Member profiles by Dennis O’Brien
Kate Brennan is Director of Annual Giving and Development Communications at Saint Louis University. Managing a team of six, she oversees the strategy, planning, and calendaring of the Billiken Call Center, all development direct mail and digital communications, the Reunion Giving Program, and other annual giving initiatives.
Why CSPRC? “I find a lot of value in sharing ideas and learning from others in similar fields,” Kate says. “Several networks and organizations provide resources in higher education, but CSPRC provides a much-needed network outside of the higher education universe. And the organizational membership makes it possible for more of us to take advantage of the professional development opportunities CSPRC offers.”
Kate has deep roots at SLU. As an undergraduate, she worked in the university’s phonation. Two weeks after graduating magna cum laude in May 2002 with a BA in psychology, Kate began was hired as Assistant Director of the Annual Giving Program where she worked for eight years until being promoted to her current position as Director in July 2010. As AD, the Billiken Call Center reached its peak performance, raising over $1M/year. It was also at SLU where she met her husband P.J. Brennan, who worked in an office next to hers.
Kate recently joined the board of the Missouri Family Heath Council and is excited to put her professional skills to work for another nonprofit she feels passionate about. At home, Kate and P.J. are busy raising their two-year-old, Jude, as well as their dog Lucy and cat Jack.
Libby Massa Sunkari
has served as Community Relations Manager at Sherwood Forest since January 2017. This nonprofit has provided education and opportunity to transform the lives of children from low-income families and underserved communities from the St. Louis area since 1937, both through its month-long summer camp experience and a variety of evidence-based programs during the school year.
“CSPRC helps me stay informed on best practices improve my skills and connect with other people in St. Louis working in the nonprofit field,” Libby says.
After earning her BA in American Studies/Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University in Chicago in 2012, Libby served in the highly selective Teach For America program for two years, working as a kindergarten teacher for the St. Louis Public School at Patrick Henry Downtown Academy.
After completing her Teach For America commitment, Libby was hired as Community Partner Program Coordinator for the St. Louis Public Schools in 2014, coordinating logistics, communications and oversight of 150 corporate volunteers. For the next 18 months, Libby served as Marketing Coordinator for the St. Louis Public Schools. She was responsible for chairing weekly marketing committee that oversaw everything from social media to large scale marketing events and coordinating with district leaders to implement student recruitment efforts by supporting magnet school enrollment.
Libby is alum of the Focus St. Louis Emerging Leaders program. She volunteers for Read Readers and serves on the Teacher For America–St. Louis Member and Alumni Board.
Shandi Greve Penrod, MA candidate, serves as Communications and Administrative Assistant for Congregation Shaare Emeth, a Jewish Reform Congregation in Creve Coeur.
“The PR/marketing communications field changes quickly, and it's important to continuously learn about the new trends in technology, strategy, and tactics,” she said. “CSPRC keeps me up to date with information that is nonprofit-specific. After attending several meetings, participation with CSPRC has also begun helping me connect with others in my field.”
Shandi will complete her MA in Communications Management from Webster University in the fall of 2018. While earning her BS with honors in Mass Communications with minors in musical theater and French from Southeast Missouri State University in 2007, Shandi wrote biweekly articles for the university paper, The Arrow, and completed internships for the March of Dimes, Cape Girardeau Public School Foundation and Hype Creative. After moving back to the St. Louis area in 2008, she served as a communications intern for a year at Central Reform Congregation (CRC). She then worked independently for three years as an internet marketing specialist and online sales manager before taking a position at Shaare Emeth in 2012.
As a volunteer, this skilled and energetic young professional served on the Event Planning Committee of the Mizzou Women’s Center, on Steering Committee of the Jewish Environmental Initiative of St. Louis for 6½ years and on the Board of Directors of CRC for 4½ years.
On a personal level, Shandi is an avid audiobook and podcast listener, health and wellness nut, lunchtime yogi, and a lover of dark chocolate and (shh) the Oxford comma. She plays roller derby with the Metro-East league, the Confluence Crush, under the nickname Splatniss Everdeen. She lives in Glen Carbon, IL, with her husband and five-year-old daughter. She welcomes people to connect with her at a CSPRC luncheon or her website or other social media.
Deb Cottin has served as Director of Development and Marketing for Safe Connections since April of 2009. With her team, Deb raises about $2.4M/year to support the St. Louis region’s oldest and largest nonprofit focused 100% on ending domestic and sexual violence through therapeutic counseling, 24-hour crisis care, and youth education. During her tenure, Safe Connections has doubled in staff size and in the number of counseling and education clients served. Deb is now happily learning the ins and outs of running a capital campaign while planning a new website and photography to be more welcoming and representative of Safe Connections’ diverse clients.
“CSPRC is a terrific way to stay connected to the latest trends and developments in the nonprofit field,” she said. “Being involved with CSPRC for 14 years has provided me with some of my most valued professional relationships and growth. Plus, I love getting to meet those new to the field who I can support in return for all of the support that I’ve received.” She served as 2008–2009 Chair of the CSPRC Board of Directors.
After attending Ursuline Academy, Deb earned her B.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri–Columbia in 1993. She spent a year serving the poor in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps between writing and editing stints at the Riverfront Times. After serving as marketing coordinator for a book publishing company in Colorado for three years, she returned to St. Louis in 2003 to serve as Director of Marketing for FOCUS St. Louis for five years before assuming her position at Safe Connections.
In her free time, Deb parents her 16-year-old daughter while pursuing her quest to visit and hike at every state park and historic site in Missouri.