You get the benefit of a diversified, experienced team with Kennari. We’ll match your needs to our skills for the best results.
SANDI FROST STEENSMA
PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Sandi is a dynamic, compelling leader with abundant experience in the nonprofit sector. Her inquiring mind and results-focused approach drive success, whether she is working with a small organization, or sorting out the most complex public-private collaborations.
Sandi Frost Steensma
A leader who blends deep expertise with a commitment to raising the bar.
Sandi believes you must raise expectations for your organization and connect people’s values to your mission if you want to raise more money. If you have fallen into a pattern of re-circulating the same donors through special events and direct mail (a closed system of fundraising), she’ll push you to question whether and why this approach is relevant to your donors.
In addition to her private sector work, Sandi also spent 23 years in the public sector, working 6 years as a Planning Commissioner, 8 years as an elected Township Trustee, and then as a Kent County Commissioner and ultimately the Chair of the Commissioners. There’s nothing like hands-on experience in government to help someone understand things work. This in-depth knowledge and practical experience give Sandi added insights into the complex world of public/private collaborations.
Awards & Recognition
- Tribute! Award recipient – Business, Management, Industry and Labor (YWCA, 2015)
- EPIC Award finalist – Small Business of the Year (Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, 2015)
- ATHENA nominee (Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, 2015, 2007, 2001)
- Top Women Owned Businesses (Grand Rapids Business Journal, 2015, 2013)
- 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan (Grand Rapids Business Journal, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008)
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation Action Lab College of Consultants
- Inforum’s Inner Circle (2011, 2009)
- Five Outstanding Young People of Michigan (mid-1990s)
Current and Past Community Engagement
- Lake Superior State University Board of Trustees (Governor Appointee)
- Kent County Board of Commissioners (chair 2010-2012), serving Cascade Township, Lowell Township, Vergennes Township, Bowne Township and the City of Lowell
- Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
- Association of Fundraising Professionals
- Multi-cultural Association of Professionals
- Cascade Community Foundation Board of Directors (Foundign Board member)
- Boards of Kent Community Hospital, Arbor Circle, Junior Achievement, Grand Rapids Rotary
Education & Professional Development
- BA from the University of Colorado
- Masters of Management from Aquinas College
- Graduate of Leadership Grand Rapids (1997)
- Fellow in the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University (2007)
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Laura helps nonprofits manage and motivate their volunteer committees, while also helping clients find the right staff for development. Her guidance ensures you have the best tools and team to start engaging more donors.
An energizing partner in annual fund demystification and process simplification.
Laura offers levelheaded guidance and training that makes the difference between crash-and-burn annual fund management and relationship-building bliss. Her practical style helps nonprofits focus on their goals while shaping up their tools…bringing hope to staff and board members everywhere that there is life beyond the tyranny of the urgent.
In addition, Laura helps nonprofits manage and motivate their volunteer committees, which play a key role in our open system of fundraising. She also works in helping clients find the right staff for development. Her guidance ensures that our clients have the best tools and the most energized team to start engaging more donors. She helps staff create plans and timelines, and then holds them to it!
Prior to joining Kennari Consulting, Laura started her nonprofit career as a database manager and events coordinator. Her focus has always been on annual fund stability and growth. She has wrangled with systems ranging from Raiser’s Edge to Frontstream CRM and more, and she has a gift for bringing order to data and process.
When Laura steps away from working directly with clients, she spends time leading our Assessment and Annual Fund team. She serves as the Vice President and helps to keep our internal business practices and structures on track while supporting continued growth of the business and team.
Laura joined Kennari Consulting in 2010, with nonprofit experience dating back to 2002. Her areas of expertise with nonprofits include: annual fund processes, communications and direct mail, event and committee management, staffing, and donor software. Laura completed her BA from Adrian College in 2004 and has certified training in Raiser’s Edge and Consultant Certification in Frontstream CRM (formerly Giftworks).
DIRECTOR OF PLANNED GIVING AND STRATEGIC PLANNING
Steve has a passion for helping nonprofit organizations reach their fundraising potential. This includes robust, stakeholder-inclusive strategic planning and comprehensive planned giving programs. He also has a wealth of experience in feasibility studies and endowment and capital campaigns.
Planned Giving and Strategic Planning guidance that grows long-term sustainability and exponential financial growth.
Steve is passionate about helping organizations reach their fundraising potential and putting in place the necessary framework and infrastructure to ensure success, in particular in the area of planned giving. Whether it’s in developing a legacy society or working through the detailed financial logistics of robust planned giving programs, Steve offers clear guidance in an easy to understand way.
In addition to helping organizations create and grow their planned giving programs, Steve brings experience to Feasibility Studies and Endowment/Capital Campaigns. Not only can he help guide the use of planned giving in achieving campaign goals, but he can help walk clients through a detailed process to get them to their overall campaign goals as well. His light-hearted demeanor and welcoming attitude make for meaningful feasibility study interviews and hassle-free campaign cabinet meetings.
Steve also helps organizations plan strategically for their future. Through his systematic approach, Steve helps organizations set direction and priorities, simplify decision making, and gain alignment among organizational stakeholders.
Throughout his career, Steve has also led various volunteer committees and initiatives in overseeing creation and growth of planned giving infrastructure, endowment accounts, fundraising activities, annual fund drives, and other related events.
Steve joined Kennari Consulting in 2014, with professional fundraising experience dating back to 2002. His areas of expertise are planned giving, endowment building, strategic planning, and capital campaign management. Steve is always ready to learn, which has earned him a BA from Calvin College, an MBA from Western Michigan University, and is anticipated to complete an MPA in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Southern California in 2017. When he isn’t working with clients or advancing his education, Steve can be found at an Association of Fundraising Professionals meeting, a Grand Rapids Economic Club luncheon, or a West Michigan Planned Giving Group meeting.
VICE PRESIDENT OF GRANTS
Josh provides guidance and strategic direction concerning grant programs and project development. This includes grant research and grant writing to ensure a high probability of success.
A proven grant strategist, researcher, and writer.
Josh knows how important grants are to nonprofit organizations and their fundraising strategies, thanks to more than seven years of experience in nonprofit and local government management. As a result, he is 100 percent committed to developing a grants strategy with a high probability of success.
Josh provides guidance and strategic direction to all elements of the grant writing process, including development of goals and objectives, evaluation plans, strategic partnerships, budget development and refinement, and case for support development. He also assists with grant research and funding strategies that alight with each clients’ funding goals.
As the Senior Project Manager for Kennari Consulting’s Grants Division, Josh oversees all grant writing clients and manages a team of writers, as well as a grants researcher. Ensuring quality in all aspects of our work is Josh’s number one priority. Josh’s expertise ranges from private foundation funding to local, state, and federal grant sources.
VICE PRESIDENT OF ANNUAL FUND
Mary works with clients to create, implement, and manage major gift programs and development committees. She spends time with boards, helping them develop and create structures and processes that strengthen engagement.
A no-nonsense visionary who can put the right pieces in place to achieve big development goals.
As someone who spent several years in a “one person shop,” Mary has practically seen and done it all when it comes to development. There isn’t much that surprises her, though she never tires of a tried and true method or hearing about a great development win. Mary has a unique gift for helping to shape the fund development strategies of organizations while teaching staff, boards, and volunteers how to put the right pieces in place to realize those goals.
Mary works with clients in creating a development plan that is appropriate for the organization and prioritizing tasks that are essential to maximizing fundraising opportunities. She helps in the creation, implementation, and management of major gift programs and donor development committees. Mary also spends a significant amount of time with boards helping them create structures and processes that strengthen engagement in philanthropy. She also helps build the nominating and governance processes necessary for successful fundraising.
Throughout her career, Mary has managed more than $20 million in fundraising efforts and gained experience in endowment campaigns, capital campaigns, and capacity building campaigns as well as working with volunteer committees, events, direct mail, and grant writing.
Mary joined Kennari Consulting in 2014 with nonprofit experience beginning in 1998. Her areas of expertise include: capital campaign management, annual fund processes, and working with boards and volunteer committees. Mary obtained a BA in Interpersonal Communications from Alma College in 1998, and received a Certificate in Fundraising Management (CRFM) from Indiana University. Mary has previously held board positions for the Association of Fundraising Professionals for West Michigan, and currently oversees Grand Rapids Women In Development.
SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER
Janet uses her unique gifts to coordinate large projects, inspire volunteers, manage capital campaign projects, and guide board development. She pays attention to details, but never loses sight of the big picture.
A fundraising expert who lays out a complex process, but walks alongside people making the implementation feel easy and fun.
Janet brings a down-to-earth passion for non-profit work and expertise in capacity building to Kennari Consulting. Her ability to coordinate large projects, inspire volunteers and keep many balls in the air at once makes Janet well-suited to manage capital campaign projects and help guide board development for our clients.
Janet has a unique gift in guiding staff and volunteers through a systematic process, finding areas where it makes sense to be creative and helping keep things in focus when they start to veer off course. She pays attention to details but never loses sight of the big picture. She’ll hold meeting attendees to an agenda and keep everyone on the same page.
Janet can put a donor at ease and talk comfortably in a feasibility study, but she can also light a fire under volunteers when it’s time to take action. She understands the internal growth process of non-profits as they move to higher levels of refinement in fundraising.
Most recently before joining Kennari Consulting, Janet successfully coordinated a campaign which took a small, free clinic housed in the basement of a church to a 6,800 square foot, LEED Gold certified clinic in a renovated former school. This campaign surpassed its goal, bringing the organization into increased community visibility and raised its level of fundraising to a much higher sophistication.
Janet joined Kennari Consulting in 2012, with nonprofit experience dating back to 2004. Janet excels at providing our clients with the necessary tools for a successful feasibility study and capital campaign, as well as annual fund support in the areas of board development and major gift programs.
Kirstin helps organizations acquire new donors and grow existing donors. She works alongside nonprofits to motivate volunteers and board members, while also crafting mission-focused events that result in increased donor engagement.
A master of bringing new donors to the table, anytime and anywhere.
A guru of table hosted events, Kirstin brings a wealth of knowledge on how to introduce new donors to an organization – and how to keep them for years to come. Not only can Kirstin help organizations craft an event that feels right for them, she can help share the vision with others and get volunteers and board members engaged and willing to take part in the process. Whether it’s a tour, a luncheon, or house party, Kirstin helps organizations acquire new donors and grow the giving of current donors.
In addition to helping clients develop a “point of entry” for donors, Kirstin also brings a thoughtful and warm approach to motivating volunteers and staff in the development of major gift programs. Her easy going demeanor puts people at ease and helps them focus on the task at hand. She can add structure where it’s needed, and be flexible when it’s not. Kirstin has a unique gift to meet clients where they are and encourages them to the next level. She truly walks alongside people as they work together toward a goal.
Prior to Kennari Consulting, Kirstin gained experience and expertise with several nonprofits in both Grand Rapids and Northern Virginia. Kirstin excels at customer service with a strong desire to see each nonprofit reach their fullest potential.
Kirstin joined Kennari Consulting in 2011 and began her nonprofit experience in 1993. She has experience in event management, annual giving programs, board development, event and donor development committees, communications, database management, and best practices for table hosted events. Kirstin has completed certified training in Raiser’s Edge and Benevon®.
JAIME VAN ESSEN
Jaime has extensive database management experience. She transforms databases into a one-stop for acknowledgement letters, pledge reminders, reporting, event management, and analytical data analysis.
Jaime Van Essen
Jaime brings a wealth of database management experience to Kennari Consulting. Before joining our team of consultants, she worked for area nonprofits in their Raiser’s Edge database – learning the ins-and-outs and taking it from a simple data storage tool to a robust system for donor engagement.
With a knack for noticing the smaller details and having those creative “A-HA!” moments, Jaime’s goal is to help clients appreciate and utilize their donor database as the well-oiled machine it was meant to be. She guides folks and helps them transform their database from a simple means of storing gift and biographical information to a one-stop-shop for acknowledgement letters, pledge reminders, reporting, event management, and analytical data analysis. She helps get the database working for clients, and not the other way around.
When Jaime breaks out of the database mind-set, she spends some of her time working on internal marketing projects for Kennari Consulting.
Jaime joined Kennari Consulting in 2012, with nonprofit experience dating back to 2004. She excels in providing our clients with database management guidance and data analysis, as well as offering advice on the right online giving and donor software tools that will best fit an organization’s needs. Jaime completed her BBA from Davenport University in 2008 and has obtained Blackbaud Certification (bCRE) and Consultant Certification in Frontstream CRM (formerly Giftworks).
Ruth is an experienced corporate grantmaker and gift planning officer. Her vast knowledge and expertise is applied to a variety of capital and annual fund campaigns, as well as grant writing.
Ruth comes to Kennari with 11 years of experience as a corporate grantmaker for Chase and its legacy institutions in West Michigan, as well as four years experience as a gift planning officer for Calvin College. Most recently, Ruth was the Director of Donor Services for the Community Foundation of the Holland Zeeland Area.
Ruth has a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from Grand Valley State University and has served on a variety of Board, small and large.
Ruth will apply her vast knowledge and experience to a variety of projects here at Kennari, working on Capital Campaigns, with Annual Funds, and assisting with Grant Writing.
CLIENT RELATIONS MANAGER
Kim ensures all clients have the tools they need to be successful. She is often the first and last person with whom a client interacts. Her attention to detail and ability to create more efficient processes benefit our organization and our clients.
The glue and finesse to our fast-moving team.
Kim takes the lead to be sure all clients have the tools they need to be successful, and that they feel supported and valued as we work together. She is often the first person a client interacts with, and continues to be a resource as the work unfolds. Her friendly demeanor and laser-like focus are the perfect combination to be sure everything is covered and moving forward. Her attention to detail and ability to create more efficient processes and structures is a benefit both for internal applications and for clients.
Kim is the glue that holds the team together, always ready to jump in where she can or at least offer a funny one-liner to ease the stress of hectic days. We often joke that we are laying the track while the bullet-train is barreling forward, and most days, Kim puts down the first and last piece of track.
Most recently, Kim was the Executive Assistant and Accounts Administrator for a research and consulting firm based out of East Lansing, Michigan. She is experienced in managing people and processes, and brings order to chaos everywhere.
Kim’s ability to multi-task and her willingness to jump in and take charge to keep everyone in line is refreshing. Her team oriented attitude and passion for helping nonprofits to move their missions forward helps everyone see her as the valuable partner she is.
Kim joined Kennari Consulting in 2014 and obtained a BA in Communications from Michigan State University in 2010.