Nonprofit Workshop Instructors

Rodney Christopher
Forefront workshops: Understanding and Supporting Grantees' Financial Resilience 

Rodney is a Senior Consultant with Fiscal Management Associates (FMA), providing training, consulting and coaching for the firm’s Philanthropic Advisory Services. With more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, Rodney specializes in stimulating and facilitating productive conversations between nonprofits and their funders, enabling nonprofits to achieve long-term impact from a position of strength while giving grantmakers confidence their dollars are going to capable, well-managed organizations. Previously, Rodney spent five years as a Director on the Integrated Capitals team at Heron Foundation, and 15 years developing the consulting practice at Nonprofit Finance Fund, serving as a trainer and consultant to more than 400 nonprofits and 80 grantmaking foundations in 30 states and across subsectors including human services, arts & culture, education and community development. Rodney holds an M.S. in urban policy analysis and management from The New School and a B.A. in social sciences from Bard College at Simon’s Rock. He currently serves on the board of Bard College at Simon’s Rock and is a member of the GuideStar Advisory Council.

Robin Dillow
Forefront workshops: Introduction to Prospect Researching: Finding Grants, Introduction to Prospect Research: Individual Donors

Robin joined Forefront in May 2014 as Library Services Coordinator and was promoted in October 2015 to Manager. She has worked as a librarian in public, special, and community college settings. She also teaches physical geography, contemporary world cultures, and geographic information systems at the community college level, and has a background in the nonprofit sector. In addition to an MLIS degree from Dominican University, Robin holds master's degrees in environmental and urban geography and in public administration. She also completed the Master Online Teacher (MOTC) and Certified Online Learning Administrator (COLA) certificates from the University of Illinois' Illinois Online Network (ION).


Rosie Drumgoole
Forefront workshops: Volunteer Management 101, Volunteer Management 201

Rosie Drumgoole joined the Chicago Cares staff in May of 2010 and is their Director of Ongoing Volunteer Programming.  She currently manages the team who puts together all of Chicago Cares’ calendar programming.  Prior to coming to Chicago Cares Rosie was an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Area Agency on Aging for Suburban Cook County-AgeOptions where she provided trainings and developed easy to use resources for the seniors and senior service providers in Suburban Cook County on the topics of Medicare, Social Security, and cost saving programs.  Rosie holds a B.A. in print journalism and public relations from Northern Illinois University, and

Debra A. Hass
Forefront workshops: Introduction to Proposal Writing; Advanced Proposal Writing
Debra A. Hass’s consulting practice emphasizes proposal review, program development and management, board engagement, evaluation, research, and writing. Deb brings more than 25 years of professional and volunteer experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to her clients. She served as a Senior Policy Associate at the Women Employed Institute and has extensive experience in the areas of education and employment. She has also worked as a Program Officer at The Harris Foundation, as an adult education instructor, as coordinator of a homeless literacy program, and as a college fundraising and alumni affairs officer. Deb earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Spanish from Beloit College and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. She is currently President of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, housed at the University of Chicago Law School; and an adjunct instructor at the University of Chicago’s School of Service Administration, teaching Evaluation of Social Welfare Policies and Programs. Deb has served on the Board and as Co-chair of Chicago Women in Philanthropy and was a Co-chair of the Poverty Task Force of Donors Forum. 


Rena Henderson Mason 
Forefront workshops: Building Your Best Board: Recruiting, Strecture, and Process, Performance and Culture, Developing Efffective Advocates

Rena Henderson Mason leads Bold Agenda and is a trusted advisor to mission-driven board and staff leaders, helping them shape their boards and leaders for high performance and tell their unique stories. Her specialty is empowering board and staff leaders to embrace change, push bold ideas and build great teams. She has coached Board Chairs and Executive Directors/CEOs through a range of organizational challenges including growth, leadership transitions, strategic alliances, restructuring, turnaround and crises. Prior to launching Bold Agenda, Rena spent over 20 years helping scale businesses through new product development, strategic planning and capital raising in the food, commercial real estate, publishing and investment banking industries. Rena has an MBA from Harvard Business School and Bachelor’s in Finance/International Management from Georgetown University. She is a ICF-Certified coach and BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer with extensive training in high performance coaching, board development and group process facilitation. Currently, Rena serves on the Boards of the Arts Alliance Illinois and National Association of Women Business Owners – Chicago Chapter. @boldagenda

Dominica McBride, PhD
Forefront workshops: Culturally Responsive Evaluation

Dr. Dominica McBride is Founder/CEO of Become, Inc. She has conducted domestic and international program development and evaluation projects with diverse communities, including rural communities in Tanzania, African American, Hispanic, and Native American communities, and women. Dr. McBride has designed and implemented workshops nationally, including trainings on cultural competence, program evaluation, leadership, teambuilding, wellness, social and emotional intelligence for audiences including Goodwill Industries International, Inc., prevention specialists, lawyers, mental health professionals, government employees, teachers, and community members. Dr. McBride has also worked on the ground providing substance abuse counseling and clinical therapy to individuals, youth, and families. She also is an adjunct professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and teaches Diversity and Program Evaluation. She has received awards from the American Evaluation Association, the ARK of St. Sabina, and Bright Promises Foundation for her evaluation and development work. She has her PhD in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Consultation from Arizona State University. 

Nikhil Pillai
Forefront workshops: Lobbying & Advocacy 101; Rules of the Gave for 501(c)3s: Elections; Advocacy Rules for Foundation Grantees; Understanding Lobbying Rules for Nonprofits

Nikhil Pillai is Counsel for the Bolder Advocacy Initiative at Alliance for Justice. He consults with and trains nonprofit organizations on the rules and strategies for legal and effective advocacy. Nikhil received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and B.S. from the Ohio State University. Before joining AFJ, Nikhil was Associate Counsel at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL CIO. In that role he was responsible for drafting and negotiating operational agreements, advising staff on prospective legal concerns, and ensuring compliance with campaign finance and lobbying laws. Prior to that, he was a law fellow at AARP. In his free time, Nikhil enjoys cooking, playing music, and watching trashy reality TV.

Susannah Quern Pratt  

Forefront workshops: Creating a Theory of Change; Activating Your Theory of Change: Moving into Measurement 

Susie Quern Pratt, Principal and Co-founder of Pratt Richards Group, leads consultation and training services focused on strategic planning and evaluation. Her consulting work has focused on a variety of issue areas, including civic engagement, theological education, youth development, and human services. These engagements have taken the form of coaching and capacity building, as well as external evaluation. Susie’s formal evaluation career began as the Coordinator of Evaluation for the Religion Division of Lilly Endowment, Inc., where she designed an evaluation coaching program to build the capacity of grantee organizations. Prior to that, she was a program officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois, Inc., a research assistant for the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, and a program associate for The Alford Group, Inc., a fundraising consulting firm. Susie holds a BA from Colgate University with Honors in English Literature and an AM from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. She is currently on the board of Family Matters and the Franklin Square Foundation.

Jenny Ellis Richards

Jenny Ellis Richards, Principal and Co-founder of Pratt Richards Group, has provided evaluation and planning services to a wide range of nonprofits and foundations across the country. With nearly twenty years of experience in the sector, she has advised organizations on how to measure and communicate their impact, and develop robust evaluation systems that foster organizational learning and growth. Prior to founding PRG, Jenny led consulting engagements with TCC Group, Civic Consulting Alliance, and B2P Commerce. She began her career teaching in Ecuador, running a college readiness program for urban youth in San Francisco, and leading an international development effort at Harvard University. Jenny holds a BA in Spanish from Dartmouth College and a Masters of Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She sits on the board of James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, Camp Manito-Wish YMCA, and the Crysdahl Foundation.


Lisa May Simpson
Forefront workshops: Lead Right Now
Lisa serves as Director of Education at Forefront, where she develops and manages trainings and other educational programs to meet the needs of Illinois grantmakers, nonprofits, and advisors. She has served as an independent coach, facilitator, and consultant for a variety of individuals and organizations including Chicago Women in Philanthropy, the Chicago Arts Learning Initiative (CALI), and Ingenuity, Inc. Prior to her work as a coach and consultant, she held the role of deputy director at Arts Alliance Illinois. Lisa has served on the boards of Creating Pride, The Hypocrites, and HealthConnect One and currently serves on the Leadership Council of Barrel of Monkeys. She has trained as a facilitator and educator with Kansas Leadership Center, Interaction Institute for Social Change, and the Institute of Cultural Affairs in the U.S.A. and holds a BA in theater from Western Washington University.
Deidra Somerville, MSW, CFRE
Forefront workshops:  Fundraising in Communities of Color 
Deidra is the Director of Research and Sponsored Programs at Roosevelt University. Most recently she worked as Director of Development for Corporate and Foundation Relations for Roosevelt University. Prior to her tenure at Roosevelt, she worked as Senior Grant Developer for the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), where she was responsible for leading the grant development team to secure resources from corporations, foundations, and public sector funding sources to benefit residents of public and assisted housing. Ms. Somerville obtained her license as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) in 2009 and has worked on behalf of Chicago area municipal and nonprofit organizations in fundraising and program management since her arrival to the Windy City in 1998. She graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a double Bachelor of Arts with honors in sociology and political science, and has her MSW in human resources management from the Boston University School of Social Work.