Approach & Team
While most consulting firms provide their clients with one person to manage all of their development needs, Jeffrey Sobel Consulting (JSC) takes a deeper approach, building customized relationships with our clients. After conducting a thorough needs assessment, we assemble a team of JSC staff that provides expertise specific to each client’s development requirements.
With over 150 years of combined experience in all areas of non-profit fundraising, our team members can integrate into your organization, share their expertise and guide your current staff, board and volunteers.
Jeffrey Sobel, Founder and President, has over 25 years of proven success in development activities, strategic planning, and community building efforts. Jeff has the expertise to ensure results for a variety of projects including assisting organizations in designing leadership and major donor campaigns as well as implementing effective planned giving programs.
An active member of the non-profit and fundraising community, Jeff has raised over $100 million from individual, corporate, foundation, and government sources. He is currently a trustee of the Children’s Support Foundation (and is former board chair and founder), a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals New Jersey Chapter and an active member of other chapters.
Julia Bey Ahmet, Managing Director/COO - Julia recently joined JSC bringing more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit and public service sectors. The broad range of her expertise includes strategic planning, nonprofit administration, board and leadership development, fundraising, government affairs, grants administration, nonprofit communications, and special events. Prior to joining JSC, Julia served as Chief Development Officer at Community Hope for 20 years, helping the organization to expand into a regional nonprofit operating the area’s largest programs for homeless veterans. Julia led a development office raising more than $2.5 million annually and grew the organization’s annual gala into one of New Jersey’s signature events and largest fundraisers.
Julia is on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP-NJ). She has served as Chair and led the Sponsorship and Marketing Committees of AFP-NJ’s Annual Conference on Philanthropy. In 2008, Julia was awarded AFP-NJ’s prestigious Robert J. Smythe Outstanding Professional Fundraiser Award.
Maureen Prout Alvidrez, Vice President - Maureen joined Jeffrey Sobel Consulting in 2015 and manages client engagements as part of our leadership team. She brings over 15 years of project management, grant writing, marketing, and fundraising experience to our clients, having worked as a Senior Major Gifts Officer for Seton Hall University and as Director of Development for Marylawn of the Oranges Academy. Maureen started her career in government, providing constituent outreach services for members of Congress. She has an M.P.A. with a concentration in nonprofit organization management from Seton Hall University.
Maureen also volunteers her own time to her community in several capacities, including as a Trustee of The Summit Conservancy and as a tireless supporter of the Summit, NJ public schools.
Eleanor Angone, Vice President - Eleanor joined Jeffrey Sobel Consulting in 2014 after 25+ years in sales and management in business to business corporate advertising, digital marketing, and ad technology. Her clients included IBM, HP, and GE. Eleanor’s work with nonprofit clients focuses on managing overall client relationships at JSC, development and solicitation of corporate sponsorships, project management and execution of fundraising events, and developing marketing materials.
Prior to her career in advertising and marketing, Eleanor taught Special Education to special needs children at the middle school level in the New York City Department of Education. She has worked with JSC clients in several categories covering children’s rights, education, the environment, social justice, and social services.
Elise Revere Lazarus, Senior Director & Chief Business Administrator – Elise began her nonprofit career in high school, volunteering during her summer break for the United Way of Essex and West Hudson and Discovery Charter School. It was there that she fell in love with providing service in areas of need. After graduating with honors from Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism, Elise continued to volunteer for various nonprofit organizations as she pursued a career in media. Her career in media led her from The Star Ledger newspaper in New Jersey, to a publishing company, and eventually to TV Guide Network and Ion Television.
Elise has been with Jeffrey Sobel Consulting since its inception in 2010. She has brought her years of marketing, sponsorship, editorial, and event planning experience to Jeffrey Sobel Consulting and has been instrumental in raising funds through individual, corporate, and event sponsorships. In addition to working directly with clients, Elise serves as the administrative arm of JSC, managing the human resources, finance and accounting, business development, and digital communications aspects of the business.
Joan Leavitt, Senior Director – Joan has been part of Jeffrey Sobel Consulting since its inception and has worked for numerous clients on behalf of the firm. Previously, she was the president and owner of Joan Leavitt Consulting, a small firm offering comprehensive services to the nonprofit health and social welfare sectors, including program development, strategic planning and grant writing. Since starting her firm in 2001, Joan has worked for nonprofit agencies and proprietary groups to assist them in obtaining government and foundation funding. She has assisted groups in raising tens of millions of dollars to develop affordable housing, provide health care services and services to youth and the elderly, and deliver child welfare and services to the homeless.
Joan has also had a long career in government in a senior position with the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President where she was the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services. In this role, she and her staff were responsible for the oversight of the delivery of services including health, education, child welfare, substance abuse and services to youth and the elderly. Most of those services were provided by nonprofit organizations in contract with New York City agencies.
JoAnn Hoppe, Senior Director – JoAnn has been with Jeffrey Sobel since its inception in 2010. Graduating from Seton Hall University with degrees in political science and music/fine arts, she finds the balance of creative and analytical necessary to live her best life. JoAnn brings over 20 years of expertise in marketing to the table. Her first experience working in non-profits was at Liberty Science Center and once she understood the importance of connecting mission to the public, she was hooked. She has worked for the YWCA of Central New Jersey, the American Red Cross, and served as the New Jersey State Director of a service learning organization called The LEAGUE.
JoAnn is skilled in the areas of marketing, writing newsletters, fund appeals, and grant writing. She also develops corporate sponsorships and special events. JoAnn has helped raised millions of dollars for JSC clients in major gifts and grant writing.
In her free time, JoAnn serves on the board of Families with Children from China, works with the Organization of Chinese Americans, and volunteers at various animal shelters in Somerset County, NJ.
Michele Alongi, Senior Director – Michele joined the Jeffrey Sobel Consulting team in 2013. Prior to joining Jeffrey Sobel Consulting, Michele served as the Director of Community Relations for the New Jersey Nets. In her position of Director of Community Relations, Michele also managed The Nets Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the organization. She brings 15 plus years of experience to the team in the areas of professional sports marketing and special events, sponsorship, and corporate partnerships.
Michele is an instrumental member of the Client Support Services Team, providing overall support to clients including marketing, creative, research and event support. In addition to the Client Support Team, Michele also works on the administrative side of the organization in the areas of human resources, marketing, finance and accounting and digital communications.
Gerardine Luongo, Senior Director - Gerardine is a 30-year veteran of the nonprofit community where she has worked at all organizational levels including executive leadership, program management, program evaluation, and in senior development positions. Gerardine has worked with both domestic and international organizations and on a broad range of issues including homelessness, HIV-AIDS, child welfare, early childhood development, and international humanitarian aid. Her work has brought her to countries across Africa, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Afghanistan giving her tremendous insight into working within and across diverse cultures. Gerardine has secured and managed more than $17 million in US government funds and more than $2 million in grants from private foundations.
Gerardine also has served as adjunct faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, Center for Child Welfare Training.
Amy Fiore, Senior Director - Amy Fiore joins the JSC team after serving as Executive Director for Only Make Believe. Prior to that, Amy was the Managing Director and Director of Development for TADA! Youth Theater, and also served in leadership roles at Vineyard Theatre, The Public Theater, and MCC Theater. Currently, Amy is also the acting Executive Director for New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra and Director of Development for Story Pirates. Amy has taught Managing the Arts and Marketing the Arts at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies as an Adjunct Professor and has been a guest lecturer at NYU, Baruch College and with the Arts & Business Council of New York, among others.
Her fundraising successes include the acquisition of new and renewed institutional funding in excess of $1M and planning a gala event that also exceeded that amount. She has also recruited, trained and managed staff of 10+, devised and managed institutional budgets of $2M+, recruited and provided orientation for board of directors and board committees, and conceptualized, wrote copy and designed countless marketing pieces including direct mailers, donor appeals, brochures, advertisements, on-line promotions, television commercials and e-mail blasts. Amy is the founder and director of Play Theater and resides in Scotch Plains, NJ with her husband and 2 daughters.
Jennifer Krauss, Senior Associate - Jennifer joined Jeffrey Sobel Consulting in December, 2015. Prior to JSC, Jen was a Foundation administrator for a private non-profit, the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts. Jennifer has held a variety of positions in the hospitality industry including Associate Editor for Restaurant Briefing, an American Express publication, and Assistant to Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group, as well as Recruitment Manager for Restaurant Associates. Additionally, Jennifer has worked in human resources positions for multiple industries such as a property management firm, a bread making business, and a utility company. Jennifer graduated with honors from Dickinson College with a Bachelor of Arts in French. Jennifer is skilled in the areas of special events, corporate and small business sponsorships, and project management. Jen has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for JSC clients through special events.
Jennifer enjoys volunteering her own time as a facilitator at Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, a grief center and JSC client, based in Mountainside NJ.
Gerhard Sanchez, Senior Associate - Gerhard brings over 15 years of marketing, project management, special events and digital communications experience, having worked with non-profit organizations, public school districts and universities as a teacher, administrator and coach. Gerhard founded The Fundamental and Life Skills Sports Camps in 2007. The camps are offered in the summer, free of charge for students in grades 3rd-12th in Irvington, Newark and East Orange, New Jersey.
Patrick Raftery, Senior Associate - Patrick joined JSC in 2016 following his tenure as a philanthropic consultant with Changing Our World, Inc. In that capacity, Patrick lead multi-million-dollar capital campaigns, conducted feasibility studies, provided annual fund counsel and overall strategic counsel with organizations in the religious, education, and human services sectors. Patrick also worked with the FDNY Foundation in Brooklyn and the Fairtrade Foundation in London, UK.
Patrick has been integral with JSC in facilitating the preparation and execution of several events, including stewardship luncheons, golf outings, and galas. Patrick has also produced solicitation materials for corporate and individual donors and drafted LOI’s and grants to private foundation. Patrick has also been instrumental in crafting marketing materials for giving appeals, as well as large capital campaigns.
Ilene Winters, Senior Associate - Ilene began raising money for various charitable organizations over 30 years ago, while she was still enjoying a sales and marketing career on Wall Street. She fell in love with non-profit work, left Wall Street, and started a wellness center with a $400,000 annual budget that offered free support, education, and hope to people with cancer and their loved ones. After Hurricane Sandy, she helped two friends start a non-profit that raised over $1.5 million for the residents, businesses and town infrastructure of Sea Bright, New Jersey. Ilene has worked for the Diabetes Foundation, Inc., as well as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monmouth County, assisting both organizations in strategic development.
Ilene is well versed in all aspects of non-profit management, and is a critical, big-picture thinker and an inherent problem-solver. Her areas of expertise are development, strategic planning, board development, marketing and communications, and start-up.
Stan Cain, Senior Associate -Stan Cain, a career art director, holds a BFA from Syracuse University and is broadly experienced in branding development, corporate collateral, concept-to-print advertising and marketing campaigns, packaging design, and large format environmental graphics for trade shows and museum environments. Stan is an accomplished creative strategist and conceptor, graphic designer, project manager, certified internet webmaster, and visual problem-solver.
Stan worked for the prestigious Exhibitgroup/Giltspur, the nation's largest trade show and museum design/build firm. He has also directed ambitious design/build projects for non-profits such as Monmouth County Historical Association, the Monmouth Museum, and The Hartford Family Foundation. Stan has over 12 years of non-profit management experience with the Monmouth Museum, including participation in its Exhibition, Building & Grounds, Capital Campaign, and Special Event committees. In addition, Stan is a founding member of the Twilight Concert Committee. Established in 1996, the annual Twilight Concerts have raised more than $600,000 to directly benefit the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children, based in Newark, NJ.
Melinda Armstrong, Senior Associate - Melinda Armstrong is a communications expert with experience in philanthropy, publishing, and the global pharmaceutical industry. She is known for creating high-quality materials that present her client’s story and strategic messages in interesting, compelling, and easy-to-understand ways. Melinda has led internal communications and served as the executive speechwriter for CEOs and other senior corporate leaders. She has received recognition for her work from the New Jersey Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators and the New York Festivals international competition for television, film, and video. Melinda has also crafted award-winning submissions for employers and clients in such programs as PharmaVOICE’s 100 inspirational leaders and the Council on Foundation’s Wilmer Shields Rich Awards Program. Melinda earned a bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.