CWR Conference 2023: Speakers


Maryanne Dersch
Courageous Communication

Maryanne Dersch is a leader in the nonprofit sector, having spent 30 years helping organizations communicate more authentically and effectively. She is a consultant, coach, teacher, strategist, and presenter, all wrapped up in one dynamic personality. Insightful and honest, Maryanne has the keen ability to identify the challenges we face in our organizations (and ourselves) while helping us to recognize and share our unique value to better connect with our audiences. A St. Louis native with a national following, Maryanne authored Courageous Communication: How Codependence is Making Your Nonprofit Brand Boring and What to Do About it. She also hosts The Influential Nonprofit podcast and the annual Donor Attraction Forum virtual event, which recently attracted more than 800 attendees.

As communicators, the sisters call upon us to be a prophetic voice in today’s divisive world. But does fear of fallout have you trying to be everything to everyone instead of standing up for what our sisters believe in? With “Courageous Communication,” Maryanne teaches us how to make a shift from worrying about what could happen to being confident in expressing our sisters’ authentic vision to attract attention, energy, and supporters.

Plenary Speakers

Kelly Latimore
Art in Communion

Kelly Latimore is an artist and iconographer from St. Louis, Missouri. He started painting icons in 2010 while a member of the Common Friars, a small monastic farming community in Athens, Ohio. Latimore’s icons often mix classic orthodox iconographic imagery with figures representing the marginalized and the oppressed among us here and now. Latimore’s icon “Refugees: La Sagra­da Familia,” in which the flight to Egypt is interpreted as Latinx immigrants crossing the desert, adorns the cover of Pope Francis’s book A Stranger and You Welcomed Me. Latimore has also created a diverse array of icons of unexpected saints such as poet Mary Oliver, author James Baldwin, and TV host Mr. Rogers.

It seems like a simple question, but what is the art in our parishes and communities for? Is it all glorified wallpaper? or could it potentially bring about more engagement, conversation, and communion with each other and our surrounding communities?

Matt Homann
Think Together Better:
Building Innovation, Collaboration, and Creativity Into Every Meeting

Matt Homann is the founder and CEO of Filament, a meeting-focused business that is rethinking the ways people think, meet, and learn together better. An accomplished keynote speaker and creative facilitator, Matt has worked with legal, accounting, financial services, nonprofit, and healthcare professionals around the world, as well as with executives from companies including Google, Purina, McDonald’s, HP, Microsoft, IBM, British Petroleum, DuPont, and the U.S. military. Matt has suffered from “Idea Surplus Disorder” for as long as he can remember. He’s also the inventor of Thinksgiving: a collaborative event that pairs deserving nonprofits with innovative teams from smart companies for a day of creative problem-solving. Matt lives in St. Louis with his wife Jessica and daughter Grace.

In this engaging session, you’ll learn how to make every meeting better (including your virtual ones), and you’ll leave with tools and frameworks that help you approach everyday challenges in unique, collaborative ways. Specific things you’ll take away from the session include:

  • Explore ways to make your virtual meetings more engaging to your attendees.
  • How to build simple agendas that get people to attend (and prepare for) your meetings.
  • Learn three ways to add at least an hour back into your schedule every single day.
  • Use Filament’s Meeting Preparation Framework to help you prepare for every single meeting.

Ann Garrido
#Rules_of_Engagement: Reshaping the Tenor of Christian Conversation on Social Media

Ann M. Garrido is associate professor of homiletics at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. While her first passion is teaching, for more than fifteen years she has found herself increasingly drawn to administrative roles. Garrido is the author of multiple books, including the award-winning Redeeming Administration and Redeeming Conflict, and her most recent book #Rules_of_Engagement: 8 Habits for Doing Good and Being Good Online. She travels nationally and internationally doing conflict education and mediation work in both the business and church worlds. She lives in Georgia.

The ability of the Christians to offer transformative witness in the modern world has been diminished not just by disheartening stories about the church but by the quality of conversation within the church—conversation that mirrors the polarization, falsehoods, and meanness of contemporary American life rather than modeling an alternative. As communicators, we can play a role in reshaping the tenor of dialogue on social media. We’ll talk about best practices to influence the Christian presence online in more healthy directions.

Sister Rose Pacatte, FSP
Media Mindfulness

Sister Rose is a Daughter of St. Paul, a media literacy education specialist, and the founding director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies in Culver City, CA where she teaches courses on media literacy for catechists and adults. A world traveler, she gives presentations and courses on media literacy around the globe. She has a BA in Liberal Arts with concentrations in catechetics and communications, an MEd in Media Studies from the Institute of Education, University of London, UK, and a Certificate in Pastoral Communication from the University of Dayton. She is an award-winning author and co-author of books on film and scripture and media literacy education. Her most recent book is Martin Sheen: Pilgrim on the Way (2015).

We are called to be faithful citizens in the digital universe. In this session, we will learn how to develop a clear, accessible understanding of what media literacy is in the digital age.

Sister Joanne Gallagher, CSJ
Spirituality of Communications: Strengthening Your Spiritual Core

Joanne Gallagher, CSJ, has been the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston Communications Director since 2001. With a team of two talented assistants she coordinates all aspects of internal and external communications. Joanne has a BA in English from Regis College, Weston, MA, an MA in Liturgical Theology from the University of Notre Dame, and numerous post-graduate Theology courses and Communications certificates. Joanne was a High School Campus Minister for 20 years and organized immersion retreats to Ecuador and Mexico with students and adults. These focused on listening with the heart and entering the lived reality of the people. She has also coordinated CSSJ Heritage Pilgrimages to France. Joanne has served on the CWR board, various committees for the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and multiple boards and committees for CSJ Boston ministries. Currently she is coordinating the year-long celebration of the CSJ’s 150th year in Boston and comments, “The mission and spirit of the Congregation is in the marrow of my bones. It doesn’t feel like work but an honor, privilege, and sacred responsibility.” Joanne enjoys sunrises, living near the ocean, the changing New England seasons, singing, reading, travel, live theater, relaxing with friends, and responsibly sourced dark chocolate!

This session will jumpstart your heart to enliven your spiritual core, helping you to take notice and listen mindfully for the mission and spirit of your congregation, no matter where you are on the spiritual spectrum.

Plenary Panel: Collaborating for Mission Success

Eileen Reilly, SSND • Annmarie Sanders, IHM • Dan Stockman

CWR members, collaborators, and communicators who are also members of other organizations supporting women religious will share insights on matters of interest to communicators and address questions about overlapping initiatives.


Ian Cabrera
Video Marketing: The Key to Unlocking Your Community’s Potential

Ian Cabrera, a graduate of California State University-Fullerton, is a skilled corporate communicator with an emphasis in branding and content management. A proficient photographer, videographer, and storyteller, Ian has a demonstrated history of hard work and service to others.

In this session, Ian will share how to make compelling videos that build trust in your community.

Maryanne Dersch
Get to “Yes”

Can you imagine asking for anything, including money, with ease and confidence? Can you imagine a community of support enrolled in your vision so you can thrive in any circumstance? Can you imagine getting more support from your leaders to bring your communications efforts to the next level? With three secrets to hearing YES more frequently, faster and with less follow-up, Maryanne Dersch helps nonprofit leaders master the art of influence so they can ask for and receive all they want, need and deserve without feeling rejected, ineffective or pushy.

Heather Kemper
How to Move Event Attendees to Monthly Donors

Heather Kemper has an unwavering passion for creating impact in her community. She is currently the Director of Development for Miriam School & Learning Center, a nonprofit that empowers children with learning disabilities, is a board member for the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce, and co-founder of 100 Women Who Care – St. Charles County. Heather earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Missouri – Columbia, a master’s in writing from Lindenwood University, is a Certified Fund Raising Executive, as well as an Advanced Certified Nonprofit Professional. She has spent over two decades helping nonprofits expand their mission and vision to the community. In that time, she landed PR coverage in print and broadcast outlets, including The New York Times, Time magazine and MSNBC. In 2016, after being crowned Mrs. Missouri America, Heather toured across the state speaking to children, teens and even adults about inner beauty and community involvement. She is the recipient of the Beyond the Best Award from StreetScape Magazine, ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award, Unsung Hero Award by Small Business Monthly and is a graduate from the Class of 2015 – VISION St. Charles County Leadership program.

So, your event was a success and now you can rest and relax, right? Actually, as we will learn in this session, post-event is where the work really begins.

Dawn Miller​
Sharing Your Story Using Mission and Metrics

Since 1997, Dawn M.S. Miller, CFRE, a Senior Vice President at Let’s Build Hope, LLC, has raised millions for international programs, capital expenditures, social services, disaster relief efforts, annual funds, and comprehensive/special gift campaigns. She has worked closely with nonprofits in 31 states and the District of Columbia with their fundraising efforts, also supporting clients in Canada, Haiti, Mexico, and in Rome, among other locations. Dawn has extensive experience in crafting compelling Case for Funding documents; designing, managing, and exceeding goals for annual giving programs (direct mail, online giving, mid-level programs, events, etc.); creating major gift initiatives; restructuring development offices; assisting in short-and long-term planning for complex organizations, including 10-Year Impact Statement processes; educating Boards, Councils, and Committees on their role in fund development; and integrating marketing and communications with fundraising. She has raised more than $150 million with 200+ small to mid-size nonprofit organizations. Dawn is a featured speaker and writer for local, national, and international nonprofit publications, websites, social media outlets, and blogs – as well as the Annual Fund Training Camps taught by Let’s Build Hope. She is former chair of the AFP Advanced Professionals Committee for the St. Louis region and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications with an emphasis in communication theory and rhetoric from the University of Missouri—St. Louis. She also earned her CFRE credential in 2007. Dawn loves podcasts and movies, outdoor music festivals/concerts, theater, and supporting local restaurants/small businesses.

Building a successful nonprofit fundraising program is possible! By sharing and using mission and metrics based on three pillars – case for support, annual planning, and board development – we can practice active (not passive) fundraising through our words and actions. With a better understanding of fundraising, its possibilities and pitfalls, how strategies dovetail with marketing/communications, as well as what it will take to raise sufficient funding for your nonprofit, together we can make great things happen. Let’s tell your incredible nonprofit story as we build hope in our communities!

Lee Triolo
Practical Digital Asset Management

Lee Triolo is an experienced Digital Asset Manager with over a decade of expertise in digital media creation and management. She received her MA in Digital Media in 2008, after working in computer systems and project management for many years. As a content creator, Lee is responsible for overseeing the encoding, organization, storage, and retrieval of digital assets, as well as their distribution across multiple systems and platforms. With a deep understanding of the importance of good file naming and storage rules, Lee is adept at resolving complex digital asset management challenges. Lee is an accomplished masters runner, and in her free time, she enjoys gardening, art making, and celebrating the beauty of every day. Digital Asset Management (DAM) is a critical process for businesses and organizations that work with digital media.

The goal of this session is to help you create a workflow and rules that result in a centralized repository of digital assets that are easily accessible and searchable, enabling you to make the most of your digital content. By mastering digital asset management, you will improve the efficiency of your workflows and increase your return on the digital assets you purchase and create.

Gus Wagner
#Thumbstoppable: Best Practices for Social Media

Gus Wagner is the President/Owner of The Rocket Group – an award-winning marketing and communications firm headquartered in Jefferson City, Missouri. The Rocket Group specializes in building effective communication tools across traditional means and new media for clients in business, politics, and government. Gus offers creative insights into the ways communication tools must work in this modern world to be truly successful. Gus has experience from the White House to local city halls and the Fortune 100 to one-person small businesses. Gus is also a five-time certified Social Media Strategist, a former Chief of Staff in the Missouri State Senate, and a retired national champion amateur hockey coach.

Hundreds of thousands of posts and tweets are made across the big 6 social media platforms every second. What is your content doing to stop people from scrolling past it in newsfeeds to see more funny animal videos? Learn the elements of content creation – in words and pictures.

Workshop Panel: Communicating for Our Common Home

What exactly is the Laudato Si’ Action Platform and how are congregations and Catholic organizations using it to make change? Hear from a congregational leader and a communicator about how the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have created their plan, spread the word through monthly Eco-Challenges and measured outcomes.

Sister Patty Johnson, CSJ

Patty Johnson, CSJ is a mission-driven professional with more than 30 years’ experience as a senior or executive manager, a flexible and creative planner who develops outcomes-based plans that build in accountability, and an effective facilitator, assisting large groups with diverse goals to come to consensus to focus on specific projects and timelines. She is currently a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet’s Congregational Leadership Team. Before that, she most recently served as executive director of the U.S. Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph for eight years.

Kim Westerman

Kim Westerman is the congregational communications director for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and serves as chair of the board of Communicators for Women Religious. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Truman State University and a master’s of public affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Workshop Panel: Engaging the Next Generation of Philanthropists presented by CCS Fundraising

When considering how to engage donors across generations, demographics, or backgrounds, it is important to remember that every philanthropist is unique. Take the time to understand a donor’s internal motivations and passions. Consider why they give to your organization over others, what they value, what motivates them, and how they desire to engage with your mission. With the great wealth transfer upon us, it is important that we take the time to cultivate strong relationships with the next generation of philanthropists. Join CCS Fundraising as they share actionable insights and resources to consider when engaging across generations and how to build closer relationships with Gen Z and Millennials. This session will explore the current landscape, key trends for engagement, deep dive into the next generation of philanthropists and what makes them unique, and explore actionable steps to consider as you begin to strategically engage this new generation.

Lisa Masters

Lisa Masters has more than 20 years of fundraising experience across all sectors in annual fund, corporate giving, grant-writing, gala events, board development, training, and more. The vast majority of her fundraising time has been in major gifts, comprehensive campaigns, and planned giving including blended gift proposals. As a part of the successful $604 million comprehensive campaign at Saint Louis University, Lisa led Parks College of Aviation, Engineering, and Technology to establish numerous new scholarships, establish a dean’s investment fund, and collaborated on a STEM building built in 2020. During a recent CCS client engagement, Lisa conducted a gift planning assessment including predictive modeling, peer benchmarking, staff training around gift planning, and 50+ constituent interviews providing more than $54 Million in gift indications to the client. Lisa has a B.S. in Business Administration from Southwest Baptist University and her MBA from Saint Louis University. Lisa holds the CFRE certification as well. She lives outside of St. Louis with her husband Paul in their now empty nest. Lisa enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling. Lisa plays the piano and is trying to re-learn French.

Kaleigh Wagner

Kaleigh Wagner is an Assistant Vice President committed to furthering the critical missions of nonprofit organizations through philanthropy. Since joining CCS, Kaleigh has partnered with organizations throughout the Central United States spanning across the religious, health, education, and social services sectors. Her areas of expertise include feasibility studies, campaign planning, major gift strategies, scaling development operations and building organizational capacity. Passionate about her work, Kaleigh is committed to supporting her clients expand their inclusive philanthropy practices. She is thankful for the opportunity to support her clients in creating a more equitable society. In addition to her client responsibilities, Kaleigh co-chairs the Aspiring Allies Employee Resource Group working committee, serves on the Pro Bono working group, and is a mentor to her colleagues. Kaleigh has been privileged to lead one of CCS’ pilot Pro Bono client partnerships.

Workshop Panel: Copyright, Copywrong and Copyjustice in a Virtual World

Since 2020, we have increasingly led meetings over virtual platforms such as Zoom, giving many opportunities to engage your audience and add a personal touch by including music, artwork, photographs, and other creative works. However, there are important copyright laws to keep in mind. This workshop is designed to help you identify content that you can use for your events and meetings, and to provide straightforward ways to avoid copyright infringements.

Sister Amy Hereford, CSJ

Amy Hereford is a Sister of St. Joseph. She has been in religious life for over 30 years and has served in a variety of ministries, in education, in administration, in communication, in vocation/formation, and in community leadership. Sr. Amy has degrees in science, communication and theology, as well as in civil and canon law. This background helps her to assist religious communities, and to help those who are making important choices about the future of their institutes. Beginning in teaching and communication, Sr. Amy then moved into management and administration and then into consulting. As a consultant and facilitator, she works with religious communities and with small to mid-sized charitable organizations across the US and beyond, especially in assisting organizations in facing the challenges of an uncertain and changing future. She helps clients maximize their resources for the sake of their mission and to further organizational goals. In her work as a writer, speaker, and retreat director she addresses technical concerns of religious institutes and explores the evolving nature of religious life itself. Sr. Amy has been admitted to practice in Missouri, Massachusetts, and before the US Tax Court.

Jenny Beatrice

Jenny Beatrice has more than 20 years’ experience in communications for religious organizations. She has served as the communications director for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province for 16 years. Jenny does it all from big picture strategy to hands-on implementation. She is a long-time member of CWR and is currently on the board for the Nonprofit Marketers Network-St. Louis. She also shares her knowledge and experiences as a speaker and consultant.