Grantmaking Leaders Take the Stage at SmartSimple’s Fall Community Conference 2015

The SmartSimple team is very excited about hosting our first ever peer-led panel discussion during our upcoming Fall Community Conference 2015 in Chicago on Wednesday, November 4th.

“We wanted to create an opportunity for this year’s conference attendees to experience something different than our usual SmartSimple led sessions. Something that would add some additional value for the experts joining us for the day” says Sarah Harris, Director, Client Support and Operations. “Our clients have a vast array of experience to share, and the chance to compare insights, strategies and tactics with colleagues in an open, interactive setting is important to fostering the growth of the philanthropic industry.”

The session’s topic, Strategic Grantmaking, will cover a range of issues from why strategic grantmaking is important to making the transition from responsive to strategic grantmaking.

Meet the Panelists


Kathe Elwell, Director of Grants & Stewardship, YMCA of the USA


Kathe Elwell is the Director, Grants & Stewardship at YMCA of the USA and joined with more than 12 years in corporate sales, marketing and special events. Leveraging her passion for helping local YMCA chapters tell their story, Kathe has spent the last six years building YMCA of the USA’s grant making capacity, directing the strategic and tactical implementation of all stewardship and grant making operations, and establishing best practices for the stewardship, re-granting and risk management of contributed revenue.

Kathe serves as Chair for Grant Managers Network (GMN) Midwest chapter, and is a member of the Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP) and the Grant Professionals Association (GPA). She is also an active member of the North American YMCA Development Organization (NAYDO) as a presenter and Co-Chair of the 2016 Hot Topics.

Anne Bronson, Director of Member Grants, Feeding America


Anne Bronson is the Director of Member Grants at Feeding America. Over the past five years, she has managed their grant-making activities for distributing funds to member food banks and meeting strategic priorities. Anne focuses on relationship building and collaboration, working creatively with fundraisers, donors, and grantees to identify opportunities that balance stakeholder priorities and achieve measurable results. She has been instrumental in making the granting function at Feeding America a recognized critical component, strengthening its network to support collective, long-term strategic goals towards food stability.

Prior to making the move to the nonprofit sector, Anne spent 10 years as a business/technology consultant. She then became the Executive Director of the Accenture Foundation where she was responsible for such roles as US Corporate Citizenship Lead for Accenture, which included Foundation grants, corporate giving, and employee engagement/volunteering. Like Kathe, Anne is also an active member of the Grants Managers Network.

Tom Irvine, CIO & VP, Chicago Community Trust


Tom Irvine is the CIO and Vice President for Chicago Community Trust, where he oversees the direction, support and maintenance of all hardware and software systems used by the Trust. With more than 20 years of experience, Tom provides technology vision, leadership and direction in support of the foundation’s priorities to deliver excellent service, maximize impact, and increase efficiencies in its operations.

Tom moved from the finance industry to the nonprofit sector seven years ago to use his vast technical experience for the good of the Chicago community. His background in process improvement, change management and requirements gathering furthers the mission-level work of the Trust. His fresh perspective was key in the implementation of the Trust’s online grants management system.

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