer holds an MA in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Communities, with a specialization in Gender and Women’s Studies from Western Kentucky University and a BA in Political Science from Troy University.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Jennifer finds daily humor and joy in raising her five children alongside her husband, Josh. She can often be found engrossed in a good book with a cup of coffee in hand or enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking with her family. Jennifer also loves live theater and discovers hidden talents during her family’s weekly sessions of Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop games.

Eric has over 15 years of development experience, working with a plethora of nonprofits. He comes to Elevate after serving as the Director of Development for GID Consulting where he oversaw all stages of grants for the organization. Combined, Eric has helped his clients raise over $10 million in private and federal funding. Prior to his time at GID, Eric served as the Director of Development at California Baptist University, where he worked primarily with the athletics department, helping to raise over $3 million for the unit. Eric has also spent time in fundraising and grant writing roles at the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, The Posse Foundation, Playworks Southern California, Culver-Palms and Westchester Family YMCA, Hoops for Kids International, Voice for Asian Elephants Society, Sarcoma Alliance, Feminist Frequency, and Kids Enjoy Exercise Now. Eric has a passion for working with nonprofit leaders providing a philanthropic lens that helps “elevate” their ability to identify resources for their organizations.

In an effort to enhance his understanding of education, Eric earned a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from California State University, Fresno in May 2022. He has also served on several Board of Directors and volunteers frequently for various organizations.

In Eric’s free time, you can find him spending time with his 4 beautiful children and wife.

Sellus Wilder has spent years helping various nonprofits expand their capacities to impact meaningful social change. Sellus graduated from Beloit College in Wisconsin, and initially applied his directing degree to film and video production. He created a documentary about the grassroots defeat of a hazardous fracking pipeline (The End Of The Line) that won numerous national awards, and that has been used as an organizing tool by nonprofits and grassroots efforts across the Eastern United States. Organizing and activism inspired him to refocus his career on social change, and Wilder’s work has been committed for many years to values of social, racial, economic and environmental justice.

Sellus has served as the founding director of the Kentucky Civic Engagement Table (KCET) and Commonwealth Alliance Voter Engagement (CAVE), and as the youngest Mayor Pro-Tem of Kentucky’s capital city. He has raised millions of dollars to support nonprofits and advocacy efforts over the course of his career, and has worked with dozens of organizations to expand their funding capacities and empower their abilities to impact meaningful change within their own communities.

Sellus is honored to be able to support our partners’ inspiring and impactful work as a Director at Elevate.

Lauren spent the early years of her career in direct service and education, spending years in non-profits big and small across the DC metro area. During that time her organization became one of Elevate’s clients and after seeing the importance of having staff
who understood both the programmatic side on your fundraising team, she transitioned into the development field to help local, national, and international nonprofits raise funds to continue their work. She’s excited to come full circle and be part of the Elevate team that started it all!

Lauren continues to stay engaged with the local community through multiple volunteer roles.
She volunteers for the Smithsonian Associates helping to host events at museums throughout
the year and is as a committee member and volunteer coordinator for the Japanese American
Society of Washington’s Sakura Matsuri. She has a Master of Arts in Public Anthropology with
an emphasis on Linguistics and Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology both from
American University.

In her free time, she is often sewing, reading, or hiking. She also enjoys traveling in search of a
new favorite food.

Catherine brings a background in management, market research, communications, grant writing, and fundraising in the nonprofit sectors. Most recently, Catherine has worked in a consulting role with small and mid-sized organizations focused on growth and program development.

At Elevate, she is committed to help organizations, communities, and funders build productive and
rewarding relationships. She leads client teams providing institutional fundraising and strategic expertise to organizations working on a range of issues.

Catherine holds a BA in English Literature from Goldsmiths College and Master of Legal Letters from
Queen Mary College, University of London. Outside of Elevate, Catherine loves to write short stories and novels and explore the fascinating history of Western Pennsylvania.

Deborah’s long career has focused on helping the people nonprofits serve. She began volunteering in a women’s shelter before college and worked up to holding development and executive director positions.

Before working for Elevate, Deborah ran a consulting business writing grants and providing program development and implementation support to nonprofits across the U.S. Her areas of interest and experience are vast and include behavioral health, employment, education, job training, immigration, environmental issues, justice, housing, food security, literacy, equity, HIV/AIDS, child development, violence prevention, parenting, the arts, and many others.

Deborah enjoys going to films and plays, perusing art museums, listening to music, swimming, and walking in nature when not working. She is an avid reader and New York Times crossword puzzle and spelling bee doer. Deborah lives with her writer husband, Joel, in Chicago but has lived in 10 U.S. states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Deborah and Joel have five grown children.

Lateefah has worked in the nonprofit sector for over a decade, with the last seven years working in institutional development. Prior to joining Elevate as a Director, Lateefah has worked at a range of New York City based institutions, from small community-based organizations to nationally renowned nonprofits, including Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Center for Employment Opportunities, and CaringKind. She also practices Community-Centric Fundraising as a way to examine the roots of philanthropy and explore fundraising strategies grounded in anti-racism, equity, and belonging.

Lateefah graduated from The New School with a MA in Public and Urban Policy. While earning her degree, she had the opportunity to serve as a consultant to various nonprofit clients on pressing policy and management issues. Lateefah earned her BS in Political Science from Clarkson University, minoring in Law. She currently volunteers with Court Watch NYC, a program of the Envision Freedom Fund (formerly Brooklyn Community Bail Fund).

In her free time, Lateefah enjoys reading, practicing yoga, exploring different parts of the city, watching bad reality television, planning for her next vacation, cooking an interesting recipe from NYT Cooking, and honing her ever evolving rotation of hobbies ranging from various crafting projects to dabling in fermentation.

At Elevate, Alix works across multiple sectors, from hunger relief and disability rights advocacy to the arts and youth development. Her expertise is rooted in leveraging knowledge of institutional fundraising strategy to develop resources for organizations of all sizes, serving organizations that are just getting their grants programs off the ground and multimillion dollar national organizations that are balancing stability and growth. As a champion of innovation and imagination, Alix is motivated to build and redistribute resources, create an even playing field, and promote the latest and greatest ideas that celebrate our humanity and challenge us to move forward to a more just and equitable world.

Alix came to Elevate from the arts and culture sector, where she has had over a decade of experience collaborating with nonprofit companies and artists to lift up their unique and essential stories.  She served as a fundraiser for several theaters in the Philadelphia region, using her skills as a creative strategist to increase their capacities while encouraging resource development through community-centric models and a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.

Alix continues to be very active in the arts community, and she recently served as the Regional Vice President of Philadelphia for the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. She has also been a guest artist and lecturer for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the University of the Arts. Alix earned her BA in Drama from Vassar College and her MA in Theater from Villanova University, and she is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University.

When she isn’t working with Elevate clients or on a creative project, she can be found reading, spending time with her partner and cat, or attempting to perfect her challah recipe.

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