Beth Hershenhart, Founder, and CEO
George Nehme, Senior Vice President for Client Relations
George Nehme is Senior Vice President for Client Relations for Innovative Resources Group. For nearly twenty-five years, George has guided a broad spectrum of organizations and institutions including some of the nation’s leading private and public universities, independent schools, arts and cultural organizations, and environmental and social service organizations.
Renowned for his ability to take the reins for open key staff positions on an interim basis, George has provided astute leadership to dramatically build capacity for growing and evolving institutions and organizations. He has helped to transform development operations with his unique ability to energize, focus and mobilize staff to get out of their offices and meet with prospects and steward donors. He brings significant expertise in the design and implementation of comprehensive campaigns that do not allow essential operating support to erode as capital and endowment funds are successfully obtained.
George has earned a reputation as a “hands-on” counsel who does not offer advice from 33,000 feet. The organizations he works with consider him a trusted advisor who rolls up his sleeves and works side by side with the CEO, Board and the senior staff to set strategic priorities that attract major support to the mission and impact of nonprofits nationwide.
George has extensive experience as a speaker and chair of numerous professional conferences for such nationally-recognized organizations as the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), National Annual Giving Directors Consortium (NAGDC), Sharing the Annual Fund Fundamentals (STAFF), and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
An active volunteer, George has worked with the Providence Black Repertory Company, the Utica Symphony Orchestra, The Genesis Group, an economic development organization in his native Utica, New York, and serves as President of the Providence Regional Alumni Association and the Alumni Council for his alma mater Hamilton College. Fluent in Arabic and Spanish, George has traveled widely and has a keen interest in politics, international relations and diplomacy, and his two favorite professional sports teams, the Boston Red Sox, and the New England Patriots.
George earned an A.B. from Hamilton College and studied international relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He resides in Providence, Rhode Island.
Bob Barkowski, Director of Design Services
Bob, Director of Design Services, is a graphic artist and design professional with 25 years of experience. Specializing in cost-effective, high-quality publication designs and branding for individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations, Bob brings extraordinary talent and originality to every project. His award-winning graphics style is a standout in a wide variety of materials supporting capital campaigns, marketing, fundraising endeavors, special-purpose campaigns and communications such as newsletters, brochures, annual reports and more. Bob is an expert in developing unified identity systems for clients that distinctively and memorably serve their mission and unique purposes. The Schenectady native has been with Innovative Resources Group, Inc. since its founding in 1991.
Bob was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree by the State University College at Oswego. He is an avid skier and cyclist.
Kim Danforth, Content Developer
Kimberly H. Danforth, a Content Developer, is a writer and editor with twenty-five years of professional experience. She has written for national magazines and newspapers on health, education, and travel and has led nonprofit and private-sector businesses to greater exposure and growth through her crisp, inviting copy. Kimberly writes public relations and sales materials, including newsletters, Web content, catalogs, brochures, annual reports, advertisements, speeches, public service announcements, and pedagogical courses and tools. Her copy has won numerous awards, including a Travel & Leisure award for an adventure vacation catalog, a Vermont Public Safety Award for her video and radio public service announcements, and the TESOL Award for Excellence in the Development of Pedagogical Materials for her book, Coming to America: The Kids ’ Book about Immigration.
Kimberly also holds fifteen years of experience as an adjunct instructor at both universities and secondary schools. She has taught literature, French, composition, business & professional writing, and English as a Second Language at Dresden International School in Germany, Aiglon College in Switzerland, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the Community College of Vermont where she also held leadership positions in curriculum development, including writing key materials for the International Baccalaureate®. As an instructor, Kimberly devises popular curriculums cited for their effectiveness and innovation.
Kirsten Ferguson, Communications Specialist, and Editor
Kirsten Ferguson is a professional writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for nonprofits, newspapers, magazines and the web. She currently works as a communications specialist, editor and content developer for Innovative Resources Group in Saratoga Springs, New York.
As the lead writer and editor for the national office of American Farmland Trust for seven years, Ferguson held primary responsibility for producing the organization's print publications, including the award-winning membership magazine, American Farmland. For six years prior, she managed communications efforts for the New York office of American Farmland Trust, writing press releases, reports, articles and publications on conservation, including Saving Working Landscapes: A Campaign for Hudson Valley Farms.
Ferguson holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Vassar College. In addition to her communications work for nonprofits, she has worked as a freelance journalist for 20 years, covering topics as disparate as travel, music, technology, horse racing, local food, and the arts. Recent articles have appeared in Saratoga Living magazine, Metroland newsweekly, Nippertown.com and Saving Land magazine. For samples of work, visit www.kirstenferguson.com.
Megan Galbraith, Communications Specialist
Megan Galbraith is a writer, editor, and communications strategist who has led teams in admissions, advancement, and media relations at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The Sage Colleges, The State University of New York, Emma Willard School, and others.
Galbraith brings a dynamic, thoughtful, and strategic approach to writing and communications. She combines brand and mission, with provocative storytelling, that shows the impact and importance of your institution. This strategy provides a distinct advantage in raising and sustaining giving, identifying and enrolling the best and brightest students, and boosting brand awareness.
A member of the National Association of Science Writers, her work has earned gold and silver awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and has been recognized by The American Marketing Association, Graphic Design USA, and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), among others.
An accomplished journalist, her stories have appeared in The Times Union, Hudson Valley Magazine, Montana Magazine, and Finger Lakes Magazine, among others.
Her essays and book reviews have been published or are forthcoming in PANK, The Review Review, The Tishman Review, ASSAY: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, Atticus Review, Literary Orphans, Hotel Amerika, Consequence, The Lost Daughters, Revolution John, Danse Macabre, Drafthorse, The Notebook,TueNight.com, and Rose
Her essay, Timepiece, was selected by Xu Xi as a finalist for the AWP WC&C Scholarship and she was a Scholar at Bindercon 2014 in NYC. She was guest editor of The Notebook: A Progressive Journal for Rural Girls and Women, and served on the editorial board of The Grassroots Women Project.
Megan is currently at work on a collection of essays titled, “The Guild of the Infant Saviour.” Her aim is to touch on issues of motherhood, the tension between nature and nurture, and the many forms of shame and surrender as told through the eyes of an adopted daughter.
Galbraith holds a B.A. in Journalism from Penn State University and an M.F.A. in Writing and Literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She is Director of the Bennington/GIV Young Writers Seminar.
She lives on a farm in Upstate New York with her husband, 25 cows, three rescue dogs, two barn cats, and a pair of sons who plan to be dairy farmers.
Peggy O'Shea, Senior Advisor
Peggy O’Shea recently retired President & CEO of The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Inc. The Community Foundation is
Peggy has previously served on the board of the Funders Alliance of Upstate New York, was a trustee of the Sagamore Institute of the Adirondacks, and a past board president of the Hospice Foundation. She is a present member of the Excellus BCBS Advisory Board of Directors, The Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust and the Black River Outdoor Education Program, along with other community committees and past board assignments. She also served as a member of Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council in 2011/2012.
Peggy is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the State University of New York College of Technology at Utica-Rome, from which she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree. She has also completed the University of Wisconsin’s Certification Program for Excellence in Not-for-Profit Management and the Indiana University School of Philanthropy’s Certificate Program in Fundraising and the Council on Foundations Program on Community Foundation Leadership. She has additionally earned certification and credits in various aspects of nonprofit management and effectiveness through participation in numerous other courses, conferences, and seminars, including the Aspen Institute’s Collective Impact Conference in 2014.
Presently, she is the founder of Peggy O’Shea Consulting, creating strategies to help strengthen organizations and institutions.
Nanette Maxim, Content Developer and Editor
Nanette Maxim, Content Developer, and Editor, has had nearly four decades of professional experience reporting and producing and editing copy, and has been a member of the Innovative Resources team since the mid-1990s. Employing fine-tuned research skills with a keen interest in people and how organizations work successfully, Nanette has worked with a wide range of national magazines, book publishers, universities, and nonprofits. Nanette has developed press kits, newsletters, annual reports, development materials, books, and long- and short-format journalism, both print and digital. Her work also encompasses grant writing and exploration. IRG clients include the Center for Governmental Research, Living Resources, the Glove Theater, St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church (San Marino, CA), and CNY Arts.
She has been a contributing writer for Columbia University Teachers College online and print publications, written campaign materials for Baruch College, and, as part of a pro-bono team from the Taproot Foundation, redesigned a website for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, in New York City, which assists youth in crisis. A former writer and editor for Gourmet magazine, with an emphasis on food politics, Nanette has worked with authors who have been awarded the Pulitzer and Booker prizes, as well as the National Book Award. She has taken her deep knowledge of food at its source to work with several nonprofits involved in creating a better food system. With Columbia Teachers College, she produced stories on the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy. And for Glynwood, a Hudson Valley-based organization, Nanette has acted as writer and editor for a book that celebrates the organization’s 20-year history of promoting sustainable agriculture, farmer training, and development of regional food systems, Magazine and book clients include Hearst Publications, American Express Corporation, Meredith Corporation, Taunton Press, Phaidon Press, AOL, and IBM.
QUOTE: “Every organization has a unique story to share. At IRG we encourage clients to tell that story and to translate it into materials that speak meaningfully to supporters. Working closely together to make that story personal and make it count is our mission.”
Nanette holds a B.A. in Public Policy from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She has been involved as a volunteer with Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, working with developmentally disabled children, and, with the Prospect Park Alliance volunteers on a range of improvement and community projects. She resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Cheryl Gnade McGrattan, Communications and Training Specialist
Cheryl Gnade McGrattan is a Communications and Training Specialist for Innovative Resources Group. She is also Vice President at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Johnstown, New York, where she develops and executes marketing campaigns and supports the hospital’s internal and external service lines. She leads the hospital’s public relations efforts with an eye toward customer retention and media relations. In launching social networking platforms for Nathan Littauer, the hospital has garnered national praise, being called the most connected hospital in the Capital Region.
Cheryl’s marketing career spans two decades in both public and private sectors. As International Marketing Specialist to 240 New York State wineries, she hosted virtual wine tastings in Prague and Seoul. Toward new market penetration, she led trade missions collaborating with U.S. embassies and launched the successful “New York Wine Stand” at Manhattan’s Union Square’s Greenmarket, one of the most visited attractions in the city. The New York Daily News called her “one of New York State’s top wine experts.”
Cheryl has led marketing activities for two of the “fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S.” as ranked by Inc. magazine and was Executive Vice President of Marketing for Inc.’s seventh fastest-growing U.S. Internet company. She is also co-founder of Howard and Moor. She has also taught marketing internationally, in Moscow and Tula, Russia.
A Siena College graduate in Political Science, Cheryl now lives in Fonda, New York, with her husband and ten-year-old son. She also enjoys organic gardening, boating, and hiking.
Ellen Bristol, Bristol Strategy Group
Ellen Bristol founded Bristol Strategy Group in 1995 after a 20-year career incorporates sales, intending to focus on the then-new concept of sales-force productivity. But the market had other plans for her. Almost immediately after hanging out her shingle, local nonprofits began to seek her help to strategize and improve their fundraising results. Bristol Strategy Group is a collaborating partner with Innovative Resources Group.
She has become a thought leader in fundraising management, with a mission to enhance nonprofit growth and sustainability by adapting beneficial corporate disciplines to the nonprofit sector, without losing its charitable heart and philanthropic soul. Problems solved by this approach include high staff turnover, inconsistent cash flow, inability to forecast accurately, and low donor retention rates.
Ellen designed the Leaky Bucket Assessment for Effective Fundraising, an online tool to measure nine basic practices contributing to or detracting from fundraising-team productivity. Currently, the assessment database includes records from over 1400 respondents. Scores from the assessment have been consistently low, suggesting that a lack of certain management disciplines may be harming the ability of many non-profit organizations to fund their operations and programs adequately and hold them back from achieving their desired levels of growth.
She also designed and implemented Fundraising the SMART Way™, an approach to income generation based on the continuous improvement model. Fundraising the SMART Way™ is a methodology for highly productive fundraising, including training, and implementation support. Her firm will launch SMART Way Analytics™in the fourth quarter of 2018, a software app designed to integrate with CRM platforms and report on productivity analytics.
Ellen is the author of Fundraising the SMART Way: Predictable, Consistent Income for Your Charity, published by John Wiley & Sons, and co-author with LindaLysakowski, ACFRE, of The Leaky Bucket: What’s Wrong with Your Fundraising andHow You Can Fix It!, published by CharityChannel Press. A benchmarking study of Leaky Bucket result is currently in production. Ellen is also a regular blogger, speaker and webinar presenter.