Deborah Lielasus

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.

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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Rebecca joins the Elevate team with over a decade of nonprofit experience including event coordination, grant-writing, and donor relationship management along with program development, education, and outreach. Her previous work spans a wide variety of issue areas including environmental education, outdoor recreation, medical transportation, STEM education, and breast cancer awareness and services. She loves having the opportunity at Elevate to work with clients all over the country who serve the fields of advocacy, education, mental health, environmental issues and more. Her favorite part of the job is when she gets deep into conversation with her clients about the work they do, sharing success stories and meaningful moments. She will also take any opportunity to make a spreadsheet!

Rebecca is passionate about advocating for mental health and LGBTQ+ rights, and volunteers for nearby organizations including GLSEN Kansas, ICT Food Rescue, and the local chapter of Free Mom Hugs. She earned a Master of Education in Educational Psychology from Wichita State University, and a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Kansas State University.

Exploring new hobbies is Rebecca’s biggest pastime as she is constantly learning and trying new things. She is the mom of a teenager, a toddler, two dogs, and an accidental cat. She loves crochet, knitting, being outdoors, spending time in the kitchen with her husband and kids, gardening, and traveling.

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Cheyenne has a strong passion for helping underserved and marginalized populations achieve a better quality of life. Before Elevate, she made her debut in the nonprofit world first as a volunteer at an affordable housing and services provider in Ventura County, CA. She gave hundreds of hours of her time to low-income students and their daily academic needs. When a staff position opened up, she jumped on the opportunity and became a direct youth services provider. Over the course of several years, she developed and refined many impactful programs for her students.

In 2015, she decided to jump on another opportunity at the organization, diving deep into the world of fundraising and grant writing. Tapped for her excellent writing and research skills, she soon became a Grant Manager and was eventually put in charge of the grant program for the entire organization. In this role, she penned hundreds of proposals that helped fund a variety of important causes, including food assistance, case management, after-school programs, housing, summer camps, financial literacy training, and more.

Cheyenne currently volunteers for the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of fanworks. She graduated summa cum laude with the highest honors from California Lutheran University. She earned a BS in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She also holds a Certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University.

Once a California native, Cheyenne is now happily living in North Carolina. She is an expert cat wrangler, a beginning gardener, and a truly subpar violinist in her own time.

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Greg believes that entanglement across sectors – arts, politics, healthcare, science, technology, among others – is core to building healthy, self-sustaining communities. Greg has worked as a consultant to numerous arts, heritage, and cultural institutions; helping them deepen community ties, better define their purpose, and surface and organize around mutual self-interests. He previously served as an analyst at AMS Planning & Research and was the 19-20 Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage. Along with those roles, he has been fundraising for universities and arts organizations since 2014.

In the field, Greg also works as a director for theater, opera, film, and games. His artistic practice closely resembles Elevate’s — working with an array of collectives or organizations to help advance their mission and goals in concert (only instead of through grantmaking, it’s through artistically excellent storytelling — which tends to attract the grants). He serves as the Producing Director for the Helen Hayes-winning 4615 Theatre Company. Greg holds a BFA from the University of Michigan.

Raised between wintery Michigan and sunny Shanghai, Greg can shovel a driveway with ease and was sipping on boba tea before it was cool. You can catch him at the premiere of a new show, cooking big group dinners, or listening to SZA.

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Sam’s drive to strengthen nonprofits comes from her desire to build and support more loving communities, everywhere. At Elevate, she has played multiple roles on client teams as both a Project Coordinator and Grant Writer and worked on a wide range of direct service and advocacy clients, demonstrating particular strength managing complex data projects and working with education focused clients. She brings client relationship management, leadership skills, and a passion for Elevate’s work to her role as Supervising Director.

Prior to joining the Elevate team, Sam spent time working in the international development, education, and housing services spaces. She spent time as a researcher in Uganda and worked as a Research Assistant for the Ford Family Development Program at the University of Notre Dame, where she supported the program’s maternal health initiative in Kenya. Sam served as a 2014 Teach For America corps member in Colorado working as a 3rd grade Special Education teacher. She also spent five years in various management roles at the Root Cafe in Cleveland, whose mission is to provide accessible, local, and organic food to its community members in addition to supporting community building through music, the arts, and conversation.

Sam received her BA in Political Science and Poverty Studies from the University of Notre Dame and completed a Specialization in Fundraising and Development through UC Davis in 2022. Sam has been a Registered Yoga Teacher since 2017 with a mission to teach accessible, body- positive yoga.

Sam spends the bulk of her free time outside with her husband and babies. She loves learning about herbalism, gardening, hiking, and drinking sparkling water.

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Patrice comes to Elevate with a decade of marketing and communications experience. She has worked within the trade association, nonprofit, and small business sectors, and her experience ranges from leading brand strategies to managing nonprofit partnerships with organizations like Make-A-WishⓇ. Patrice has dedicated her career to connecting small businesses and nonprofit-based organizations with their target audiences through a mix of corporate strategies and grassroots marketing. She has a passion for collaborative strategy development and brand awareness campaigns and thrives when identifying emerging market opportunities and producing high-class content.

Patrice obtained her undergraduate degree in Business Management from Bowie State University and has continued graduate-level coursework at the University of Virginia. Outside of work, Patrice enjoys spending time with her husband and children, traveling, and live music.

Sarah came to Elevate with a drive to continue her career in public service and a passion for supporting programs and organizations that improve the quality of life for people around the country. Sarah has worked in local government in North Carolina with the Town of Boone and the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission, a regional Council of Governments. During her time in local government, Sarah worked closely with municipalities to encourage economic development, cultural resource management, and regional advocacy. Sarah has written grant applications for a variety of state and federal agencies including the Appalachian Regional Commission, FEMA, and HUD to name a few.

Sarah has her Master of Public Administration and BSBA in Marketing from Appalachian State University. A true “Boonie” at heart, Sarah can usually be found enjoying the outdoors via a kayak or hiking trail. Go, Mountaineers!

Sarah also enjoys spoiling her dachshund, Stella, and baking in her spare time. Her favorite baked good to share with friends and family is her nana’s famous pound cake.

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Joshua first joined Elevate in 2021 with a drive to continue his career in the nonprofit sector of DC through a client services and development role. After completing his graduate education, he set his sights on continuing to pursue his professional interests in client stewardship, operations, and database management. At Elevate, he has worked closely with the Client Services and Operations teams, and through his current role, the New Client Partnerships team.

Joshua earned an MA in Philosophy from Boston College and, prior to that, a BA in Philosophy from Florida International University. Throughout college, Joshua was highly involved with a variety of academic organizations and honor societies. He also worked as a DJ for Florida International University’s radio station WRGP — The Roar Miami.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Joshua enjoys reading, tending to his plants, and exploring new music.

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Mel believes in facing the multi-faceted challenges of our time by connecting resources with the people who need them. They previously interned at two policy think tanks in DC and learned a lot from fast-paced, hard-working Development Directors. At the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, they helped write resources for partner fundraising staff and make donor reports easily understood.

Mel earned their BA in Psychology at George Mason University with a minor in Philosophy and Law. At university, where they presented an undergraduate thesis to a committee of experts as part of an Honors Psychology program and were awarded as an Outstanding Senior. They previously volunteered writing newsletters for EcoRing, a green travel nonprofit based in California. At Elevate, they have worked with a number of clients across the nonprofit sector, from homelessness to refugee services to education.

Outside of work, Mel enjoys playing board games (anything besides Monopoly) with their partner, and cuddling with their two cats, Raini and Zuzu. They also spend time making lots of art!

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