2017 SYMPOSIUM SPEAKERS

J.D. Benning - St. Benedict's Abbey

J.D. has been working with the Benedictine monks for more than half of his life, starting as a young counselor at Camp St. Maur until now, working as the Director of Communications of St. Benedict's Abbey.  For the past eight years he has been an integral part of the marketing, communications, and development effort at St. Benedict's Abbey; growing their brand and building their internet and social media presence from the ground up.  As a college student he took a special interest in video production and has used that talent to create the monks youtube channel that features hundreds of videos and the weekly video series 60 Seconds for Sunday.  Four years ago the monks saw a need to grow their development efforts by creating an annual fundraising event, The Abbot's Table.  J.D. has been in charge of creating and executing this video-based program, that has seen attendance go from 500 to 700 people in just four years. Archbishop Joseph Naumann praised the videos, calling them "more anticipated than any Super Bowl ad." You can see the full 2016 Abbot's Table program here.

J.D. has also led the effort to establish the Society of St. Benedict for Young Professionals, a group of young adults that seeks to support the prayer and work of the monks of St. Benedict's Abbey.  J.D. will offer his thoughts on major event programming, young donor engagement, and will be happy to answer any questions about your community's marketing efforts.  You can learn more about J.D. on his website, JDBenning.com

John Biggins - American City Bureau

John Biggins

John Biggins literally grew up in the Firm’s family-owned fundraising business, and now serves as President of American City Bureau, Inc. John co-owns the firm with his sister, Leslie B. Mollsen. Celebrating its 103rd year, American City Bureau, Inc. is America’s oldest fundraising consulting firm. Headquartered in the Chicago suburbs, American City Bureau has served over 10,000 not-for-profit organizations, and has raised billions of dollars nationwide. 

John has counseled nearly one hundred capital, endowment, and debt reduction campaigns, and continues to provide major gift consulting to a number of not-for-profit clients including religious, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, healthcare, social service, educational, public, and cultural organizations. 

A frequent presenter, John has conducted several workshops in fundraising, capital campaigns, and major gift development to not-for-profit organizations including the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC), The Salvation Army, Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Giving Institute, Boys and Girls Club and North American YMCA Development Officers (NAYDO). 

John is Past President of the Fox West Philanthropic Network, and currently sits on its Board of Directors. He also served as a Board member of Giving Institute and the Giving USA Foundation, where he played a part on the Editorial Review Board of the Giving USA publication. John is a past Board Member of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals (AFP) Chicago Chapter. 

John is a graduate of Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Bachelor of Science, Business Administration. In 2002, St. Edward Central Catholic High School, Elgin, Illinois, honored John as its Alumnus of the Year for his leadership in the largest capital campaign in the school’s history. In addition, he was the chairperson for St. Catherine of Siena Elementary School’s (of West Dundee) fundraising gala and raised record breaking dollars for an emergency campaign to restore the school’s flood damaged gymnasium. 


Leslie Biggins Mollsen - American City Bureau

Leslie Biggins Mollsen

Leslie Biggins Mollsen is the co-owner and CEO of American City Bureau, Inc., the nation’s original fundraising consulting firm to not-for-profit organizations, specializing in major gift development. The firm is headquartered in West Dundee, Illinois. 

Ms. Mollsen currently serves on the National Catholic Community Foundation’s Network Council (NCCF) and the Edmundite Missions, Selma, Alabama, Board of Directors. For the Missions, she also chairs its newly formed advancement committee. In 2013, Ms. Mollsen was ranked as the No. 3 most effective fundraising consultant in the nation in an independent survey by Michael Chatman, the Ambassador of Giving and creator of #WhyiGive, one of Twitter’s most popular social media chats in philanthropy. 

Ms. Mollsen was recently asked to write a chapter in a book on Catholic Sisters and the Spirituality of Fundraising, a topic in which she is passionate! She served on the board of directors of the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC) as a corporate advisor. Prior to this, she was honored with NCDC’s prestigious George T. Holloway Distinguished Service Award. The award, established in 1975, is given annually to a member who has made an unusually significant contribution to the cause of religious and charitable fundraising. At the time, she was one of only two corporate members/consultants to receive this award to date. Moreover, she was named Alumni-of-the-Year by her Catholic high school, St. Edward Catholic Central High School. She also served on the Giving USA Foundation Board (formerly the American Association of Fundraising Counsel’s Trust for Philanthropy) for nine years. The Giving USA Foundation is the publisher of the renowned publication Giving USA, the standard on annual giving trends in the United States. 

Ms. Mollsen speaks at many conferences and seminars nation-wide (and internationally) on the topic of major gift development, volunteerism, leadership, capital campaigns and campaign preparedness. Throughout her career, she has served more than a hundred not-for-profit clients including: Catholic organizations and communities of men and women religious, social service organizations, healthcare and healthcare-related organizations, educational and cultural institutions and programs, YMCAs and YWCAs, and more. In addition to serving as the account executive on select projects, Ms. Mollsen is an expert in the field of fundraising communication. Prior to becoming CEO/Owner of the firm, she managed the firm’s Communication Services Division. She is a graduate of Marquette University. 


Sr. Mary Luke Jones

If there’s a will, I want to be in it.

Sr. Mary Luke will discuss the importance of establishing meaningful and long lasting relationships with donors during their lifetime so that their thoughts are on you when the time comes to determine their final disposal of wealth.  Bequests are established at various times in people’s lives so no one is too young or too old to be making such decisions.  The job of the fundraiser is to always be at the ready.


Tammy Nigus - Summit Marketing

Tammy Nigus - Summit Marketing Vice President of Creative

Tammy Nigus - Summit Marketing Vice President of Creative

Tammy’s story begins in the landlocked state of Kansas, where she was born.  Drawn to graphic design and marketing, she spent formative years at Kansas State University.  She married a dashing young Air Force officer, and their lives took off into the wild blue yonder . . . first landing them in Dallas/Fort Worth and later putting them in Fairbanks, Alaska.  The snow was deep, but Tammy’s job overseeing the correspondence study program at the University of Alaska allowed her to bring her new sweet baby Kate to work with her.  Eventually the family thawed out and dropped their anchor closer to home in the Kansas City area, where Tammy set her sights on conquering the world of advertising and marketing.  Armed with her professional direct marketing certification from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, she eventually emerged as Vice President of Creative Services at
Summit Marketing.

Tammy continues to be fascinated with and energized by the role of social media.  Outside the office she posts average golf scores, bakes dazzling cupcakes, dreams up impressive lighting designs, watches a bit of reality TV and spends many gamedays in Manhattan (with her daughter), rooting for her beloved Wildcats.  This explains the abundance of purple in her wardrobe.


Michelle Noyes - Summit Marketing

As Chief Development Officer at Summit Marketing, Michelle is a servant leader who strategizes and develops innovative campaigns and services on a daily basis with a talented team of business associates and our CEO, Dan Renz.  Her 25 years of business and nonprofit board of directors experience with charities, including Easter Seals, the American Heart Association, Ronald McDonald House, The Junior League, The Catholic Diocese, Mount St. Scholastica and the Multiple Sclerosis Society have given Michelle extensive insight to share with Summit Marketing’s clients.  She focuses her energy on Informing, Engaging and Inspiring our team to create fundraising success for all the client partners Summit Marketing is truly blessed
to serve.

Michelle and her husband Scott, the love of her life, have two grown children who they adore along with their precious spouses and two active and awesome grandsons!  When not involved in ongoing creative projects, Michelle loves playing with her grandchildren, spending time with family, friends and her Benedictine Community of Sisters. She, Scott and the family enjoy taking relaxing cruises throughout the Caribbean.


Brian Smith - Summit Marketing

Raised in rural Indiana, Brian learned a lot from living on a farm, but most importantly, hard work and passion for life.  As he prepared to set sail and go off into the world, he packed those values to take with him to business school at Indiana University, graduating in 2011.  But the story didn’t end there.  In fact, it was in college where Brian met and married the love of his life, Kristi.  Brian went on to work for The Salvation Army, where his virtues provided the foundation for engaging volunteers, donors and businesses for the enrichment of Indiana communities.  He also successfully implemented Register to Ring, revitalizing community engagement in the Indiana Division.

In 2014, Brian earned his MBA from WGU Indiana and began working at Summit Marketing. He prays and serves our client partners and prospective clients to help find their next chapter of fundraising success. Brian and Kristi spend time cheering for their Hoosier sports teams, renovating their home, working in the yard, cooking for friends and raising their neighbor’s cat — yet another example of a partnership
that works.