The Zuri Team

The Zuri Team

The Zuri Web Development and Design team brings a broad range of technical and creative experience to our nonprofit clients. Meanwhile, our client services specialists ensure all objectives are understood and met, making sure projects are as successful as possible.

We are happy to introduce and let you meet our talented Zuri Group team!

Patrick Shepherd

Director, CRM Services

Patrick has 17 years of experience in software development, design and support.

Prior to joining ZuriGroup, Patrick worked at Blackbaud for 5 years as a solutions architect in the professional services group where he was the principal architect and developer on the Luminate Online to Blackbaud CRM integration. His experience at Blackbaud includes designing and building large customizations and integrations for non-profit clients and functional expertise with Blackbaud CRM, Luminate Online and BBIS.

Before working at Blackbaud Patrick managed a software development team at a Fortune 500 company for 12 years, gaining extensive experience in web development, transaction processing, and management of large software projects.

More about Patrick
Where are you from?
I grew up in San Antonio TX but have lived in Orlando FL for 17 years.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Assuming I could fish and find coconuts or bananas, I’d want coffee.
Do you have any furry friends?
I have 2 cats I adopted from Best Friends Animal Society while visiting them for work.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
Maybe short bedtime stories for children. I’m pretty good at making up little stories to tell my two kids at bedtime. Other than that, maybe “Integrating 3rd party data with Blackbaud CRM” which seems to be a sparsely documented topic.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to design cars. I have a Mechanical Engineering degree and was still leaning towards automotive design until I got into the workforce, when I discovered you could design and build things in the digital world and not worry about them catching on fire.
What do you do for fun?
I love being in the water on a hot summer day. I also enjoy mountain biking, hiking, snow skiing, and working on old cars.

Dr. Roby V. Key

Senior Consultant

Roby V. Key has over 30 years in college and university work. He recently retired from Texas Christian University’s Advancement staff after nearly 28 years.

Roby earned the B.S. in theology from Crichton College, the M.Ed. and the Ed.D. in educational administration and supervision at the University of Memphis. His collateral areas are in computer science and mathematics. He began his career in development in 1983 at Crichton College, a small private college in Memphis, Tennessee.

Roby was the Associate Vice Chancellor for Advancement Operations at Texas Christian University and directed the following areas within the advancement department: Major Gifts, the Annual Fund, Athletic Fund Raising, the Annual Giving Program, the Phonathon, Donor Relations, Advancement Research, and Development Information Services.

Roby is a nationally known speaker and past conference chair for over 20 CASE conferences (Council for the Aid and Support of Education in Washington DC), CASE District IV and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). He received CASE’s Steuben Crystal Apple Award for outstanding teaching in 1999. He is also past president of the Fort Worth Chapter of AFP, has chaired many DFW AFP Conferences, and was the Chair of AFP’s International Conference “Big Ideas and 10 Gallon Solutions” held in Dallas in 1997 with nearly 4,000 fundraising professionals in attendance.

Roby is also the recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow award from Fort Worth’s Downtown Rotary Club. In 2013, Roby received the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Outstanding Professional Fundraising Executive of the year award. Roby recently ended his two-year term on the Executive Leadership Council at Blackbaud.

Wayne Fair

Senior Developer

Wayne is an experienced developer of 20 years with skills for creating data-driven desktop and web applications. He’s developed complex MS SQL data driven websites – two of them being EMR applications. Wayne started his development career as a DBA for Randall Publishing Company and from that day forward has a passion for learning new technologies – especially those that concern developing better, faster, reactive and responsive websites. His skill set includes: ASP.NET, VB.NET, C#.NET, MVC5, WebAPI, Entity Framework, HTML5. AngularJS, Bootstrap, JavaScript, jQuery CSS3, Web Services, T-SQL, Microsoft SQL Server, SSIS, SSRS and Relational Database design.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alabama, and has a Master’s Degree from Reformed Theological Seminary. Wayne spent ten years as a pastor, at which time he wrote and marketed his first application which assisted in the creation of focused, thesis based homilies.
Wayne and wife, Pat, (and their Shih Tzu, Mokie) reside in Tuscaloosa, Alabama – are the proud parents of four (now) adult children – and grandparents to 9 wonderful grandkids. In his spare time he enjoys painting portraits and impressionistic landscapes.

Smita Arora

Senior Programmer

Smita is a Senior Programmer with the Zuri team. She brings to Zuri Group 6.5 years of diverse experience in Information Technology, most of it being SQL/ .NET/ Business Intelligence development. She has also worked in software quality assurance and business analysis roles.

Prior to joining Zuri Group, Smita’s experience includes 3 years as a Senior Technical Consultant at Blackbaud, specializing in Blackbaud CRM. She worked closely with large and small nonprofit clients in technical aspects of the CRM implementation, mostly in building custom features in the product as per the individual client’s vertical and requirements. Smita has also worked for Accenture in India as a SQL Developer/ Test Engineer on numerous Microsoft projects (Microsoft being Accenture’s client).

Smita’s passion for technology started off when she pursued her Bachelors and then Masters in Computer Applications from National Institute of Technology in India. She has a master’s degree in Information Systems from University of Memphis, TN. To hone her leadership and project management skills, Smita earned her certification in Business Project Management from Fogelman College of Business and Economics, TN.

More about Smita
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in West Bengal, India. I relocated to US around 6 years back and have moved around a bit in the country since then. I stayed in Baltimore, MD initially and then relocated to the beautiful city of Charleston, SC. I now live in Memphis, TN with my husband and two kids.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
My first thought is would there be refrigeration available? It might sound scientific and tend to make this fun question boring. I’d take dark chocolates. I love dark chocolate ( and it might be just good without refrigeration)
Do you have any furry friends?
None presently. But my kids do show interest in having one so might have a dog in the future.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
It would be called ‘Live Life in the Present’. It would be about how we can tame our minds to stay happy in the present moment and not think and worry about the past/future… Sounds like an endevaour I know.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A school teacher.
What do you do for fun?
I love hiking, biking, reading, meditating and yoga when I get any personal time. But most of our free time revolves around our kids and is spent in children’s parks, zoo, children’s museum and mostly outdoors which ours kids love and I enjoy as well.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
I’m not into superheroes yet but as my son is growing up, I’ll sure know more about them very soon.

Xavier Castro

Senior Consultant

Xavier Castro is a Senior Consultant at Zuri Group working with our nonprofit clients serving as lead in implementing technology projects ranging from strategic consulting, website design and redesign, custom web application development, microsite portal development, and data migration/integration. Prior to Zuri Group, Xavier served as Director of Client Services at Adcieo, where he led similar implementation projects as well as online engagement campaigns, online event chat support, and event mobile app deployment. Prior to Adcieo, Xavier served as Partner Manager at Blackbaud, where he supported Blackbaud partners implementing and reselling Sphere, Fundware, and Financial Edge. Prior to his role as Partner Manager at Blackbaud, Xavier was Sr. Project Manager at Kintera, implementing Sphere and supervising other project managers. Xavier brings over 12 years experience working with nonprofits and their technology needs. He has experience implementing and supporting Blackbaud products such as, Sphere, Luminate Online, Luminate CMS, eTapestry, and NetCommunity. Xavier has also implemented and supported Donor Drive by Global Cloud, ETO from Social Solutions, and Constant Contact.

More about Xavier
Where are you from?
I love being asked where I’m from because I love to give a shout out to the Pacific island I am originally from. The island is Saipan, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which is a U.S. Territory out in the western Pacific Ocean. It’s a beautiful place with a warm lagoon and plenty of sunshine. Although I wish I was still on Saipan, I now reside in Houston, TX, which I now consider my adopted home.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
First, I wouldn’t consider myself being trapped and would think of it as paradise! However, if there was an unlimited supply of a food item I would need to have with me, it would have to be rice. I eat rice every day!
Do you have any furry friends?
I don’t presently, but my kids are starting to campaign for something furry and adorable to have in our home.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
I would name my book “Finding Grace” because I like to look at all the miracles that God has sprinkled around us in nature and in people. The media focuses a lot on the negatives in our world and I feel we need to balance that with the positives. Finding Grace would be a compilation of stories and images of things that leave us in awe, no matter how spectacular or minute, to help us be aware of the beauty, joy, and compassion that surrounds us and to inspire us to find examples of grace on our own as well as to create them for ourselves and for others
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a martial arts master.
What do you do for fun?
I spend time with my family, lead a Cub Scout pack, and run obstacle course races.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Spiderman! I want to climb walls and swing through the air slinging webs!

Brandon Ferris

Senior Director of Strategic Services and Fundraising Counsel

Brandon Ferris brings over 15 years of experience as an advancement practitioner and consultant. His advancement work has included marketing and communications, gift planning, annual giving, major giving, capital campaigns, predictive modeling, database administration, management and leadership, training, and consulting.

Before joining the Zuri Group Brandon was a Senior Enterprise Solutions Consultant at Blackbaud, specializing in The Raiser’s Edge and Blackbaud CRM, as well as Crystal Reports. His work included all aspects of implementation and training – project team training, project management, business process design, conversion mapping and validation, business process and user acceptance testing, end-user training, and deployment. He also worked extensively with existing clients to assess and improve fundraising tactics and database management practices, help them better leverage their tools for fundraising success, and equip staff with the knowledge and skills needed to be efficient and effective.

Brandon’s 10-plus years as a certified tennis professional, 12 years of immersion in world-class educational pedagogy as an independent school advancement professional, and dozens of formal training engagements, have long fueled his passion for teaching, a passion which continues to drive his work as a trainer and consultant.

Brandon has also provided independent consulting services in the areas of predictive modeling, organizational management and team collaboration, and gift planning marketing programs. He has presented at CASE/NAIS, PNAIS, and BBCON on the use of custom predictive models to increase fundraising revenue and reduce costs, and on the importance of well-planned and executed user acceptance testing programs to maximize the success of enterprise-level CRM system implementations.

Brandon’s approach is founded upon three key philosophies: Data-driven decision making, systems thinking, and the cognitive management paradigm. Nonprofit organizations invest a tremendous amount of time, energy, and resources to gather and maintain constituent data, and sometimes it’s easy to get lost in data for data’s sake. Brandon helps organizations use their data to target the best prospects, improve fundraising processes, and raise more money. Influenced by the work of great thinkers like Deming, Culbert, De Bono, and Jacobs, he employs systems and cognitive-based strategies to help advancement leaders improve, performance, retention, collaboration, and morale.

More about Brandon
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and now live in beautiful Bend, Oregon with my wife and two daughters.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Za’atar, my favorite Lebanese food.
Do you have any furry friends?
Four beloved kitties – Luke, Lakshmi, Alex, and Mel. My daughters also have two rats and a fish.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
I would want to write a science fiction novel that draws on the influences of Stephen Baxter, Robert J. Sawyer, and Orson Scott Card. They are the masters, respectively, of big cosmological ideas in hard sci-fi, consciousness and sci-fi, and sci-fi as a study of psychology.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional bowler.
What do you do for fun?
Play tennis. I love tennis, and will go to great lengths to play. I often seek out opportunities to play with clients while onsite. I also love teaching and coaching tennis. Have racquet, will travel. If you want to play or take a lesson while I’m onsite with you, I’m up for it!
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Spider-Man. His powers are so quirky and unique, and the way he gets around is the coolest. Plus, the definitive Spider-Man movies featured Bruce Campbell (who lives in Oregon, by the way!).

Jennifer Liu-Cooper

Senior Director of Strategic Services and Fundraising Counsel

With over 20 years of professional experience in fundraising operations, Jennifer’s areas of expertise include business process assessment and re-design, information system implementation & management; prospect development (research, analysis, tracking & management); gift administration; and data integrity/quality management, as well as staff recruitment, coaching, and retention. Jennifer helps clients to effectively meet changing business requirements in applying business best practices within the unique context of each organization.

She has overseen fundraising operations at the University of Delaware and Vanderbilt University, and directed prospect development at the University of Oregon Foundation.

Jennifer has provided strategic counsel as both an individual (JLC Consulting) and as a senior associate with Bentz Whaley Flessner, serving clients in higher and secondary education, healthcare, as other non-profits, including public television.

She currently serves as Secretary of the Board for the Association of Advancement Services Professionals, and has been a featured speaker for CASE, APRA, and AASP. She holds a BS in Telecommunications and BA in Public Relations from the University of Oregon.

Jennifer’s approach toward building best-in-class fundraising operations is to apply inquiry and collaborative problem solving techniques in consideration of culture, politics, resources, technology, and human nature.

More about Jennifer
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in New York City.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Steamed pork buns (Char siu bao) – a whole meal in one sweet package.
Do you have any furry friends?
Not currently, but I’m a surrogate parent to my brother’s 18-year-old cat Sylvia.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
Title: ‘Professional Crack: My addiction to problem-solving while under the influence of organizational politics.’ Synopsis: A combination of life lessons and practical advice about being a change agent while maintaining healthy professional and personal relationships.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress or doctor.
What do you do for fun?
Knit, eat, talk, walk, and watch movies.

CHRIS Cannon

President of Strategic Services

Chris’s areas of expertise include fundraising strategy and systems, staff and resource management, database management, business intelligence and data reporting, database conversion projects, gift and data processing, and technology needs. He has led fundraising operations at Saint Louis University, Saint Louis Zoo, and the Saint Louis Science Center. Prior to joining Zuri Group, Chris was a managing associate at Bentz Whaley Flessner, where he provided strategic counsel on database systems, advancement operations, and fundraising strategy. Chris also served as Research and Development Services director at Saint Louis University, provided leadership for the university’s $300 million campaign, and led an interdepartmental database conversion team. Chris earned a Master of Arts from The University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Truman State University. He has been a featured speaker at CASE, APRA, AFP, and other conferences and has written articles for AFP’s Advancing Philanthropy, APRA’s Connections, and AHP’s Journal. His book, An Executive’s Guide to Fundraising Operations (Wiley 2011), is the industry resource for maximizing ROI from operations.

More about Chris
Where are you from?
St. Louis, MO
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
My practical answer is pizza, but Billy Goat Chips is my real answer.
Do you have any furry friends?
We have two dogs and two cats.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
I did write one, An Executive’s Guide to Fundraising Operations, but this professionally motivated book is a little less interesting to me than the etymological expansion of city names. A history of the history of, say, naming a town Springfield is fascinating to me.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A combination architect and professional football player.
What do you do for fun?
Not enough! My joy centers on my two young kids, their development, and carving out a little personal time for me and my wife, Erica. Camping and hiking are high on the list, but hard to find time for

Geoffery Landgraf

Web Producer / Project Developer

Geof brings a set of diverse skills to Zuri Group, filling a hybrid role of consultant and developer. Geof is a Google certified Adwords Professional and specializes in Google Analytics, SEO and SEM. In addition, he has expertise with web development (HTML, CSS, Javascript) and fully responsive site design. Geof specializes in development for open source platforms including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, CiviCRM, Prestashop, and others.
This blend of technical knowledge and marketing expertise provides an invaluable resource to many Zuri clients looking for site optimization, increased conversion, and improved user experience. Geof also has years of IT, helpdesk, and customer service experience, making him ideal for managing deployments, documenting solutions, and responding quickly to client needs. Geof has his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and works at the Zuri home office in Bend, Oregon. In his free time, Geof is an avid outdoor enthusiast…having hiked 250+ miles of the AT and PCT, is a craft-beer aficionado and homebrewer, and a writer, notably the author of the All Around Bend travel guidebook, now in its 4th edition.

More about Geof
Where are you from?
Grew up in NJ and WV, I live in Bend OR now.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Sushi. Well, maybe beer, since an island would presumably already have fish. Beer’s a food, right?
Do you have any furry friends?
Jaeda the Dog, who we rescued from a shelter back in 2007ish. Also 3 chickens, which are more feathery than furry: Maude, Rhonda (the Rhode Island Red) and Blu
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
I did write a book, the quintessential All Around Bend travel guidebook – now in its 4th edition! If I wrote another book though…it’d be some sort of awesome fantastical Tolkien-esque fiction with wizards and monsters and stuff.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Being a chef was a dream for a while. After few years in kitchens I decided I enjoyed it way more as a hobby and for fun. Astronaut was also up there, and I’d probably still sign up to colonize some asteroid if asked.
What do you do for fun?
I like to travel, drink well-crafted beers, hike and backpack, build stuff in the garage, and generally fill my days with friends and adventure.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Not really a comic/superhero sort of guy, but role models and real life hero’s include such brilliant and selfless minds as Carl Sagan and Fred Rogers. I guess combine those two and put a cape on ‘em.

Howard Horowitz

COO, Partner

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?
During my most formidable years, my father was the CEO of the largest Jewish organization in the world (UJA). As one of the pioneers of development, I learned early on in my life the importance of giving to causes and how to make a difference in people’s lives less fortunate than mine. If he were still alive, he would be very proud of the work Zuri Group does for the incredible organizations and instituions and the exceptional people that work for them.
Your life has been the subject of inquiry by Hollywood folks. Why is that?
Hollywood has found a part of my life particularly intriguing that maybe they’ll pursue in some format. I told them no deal unless The Rock plays me. I plan on keeping my day job.
What was your biggest life changing event?
Moving with my parents at age 13 from suburban Cleveland, Ohio to New York City.
Growing up in NYC, who were your celebrity run ins?
I dated Sarah Silverman when I was 18 for a brief time, was served burgers by unknowns Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow, graduated from the same school as Robert Chambers (the Preppie Murderer) and worked in Aerosmith’s management office in my late 20’s
What was your most embarrassing moment as a teenager?
When my parents made me wear a blue striped seer sucker suit to school and actually convinced me that I looked good. I left school 20 minutes after getting “a sore throat.”
What is your exercise of choice?
I am fortunate to have a close friend named Pawel Wolak, who used to be the #3 Jr Middleweight boxer in the world and is now training for his MMA debut. He has trained me in boxing, as a workout not as a competitor, for the last 5 years. I often wonder during the workouts if he really thinks of me as a friend.

John Murphy

President/CEO, Managing Partner

A seasoned professional with nearly 20 years of experience and more than a decade in the technology arena, John founded Zuri Group in its current form in 2007 with the knowledge that non-profit organizations needed partners in technology to be successful with their missions. Prior to founding Zuri Group John was Vice President of the Professional Services Group at Kintera. As Vice President of Kintera’s Professional Services Group, John Murphy was responsible for managing the implementation and support of Kintera’s enterprise nonprofit clients. Positions prior to Kintera include Xerox Corporation, where he led a global team that launched and maintained multi-currency and language international e-commerce Web sites for the color printer division. ESCO Corporation, where John implemented an early international e-commerce system linking inventory management, vendor fulfillment and Oracle order entry. John received his Bachelor of Arts from Bucknell University.

More about John
Where are you from?
I was born in Philadelphia grew up in New Jersey and have lived in Maui, HI, New York City, Portland, OR and San Diego, CA
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Steak and a good Oregon Pinot
Do you have any furry friends?
We have an English Retriever named Bandon and may also any time have fish, snakes, and frogs
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
What not to do, how to be successful learning from mistakes
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A New York Yankee
What do you do for fun?
I spend time with my wife Sara and our four boys — coaching little league, golfing, snowboarding, and enjoying all Bend has to offer

Joshua Foster

Design Director

Joshua Foster brings a strong background in illustration, print design, web design, and motion graphics to Zuri Group, as well as the requisite as web development skills. After graduating with a Bachelor of Graphic Arts degree from Mount Marty College, he progressed rapidly from freelance print and web design for small businesses across the Midwest (covering everything from publishing companies to travel agencies) to Lead Designer for Hammer Insurance in Southern California. At Hammer, he directed all print collateral and Web presence. At Zuri Group Joshua contributes his unique perspective, informed by his previous print and Web work, to help clients achieve their missions through visually compelling and intuitively architected designs.

More about Josh
Where are you from?
Currently I am living in Diamond, Ohio. I grew up in the midwest moving around from Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Dakota as a kid. I’ve never lived anywhere for longer than five years.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Rice
Do you have any furry friends?
I have a dog and a cat, both named Bear…I didn’t name either of them.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
The book I would write would be called “Life’s a Garden; Dig It.” It would be a book on how to remain positive in the face of adversity.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A starving artist.
What do you do for fun?
I love to make music and art. I produce electronic music and I play guitar just for fun. As far as art goes, I paint and draw. When I am too tired for making music and art, I attend concerts and get tattoos.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Christopher Nance the Magnificent. Because he’s funny.

Karen Collins

Senior Director, Business Services

Karen helps clients gain a holistic view of excellence in all engagements. She collaborates with senior leadership teams to develop and execute strategic plans to align technology investments and IT services with the expectations of national offices and regional organizations. Skills include analyzing needs and issues, defining approach, and leading teams in delivering value-driven solutions that strengthen the effectiveness of campaigns and operations. Karen is a certified Project Management Professional by the Project Management Institute, the leading experts in best practices and industry standards. She has a proven track record in bringing a sense of organization, quality and formalized process to complex, multi-tiered projects and she understands the various communication requirements necessary to get projects completed on time, on budget and most importantly – on quality. She focuses on quality management by adopting key initiatives that ensure high success in process organization, financial administration, change management and risk mitigation. In addition, Karen has the strategic ability to analyze current business processes and provide tangible solutions for improvement. Karen’s expertise allows her to focus on federated and international organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, ChildFund International, Conservation International and Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. Her previous work at Blackbaud, Inc. and Philips Electronics provides an extensive background in non-profit management, marketing and design execution, and organizational change management.

More about Karen
Where are you from?
I am from Henderson, NC and I currently live in Charleston, SC
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Filtered Water (that’s not food, but certainly needed for survival!). If it had to be food, it would be some sort of protein (fish or beef)
Do you have any furry friends?
Of course! Riley, a 90lb lap dog Black Lab
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
Haven’t a clue.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Define “kid”. Veterinarian until I realized what “put to sleep” meant.
What do you do for fun?
Anything involving outdoors, cooking, crossfit, traveling.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
No clue, so I took a few quizzes online. Results: wolverine, Professor X and Doctor Strange. I have no idea what any of that means.

Ken Swift

Senior Director of CRM Services

Ken Swift has nearly 20 years of experience with Internet technologies and really started his career in the pre-dawn era of the Internet. His passion for technologies originally started as a hobby in the early 1990’s and blossomed into a career in mid/late 1990’s as Ken ran a number of successful website design and hosting business before getting caught up in the dot-com bubble.

Before joining the Zuri Group Ken was responsible for leading the Solution Architecture team within Blackbaud’s Professional Service organization, specializing in Blackbaud CRM and The Raiser’s Edge. Ken has been involved in dozens of Blackbaud CRM implementations and focused primarily on the technical aspects of the engagements; including customizations, integrations, reporting and business intelligence. Throughout his tenure at Blackbaud Ken was the point person for the vast majority of Blackbaud CRM technical pursuits and was a critical person in helping translate client requirements, estimating, scoping, and staffing implementations.

Ken understands that technologies change at lightening speed and to keep pace nearly impossible. It is critical to surround one’s self with right people and organizations that leverage those technologies that have the staying power and not get caught-up in the technology of the moment. Ken has leveraged a broad set technologies over the years which help quickly identify right tool for the job.

Ken now lives in Denver, Colorado with his family and a menagerie of pets. It’s not unusual to hear the Swift family is somewhere in the country at a dog show campaigning their show dogs.

More about Ken
Where are you from?
I was born in Geneva, Switzerland and also lived in Dubai and Stockholm before going through mid-school and high-school in Illinois. I now live in Denver, Colorado with my wife and two kids.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Cheese, maybe it was my being born in Switzerland, but I LOVE cheese; oh and of course bacon.
Do you have any furry friends?
I have 5 dogs, 2 cats, 1 rabbit and a bird.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
I am a huge fan of military dramas, so it would have to be something that draws from authors like Clive Cussler.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Maybe my son and daughter caught it from me; I always wanted to have a horse and be a cowboy, but not sure how I would have made a living. When you’re six years old I guess you don’t care about making a living…
What do you do for fun?
I love most things outdoors; specifically climbing, skiing, swimming, camping and of course hanging out with the family and showing our dogs!

Lasantha Gamage

Senior Web Developer

Lasantha Gamage is one of Zuri Group’s Web wizards. He brings his technical knowledge, finesse and experience to helps clients: use API applications to connect to various CMS (i.e.: Convio, Kintera Sphere, Blackbaud NetCommunities, Raisers Edge, Joomla, Drupal and WordPress); design and build custom Flash solutions; develop applications for the LAMP (Linux+Apache+Mysql+PHP) platform; build Web and desktop applications with C#,MS-SQL server platform, CAKEPHP framework, YUI and Sencha; and leverage Amazon, PayPal and Google checkout APIs. If that last sentence reads like a foreign language to the non-technical reader, just know: Lasantha speaks fluent Jquery javascript, Flash/AS3, Linux and Windows server setup and management flow (not to mention Sinhala, a little Tamil, Hindi and fluent English!) As if that weren’t enough, Lasantha has a Bachelor of Science degree for computer networking and data communication, with a specialization in micro-controller (PIC) programming. He is also a Cisco Certified Network Associate. Born in Polonnaruwa, Lasantha likes to spend his free time researching and testing new technologies.

More about Lasantha
Where are you from?
Kurunegala, Sri Lanka
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Rice. Since it is an island, I can catch fish. Rice with fish forever J
Do you have any furry friends?
Yes. A very smart Labrador named Timy.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
“Cyberspace Office” I would like to discuss the ‘work from home’ concept. It would have details regarding how to make up your mind to work from home, finding a job to work at from home, advantages and disadvantage of working from home, possible challenges and solutions, experiences, etc.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Engineer
What do you do for fun?
Gardening
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Merlin, he uses his super power (magic) to do his job well, but expects nothing in return.

Margaret Hiss

Project Manager / Strategy Consultant

Margaret is a communications and strategy professional with a wealth of knowledge in nonprofit management and organizational development. She has worked extensively with start-up nonprofit organizations within the youth sports industry, focusing on operations, grass-roots fundraising and volunteer management. At Zuri Group, Margaret’s clients benefit from her technical knowledge and practical affinity for project management and exceptional client service. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Studies from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

More about Margaret
Where are you from?
Crystal Lake, Illinois, a Northwest Suburb of Chicago. I currently live in Bend, Oregon and am slowly but surely becoming an Oregonian.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Coffee. I am a coffee fanatic. If coffee isn’t considered a food, I would probably choose mashed potatoes.
Do you have any furry friends?
I do not. Yet.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
I would probably write a memoir, something that my children and grandchildren would want to read. It would give them insight as to what my life was like growing up. I am not sure what I would title the book, but it would be filled with short stories and lots of Instagram photos.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A toll booth operator
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy exploring Central Oregon and the Pacific Northwest in general. I recently traded in my snowboard for a set of skis and am having fun taking on the new challenge. I also like to read and do Pinterest crafts, or at least attempt to do Pinterest crafts.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
George from George of the Jungle. He seems like a nice guy.

Molly Kelly

Senior Director of Digital and Product

As Sr. Director of Digital and Product with Zuri Group, Molly believes in the power of technology for change. For over twenty years, Molly has been helping nonprofit organizations develop digital solutions to communicate their mission, reach monetary goals, and create real world impact. Her consulting and guidance have played a part in the transformation and growth of technology use in the nonprofit community. Throughout this transformation, she has partnered with a diverse array of organizations like Amnesty International, American Heart Association and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and now leads Zuri Group’s product team in the development of our peer-to-peer solutions on the Engaging Networks platform.

Starting her career as a database manager and programmer, Molly understands what it takes to develop software from the ground up, and has expertise in database management, conversion and integration. Her years of experience, practical business knowledge and expertise in the nonprofit sector empower our client to exceed their digital goals.

More about Molly
Where are you from?
I am from Pennsylvania, I now live in San Francisco, CA
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Bananas – however there might be bananas on the island so… maybe potatoes
Do you have any furry friends?
I have one long haired chihuahua named Zayde
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
I don’t want to write a book but I have written a play and would like to write another. It would be about love.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
President
What do you do for fun?
Cycling and theater
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Katniss

Rod Razavi

Director of Integrations and Conversions

With a wide background in several technologies, Rod Razavi specializes in database programming and strong customer service. He brings to Zuri Group 7.5 years of experience delivering quality customer service to non-profit organizations ranging from The Jackson Laboratory to The March of Dimes. Working for a wide variety of non-profits has enabled him to gain experience in the various verticals of the non-profit sector including Arts & Cultural (New York Public Library), Environmental, Faith-Based (Evangelical Free Church of America), Foundations, Healthcare (Henry Ford Health Systems), Human Services, K-12, and Higher Education (Yale and The Ohio State University). Prior to joining Zuri Group, Rod worked at Blackbaud, Inc. as a Senior Data Analyst responsible for quality database conversions, services and customizations into The Financial Edge, The Raiser’s Edge, and Blackbaud eCRM. Before moving to Charleston and joining Blackbaud, Rod worked with the Cincinnati-based simulated Fantasy Sports website WhatIfSports.com, Inc. developing web-based fantasy sports games. While his passion and education for technology began very early, it wasn’t until he attended Rochester Institute of Technology that Rod began polishing his programming skill set. Rod graduated from RIT with a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. During his time in Rochester, he spent 3 years playing Men’s Varsity tennis and helped captain the team to a league championship his senior year. Other than tennis, Rod enjoys spending his free time playing soccer, supporting Cincinnati sports teams, and traveling.

More about Rod
Where are you from?
Cincinnati, Ohio
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Pizza
Do you have any furry friends?
None that I currently live with, although I grew up with cats and my roommate in college had a dog.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
Life with Efficiency – A book on my constant struggle to improve on efficiency in every aspect of my day-to-day life.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an architect because I always enjoyed building things.
What do you do for fun?
Anything and everything. I enjoy travelling, going to concerts, and especially enjoy playing any competive sport I can find. I also get a good amount of enjoyment from keeping up with new technologies and the ability of them to make every type of process more efficient.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Batman is my favorite hero because I relate best to a hero with no magical or scientific powers. Instead, he has honed his physical and mental skills to the peak of human perfection, something I could probably do given enough time and money. I admire the way he uses his intellect to solve problems, create gadgets, and decipher riddles. No matter the challenge, Batman finds a way to turn the odds in his favor.

Stephanie Burnett

Senior Director of Client Services

Stephanie Burnett is a skilled project manager and technology strategist who is passionate about improving the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. Her 15+ year career prior to Zuri Group includes experience as an educator at the National Gallery of Art, non-profit board member with GreenHome, implementation manager at Kintera, and technology consultant at JCA. She is adept at project planning, needs assessment, system analysis, and implementation of both administrative back- end and public-facing systems. Stephanie will help you define your objectives, find the best solution for your organization, and implement effectively, while managing the impact on your staff. She has assisted clients with Convio, Blackbaud’s Sphere, Net Community, Raiser’s Edge, Sungard’s Advance, and others. Stephanie has a B.A. from Syracuse University, an M.A. from The George Washington University. Stephanie is certified as a Project Management Professional by the Project Management Institute, the industry experts on best practices and professional standards.

More about Stephanie
Where are you from?
Originally, I’m from Connecticut and DC and will never give up my 202 area code. I spent five years in beachy, funky San Diego, and now live in sunny Bend, Oregon.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
This is a close tie between pumpernickle toast and kale avocado salad. Likely the carbohydrates would win.
Do you have any furry friends?
Two dogs — sweet whippet mix Zia and her intrepid chihuahua companion, Lizzy
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
Adventures in Kombucha, a fictionalized account of world travels and kitchen experiments
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A grown-up
What do you do for fun?
Depending on the season, I pull weeds, run trails, or build snow forts.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Christopher Nance the Magnificent. Because he’s funny.

Usama Amin

Senior Director

Usama is a seasoned consultant with almost twenty years of experience in management and fundraising restructuring, business process improvement, database management and analytics. Usama specializes in helping clients get the most out of constituent relationship management and fundraising systems such as Blackbaud CRM, Raiser’s Edge, Financial Edge, and enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Usama possesses extensive knowledge of fundraising best practices, including in-depth knowledge in areas such as prospect management, major gifts cultivation, data modeling, acknowledgement processes, donor recognition and stewardship. His demonstrated record of achievement includes: overall system assessment and health check; business process analysis and improvements; large scale program/project management; new software system selection process and implementation; recommending and building infrastructure; data analytics; user training; efficient system uses such as complex queries, imports and exports; and improved reporting and metrics.

As a Director of Development Systems at Children’s Hospital in Washington DC during the organization’s $500 million campaign, as well as having multiple clients in the medical field, Usama brings extensive direct experience to his consulting engagements. Usama is well-versed in moves management principles and in optimizing infrastructure by employing strategic planning and fundraising strategies to meet fundraising goals.

As a fundraising systems consultant at Blackbaud specializing in The Raiser’s Edge, Usama helped dozens of clients in implementation and training of Raiser’s Edge and other solutions. His fundraising background was instrumental in providing clients with strategic guidance and planning.

Usama also served as a senior project manager at a large company, providing complete technology solutions and services to higher education institutions. He was a senior member of the Project Management Office, responsible for delivery and the production of toolkits to guide delivery of high quality projects utilizing a structured PMBOK-based methodology.

More about Usama
Where are you from?
I was born in Bangladesh and now live in the Washington, DC area. There was also a 12-year layover in Oregon prior to moving to DC.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Eggs, lots of them.
Do you have any furry friends?
Still grieving the loss of my beloved cat of 20 years.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
As an English Lit major in college, I’ve written lots of short stories, but if it is to be a large-scale work, it would have to be a screenplay about the life and music of Beethoven.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Formula 1 race car driver.
What do you do for fun?
I am an avid photographer and love to travel. I am also never too far away from music, especially classical music, and a glass, or perhaps a bottle, of wine.

Rebecca Nevin

Senior Consultant, Product Strategy

Rebecca started her career in project management, leading implementations of large scale peer-to-peer fundraising event website roll outs. After witnessing first-hand the powerful impact a small improvement in software had on nonprofit’s fundraising success, Rebecca sought to help deepen the impact. Before joining Zuri Group, Rebecca was the Product Manager for Blackbaud Sphere, where she lead the design and development teams of one of the earliest multi-tenancy SaaS solution used by non-profits to raise more than $1 billion annually online. Rebecca joined Zuri Group to help facilite “ZEN” Zuri Group’s Partnership with Engaging Networks to create the next innovation in peer-to-peer fundraising software.

More about Rebecca
Where are you from?
I live on a 7 acre hobby farm in Temecula, CA – just outside San Diego.
What do you do for fun?
Enjoy the adventure of keeping three small humans alive
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be the person that built the large scale Lego creations for Legoland… you can call me President Business!
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Elastigirl – I sympathize with her trying to figure out the balance between raising a family and being a superhero.

Kim Evered

Director of Support

Kim has over 20 years of experience in client support, digital marketing, small business operations and growth management.

As Director of Client Support, Kim is responsible for implementing and supporting the websites, donor management platform, and peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising applications Zuri Group implements with various clients. Prior to joining the Zuri team, Kim was the Director of Operations at NPS Wireless, where she oversaw the finances and dealer distribution and implemented a point of sale software system across the dealer network. Prior to NPS, Kim was the Director of Marketing at SBOA Tenant Insurance, where she managed various sales, marketing, and training initiatives including an overhaul of the company website, a restructuring of the internal CRM database, and the launch of a client-facing self-service training portal. Prior to SBOATI, Kim grew and managed the Client Services team at G5, a digital marketing SaaS organization that underwent exponential growth during her tenure. Kim particularly enjoys building business processes, systems and teams for growing companies.

After receiving her B.A. in English from Willamette University, Kim spent 2 years in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. In addition to being an outdoor enthusiast, Kim is active in the Bend community and is a member of ConnectW, a local women’s networking group. She is also the Advisory Council Chair for Big Brothers Big Sisters Central Oregon and has been a Big Sister for 7 years.

More about Kim
Where are you from?
Seattle, WA and I currently live in Bend, OR.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Cheese! (And can I have wine too?)
Do you have any furry friends?
Not at the moment but I’m seriously considering a dog – something “doodled” so it doesn’t shed too much!
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
The older I get, the older “old” gets – and it would be about life lessons I’ve learned along the way.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A teacher and a mother. I’m 0 for 2 on those but I’ve had great life adventures that I wouldn’t trade for my childhood dreams.
What do you do for fun?
I love the outdoor opportunities Central Oregon has to offer – hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, concerts, festivals, downhill and xc skiing, snowboarding, etc. I particularly enjoy sharing those activities with my little sister (through the BBBS program) and my nieces and nephews.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Wonder woman of course! Girl power!

Susan Arrington

Director, Business Analysis

Susan Arrington comes to Zuri with 20 years of experience that spans multiple aspects of the nonprofit world. She started her career in development and fundraising for a local Junior Achievement area. She then moved to the program side, running the educational programming for a local Junior Achievement area. Most recently, from Junior Achievement headquarters, Susan managed implementation, training, and support for both The Raiser’s Edge and Blackbaud CRM for all JA areas across the United States.

Just prior to joining Zuri Group, Susan led the training effort for BBCRM at Junior Achievement by designing and implementing an e-learning suite for all JA users to access at all times. She also wrote a user guide, complete with training labs, and her team maintained a training environment that users could access at any point during their implementation and after. She also led the continual enhancement process for JA’s database, monitoring user requests, gathering requirements and writing requirement documents.

When an organization upgrades major systems, the user’s experience of training and implementation is very important to Susan. She understands that change management plays a critical role in ensuring project success, and strives to help her clients adopt system and business process changes in a positive manner. Her unique ability to understand the user’s need to work in a system that is efficient helps her clients have a more positive experience.

More about Susan
Where are you from?
Ruidoso, New Mexico
A little town west of Albuquerque, with its own ski area and the home of the All American Futurity (that’s a quarter horse race). I now I live in Pagosa Springs, CO with my husband.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Grass fed beef, nope I am not vegan or vegetarian. Can I have watermelon too? I love it.
Do you have any furry friends?
We have one dog, a mix between a lab and a border collie. His name is Stout after our favorite beverage. He loves to run with us and also enjoys chasing deer, squirrels, rabbits — basically anything that runs from him.
We have a tuxedo cat named….wait for it…Whiskers. He is actually our daughter’s cat but as college children often do, she dropped him off 9 years ago when she was living in an apartment that would not allow him to live there with her. And she never came back for him.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
My dysfunctional family. It would be a tragic comedy.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A jockey, but when my weight went over 110 I knew it would never happen!
What do you do for fun?
Anything outdoors, running, hiking, backpacking, cycling, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, fly fishing and on and on.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
I always liked Catwoman. She is beautiful, cunning, stealthy, and smart enough to outsmart all of the male superheroes.!

Skeff Flynn

Where are you from?
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. I currently reside in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. A little town west of Albuquerque, with its own ski area and the home of the All American Futurity (that’s a quarter horse race). I now I live in Pagosa Springs, CO with my husband.
If you were trapped on an island what food?
Burritos maybe? I’m a pretty adventurous eater so only having one type of food would be tough but you can pack all the major food groups into a burrito.
Do you have any furry friends?
Yes! I had the good fortune of being selected by Chavez the Cat to be his human a few years back.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
‘An Ode to Chavez’ Basically a work singing the praises of my feline overlord.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
tarving Musician was a pretty consistent theme until I found out what starving meant.
What do you do for fun?
I love to sing and play music. I play several instruments but my most recent obsession is with the rhythm bones.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Kitty Pride from the X-men. I think ‘phasing’ is a pretty underrated/underexplored super power. For example she can walk through walls and on air but I’m pretty sure she could also do cool things like reaching inside someone and removing a tumor. I’d read a comic on that.

Nancy Green

Nancy is a strong individual contributor with a dedication to high quality work and customer satisfaction. Nancy is able to work closely with clients to understand their needs and provide solutions that meet the business requirements, even when those requirements are complicated by competing priorities. Nancy is always a steady hand during times of pressure. She is able to focus on the key objectives and find ways to contribute to accomplishing the goals.

Prior to joining the Zuri Group team, Nancy was a Business Analyst for Junior Achievement USA. Nancy’s work as part of a team delivering a full operational IS platform in a multi-site environment ensured that business standards were being upheld. During her time with Junior Achievement USA, Nancy assisted with implementations, trained and supported several of Blackbaud’s applications including Raisers Edge, BBCRM and BBIS. During her time with Junior Achievement she was also heavily involved with testing, training and designing enhancements for many different applications.

More about Nancy
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Southwest Michigan. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the same area. I currently live in a lovely lake community near Plainwell, MI, called Pine Lake.
If you were trapped on an island for forever and could bring one unlimited supply of a food item with you, what would it be?
Bacon!
Do you have any furry friends?
Yes, I have a dog named Captain. He is a black lab and coon hound mix. He is sweet and loving. He is definitely top dog of the ship we call home.
If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
Parenting a Bully. The book would be a helpful guide for parents to help educate them on how to watch for signs that their children may be bullying others. I would define bullying in such a way that parents would see that “teasing” is often bullying in disguise. I believe as parents we should teach our children respect, empathy and inclusion at home and not wait for someone in the public sector to do it for us. Hopefully, my book would help with that.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a nurse, then a doctor. As a teenager I volunteered in our local hospital for a couple of days. I fainted at the first sign of trauma, that ended my career choice for anything in the medical field.
What do you do for fun?
We live on a lake so we spend an enormous amount of time on or in the water. My favorite pastime is driving the speedboat while someone learns a new trick or perfects an existing skill. It is very rewarding for me to watch a young person get up on skis or a wakeboard for the first time. Seeing their pride in accomplishment is priceless to me.
Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
Well I don’t follow super heroes like you find in a comic book or on the big screen. I have a young niece who was born with Cerebral Palsy. Nothing in life comes easy for her but I have rarely ever seen her without a big smile and tons of love for everyone. That is the kind of heroics that should be in books and movies.