Our National Board of Advisors

The UW Center for Nonprofits is provided with support and direction from an esteemed set of professionals representing areas of focus for Center education, research and outreach activities. They include:

Photo of Barry Gaberman.Mollie Bunis

Mollie Bunis is a philanthropic advisor with Strategic Philanthropy, Ltd. a Chicago-based firm that provides philanthropic advisory services to individuals, families, and closely held companies both within the United States and internationally. Mollie works with clients and their advisors to help focus, design, evaluate and manage their giving strategies. She is a certified consultant with 21/64, a non-profit consulting division of The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies specializing in next generation and multigenerational strategic philanthropy.

Mollie has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, an M.A. in Applied Ethics from Loyola University of Chicago, and received her Certificate in Conflict Resolution from Woodbury College. Mollie’s background in conflict resolution and her previous position as Founder and Director of the Office of Conflict Resolution at the University of Vermont is often extremely helpful in her work with multigenerational family foundations. Her expertise in facilitating group discussions around values and priorities and effectively leading clients to solutions that impact the issues they care about is an important part of her work as a philanthropic advisor.

Photo of Don Gray.

Chris Didier

Christopher G. Didier, CFA is a Managing Director and team leader within Baird’s Family Wealth Group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Chris was recognized in 2007 and 2008 by Worth Magazine as one of the top Wealth Advisors in the country. He has more than 18 years of experience in the financial services industry. Mr. Didier provides investment consulting services to wealthy families across the country. Having been a portfolio manager himself, Mr. Didier adds valuable insight into current and long-term market conditions and helps clients position their portfolios accordingly. During his career at Baird, Mr. Didier received the prestigious G. Frederick Kasten Jr. award for outstanding client service four times. He has authored and co-authored several research papers on topics related to holistic asset allocation and financial strategy. Mr. Didier’s views have appeared in several local and national publications.

Mr. Didier received a B.S. in Education from the University of Wisconsin and his MBA from the University of Chicago. He is also a CFA charter holder and a member of the CFA Institute, the Investment Management Consultants Association and the CFA Society of Milwaukee.

Mr. Didier is active in his community and is a member of TEC, a national organization for CEOs and business owners.  He serves on the Board of First Stage Children’s Theatre, City Year Milwaukee, the City of Mequon Economic Development Board, and is Chairman of Baird’s Investment Consulting Advisory Board. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Lori and their four children Jack, Teddy, Mike and Anne.

Photo of Barry Gaberman.

Barry Gaberman

Barry Gaberman was born in Shanghai, China on August 9, 1941. He left China with his family in 1949 and after living for two years in Israel emigrated to the United States with his father in 1951, settling in Madison, Wisconsin. He graduated from high school in 1960 and joined the army, serving in several locations in the United States and in what was then West Berlin. He returned to Wisconsin in 1964, enrolling in the University of Wisconsin and completing both a B.S. (1966) and an M.A. degree (1968). After continuing graduate study in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin with an emphasis on comparative politics (Southeast Asia concentration), he joined the Ford Foundation in August 1971.

At the Ford Foundation, he has held assignments as an Assistant Program Officer in the Indonesia overseas office developing and monitoring programs in the social sciences and population (4 years), as a Program Officer in New York providing liaison and backstopping to the Asia overseas office programs in the social sciences and population (5 years), as the Director of the Office of Program Related Investments where his duties included the management of a $50 million revolving capital investment fund (3 years), as the Deputy Vice President for the U.S. and International Affairs component of the Program Division (6 years), and as the Deputy Vice President of the Program Division (7 years). He became the Senior Vice President of the Ford Foundation in April 1996 and held that position until his retirement in September 2006.

In addition, he has served on the boards of the Council on Foundations, the Independent Sector, the European Foundation Centre, the International Fellowships Fund, Hispanics in Philanthropy, the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe, and the Center for Global Partnership of the Japan Foundation. He is also the past chair of the Foundation Center and the chair emeritus of the Coordinating Committee of WINGS (Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support).

Since his retirement he has been a part-time senior advisor to the Foundation Center from October 2006 through January 2008. He then took up a semester-long assignment beginning in February 2008 as a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Gerhart Center on Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at American University in Cairo teaching a course he helped design on the role of philanthropy in society. He was also the co-chair of the Council on Foundations Annual Conference in May 2008 in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. This conference included 3,200 participants, almost 10% from outside the United States. He continues to serve on the boards of the Independent Sector, the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, the Scholar Rescue Fund of the Institute of International Education, Oxfam U.S.A., and the Cooperative Assistance Fund. He is the chair of BoardSource and the chair of the Global Fund for Community Foundations.

Photo of Don Gray.

Don Gray

Don is the retired vice president for principal gifts at the University of Wisconsin Foundation, where he was responsible for working with top-level givers and was part of a team overseeing the successful $1.8 billion “Create the Future: The Campaign for Wisconsin.”

For 23 years Don worked at the University of Wisconsin Foundation, holding positions as senior director of development for the School of Business, vice president for most of the professional schools and colleges (School of Business, Law School, Medical School, School of Education, International Studies, Environmental Studies, College of Engineering and all the Health Sciences) and vice president for principal gifts.

During the past two decades, Don has shared his philosophy of development throughout the country at various international, national and regional conferences of AFP (fund-raising professionals), CASE (education), AHP (health care), and specific, targeted audiences. In 1997 he was awarded the national Major Gift Laureate Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National Institute for Charitable Giving, and in 1999 he received the Crystal Apple Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for attaining the highest faculty ratings at ten different and consecutive national conferences.

He has spoken or provided training at 60 different colleges and universities in 31 states and has spoken or consulted with numerous national and international organizations, health care systems, and educational associations.

Don is a native of Ohio and has degrees in mathematics (B.S.) and chemistry (Ph.D.). At various times in his life he has been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa (Malawi and Lesotho), a research chemist, an associate professor of chemistry, dean of arts and sciences at a large vocational/technical school, dean of science at the National University of Lesotho, and dean/CEO of the two-year University of Wisconsin College in Richland Center.

Photo of Mary Gulbrandsen.

Mary Gulbrandsen

Mary Gulbrandsen is executive director of the Fund For Wisconsin Scholars (FFWS). The FFWS is a private not for profit foundation providing need based grants to recent graduates of Wisconsin public high schools who are attending Wisconsin public colleges full time. A pediatric nurse practitioner and former school district administrator, Mary has dedicated her career to benefitting children by combining her interest and expertise in health care and education. She is committed to helping ensure quality health care and quality education for all children.

A passionate supporter of public education, Mary joined the Madison Metropolitan School District nearly 30 years ago to implement and run the program that placed health-services staff in all Madison public schools. Mary went on to serve in a variety of leadership roles in the school district, including as chief of staff, where she worked on long-range planning, finance and operations and programs designed to improve student achievement. During her tenure with the school district, Mary was selected as one of Madison Magazine’s “22 People You Should Know” and also featured in an article entitled “Power, Influence and Anonymity: the Seven Women Power Brokers You Need to Know”. She retired in June 2007 as Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Student Services for the district.

Mary holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and two masters degrees, in pediatric nursing and in administrative medicine, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Mary also devotes substantial time to volunteerism and board service. She is currently a member of the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation board, the Bethel Lutheran Church Foundation board and the board of the Wisconsin Center for Nursing.

Photo of Julie Bender Silver.

Julie Bender Silver

Julie is president of the Bender Foundation, Inc., the Washington, D.C. family foundation started by her grandfather that annually contributes to over 70 nonprofit groups.

Her first real exposure to volunteering came when she was invited to join the Service Guild of Washington, a group of Jewish women who volunteer their time to projects important to the community. In 1986 she became Service Guild president. As a member of the Jewish Community Center Board, she led the creation of the Bender-Dosik Parenting Center, where parents find support, learn about Jewish values, and seek advice from child development experts.

Julie, who earned a B.S. in Early Childhood Education with honors from the School in 1977, was instrumental in launching the second site at Glen Echo for Discovery Creek Children's Museum. She offered a vision to expand the museum to addtional sites and became an active and involved board member in development, site renovations, and bringing more people in, as well as helping with the success of it's Rolling Rainforest. Since 1994, the museum has educated more than 35,000 students, their teachers and families in a living laboratory of science, art and history exploration.

She has also supported many other groups - to name just a few: the Women's Auxiliary of the Hebrew Home of Washington, Second Genesis (a drug/alcohol rehabilitation group), and Hebrew University Vet School. Her skills as a fundraiser have benefited numerous institutions, such as the Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, the Jewish Social Service Agency, the National Children's Hospital, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Her many honors include the Jewish Women International's 2004 Community Leadership Award and a 2005 Athena nomination by the Women Business Owners of Montgomery County, Maryland.

Photo of Jennifer Skolaski.

Jennifer Skolaski

Jennifer Skolaski, a Madison native, graduated with a B. A. in Social Work at the University of Iowa and was an NCAA All-American competitive swimmer and avid volunteer in the Iowa City community. After graduation she lived and worked in Singapore for three months as part of the Camp Adventure program. She was then employed by United Way of Johnson County as Early Childhood Initiative Coordinator. Jennifer decided to return to the University of Wisconsin – Madison to attend graduate school. While receiving her Masters in Human Ecology with a focus on Nonprofit Management, she worked on the Center for Nonprofits Taskforce, participated as graduate student representative on the GPC, and volunteered in the Madison Community with the Boys and Girls Club, Schools of Hope, Healthy Classrooms Foundation, Dane County Coalition on Child Health, and served as board secretary for the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society.

Currently, Jennifer is working on a Special Committee PhD Degree in Community and Nonprofit Leadership at UW-Madison and works at the UW-Madison Arboretum as Development Associate.

Photo of Barb Snell.

Barbara Snell

Barbara Snell began her career in health care as a hospital social worker in the early 1980s. Over the next 15 years she managed behavioral health hospitals and clinics for large health care institutions. She obtained a Master of Science in Management from Lesley College in 1986 and in 1995 she moved into the non-profit sector when she became CEO of a maternal and child health center in Rock County, Wisconsin. In 1998 she was named CEO of Access Community Health Centers (ACHC) in Madison WI. During her 11 years at ACHC, the organization became a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) and grew from 7,500 medical visits/year to over 60,000 medical, dental and behavioral health visits annually.

In 2009, Ms Snell was named CEO of University Community Health Services, Inc located in Nashville TN. UCHS is an independent not for profit organization which, in partnership with Vanderbilt University, operates 4 FQHC community health clinics and 11 employer based clinics throughout middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky. Barbara also serves on the faculty of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She and her husband Marvin Balousek live in Brentwood TN and share their home with Pugsley, the wonder dog.

Photo of Kathleen Woit.

Kathleen Woit

Kathleen has been a leader in not-for-profit organizations in Wisconsin since 1985. She earned a Ph.D. in administration from UW-Madison in 1992 with an emphasis on non-profit management. Previously, she has held positions as Assistant Chancellor for University Relations at UW-Whitewater and at UW-Milwaukee and as Vice President of Fund Development and Community Initiatives for Meriter Health Services. She has been President of the Madison Community Foundation, since April of 1997. In that role she works with individuals and non-profits to develop permanent funds to benefit charitable organizations throughout Dane County and beyond. She is a frequent presenter on leadership, non-profit governance and the strategic planning process.

Community activities are an integral part of Kathleen’s life. Past leadership roles have included board positions with the UW Medical Foundation, Edgewood High School, Junior League of Madison, the Madison Club, Attic Angel Association, Downtown Rotary and Madison Area Coordinating Council. She is currently on the board of Edgewood College, and M&I Bank of Madison.

Kathleen’s community awards include: the Urban League Whitney L. Young Award, the YWCA Women of Distinction and NSFRE Fundraiser of the Year. She was recently a recipient of the 2010 Best of Madison Business award and inducted into the In Business Hall of Fame.

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