Deborah Lielasus

Deborah’s long career has been in pursuit of helping the people served by nonprofits. She began as a volunteer in a women’s shelter and, through on the job training and courses in the field, worked her way up to being a development and executive director.

Prior to working for Elevate, Deborah had a consulting business writing grants and providing program development and project management support to nonprofits across the U.S. Her areas of interest and experience include physical and behavioral health integration, mental health, substance use, 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.

When not working, Deborah enjoys watching films and plays, perusing art galleries, listening to music, taking architectural tours, and being absorbed in nature. 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. She considers herself bi-coastal. As a blended family, Deborah and Joel have five grown children ages 24-45.

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. 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. Prior to joining Elevate as a Director, Alix 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 comes from the heart of the country (Wichita, KS)  with over a decade of nonprofit experience. She brings her background of event sponsorship, grant-writing, and donor relationship management to Elevate along with program development and outreach. Most recently she was the Arkansas River Project Coordinator for the Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, where she executed a grant-funded project to increase recreation and awareness of the Arkansas River National Water Trail. She also was the Marketing Specialist for Angel Flight South Central, which kept her busy with social media, fundraising support, and community outreach. 

Rebecca is passionate about volunteering for nearby organizations including the Kansas Humane Society, 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. A lot of this happens in the kitchen whether cooking dinner for her husband and kids or baking desserts. She loves being outdoors, gardening, playing with her dogs, 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 a 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 through (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 before it was cool. You can catch him at the premiere of a new show, cooking big group dinners, or sobbing somewhere over the lack of a sophomore SZA album.

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Sam’s drive to work with nonprofits comes from the desire to build and support more loving communities of inclusion. Sam has a background in international development having spent time researching both microfinance and access to sanitation in Uganda. She worked as a Research Assistant for the Ford Development Program at the University of Notre Dame supporting grant writing for the program’s maternal health initiatives in Kenya. Sam also brings housing services and education experience to her role at Elevate and was a 2014 Teach For America corps member in Colorado. Prior to joining Elevate in 2021, she 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 in 2013 where she also served as a Diversity Peer Educator through the school’s Psychology department. 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 two babies. She loves learning about herbalism, gardening, 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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