Giving Tree Associates was founded by Amy Schiffman and Stefanie Pessis Weil in January 2008. Amy and Stefanie offer a combined more than 40 years of nonprofit experience and have worked as a team for more than 15 years. Together, they have successfully managed hundreds of nonprofit development initiatives.

Amy Schiffman, MSW

Since founding Giving Tree Associates in 2008, Amy Schiffman has helped her clients to raise tens of millions of dollars via public and private funding sources. As a principal of the firm, Amy manages annual, capital and endowment campaigns, facilitates board leadership development and solicitation training workshops, builds strategic plans, develops communication strategies, and recruits professional leadership.

Amy has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years. Prior to co-founding Giving Tree Associates, Amy served as Director of Development at Ida Crown Jewish Academy, where she managed capital, annual, corporate, foundation, major gift, endowed and planned giving programs. Before joining ICJA, Amy served as Director of Development and Communications at Jewish Council for Youth Services, where she was responsible for the agency’s capital, annual, planned giving, government relations and marketing programs, as well as the development of its first formal alumni council. Amy also held several positions with United Jewish Communities, where she led a national leadership development effort and regional major gifts program. Her career began at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago as Director of Campus Campaigns for The Hillels of Illinois.

Amy’s consulting work at Giving Tree is focused on capacity building in the education, arts, health, Jewish communal and social service sectors. Her coaching work focuses on maximizing personal leadership potential for both professionals and volunteers. Amy has facilitated trainings for dozens of large and small groups both locally and abroad and sees leadership development as the key to success in any major gifts campaign. Her journey in the nonprofit world includes extensive experience as a volunteer board member and community activist. She served for 3 years as Vice President of Chicago’s Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and currently serves on committees for the Highcrest School Parent Teacher Associations and the board of Am Yisrael Congregation in Northfield, IL.

Amy received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s degree in Social Work with a Certificate in Jewish Communal Service from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work and Gratz Collge. She lives in Wilmette, Illinois with her husband and 2 children. Contact Amy.

Stefanie Pessis Weil, MSW

Since founding Giving Tree Associates in 2008, Stefanie Pessis Weil has assisted her clients in raising tens of millions of dollars via annual and capital campaign efforts. As a principal of the firm, Stefanie plans and implements capital campaigns, manages annual campaigns, coordinates major gift efforts, designs campaign marketing collateral, builds board and committee leadership structures and helps organizations to identify effective volunteer and professional leadership.

Stefanie has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 15 years. Before founding Giving Tree Associates, Stefanie served as Associate Director of Development at Ida Crown Jewish Academy and directed its $35 million capital campaign. She coordinated all campaign logistics, including strategic planning, real estate, project budgeting, major gift development and the launch of a community campaign plan. Before joining ICJA, Stefanie served as Assistant Director of Capital Projects at Jewish Council for Youth Services, where she raised millions in private donations, foundation and government funding. Stefanie began her career as the Recruitment and Volunteer Coordinator at Jewish Big Brother & Big Sister Association in Boston, MA.

Stefanie’s work at Giving Tree is focused on capacity building in the health, human and social service sectors. Stefanie’s capital campaign expertise has allowed her to manage and consult on dozens of nonprofit building, renovation, and expansion projects. She believes that strong feasibility planning is the key to success in any capital campaign. Her nonprofit experience includes volunteer leadership positions in both local and national organizations and she is proud to to have co-founded United States Holocaust Memorial Museum‘s Next Generation Group of Chicago.

Stefanie received her Bachelor’s degree with honors in History from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s degree in Social Work with a Certificate in Jewish Communal Service from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and the Sol Drachler Program in Jewish Communal Leadership. She lives in Highland Park, Illinois with her husband and 3 children. Contact Stefanie.

Team Leaders
Judy Gadiel, MSW, MS

Judy Gadiel joined Giving Tree Associates as a Consultant in 2010 and now serves as Team Leader and Senior Consultant, specializing in campaign management, board and leadership development, major gift development, special event planning and grant writing/foundation relations. Additionally, Judy provides coaching, training and meeting facilitation to GTA clients, focusing on capacity building and organizational management. Judy oversees Giving Tree’s consultant and senior associate consultant teams and manages the firms grant writing and research services.

Judy has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector as an experienced manager, fundraiser, trainer, clinician and educator. Her project management expertise and strong communication skills make her an asset to the GTA team and its client base. Prior to joining Giving Tree Associates, Judy managed the 150th Anniversary Endowment Campaign for Jewish Child and Family Services.

Judy holds both a bachelor and masters degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Jane Addams College of Social Work. In 2005 she graduated from Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership, Center for Non-Profit Management with a Master of Science degree. Active in her community, Judy currently sits on the board of Emanuel Congregation and is a trustee with the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. She lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. Contact Judy.

Jamie Klobuchar

Jamie Klobuchar joined Giving Tree Associates in 2015 as a Consultant and now serves as our Senior Consultant and Director of Business Development. In this newly expanded role, she will oversee the firm’s marketing strategy and business development efforts and serve on the leadership team.

Jamie has more than 17 years of broad-based philanthropy experience and has worked for a number of well-known institutions including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Rush University Medical CenterIllinois Institute of Technology and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In her role as Vice President of Major, Planned and Individual Giving for JDRF, Jamie was responsible for nearly $35 million in annual revenue. She designed and launched three successful research campaigns to provide funding for clinical trials and medical device development. During her time at Rush, she raised money in support of a $300 million capital campaign, with a specific focus on capital and research projects in Orthopaedics, Neonatology and Women’s Services.

Jamie has significant experience working with high-level philanthropists, volunteers and business leaders. She is frequently called upon to offer strategic guidance for complicated donor situations and to help organizations develop comprehensive, practical fundraising plans that get results.

After graduating from St. Olaf College with a degree in English Literature, Jamie spent four years working for IDG Books Worldwide, best known for its landmark For Dummies series. She made the transition to philanthropy in 1998 after volunteering for a number of local mission-driven organizations.

Jamie is committed to public service and volunteerism in her personal life and is an active member of the Lincoln Elementary School PTO in Oak Park and oversees the school’s largest annual fundraising program. She also serves as the Development Chair for Purple Asparagus, a Chicago nonprofit that provides nutrition education in the Chicago Public Schools. Jamie grew up on a small hobby farm in southeastern Wisconsin and was a competitive equestrian until 2005. She lives in Oak Park, Illinois with her husband and school-aged daughter where she loves to bake, play tennis, and plan her family’s next travel adventure. Contact Jamie.

Lisa Tarshis

Lisa Tarshis joined Giving Tree Associates in 2012 and now serves as Team Leader and Consultant, specializing in event management, database research and implementation, data configuration, board recruitment and annual campaign management. Lisa’s guidance allows clients to build the sustainable infrastructures, processes and strategies to successfully meet and exceed their fundraising goals.  Lisa collaborates with volunteers and staff to execute campaign strategy and supervises associate consultants on the Giving Tree team.

Lisa previously worked at JCC Camp Chi, where she served as a Program Director for three years. During her tenure at Chi she created and implemented new strategies to increase program efficiency, launched and executed social media objectives, and assisted with campaign appeals such as the 90th Anniversary Celebration. Lisa also spent three years in the political fundraising world working on press and media projects for Mayor Dave Cieselwicz’s Re-election Campaign, serving as a Legislative Assistant to Representative Mark Pocan, and providing communications and campaign consulting to candidates and teams in 12 state races in Wisconsin. During this time, Lisa created taking points, fundraising letters, constituent outreach pieces, timelines, fundraising plans, and event strategies.

Lisa enjoys volunteering and participating in community outreach activities. She currently serves as the Vice Chair of Campaign for the Young Leadership Division of JUF and recently completed her term as the co-chair of Camp Chi’s Alumni Committee. Lisa graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Consumer Science, Political Science, and Legal Studies, as well as a certificate in Criminal Justice. Contact Lisa.

Jane Best, MSW

FullSizeRenderJane Best has been a fundraiser and development professional for over 25 years in the Chicago Jewish community, currently specializing in capital campaigns. Before joining Giving Tree Associates as a consultant in 2016, Jane was the Director of the Project Campaign for Ida Crown Jewish Academy (ICJA), raising $38 million to build a new school in Skokie. Prior to ICJA, Jane worked in annual campaign management, including the development of lay boards and committees, major gifts and event planning, for organizations including the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, American Technion Society and the United Jewish Appeal.

Jane has a BA from Indiana University in Education and Jewish Studies and an MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University. Also a volunteer in her community, Jane serves on the board of her synagogue, Congregation Or Torah and the Jewish Child and Family Services. In addition, she was formerly a member of the Women’s Board of the Jewish United Fund.

Originally from Highland Park and a mother of three boys, Jane currently lives in Skokie with her husband.

Tina Herpe, MA

Tina Herpe joined Giving Tree Associates in 2012 as a Consultant. She assists nonprofits with the development and implementation of annual and capital campaigns, major gift and planned giving programs, strategic planning, feasibility studies as well as the preparation of campaign collateral materials. She works with organizations to strengthen their board leadership, assess their fundraising programs and mentor fundraising staff. Tina has over 20 years of experience as a fundraising professional.

Most recently, she worked at Lincoln Park Zoo as a major and planned gifts manager. She has served as the lead development officer at Interfaith Worker Justice, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El and Housing Options. In addition, she has consulted with local, state and national organizations. Tina has worked with a wide variety of nonprofits including those providing direct service to the disabled and victims of domestic violence, community organizing groups focused on worker’s rights and environmental stewardship, as well as faith-based organizations and educational institutions.

Tina holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree from the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago and has participated in numerous conferences and trainings focused on fundraising and planned giving. She is a former president of Women in Development North and has served on the boards of Good News Community Kitchen (now named A Just Harvest) and her synagogue, Beth Emet The Free Synagogue. She and her husband live in Wilmette, Illinois. Contact Tina.

Judy Rosen

judy-head-shotJudy Rosen has been a fundraiser and development consultant involved in Jewish fundraising in Chicago for more than 28 years. Before joining Giving Tree’s events team she was the Chicago Director of Jewish National Fund where she was responsible for fundraising, event planning and board development. Other professional experiences include ORT America, American Associates Ben-Gurion University, Union for Reform Judaism, AIPAC and the American Society for Technion.

Judy received her MS in Nonprofit Management from the New School for Social Research and her BA in Jewish Studies from American University. A passionate Zionist she studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and has visited Israel many times. Judy is involved in numerous community activities and serves on the Board of Overseers of Hebrew Union College – Central Region, and the Boards of Temple Beth-El and America Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago. She is a trustee of the Chicago Jewish Women’s Foundation and the Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation. A proud mother of three, Judy lives in Long Grove with her husband.

Senior Associate Consultants
Jenny Convey

picture1Jenny Convey joined Giving Tree Associates in 2016 as a Senior Associate Consultant. She specializes in event production, campaign management, and foundation relations.

Prior to joining Giving Tree Associates, Jenny worked at The Constitution Project (TCP), a bipartisan think tank based in Washington, DC. At TCP, she led the organization’s fundraising campaigns and special events, including their annual Constitutional Champions Gala, and also founded TCP’s Young Professionals Committee. Previously, she was the Development and Special Events Assistant at the Washington National Opera.

Jenny is a graduate of Georgetown University where she majored in Classical Studies and History and chaired Relay For Life, a major American Cancer Society fundraiser. She is the co-chair of the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation’s Next Gen Leaders in Philanthropy Advisory Board and Giving Group, a Next Gen Fellow with Exponent Philanthropy, and a member of the Chicago chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. She also serves on the Board of Directors of The Donley Foundation, a small family foundation focused on funding education and literacy initiatives benefiting the disadvantaged. Jenny is a diehard Cubs fan who recently moved back to Chicagoland after nearly a decade in Washington, DC, and lives in Oak Park with her husband. Contact Jenny.

Laura Ford

Laura Ford joined Giving Tree Associates in 2013 as a Senior Associate Consultant. Laura has worked in the non-profit sector for 13 years and brings a wealth of experience in event production, campaign management and data management to Giving Tree’s clients. Since joining Giving Tree, Laura has served as an Interim Director of Development, assisted clients with the management and production of fundraising events and worked with clients on fundraising strategy and annual campaign management. Laura also works on Giving Tree’s Executive Search portfolio, vetting candidates for executive director, fundraising, foundation and marketing positions.

Laura moved to the USA, from Oxford, UK, in 2012. Before joining Giving Tree she worked as a freelance fundraiser with various nonprofits including Kids In Danger, Golden Apple Foundation and Seven Generations Ahead. Laura’s experience in the UK involved large-scale event production and annual fund/major gift development at Earthwatch Institute and HEART UK. Laura also served on the Goldie’s Place Board of Directors as the development chair.

Laura received her degree in Political Science from the University of Birmingham, UK. She lives with her husband and is passionate about the environment, social justice, travel and adventure. Contact Laura.

Lani Hart

Lani Hart Headshot for social mediaLani Hart joined Giving Tree Associates in 2016 as a Senior Associate Consultant. She specializes in the areas of strategic planning, assessment, and training.

Prior to joining Giving Tree Associates, Lani worked in the Jewish Federation System for nearly eight years. Most recently, she served as the Assistant Director, Talent Acquisition & Talent Development for the Jewish Federations of North America Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence. During her tenure, Lani worked on professional development and staff enrichment programming and helped to attract, strengthen and retain the best talent for the Federation system. Previously, she was the Assistant Director of Young Leadership at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where she managed the Young Leadership annual campaign. In this role she coordinated events and worked with both donors and solicitors.

Since 2011, Lani has been a SocialStart Trainer for PresenTense and has facilitated trainings for their accelerator program and for Jewish organizations across the country. She has also served as a consultant, helping to build a new board development programs and training curriculum for various nonprofits.

Lani earned her MPA in Nonprofit Management and MA in Jewish Studies from New York University and is a recipient of the Federation Executive Recruitment & Education Program (FEREP) Scholarship. She earned her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She recently moved back to her hometown of Chicago with her husband. Contact Lani.

Associate Consultants
Ilissa Berz

Ilissa Berz joined Giving Tree Associates in 2015 as an Associate Consultant. She supports all aspects of client project work.

Prior to joining Giving Tree, Ilissa was an executive recruiter at Cook Associates and an associate consultant at Campbell & Company. During her tenure at Cook Associates, Ilissa was responsible for managing client project research. This included an exploration of adjacent organizations, positions, and candidate identification. At Campbell and Company she was responsible for interviews, candidate due diligence, and carrying out market research.  Prior to transitioning to executive search, Ilissa spent three years in accounting and finance recruiting.

Ilissa attended Indiana University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, graduating with honors. Ilissa lives in Reston, Virginia with her husband and enjoys spending time with her friends and family, working out, and baking. Contact Ilissa.

Other Partners
Harrell Wittenstein

Harrell HeadshotHarrell Wittenstein is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Association of Independent Jewish Camps (AIJC). The AIJC (501c3 entity) is a membership-based association that was established to create an opportunity for independent not-for-profit Jewish camps to collaborate in their continued efforts to grow and thrive. Mr. Wittenstein has been professionally involved in the nonprofit camping industry for over 25 years. During that time, Harrell has worked as an Assistant Director, Director, Executive Director, Board Member and as a Camp Consultant.

Harrell is also an owner and developer of Crystal Park LLC, a seven building office complex in St. Petersburg, Russia. Mr. Wittenstein graduated from the University of Illinois in 1986 with a BS in Psychology and Political Science. Prior to working in the Jewish communal field, Mr. Wittenstein worked for Industrial Plants Corp, preparing third party appraisals of industrial equipment for banks and other credit institutions. Mr. Wittenstein is on the Beber Camp and Perlman Camp board of directors and is currently the Treasurer of Equestrian Connection, a therapeutic horseback-riding program for children and adults with special needs.