24th Annual Building Blocks Planned Giving Conference – Speakers

Friday September 20, 2019

Schedule  |  Registration

Keynote & Breakout Speakers

Jeff Comfort – Vice President, Principal Gifts and Gift Planning at Oregon State University Foundation

For more than 35 years, Jeff has been learning and perfecting the art of gift planning — and his results are astounding. Currently, Jeff is the Oregon State University Foundation Vice President of Principal Gifts and Gift Planning, where 25% of donations are planned gifts. His previous 18-year tenure, at Georgetown University, produced $500 million in planned gift commitments. You will be inspired by Jeff’s life lessons and learn how to integrate them into your own successful gift planning strategies.

Dana J. Holt, JD, RICP, AEP – CEO & Philanthropic Strategist at HOLT Consulting

Dana began her career as an estate planning attorney and then spent 13 years at a Fortune 300 Financial Services company. Today, Dana is a charitable gift planning educator, coach and professional speaker. She teaches fundraisers how to raise millions more by accessing wealth, not just cash — and teaches advisors how to grow their practice through the power of philanthropic planning. Join us to learn how to engage your donors and clients in strategic conversations that “turn wealth into what matters.”

10 AM Breakout Speakers

Pat Smithson – Director of Development at University of Central Missouri

The majority of Pat’s career has been working in the nonprofit sector in fundraising, where she has worked locally, regionally and nationally, serving in senior management roles in fund development. Her focus area for many years was in healthcare recently she moved into education, where she works as Director of Development at UCM., assigned to the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Pat holds degrees from UMKC and Webster University. Pat is immediate past president of MACGP.

Stuart Hoffman – Executive Director at Charlie’s House

Stuart has spent more than 20 years in non-profit management in development and marketing operations. Currently, Stuart serves as Executive Director of Charlie’s House, He is a CFRE and holds degrees from Baker and Webster University. He is a Past President of the AFP Mid-America Chapter, is an adjunct professor at Rockhurst University teaching Annual Fund Sustainability as well as an adjunct professor in the UMKC Center for Nonprofit Management, teaching direct mail and marketing concepts.

Monica Tiffany – Creative Director/Principal at M&C

Monica Tiffany specializes in developing effective communications strategy for companies and organizations. She has written for Shriners Hospitals for Children, National Geographic, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the American Red Cross, to name a few. Monica served as VP of Marketing and Communications for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Kansas City Chapter. She currently serves as Marketing Consultant on the CASA of Jackson County board and is a member of the Reach Out and Read KC Community Council. A Mizzou graduate, Monica also serves on the MU English Leaders Development Board helping to promote the university’s English Department and connect recent graduates with career opportunities. She joined the Mid America Planned Giving Council board in 2018. Monica is also a member of the Women’s Foundation Inner Circle and The Nelle.

Merritt Neil – President/Principal at M&C  

Merritt Neil is a direct marketing strategist, copywriter and trainer. She specializes in providing measurable results for clients through a range of marketing channels, print and digital. She regularly consults and writes for both for-profit and nonprofit national organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the University of Kansas Physicians Group and Hospital.

Merritt serves on the faculty at Rockhurst University, where she developed and teaches the Marketing and Technology Trends course. She is past president of the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association. KCDMA named Merritt “Direct Marketer of the Year” in 2012. She was recently honored as a member of the 2016 40 Under Forty class by Ingram’s Magazine

Casey Connealy – Estate Planning Attorney at Gaughan & Connealy

As partner in the law firm of Gaughan & Connealy, Casey Connealy works with families to avoid probate and create estate plans that continue their legacies for generations to come. Casey is a devoted parishioner at Holy Trinity Church and has raised millions of dollars for his church’s legacy society. Helping families who care for someone with special needs is also close to Casey’s heart as his daughter, Olivia, is disabled due to an anoxic brain injury.

11 AM Breakout Speakers

Matt Syverson, CFP®, CAP®, CKA® – Senior Wealth Advisor at Sound Stewardship, LLC

Matt Syverson specializes in helping donors and advisors make an impact on their favorite charities through effective giving strategies. As Senior Wealth Advisor at Sound Stewardship, LLC, he has focused on serving generous families since 2000. Matt is a Certified Financial Planner PractitionerTM, a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® and Certified Kingdom Advisor®. He served on the board of the Mid-America Charitable Gift Planners from 2006-2014 and is currently the Treasurer for New Horizon Ranch. In addition, he is a Fellow with the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program and involved with the Unconventional Business Network.

Philip A. Watson – Managing Director of Philanthropic Gift Planning at Children’s Mercy Kanas City, Missouri

Phil is responsible for the management and leadership of the Gift Planning team at Children’s Mercy Kansas City as it builds and sustains a strong culture of gift planning for donors and friends in creating blended, tax-advantaged and financially meaningful gift plans to support children and families served by the hospital.

Phil has more than 35 years of experience in charitable gift planning, major gift fundraising, financial and estate planning, trust and investment administration and sales, and advancement and endowment administration. Before coming to Children’s Mercy, Phil served as Director of Planned Giving/Major Gifts at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and as Vice President for Advancement at Avila University and Associate Director of Planned Giving at the Kansas University Endowment Association. Phil has also provided trust and investment services through Midwest trust departments, including his role as Senior Vice President and Manager for BANK IV Kansas City.

Schedule  |  Registration