Meet Our Team - The Yunker Group
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Meet the Yunker Group

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Jim Yunker

As President and CEO of The Yunker Group, Jim Yunker brings to each of the nonprofit organizations he helps the perspectives of a donor, volunteer, fundraising committee member, board chair, staff member, CEO, teacher, parent, and consultant. His ability to appreciate, understand and help organizations tackle the perceptions and realities of fundraising responsibilities of individuals in all of these roles has earned him kudos from those he has helped over the past 43 years.

A consultant since 1983, Jim has guided organizations from Arts groups to Zoos in C-Level searches and raising annual, major and capital funds while strengthening staff and volunteer resources and competencies along the way. Adept at helping volunteer leaders understand their responsibilities, he has guided many organizations in strengthening their leadership and board development practices.
Jim’s experience began in the Alumni & Development Office of Ball State University which later recognized him as an Outstanding Journalism Alumnus of the Year. At Indiana University, where he earned his doctorate in higher education administration, his dissertation examined donor motivation.

Jim has been recognized for his local volunteer activities by being named Citizen of the Year by the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce and acknowledged by the Forest Hills School District with “The Friend of Children PTA Award.” Nationally, Jim is the a Past Chair of the Giving USA Foundation, publisher of Giving USA, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Giving Institute. Jim is a founding partner of Social Venture Partners – Cincinnati.

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Elizabeth A. McDaniel

A strong and talented writer, Beth offers The Yunker Group clients a varied background in politics, conservation, and education. Her experience includes fundraising, grant writing, public and media relations, public policy, and advocacy.

Early in her career, she held positions in the office of Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and for Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. She then spent a year teaching English in South Korea before taking a position with Wisconsin Environment.

Now President of Blue Crane Communications, a Strategic Partner of The Yunker Group, Beth specializes in direct response fundraising. Since 2009 she has written for scores of nonprofit clients including DAV, Environmental Defense Fund, UNHCR Canada, World Vision, Appalachia Service Project, and many others. Blending best practices with creativity tailored to meet the needs of each individual client, Beth and her team are devoted to helping clients achieve results.

She is an active member of the Greater Cincinnati Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council. Beth attends DMA Nonprofit Federation national conferences annually and has published several articles on fundraising.

Beth holds a master’s degree in English from Xavier University. She received her bachelor’s degree from DePauw University, where she graduated magna cum laude in English literature with a minor in political science.

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Kay R. Atkins

Kay Atkins brings a wealth of management experience to each of the nonprofit organizations with whom she works. Her career has spanned all aspects of nonprofit organizations in her roles as President/CEO, board chair, donor, volunteer, coach, funder, fund raiser and community activist. Kay has the dedication and enthusiasm needed to be highly effective in helping clients in the current environment and into the future. A skilled leader, mentor, collaborator and team builder, she facilitates and nurtures the creation and development of effective alliances.

She has worked with various state and federal organizations in the arenas of public policy development, fundraising, community relations, and community needs identification. These skills were her hallmark as an effective organizational and community leader. Her early experiences as an educator in college, high school and community settings, really focused her energies into helping individuals and groups make a positive difference in their families and their communities.

A Rotarian for over 20 years, Kay has been active as a member and officer of the Athens and Cincinnati Rotary clubs. She is a Past Ethics Chair of the Cincinnati Chapter and a Past President of the Hills of Ohio Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

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Rebecca A. Morra

Rebecca is recognized by her peers as an excellent writer and creative producer with tech savvy skills, but most importantly, someone who fiercely values the health and wellbeing of all people. She has worked in creative roles since her college years as a journalism major at Ohio University where she was a radio news reporter and intern at Good Morning America in New York City. After graduating, Rebecca dabbled in video production and copywriting then returned to school on a full scholarship at Miami University where she obtained an MA in mass communication. Passionate about the value of cultural diversity, Rebecca’s thesis and subsequent work as a visiting instructor centered around this theme. Her creativity and determination to do good in the world was further ignited at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where she wrote, produced multimedia projects, and helped manage web content.
Additional marketing/communication roles have included director of communication at Maple Knoll Communities where she developed close ties to the seniors who lived there, and marketing manager at UC Health where patient storytelling was her focus. Rebecca has played key positions for several volunteer organizations and groups devoted to social justice, cultural diversity and mental health. Seeking a second MA degree from Xavier University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Rebecca’s dream for “Life: Act 2” is to provide psychotherapy for adults. She and her husband, Alex, have three active daughters ages 10, 13 and 15.

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Janet Arena Burns

Born and raised in New York, Janet’s career began in the world of publishing and insurance before finding her love of working with volunteers in the nonprofit sector. A family relocation to the Midwest in the early 1990s introduced her to raising awareness and funds for the visually impaired, then the arts, and ultimately children at risk. Her success engaging volunteers and donors in these different, yet similar, settings allows her to share her unique perspectives with clients of The Yunker Group.
First with the Volunteer Center of Greater Essex County (New Jersey), Janet recruited nonprofit agencies, recruited, qualified and placed hundreds of volunteers and interviewed volunteers at member agencies. As Associate Director of the United Way of North Essex also provided her experiences conducting employee presentations, planning special events, and developing relationships with the region’s largest employers. That grounding in the East prepared Janet for her first position in Cincinnati as VP of Development and Community Relations of Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Recruited to the Cincinnati Opera Association as its Director of Development, Janet lead a team of 5 responsible for the annual fund, corporate sponsorships and the Opera’s $12 million capital campaign. In 2006, Janet was tapped as Vice President of Development of The Children’s Home of Cincinnati where she increased annual giving from $600,000 to $1.5 million in ten years.

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Penny Pensak

When they were growing up, Penny’s kids always felt that if they were a local non-profit, they would see more of her. A native New Yorker, with an undergraduate degree in sociology and a Master’s of Science degree in education, her early professional experience was with the United States Committee for UNICEF.

Penny’s career in the non-profit world in Cincinnati is broadly based, and ranges from lobbying at the state and national levels and grass roots organizing statewide to serving as the first director for an early education program (HIPPY) that she introduced locally. Diverse volunteer and professional opportunities have afforded Penny the opportunity to focus her interests on strategic planning, messaging, leadership development, and to effectively employ skills as a facilitator, planner, and organizer.

Penny served the UC Health Foundation as its founding President from 2011 to 2013 and was responsible for establishing an infrastructure capable of competing in today’s crowded philanthropic world, a challenge she found uniquely satisfying.
In 2005, she was honored as a Cincinnati Enquirer “Woman of the Year”, in 2008 received “The Geier Family Award for United Way Leadership” and in 2013 became a 4C “Champion for Children”. Most recently, Penny was recognized as one of the United Way’s “100 heroes” who have helped shape and improve our community.

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Marian Barrett Leibold

A civic volunteer and advocate for Cincinnati, Marian Barrett Leibold brings to organizations served by The Yunker Group a variety of experiences and interests to help facilitate the enhancement of organizations seeking assistance in leadership development, volunteer management, strategic planning, fundraising, and the initiation of new programs.
Marian is a broad-minded thinker with sharp focus who enjoys bringing together diverse entities for a common purpose. As a native Cincinnatian with a family history which has long been invested in the development and well-being of the people of Cincinnati, she is grounded in the importance of Helping Others Make A Difference®. With high principles and experience in the development of programs, she offers a flexible style and creative problem solving skills.
She has served on numerous boards, including the Bethesda Foundation, Hospice of Cincinnati, The Summit Country Day School, the Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, KY, the Barrett Cancer Fund, Convalescent Hospital for Children, and the Cincinnati Parks Foundation.
A Master Gardener, she serves as the Zone X (Ohio, Michigan and Indiana) Conservation Representative of the Garden Club of America. Marian was among the first to complete the inaugural Docent Training Program with the Cincinnati Parks Foundation and leads tours of the riverfront parks.

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Rita M. Sturwold, SNDdeN

Sr. Rita Sturwold brings to organizations served by The Yunker Group considerable experience gained in a variety of educational settings from the classroom to several administrative positions. Her training and hands-on success raising friends and funds for Catholic secondary and higher education has prepared her to be an invaluable member of The Yunker Group.

Sr. Rita served from 2003 to 2011 as President/ CEO of Cincinnati’s Mount Notre Dame High School. Sr. Rita and the Board of Trustees created and implemented a strategic plan for MNDHS resulting in a $6.2MM renovation of the school. She initiated the President’s Circle and personally developed and enhanced relationships with parents, past parents, Board members, alumnae and other friends of MNDHS. She excels at stewarding and asking for major, annual and campaign gifts.

A graduate of Leadership Cincinnati, Class XVIII (1995), Sr. Rita earned a B.A. in Latin from Our Lady of Cincinnati (Xavier), an M.A. in English from Northwestern University, and Ohio certification in Secondary Administration through coursework at The Ohio State University.

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Michael P. Vilardo, D.Min

For more than 30 years Michael Vilardo has worked as a pastor and development professional. As a pastor in the United Methodist Church, Michael led one congregation to more than quadruple its membership and ministry. Completing a doctoral thesis, “Connecting Church and Community,” Michael developed expertise in uniting the purposes of churches and not-for-profits with the needs of their community.
In addition to pastoral experience, Michael honed strategic planning and analytic skills as Vice President for Fund Development and Community Relations for a Christian retirement community, leading capital campaigns for the expansion of program facilities. Building on his extensive ministry and consulting experiences, he created and launched his own consulting firm, “Transforming Christian Ministries.”
Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and a Doctor of Ministry from United Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. While working on his Doctorate, Michael was often asked for counsel and guidance in church revitalization and growth, leading him to join a national firm where he could use his knowledge and experience in a broader ministry. There he led campaigns raising more than $300 million.

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Jenny Weiglein

Jenny Weiglein brings to The Yunker Group and, more importantly, to our clients, many years of management and administrative experience. This, in addition to a wealth of volunteer experiences, prepares her to assist in meeting the needs of your organization and its representatives.

With a seventeen year background in small business administration and customer service, Jenny brings experience and strong organizational skills to her role as Director of Support Services. After receiving her Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Cincinnati, Jenny went on to help her husband establish and operate his now thriving small business. Jenny gained an abundance of experience in all aspects of business management. This experience, along with her energy, enthusiasm and good humor, compliments the dedicated atmosphere at The Yunker Group.

Jenny has used her talents to contribute to a wide variety of volunteer and fundraising activities in her community and local school district. She has served on numerous committees at the elementary, middle and high school levels, including serving as treasurer of several PTAs.