AFP Golden Gate: 50th Anniversary Testimonial -
Here's to the Memories Made with AFP

By Theresa Nelson

2021 is the 50th Anniversary of the AFP Golden Gate Chapter. This article is part of a series of testimonials from current and former members, Board members, and other development professionals in the Greater Bay Area Community on the impact that the Chapter has made on advancing philanthropy.

I have two special memories to share regarding the Chapter’s 50th anniversary. Both took place primarily in 2009.

The first is that I was honored to be asked to co-chair Fundraising Day 2009 with Troy Arnold. Fundraising Day was a local conference for fund development professionals, a joint effort of AFP - Golden Gate Chapter and DER (Development Executives Roundtable), which regularly attracted more than 1,000 people and contributed substantially to the Chapter’s operating revenues. One of the best parts of planning this event was the opportunity to recruit colleagues to co-chair the various tracks offered – we had more than 60 workshops and activities. Getting together with these talented volunteers to really examine what would be the most interesting topics for attendees, and who could best deliver on those topics, was a creative and exciting venture, and a great reason to re-connect with people that Troy and I had sometimes worked with in the past but perhaps not seen for years. The planning meetings became a wonderful giant networking session, the creative planning yielded some exciting sessions, and the whole conference was successful and very highly evaluated by those who attended. I felt very privileged to be a part of the event, especially to be able to re-connect with colleagues and see them share their knowledge and expertise with others.

A second memory is about how Pam Cook and Marilyn Bancel volunteered to take up the challenge to produce a 2009 National Philanthropy Event. Planning for this event usually starts a year in advance. Unfortunately, the chosen event co-chairs were unable to move forward with the event for personal reasons, and this collided with the financial crisis which started in late 2008. The AFP Chapter Board debated about cancelling the whole event, but Pam and Marilyn felt it was important for the Chapter to press on with this annual recognition and fundraising event in the midst of so much uncertainty. They came up with a creative solution: instead of a 700-person luncheon in a hotel, there was a reception at the Rincon Center’s lovely atrium, followed by a joint event at the nearby PG&E auditorium, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Club, focused on philanthropy. The speakers at that panel event were the late Warren Hellman, Dianne Wilsey, Laura Scher, and Akiko Yamazaki, with Gloria Duffy as moderator. It was a wonderful event and kept alive the spirit of National Philanthropy Day during a very difficult and challenging time for many fund development professionals. Without Pam and Marilyn’s dedication to the Chapter, National Philanthropy Day might not have continued in the future.

Theresa Nelson, MBA, CFRE, has more than 35 years of experience advising nonprofit organizations and public agencies in capital campaigns, fund development, board development, and strategic planning, as well as serving as interim chief development officer for numerous organizations. Theresa has served as a consultant since 1998, for a wide variety of organizations, including California Academy of Sciences; Cal Performances; the League of Women Voters of Oakland; Save the Bay; UC Berkeley; Pacific School of Religion; Homeless Prenatal Program; the Bay Area Discovery Museum; Sonoma Land Trust; Boys and Girls Club of San Leandro; Summer Search; the Asian Art Museum; and The Marine Mammal Center. Earlier in her career she served as a campaign director, director of development, and executive director of various nonprofits. She also taught nonprofit management at U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the University of San Francisco’s Masters in Nonprofit Management program. She holds an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University and a B.S. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Marketing.

Theresa serves as President of the Board of Directors of Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, and as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Humanities West. She is past Chair and Board Member of the Rockridge Community Planning Council, chaired the recent $3.0 million campaign for a new community park (Frog Park), and served 10 years as a Commissioner on the City of Oakland’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission.