About

Raise The Bar Consulting is made up of powerful nonprofit professionals and proven change makers. Our team ranges from seasoned fundraising experts to grant writing masters, to effective executive interim leaders.Together, we bring decades of experience to the table as we guide various organizations and agencies to success.

Our customized, tailored approach ensures we take the time to learn about your vision, business objectives, short and long-term goals and team dynamics. We build our team to compliment your organizational culture and we customize solutions designed to meet your unique needs.

Our team has started dozens of businesses and community programs; raised over $170 million for program, operational and capital needs; assisted organizations through transitions, and developed marketing strategies to help our clients shine.

We enjoy working with clients who welcome us as part of their team, seek innovative solutions, and focus on being the best they can be. Contact us, and take the first step in putting our team to work with and for you.

Together, we have worked with more than 150 organizations and led more than a dozen organizations through executive transitions.

MEET THE TEAM

Jennifer Tersigni Headshot

Jennifer Tersigni

Jennifer Tersigni is the principal and lead consultant at Raise the Bar Consulting, specializing in comprehensive fundraising, organizational development, interim executive, and transitional leadership solutions. Jennifer never anticipated becoming a fundraising powerhouse – it just happened that way. In her unforeseen 25-year career, Jennifer has served as a chief development officer, transitional leader, CEO, and entrepreneur. Thus far, Jennifer has raised more than $110 million and assisted more than seventy organizations to stabilize, grow and flourish.

Jennifer takes a collaborative approach toward making change. She works side by side with leaders to transform organizations, develop new initiatives, build sustainable funding, and make a meaningful impact in the world. As an interim CEO and consultant, she has served as a transitional leader with human service, disaster relief, food security, and charter school education organizations, helping more than two dozen organizations pivot into a more promising future.

A recipient of Tucson’s 40 Under 40 and a Rotary International GSE alumnus, Jennifer is a certified Professional Interim Executive and has held the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) credential continuously since 2008. Committed to lifelong learning and exploration, Jennifer is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Association of Nonprofit Specialists, and the Third Sector, and serves on the faculty of the Arizona State University Lodestar Center for Nonprofit Innovation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and a master’s degree from the University of Arizona.

Melanie Emerson, MA is a culturally competent non-profit and public sector social impact professional. She brings twenty-five years of experience to the Raise The Bar team.

Melanie finds inspiration in Supporting organizations along their journeys to realize their respective missions, evolve and grow. She thrives in service to people and their communities to affect sustainable change.

For five years, Melanie served as a Country Director for the Peace Corps (in the countries of Belize and Georgia), swore in and mentored hundreds of diverse Peace Corps Volunteers from around the US/territories, guided the execution of the Peace Corps’ mission, and collaborated to fulfill each host country’s vision–whether that be Rural Family Health, Youth Development, Organizational Development, Financial Literacy or English Education.

Melanie is most passionate about social and environmental justice, while health, education, conservation/wildlife, and international (rural) development are close seconds.

Melanie Emerson

Melanie Emerson

Melanie Emerson, MA is a culturally competent non-profit and public sector social impact professional. She brings twenty-five years of experience to the Raise The Bar team.

Melanie finds inspiration in Supporting organizations along their journeys to realize their respective missions, evolve and grow. She thrives in service to people and their communities to affect sustainable change.

For five years, Melanie served as a Country Director for the Peace Corps (in the countries of Belize and Georgia), swore in and mentored hundreds of diverse Peace Corps Volunteers from around the US/territories, guided the execution of the Peace Corps’ mission, and collaborated to fulfill each host country’s vision–whether that be Rural Family Health, Youth Development, Organizational Development, Financial Literacy or English Education.

Melanie is most passionate about social and environmental justice, while health, education, conservation/wildlife, and international (rural) development are close seconds.

Brian Best

Brian Best is a seasoned non-profit fundraiser and interim leader on Raise The Bar team.

Brian has worked in the nonprofit sector for decades and is driven by creating change. His experience in the field allows him to efficiently assist organizations in achieving their goals, and then some.

Brian has accomplished much in his long career, however, he holds two milestones close to his heart; raising over $1,000,000 for a capital campaign, and providing one year of interim leadership to guide a nonprofit from the startup to growth phase. He most enjoys working with social justice issues and immigration policy.

Brian’s served as the Interim Executive Director of the Colibrí Center for Human Rights. Its work of collecting missing persons reports to help identify the remains of migrants found in the Arizona desert brings about healing to families whose loved ones have perished, and helps draw attention to the human rights crisis on our southern border. Brian felt honored to guide the organization from being a start-up to being positioned to grow, and to work with its incredible staff and board.

Nichole Burke brings with her more than 20 years of experience in non-profit development. She began her career with the American Heart Association, in small markets, working in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia. With extensive experience in event management, board development, designing and implementing major gift programs, executive leadership, capital campaigns, and fundraising, she has helped organizations raise more than $50 million. Nichole enjoys collaborating with the leadership within an organization to build comprehensive development programs that ensure sustainable funding while staying true to the  organization’s mission.

Nichole has worked with a variety of organizations all over the country which include, faith-based organizations, human rights initiatives, national health non-profits, LGBTQ rights, hospice, youth services, education, and human services. She has worked with these groups at all stages of their organization’s development, including the initial startup of their fundraising efforts, board recruitment, prospecting, and strategic planning.

Nichole Burke

Nichole Burke

Nichole Burke brings with her more than 20 years of experience in non-profit development. She began her career with the American Heart Association, in small markets, working in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia. With extensive experience in event management, board development, designing and implementing major gift programs, executive leadership, capital campaigns, and fundraising, she has helped organizations raise more than $50 million. Nichole enjoys collaborating with the leadership within an organization to build comprehensive development programs that ensure sustainable funding while staying true to the  organization’s mission.

Nichole has worked with a variety of organizations all over the country which include, faith-based organizations, human rights initiatives, national health non-profits, LGBTQ rights, hospice, youth services, education, and human services. She has worked with these groups at all stages of their organization’s development, including the initial startup of their fundraising efforts, board recruitment, prospecting, and strategic planning.

Jennifer Fields

Jennifer Fields has more than twenty years of experience in proposal development, project implementation & evaluation, nonprofit administration and informal science education. Through her work in science centers, universities and as a consultant, she has broad experience in developing, assessing, and disseminating exemplary programs and experiences for general and targeted audiences. Her work has resulted in a wide range of capabilities including grant writing, project conceptual development and management, curriculum development for informal and K-12 audiences, education research, project evaluation and dissemination of best practices through publications, conference proceedings, and workshops for practitioners.

Julie High completed a career in K-12 public education after serving in a variety of
roles including, teacher, instructional coach, principal, project director, Director of Student and Family Services and Director of Program Evaluation. Throughout her career, Julie wrote many grants which were awarded more than $25 million in funding. Julie is entirely mission-driven and extremely passionate about the work she does. Her passion is evident in the fact that the grants she wrote and raised money for were to fund a variety of programs in her school district.

Since 2015, Julie has been grant writing for school districts, nonprofit organizations, community based organizations and institutions of higher education.

Julie High

Julie High

Julie High completed a career in K-12 public education after serving in a variety of
roles including, teacher, instructional coach, principal, project director, Director of Student and Family Services and Director of Program Evaluation. Throughout her career, Julie wrote many grants which were awarded more than $25 million in funding. Julie is entirely mission-driven and extremely passionate about the work she does. Her passion is evident in the fact that the grants she wrote and raised money for were to fund a variety of programs in her school district.

Since 2015, Julie has been grant writing for school districts, nonprofit organizations, community based organizations and institutions of higher education.

Kate Mattias

Kate Mattias has spent more than 30 years in the human and social services space. She has been based on the east coast for the past decade, and is now living and working in Wisconsin. Kate has worked for a public health agency where she was responsible for the health education of a town of approximately 50,000 residents. Kate also has extensive experience with grant writing and fundraising. Her success in fundraising includes securing grant funding for health-related programs including the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program.

Notably, she was most recently Executive Director of NAMI Connecticut (National Alliance on Mental Illness), a position she assumed in 2006.  As Executive Director, Kate focused on developing education courses and support groups for families with children and adolescents who have a mental illness, including a Spanish language course. She has also worked extensively on addressing health equity in issues relating to mental health.

Roxanne Giannikos For over 18 years, Roxanne has been a fundraising and development specialist working with local and international organizations. With vast experience, she assists companies to raise funds, be sustainable, design their projects and achieve their goals. She is hands-on and takes immense joy in seeing clients succeed. Roxanne has worked on numerous projects here in the USA as well as in Africa where she worked with healthcare, environmental, and poverty alleviating projects. She has played a role in the establishment of over 300 SMMEs on the continent. Roxanne’s passions include entrepreneurship, technology, and the outdoors.

Roxanne Giannikos

Roxanne Giannikos

Roxanne Giannikos For over 18 years, Roxanne has been a fundraising and development specialist working with local and international organizations. With vast experience, she assists companies to raise funds, be sustainable, design their projects and achieve their goals. She is hands-on and takes immense joy in seeing clients succeed. Roxanne has worked on numerous projects here in the USA as well as in Africa where she worked with healthcare, environmental, and poverty alleviating projects. She has played a role in the establishment of over 300 SMMEs on the continent. Roxanne’s passions include entrepreneurship, technology, and the outdoors.

Cynthia Wasco

Cynthia Wasco has an innate ability to communicate, influence, and educate others. She has vast experience with creating compelling opportunities that support an organization’s mission, and is constantly creating strategies to advance an institution’s mission to the next level.

Responding to current needs, in real time, gives Cynthia passion and purpose. Her favorite Raise The Bar project was the Courageous Conversation Series, as she was able to discuss racial and social injustices within the nonprofit sector as it was happening.

Cynthia was recognized by the National Association Women In Construction (NAWIC) as a 20 Women Leaders Awardee in February 2020 and Co-producing the Courageous Conversations Series. Although her heart lies in the performing arts, Cynthia believes that advocating for basic needs (food, shelter, etc) is one of the most impactful ways she can serve the nonprofit sector.

Mark Zero thrives on meeting new people who have dedicated their lives to solving community problems in innovative ways.

Mark is most passionate about the Arts. His greatest achievement thus far is guiding the Tucson Pops Orchestra transition to new leadership. Mark stepped in as their Interim Executive Director in a critical moment in the organization’s history, ultimately saving Arizona’s oldest professional musical ensemble. Mark has also secured multiple federal grants for multi-phase public/private initiatives to end domestic violence, in collaboration with the Tucson Police Department and Pima County Attorney’s Office.

Mark’s was able to support Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. During the pandemic, Mobile Meals needed to rapidly update antiquated fundraising systems and community outreach. Mark not only helped Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona to continue providing daily meals to their existing clients, but was responsible for the organization’s expansion of more than 30%.

Mark Zero

Mark Zero

Mark Zero thrives on meeting new people who have dedicated their lives to solving community problems in innovative ways.

Mark is most passionate about the Arts. His greatest achievement thus far is guiding the Tucson Pops Orchestra transition to new leadership. Mark stepped in as their Interim Executive Director in a critical moment in the organization’s history, ultimately saving Arizona’s oldest professional musical ensemble. Mark has also secured multiple federal grants for multi-phase public/private initiatives to end domestic violence, in collaboration with the Tucson Police Department and Pima County Attorney’s Office.

Mark’s was able to support Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. During the pandemic, Mobile Meals needed to rapidly update antiquated fundraising systems and community outreach. Mark not only helped Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona to continue providing daily meals to their existing clients, but was responsible for the organization’s expansion of more than 30%.

BIG WINS

Humane Society of Southern Arizona

Humane Society of Southern Arizona

2020-21. Org & Leadership Assessment, Strategic Consulting, Strategic Planning, Board Readiness, Org Transformation. Mission to serve pets and the people who love them. 78 years in business. Lots of historic board and CEO leadership dysfunction,...

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Colibri Center for Human Rights

Colibri Center for Human Rights

2019-2020. Interim Executive, Strategic Planning, Fundraising, CEO Search. Mission to bring dignity to people found dying in the desert trying to migrate to the U.S. Provide anthropological DNA testing and match services to identify the dead and support...

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Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona

Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona

2019-2020. Interim Executive, Fundraising, CEO Search. Mission to deliver freshly prepared meals (lunch and dinner) to isolated people, M-F. Utilized a volunteer model of delivery – 6 staff, 300 volunteers. Was a 50-year-old org, changed little during the...

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