The team behind your team.
Bottom line, we “get" grants: we understand the grant seeking process, how to interpret the grant making patterns of funders, and what grant seekers can do to tip the odds of getting a grant in their favor.
We partner with organizations as their trusted advisors to identify funders, recommend grant strategies, write compelling proposals, and make long-term gains.
Grants Plus has received the Weatherhead 100 Upstart Award for five consecutive years, a 2014 Inside Business Northeast Ohio Success Award, a 2016 Smart Business: Progressive Organization Award, and a 2016 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award from the American Psychological Association.
We practice multiple ways of giving back, from sponsoring company-wide volunteer days, to adopting a cause at the holidays, to growing a philanthropic fund at The Cleveland Foundation to support nonprofits and their good works.
Combined, our team brings hundreds of years' experience in the nonprofit sector. We have walked in our clients' shoes as executive directors, development directors, foundation officers, and grant writers.
Grants Plus is a proud member of The Giving Institute, which consists of member organizations that have embraced and embodied the core values of ethics, excellence and leadership in advancing philanthropy.
Lauren Steiner, JD
Lauren worked as a filmmaker, attorney, college instructor, and nonprofit development executive before founding Grants Plus in 2007 to help more worthy causes raise more funds.
With Lauren’s leadership, Grants Plus has received the Weatherhead 100 Upstart Award for three consecutive years, a 2016 Smart Women "Progressive Organization" Award from Smart Business, and an Inside Business Northeast Ohio Success Award in 2014.
Lauren is past president of the Grant Professionals Association Ohio–Northern Chapter as well as an active member and former board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Cleveland Chapter. She is an alumna of Cleveland Bridge Builders and was named one of the “Top 25 Under 35” in 2007 by Inside Business Magazine. To fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a puppy washer, she volunteers at Love-A-Stray dog shelter where she walks dogs and cleans cages. Lauren holds a BS in Telecommunications from Ohio University and a JD from Cleveland State University, Cleveland Marshall College of Law, where she remains active in the Alumni Association.
Lauren was recently honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland Chapter as 2017 Outstanding Fundraising Professional. See the full video here.
DIRECTOR OF CLIENT SERVICES
Jackie brings extensive experience in project management, client service, strategic planning, writing and editing, and leadership development.
With a career spanning over 28 years, Jackie’s background includes an extensive publishing career with Thomson where she served as the Managing Editor of an international business and nonprofit reference product line, a 10-year teaching career with Cleveland State University where she designed and delivered professional certificate programs in writing, and a comprehensive consulting career where she worked nationally with clients in leadership development. Jackie holds a BA in English from Wayne State University and an MA in English from Case Western Reserve University; she also holds several professional certifications.
Dana has led development initiatives for major institutions, grassroots organizations, and political campaigns in California and Ohio.
A skilled major gifts and grant writing professional, she built the development program for the California chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America, recruited investments from leading West Coast philanthropists as Director of Major Gifts for the ACLU of Northern California, and managed a $1 million tribute campaign for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Dana is a member of the Board of Directors of FrontLine Service and is active with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland Chapter. She holds a BA with distinction in Women’s Studies from The Ohio State University.
Judy has more than 20 years of experience in business development, fundraising, grantmaking, family philanthropy, and institutional investing.
Before joining the Grants Plus team, Judy spent seven years as a Donor Relations & Investment Officer for the Cleveland Foundation where she partnered with individuals, families, corporate foundations, and nonprofits to create community impact. Prior to that she served with the Aspen Institute’s Council of Women World Leaders program in Washington, D.C. building the leadership capacity of women in emerging countries. Judy is involved with College Now Greater Cleveland where she serves as Chair of the associate board’s events and marketing committee, and as a mentor to a college sophomore. Judy holds a BA from John Carroll University.
Kelly has over 20 years of accounting and business experience working with companies in both the public and private sectors. She consults with businesses regarding financial reporting, budgeting, human resources, and insurance. Kelly has been working with Grants Plus since 2010. She holds a B.S. in Accounting from Miami University and is also a CPA (inactive).
Matt has more than fifteen years experience in grant development, corporate giving, individual fundraising, government relations, policy analysis, and project management for a variety of policy, social service, and cultural organizations.
Before coming to Grants Plus, Matt served as Associate Director of Development, Foundations and Grants, at the Western Reserve Historical Society, and as Director of Development at New Life Community (now Family Promise of Greater Cleveland). He has been published in journals in the US and Europe, and co-authored the book, Seen But Not Heard: Strengthening Nonprofit Advocacy. Matt serves on the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland Chapter. He holds a BA in Political Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Kari Elsila, MNO
Kari is a skilled writer and editor who brings passion for the nonprofit sector and excels at crafting compelling cases for support.
Prior to joining Grants Plus, she held positions in foundation relations and grants management at Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. Earlier in her career, she worked at a Cleveland-area family foundation, which gave her valuable insight into the grantmaking process. Kari holds a BA from the University of Michigan in Social Science and a Master of Nonprofit Organizations degree from Case Western Reserve University.
Lisa J. Stofan, GPC
Lisa brings over 20 years of experience working with civic, human service, education, arts, and mental health organizations as a program manager, executive director, grant writer, and fundraising advisor.
Her specific passion is helping organizations build long-term sustainability by honing efficient internal processes and designing strategic fundraising plans. When she isn’t helping Grants Plus clients raise funds, she volunteers for local organizations including Joel’s Place for Children. Lisa holds a BA in Sociology/Criminal Justice from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She earned the Grant Professionals Certification in 2016.
Tracy has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit development and communications. She is an experienced grant researcher and writer.
Prior to joining the Grants Plus team, Tracy served as Manager of Foundation Relations and Grant Writer for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. She has also worked in development for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland and Diabetes Partnership of Cleveland. Tracy holds a BA in Communications and a MA in Nonprofit Administration from John Carroll University.
Gail Dancy Heim
Gail has 15 years of nonprofit development experience in healthcare, human services, education, and the arts.
As a grant writer, Gail has helped raise millions of dollars from foundations, corporations, individuals, and government agencies to support Northeast Ohio’s nonprofit community. Prior to joining Grants Plus, Gail managed proposal development for United Way of Greater Cleveland and Cleveland Clinic, and she gained extensive arts management experience working with two Cleveland-area orchestras. A native New Englander, Gail holds a Bachelor of Music from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford and a Master of Arts from New York University.
Kate has more than 10 years of experience working for nonprofits in grant writing, event management, annual fund planning, communications, marketing, public relations, and media relations.
Prior to joining Grants Plus, Kate served as the Marketing and Development Director for a Northern California-based organization providing shelter and services for homeless youth and victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Earlier in her career, she served as Communications Director for an arts organization and worked as a reporter for several newspapers in Ohio and California. As a native of Ohio, Kate was excited to return to the state in 2016. Kate holds a BA in Anthropology and International Studies from The Ohio State University.
Emily has more than ten years of experience in nonprofit development communications, annual fund planning, grant writing, grant making, event administration, and donor database management.
Before joining Grants Plus, she spent five years as the Development and Communications Manager for Positive Education Program in Cleveland. She also worked in grant making and fundraising at Cleveland Browns Foundation. Emily holds a BA in Business Administration from Baldwin-Wallace College.
Wendy Lefko Messeloff
Wendy is a journalist by training, with several years of experience as a writer in a variety of professional capacities.
She has worked in corporate communications for MTV Networks; nonprofit research and analysis for the Anti-Defamation League's National Civil Rights Information Center; domestic policy advocacy and government relations for Hadassah; and fundraising and grant writing, as the Director of Grants Development for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and, most recently, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. As a grant writer, Wendy has raised funds for seven-figure capital projects, small community-based programs, and a range of human, social, cultural and educational services in the GreaterCleveland area. She earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.
Kari Mirkin, MNO
Kari has ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, most recently at the Foundation Center-Cleveland and through her local and national leadership roles with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN).
She's also a contributing blogger for Idealist Careers. Kari received her MNO from Case Western Reserve University and holds a BA in History and German from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She's loved writing for as long as she can remember, and enjoys helping nonprofits share their stories with the community.
Naomi has more than ten years of program management, volunteer training, and fundraising experience for schools, cultural institutions, media projects, and social service agencies.
Before joining Grants Plus, she oversaw free tax preparation assistance for the Cuyahoga County Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition, resulting in more than half a million dollars in tax returns for low-income residents of Cleveland. Naomi volunteers as a tax preparer for the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and is a certified yoga teacher.
Naomi holds a BA in International Relations from Kent State University and an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco.
Sarah has more than five years of experience with nonprofit donor strategy building, donor database management, event management and administration, grant writing, brand management and marketing.
Before joining the Grants Plus team, Sarah served as the Development Director of Greater Cleveland Youth For Christ. She worked to further the organization’s brand and developed specific strategies and processes to further relationships with current and potential partners. Sarah also volunteers with various organizations, helping develop strategies for marketing and fundraising events. Sarah holds a BSE in Tourism, Leisure, and Event Planning from Bowling Green State University.
Shannon has over 5 years of experience with grant writing and has spent her career serving the nonprofit sector.
Prior to joining Grants Plus, she most recently served as Foundation Relations Manager of the West Side Catholic Center in Cleveland, Ohio where she managed the grants process and stewarded relationships with family, community, and corporate foundations. Previously, she served as a Grant Writer and Human Resources Coordinator for Boys & Girls Clubs in the Boston and Orlando areas. She is passionate about racial and gender equity, cooking, and genre films. Shannon holds a BA in English from Baldwin Wallace University.
Tiffany has extensive experience in development and management of grants, including private foundations and local and federal government applications.
Prior to joining Grants Plus, Tiffany owned and operated T. Nobles Grants Consulting, LLC where she provided consulting services for grant research, application writing, and post-award management and reporting. Tiffany holds a BA in Political Science from Washington & Jefferson College and a MA in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public & International Affairs.
Lori is a graduate of John Carroll University and holds a degree in English and Communications.
She began her career as a Sales Associate at Cleveland Magazine, and then spent 10 years at Sherman & Company, a small capital equipment leasing corporation where she was responsible for bookkeeping, human resources, sales, marketing, and office management. She began working as an Executive Assistant in 2003, and joined Grants Plus in 2010. Lori has three children, and she is very active in the Westlake City School PTA Units, including past President of Lee Burneson Middle School PTA.
Jane is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a degree in Business Administration.
She began her career at State Industrial Products, where she was assistant to the Controller, Tax Manager and CFO. She has additional experience in Retail Sales and Hospitality Management, where duties included overseeing staff, audit, office management and human resources. In 2003 she began working in office administration and she joined Grants Plus in 2010. Jane is the mother of three children, and she serves as the Auditor and Scholarship Chair of her schools’ PTA Units.