2022-2023 LACGP Officers

Michele A. Bignardi, CFRE, CSPG

Senior Vice President
Netzel Grigsby Associates

Michele is a senior vice president with Netzel Grigsby Associates who works with a variety of nonprofit organizations to enhance their fundraising strategies and increase the impact of their work. Michele has served as lead counsel on a number of successful feasibility studies and capital campaign projects. Michele trains and coaches both professional and volunteer fundraisers. She has been an instructor with the UCLA Fundraising Extension program. In additional to her involvement with LACGP, she is on the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Orange County Chapter, and the Southern California Association of Healthcare Development. Michele holds a BA from San Francisco State University.

Cris Lutz, CSPG, CAP

Assistant Vice President
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Cris Lutz is the Assistant Vice President of Gift Planning at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, where she is also Chair of the staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Cris has served on the board of directors of the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) and the Los Angeles Council of Charitable Gift Planners (LACGP). She earned her master's degree in psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and bachelor's degrees in art history and social science from the University of California, Irvine. Cris is a certified specialist in planned giving (CSPG) and a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP).

Immediate Past President
Patience Boudreaux, CSPG, CFRE

Director of Planned Giving
Loma Linda University Health

Patience Boudreaux is the Director of Planned Giving at Loma Linda University Health where she leads a team focused on deferred and current gifts, usually involving complex assets. She's spent 17 years in fundraising roles ranging from annual to major to planned giving. Prior to Loma Linda, her career has been focused on higher education, particularly private liberal arts institutions. Patience earned her BA at Johns Hopkins University, her MBA from the Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University, and is a certified specialist in planned giving and a certified fundraising executive.

Christopher Cole, CSPG

Executive Director, Planned Giving
National Public Radio

Chris joined NPR in January of 2018 as Executive Director, Planned Giving. Based in California, Chris’s role primarily is to increase planned and major gifts through working with NPR donors, individual giving officers and member stations. Prior to joining NPR, Chris was the Executive Director of Philanthropy at Casa Colina Hospital in Pomona. He brings nearly 20 years of planned and major gift experience including work with organizations such as Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, World Vision and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Chris resides in Glendora, CA along with his wife, Alicia, two children, and two golden retrievers.

Secretary & Membership Co-Chair
Jim Jacobs

Associate Director, Planned Giving
Claremont McKenna College

At Claremont McKenna College, Jim is responsible for identifying new alumni estate gifts, working with donors on life income gifts, managing special events for the legacy society, and serving as a liaison each year to the 50th reunion. Jim previously held positions at Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and Occidental College. He studied at Northwestern University as an undergraduate and earned his master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin. In addition to being a past chair of WRPGC, Jim volunteers with the Big Ten Club of Southern California, the American Red Cross as a platelet donor (226 units and counting), La Verne Heights Presbyterian Church, and the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission.

Sponsorship Chair
Steven Adamian, JD, CSPG

Assistant Senior Vice President, Planned Giving
Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Steven is currently the Associate Senior Vice President of Planned Giving at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Prior to joining the planned giving field, Steven practiced law, focusing in the areas of tax-exempt organization law (corporate, tax, contracts, and fundraising), estate planning, and litigation. He also taught contract drafting and legal research and writing as an adjunct law professor. Steven received his B.S. from Cal Poly Pomona in Business Administration and his J.D. from Loyola Law School. 

Sponsorship Co-Chair
Grace L. Russak, CTFA

Senior Vice President, Regional Director
Northern Trust

Grace Russak is a Senior Vice President/Regional Director with Northern Trust’s dedicated Foundations & Institutional Advisors group. She advises Southern California and Nevada tax exempt organizations including foundations, endowments, nonprofit organizations and boards. Grace works with them to develop comprehensive, customized and innovative solutions; services include planned giving, education, training, investment management, performance reporting and custody services. Grace received an A.B. in History from Smith College and an M.B.A in Strategy from the Claremont Graduate University. She frequently speaks on topics related to wealth management, philanthropy and on topics relating to women.

Education Chair
Francine Lis

Development Director
American Jewish Committee

Francine is the Development Director at American Jewish Committee (AJC) LA. Prior to joining AJC in March 2020, she has held leadership positions in a variety of nonprofits including as Director of Planned Giving, Legacy and Endowments for Anti-Defamation League (ADL) LA; the Director of Annual Giving for USC Law; Associate Director of Development and Public Affairs at Hebrew Union College and Director of Member Services at Southern California Grantmakers. Francine received her Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA and earned a certificate in Corporate Community Involvement from Boston College and participated in the American Institute for Philanthropic Studies at Cal State Long Beach.

Marketing & Communications Chair

Andy Ragone


CEO, Partner and Co-Founder

Pleiades Nonprofit Advisors

Making connections and building trust best describes Andy’s passion as a writer, speaker, leader, husband, and father. Andy comes to us with an executive, pastoral and digital-marketing background in the nonprofit arena. Upon earning his M.Div. (Master of Divinity) from Phoenix Seminary, Andy ventured out to learn the ins and outs of pastoring. This required finding the right people for the right roles, creating pathways to greater involvement and volunteerism, and developing future leaders for future expansion. As one of the champions of Integrated Marketing for Crescendo Interactive, Andy partners with clients to identify best practices that can move their efforts forward.

Marketing & Communications Co-Chair
Kimberly Jetton, MNM, CFRE

Pleiades Nonprofit Advisors

Kimberly is a national award-winning leader in fund development and gift planning. She serves as Founder and President of Pleiades Nonprofit Advisors, where she helps nonprofits with gift planning implementation, marketing, and strategies. She has served as the Executive Director of the Orange Catholic Foundation, Director of Planned Giving for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and as Director of Advancement in the Archdiocese of Denver.

During Kimberly’s 5 year tenure at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, she designed and implemented a flagship program for Estate Planning Seminars which greatly benefited the parishes and schools, raising over $110 million for these ministries. Through these efforts, Kimberly won the Crescendo Interactive eMarketer of the Year Award in 2019.

Kimberly holds a CFRE certification, a Master's in Nonprofit Management from Regis University, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Arizona. Kimberly also served in the Colorado Army National Guard. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Counsel of Charitable Giving Planners and on the Board of Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles.

Inclusion Chair
Carí Jackson Lewis, JD, LL.M. (tax), CSPG, AEP, TEP

California Black Women's Collective
Founder + Principal
California Philanthropic Consulting

Carí Jackson Lewis is the Founder and Principal of California Philanthropic Consulting (CPC).  

Carí is a nonprofit, tax, and philanthropy strategist and a seasoned trusts and estates lawyer with over 20 years of experience in estate, tax, and charitable gift planning across diverse international, and domestic settings. At LMU, Carí manages a pipeline of individual donor prospects and serves as liaison and subject-matter expert to other development officers across campus as a critical component of University Advancement’s cross-campus collaboration and strategy development for prospects and major gift donors. Working with University leaders to implement a comprehensive development program, Carí engages and solicits planned giving prospects in order to support the University’s mission.

As Principal Advisor at CPC, Carí and her team partner with individuals and families, private foundations, businesses, and allied advisors to facilitate income, estate, and capital gains tax minimization and business exit/succession planning goals through both simple and sophisticated charitable giving vehicles; assist nonprofit staff in establishing and administering planned giving and legacy society programs, donor prospecting and stewardship programs; and use diversity, equity and social justice lenses to create connections and build relationships between nonprofits - including and especially BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color)-led and BIPOC-serving nonprofit organizations - and donors in the private, public and philanthropic sectors. 

Carí is a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving (cm), an Accredited Estate Planner®, a member of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners®, and a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®.

Inclusion Co-Chair
Tony Truong

Asst. VP for Advancement
University of Redlands

Tony is a philanthropy executive with two decades of experience across higher education, healthcare, social services, and the arts. He currently serves as Asst. VP for Advancement at the University of Redlands, overseeing major gifts, planned giving, and prospect research. He previously served at St. Jude Medical Center (Fullerton, CA), UC Riverside, and the Contemporary Austin (formerly the Austin Museum of Art). He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and a past president of Charitable Gift Planners – Inland Southern California council. Tony lives in Riverside with four dogs and an indeterminate and varying number of fish.

Membership Chair
Barbara Turman, CSPG

Director, Gift Planning
Academy Museum of Motion Picture

Barbara Turman is currently launching a gift planning program for the new Academy Museum - slated to open September 2021 - and the broader Academy. With more than twenty-two years of experience in fundraising, Barbara has expertise in gift planning, annual giving, leadership giving and membership, primarily in the field of education, including nine years at Cornell University. Prior to joining the Academy Museum, Barbara worked for Bill Nye at The Planetary Society in Pasadena. Barbara attended Emerson College and earned a BA at Temple University in Philadelphia, and she is a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving.

Legislative Chair
Cynthia Hizami, JD

Director of Planned Giving, West Coast
Jewish National Fund

Cynthia Hizami is the Director of Planned Giving for the West Coast for Jewish National Fund, a non-profit which raises money in America for programs, projects and infrastructure in Israel. Over the course of her career, she has practiced as an attorney in many areas, including: estate and tax planning, business litigation, and civil litigation. Cynthia received her B.A. at Tulane University and her J.D. from Tulane Law School.

National Liaison
Janice Burrill, JD, CAP

Philanthropic Consultant
JB Consulting

Janice has served on the boards of many nonprofits both nationally and locally, including the Board of Directors of the National Committee on Planned Giving (now CGP) where she chaired the Public Affairs Committee which oversaw the “Leave a Legacy” national initiative. She is also past president of LACGP and former Chair of the Western Regional Planned Giving Conference. She is also a member of the Gift Planning Councils of Loyola Marymount University, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the Catholic Education Foundation. She is an active volunteer and speaker within the philanthropic sector and participated in the first-ever White House Conference on Philanthropy.

Mentorship Chair
Robert W. Woolley

Senior Director of Development
Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

Robert W. Woolley serves as the Senior Director of Development for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) where he connects donors with their passions for animal welfare, species conservation and education while stewarding GLAZA’s Selig Legacy Society.  During his 20 years as an advancement professional, Rob has also served as the lead fundraiser for the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, led the development of The Mirman School for Gifted Children’s professional development and communications programs, and strengthened annual giving and alumni association programs at Harvard-Westlake School and USC.  In addition to LACGP, Rob is currently the Development Committee Chair for the Tournament of Roses Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association where Rob has served annually as a volunteer member since the 1996 Rose Parade.

Mentorship Co-Chair 
Heidi Simpson-Sandoval


Heidi Simpson-Sandoval is a Senior Client Strategist for BNY Mellon Wealth Management. In this role, she works with individuals, families, endowments, foundations, retirement plans and family offices to develop comprehensive financial solutions to meet their goals and objectives. Services include investment consulting and management, asset allocation, manager selection, custody, performance reporting and analytics, and investment and spending policy design.

Heidi rejoined the firm in 2020 and has more than 26 years of experience in the financial services industry. Her previous experience includes serving as an SVP/Regional Director for Northern Trust.

Heidi earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and holds FINRA Series 7 and 63 licenses. She currently sits on the Responsible Investing Advisory Board. She previously served a 5-year term on the Board of Directors for Los Angeles Master Chorale. Heidi currently serves on the Board of Directors for Pasadena Literary Alliance. She is a member and volunteer for Los Altos Auxiliary, National Charity League and La Canada Junior Women’s Organization.

Conference Chair
Nancy Baxter, CIMA®

Director of Planned Giving
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Nancy Baxter is the Director of Planned Giving at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and is dedicated to aligning mission and vision for non-profits, families, and their financial assets. She has over 25 years of experience structuring and managing family and philanthropic assets. Currently, she focuses on building asset-based giving including future gifts for the LA Phil in Southern California. She holds a BA from The Colorado College, MBA from Claremont Graduate University, and the Certified Investment Management Analyst credential.

Conference Co-Chair
Jill Rode, CFRE

Director of Legacy Giving
Music Academy of the West

Jill Rode, CFRE, has more than 30 years of experience in fundraising and nonprofit management. She has raised millions of dollars for many organizations, including Girl Scouts, Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Barbara Zoo, American Red Cross, and the YMCA. She currently serves as the Director of Legacy Giving at the Music Academy of the West, one of the nation’s preeminent summer schools and festivals for gifted young classically trained musicians.

Jill has held her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) since 2000 and was recognized as AFP’s Fundraiser of the Year in 2004. She has served as President of the Junior League of Santa Barbara and President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Santa Barbara/Ventura Counties Chapter. She is currently the Vice Chair of the Santa Barbara Council of Gift Planners and on the marketing committee of the Los Angeles Council of Gift Planners.

She lives in Santa Barbara with her husband, is mom to two college age girls, and in her spare time volunteers for causes she cares about.

Barbara Gunning, CSPG

Philanthropy Consultant

Barbara Gunning is an independent philanthropy consultant who previously held the position of Regional Director of Advancement, Southern California and Arizona for Jesuits West where she solicited six-and-seven figure annual gifts for the Jesuit province.  Additionally, Barbara co-led a $27 million capital campaign effort in Southern California for renovations and expansion of the Jesuit Novitiate and the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center and Regis Infirmary. Barbara has also served as the Sr. Director of Advancement for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles; Director of Advancement, Major and Planned Giving, at Loyola High School; and a Sr. Financial Advisor for at Merrill Lynch, UBS Financial Services, and Dean Witter. Barbara holds a bachelor’s degree from Marymount College (which merged in 2003 with Fordham University) and is a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving.

Deb Johnson


Deb Johnson is a high-performance senior leader with over 20 years of experience managing non-profit organizations. She has the ability to drive change to improve organizational performance and management. Deb has a strong track record of success in motivating and developing volunteers while optimizing operational results. She is a self-directed professional that takes pride in the transformation of a vision into reality while building a sustainable foundation for continued success. When not in the office, you can find Deb traveling, dancing, kayaking or gardening.