We will be gathering at the Greater Twin Cities United Way office (and Zoom!) to take a deep dive with leaders in the field to learn more about the growing giving influence of Donor Advised Funds, also known as DAFs.
We are so excited to feature fundraising professionals in this interactive panel moderated by Mala Thao, Vice President of Individual Philanthropy at GTCUW: speakers include Jeremy Wells, Sr. Vice President of Philanthropic Services at Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations, Marie Ruzek, Sr. Vice President of Philanthropic Services at Wells Fargo, and Dana Holt, Author, Speaker, Charitable Gift Planning Educator and Consultant.
First we will explore what DAFs are, and why donors are choosing to give larger gifts through DAFs now more than ever, and the donor benefits to giving through these vehicles. As this event is hosted through the AFP Public Policy committee, we will examine DAFs through a public policy lense– what are current regulations around handling DAFs, and what could happen in the future as donor giving behavior changes? Moreover, how can we as fundraising professionals leverage the experience and financial support that DAFs provide to our organizations now and in the future?
Jeremy R. Wells, Senior Vice President of Philanthropic Services at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation
Jeremy R. Wells, MA, CFRE, currently serves as Senior Vice President of Philanthropic Services at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundations, one of the largest community foundations in the country. In this role, Jeremy serves as the chief fundraising and donor stewardship strategist. He leads the philanthropic services team to ensure donors, advisors, and organizations receive concierge-level service. He also works to identify opportunities to raise important resources to support community initiatives.
Wells is an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas and is a frequently requested speaker on a variety of advancement and fund development topics, including charitable tax policy, development planning, utilizing volunteers, donor engagement, stewardship, ethics, and campaign strategy.
In addition to his work, Jeremy serves on numerous local, regional, and national nonprofit boards, including the AFP International Board of Directors and the AFP Political Action Committee. Wells was also selected as a 40 Under 40 recipient by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal in 2018.
Marie Ruzek, CAP®, Senior Philanthropic Trust Advisory Specialist, Senior Vice President, Philanthropic Services, Northern Region, Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management
Marie Ruzek serves as a senior philanthropic advisory specialist and vice president within the Wealth & Investment Management division at Wells Fargo Bank. Ms. Ruzek helps charitable individuals, families, and nonprofit organizations work toward their unique goals by providing specialized advisory services.
Ms. Ruzek helps individuals and families to define and achieve their charitable objectives as part of their overall wealth plans. This may include gift and tax planning, multi-generational planning, estate planning, and the creation and management of donor advised funds, private foundations, charitable trusts, and other charitable planning strategies. She works extensively with nonprofit organizations, where she advises in the areas of gift planning, endowment management, and board governance. She collaborates with clients and their advisors to maximize the impact of their philanthropic activities.
Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Ms. Ruzek worked in the nonprofit sector for 22 years, most recently at Greater Twin Cities United Way, where she was the Director of Planned Giving and Endowment. Her background includes experience in healthcare, higher education, and human services philanthropy.
Ms. Ruzek earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN, and a Juris Doctor from Mitchell Hamline School of Law, St. Paul, MN. She is a Past Chair of the Minnesota Gift Planning Association and a member of Twin Cities Estate Planning Council, MN Women Lawyers, Advisors in Philanthropy, and Leave a Legacy Minnesota. Ms. Ruzek has earned the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy professional designation.
She enjoys cooking, eating, reading, podcasts, and yoga.
Dana Holt, JD RICP AEP® CAP®, CEO & Philanthropic Strategist, HOLT Consulting, LLC
Dana is an author, charitable gift planning educator, professional speaker, and consultant. She teaches fundraisers how to raise millions more by accessing wealth, not just cash. Before starting HOLT Consulting Dana began her career as an estate planning attorney and then spent 13 years at a Fortune 300 Financial Services company. She helped wealth advisors all over the U.S. with their most complex cases and taught them how to integrate charitable planning into their practice.
Dana has been quoted in Forbes and has been a featured writer for the Thomson Reuters Estate Planning Journal. Dana teaches gift planning through public speaking, her online training program, and book entitled Turning Wealth Into What Matters™: A Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Accepting Non-Cash Gifts.
Dana is a graduate of Mitchell Hamline School of Law and Southern Illinois University. She served as Chair of the Minnesota Gift Planning Association in 2020 and 2021 and is an avid gardener at her home in the Twin Cities where she lives with her retired racing greyhound.
Mala Thao, Vice President of Individual Philanthropy, Greater Twin Cities United Way
As the Vice President of Individual Philanthropy, Mala helps donors become smarter philanthropists and strengthens Greater Twin Cities United Way’s mission to advocate for social good and develop solutions to address the challenges communities face.
Mala started her career in philanthropy more than 20 years ago with Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and gained additional fundraising experience in various nonprofits and foundations, such as Washburn Center for Children, Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, Indian Land Tenure Foundation and American Red Cross. Prior to joining GTCUW, Mala was at Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation for 10 years.
Mala grew up on St. Paul’s Eastside and now calls the city’s Frogtown neighborhood home. She is a fierce advocate for social justice and volunteers on boards and committees, such as Voices for Racial Justice and Facilitating Race & Equity Conference (FREC). Mala has been appointed by the Mayor of St. Paul to serve as Commissioner of the Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO) and has also been appointed by the Metropolitan Council to serve on the Livable Communities Advisory Committee (LCAC). When Mala is not working or fighting for social justice, she spends her time as a foodie.