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Professional Development Meeting

September 29 | 8:00 - 9:45 am

8:00 - 8:30 am ... Breakfast and welcome
8:30 - 9:45 am ... Program

Shaw Jewish Community Center,
750 White Pond Drive, Akron directions

$18 for members | $25 for not-yet members
Reservation/Cancellation Deadline:
September 26, 4:00 pm

Approved for 1.25 CFRE credits; documentation




Sponsored by HuntingtonUncovering the Fundraising Leader in You

Today, effective leadership is commonly viewed as central to organizational success, and more importance is placed on leadership development than ever before. Increasingly, leadership is defined not as what the leader does but rather as a process that is the result of collaborations, relationships and engagement.

Join us for a conversation with local superstar non-profit leaders who have built successful working environments internally and externally that achieve significant fundraising results.


bulletDaniel Flowers, President & CEO, Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank

bulletJohn LaGuardia, Executive Director, Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation

bulletChristine Amer Mayer, President, GAR Foundation

bulletGregg Mervis, President & CEO of the Akron/Summit (Ohio) Convention &
Visitors Bureau and the John S. Knight Center (Moderator)

Opening remarks by Vivian Hairston, Vice President, Personal Trust Portfolio Manager, Huntington Bank.

About the Presenters:

Dan FlowersDan Flowers has been the President and CEO of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank since 2003. During his tenure, the Foodbank has experienced significant growth, increasing food distribution 9.1 million pounds to more than 26 million pounds in 2014.  Dan led the Foodbank through a building expansion project and into a newly renovated state of the art facility in 2007. Under his leadership, the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank became the 2012 Foodbank of the Year, the highest recognition achievable by food banks across the nation in the Feeding America network. Most recently, the Foodbank received the NorthCoast99 award, recognized as one of Northeast Ohio’s best places to work.

Dan is a member and former vice-chairman of Feeding America’s National Affiliate Council (NAC) and is currently Chairman of the Ohio Association Foodbank’s Board of Directors.  He is also a member of BVU: Center for Non-Profit Excellence Board of Directors, the Better Business Bureau Board of Directors, and the Development Fund of the Western Reserve Advisory Board.  Dan is also a proud graduate of Leadership Akron Class XXII.

After serving as a Congressional Intern for U.S. 5th House District Rep. Dale E. Kildee, Dan was hired as a Grant Writer by the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan where he was to later become the Director of Agency Relations.  Prior to moving to Ohio, he was employed by the Northrop Grumman Company as Director of Administration for the federally funded Job Corps Center in Flint, MI.


John LaGuardiaJohn LaGuardia has served as a non-profit leader in our community for over 35 years primarily in Institutional Advancement but also in Alumni Relations and Government Relations.  Most of his career was spent at the University of Akron where he was tasked with increasing the university’s impact throughout Northeast Ohio, creating connections and relationships that would benefit the university in the years to come.  

At the University of Akron, John led a large team of development professionals and secured major gifts totaling $22 million that contributed to the financing of InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field. He also led fund-raising efforts for the First Energy/Club Cadet Soccer Stadium and the Austen BioInnovation Institute and has helped orchestrate three successful capital campaigns at the University which raised over one billion dollars.

Currently John is the Executive Director for the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation and utilizes his excellent track record of creating a positive working environment internally and externally that achieves results.  His focus is extending Akron Children’s Hospital’s great legacy to future generations.

John received his Bachelors and Masters Degree from the University of Akron and spends his leisure time enjoying his large family.  He volunteers for the Boy Scouts, American Heart Association, and Holy Family Parish-often times in a volunteer leadership position for important capital campaigns.


Christine Amer MayerChristine Amer Mayer is president of GAR Foundation, the largest private foundation in Summit County, Ohio awarding more than $6 million annually in the county and the Northeast Ohio region. Mayer guides the foundation’s strategic direction, implementation, and annual grantmaking in the areas of education, basic needs and independence, arts and culture, and civic enhancement.

An Akron native, Christine practiced commercial litigation and business law for eight years with Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs before joining GAR Foundation in 2001 as program officer. She was named president of the foundation in 2012.

Christine has a special interest in regional economic competitiveness and has been heavily involved in The Fund for our Economic Future - a philanthropic collaboration focused on improving the economic trajectory of Northeast Ohio. She serves as vice chair of the Fund. She also serves on the boards of United Way of Summit County, Leadership Akron, and the Greater Akron Chamber.

In recent years, Christine has focused considerable efforts on Summit County’s arts and cultural assets, helping to lead the Summit County Arts and Culture Assessment – a county-wide study of the arts and culture landscape that has led to a sector-strengthening initiative.

Inside Business has named Christine as one the most influential leaders in Northeast Ohio three times. She also received the Women’s History Project of the Akron Area’s Woman of the Year award for her innovative efforts to bring together hundreds of people from the arts, business, government, and nonprofit sectors to strengthen the arts landscape in Akron.

Mayer received a Bachelor's degree in English from Duke University and a law degree from The Ohio State University.


Gregg MervisBeginning his professional career in 1981, Akron native, Gregg Mervis is an active member and advocate of the travel and tourism industry. After 14 years of employment with the Quaker Hilton, Gregg left his position as Director of Sales in 1995 to become Director of Sales for the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau and the John S. Knight Center.

He was promoted to Vice President of the Bureau and Center in 1996 and became Vice President & Chief Operating Officer in 2008. In 2012, Gregg was named President & Chief Executive Officer; he is responsible for the management and oversight of the organization’s threebusiness units.

Gregg is a member of various national industry organizations, including: Destination Management Association International, International Association of Assembly Managers and National Association of Consumer Shows. His involvement to foster the visitor economy at the State level includes: Ohio Travel Association, Ohio Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association.

He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby, Downtown Akron Partnership, I.A.T.S.E. Health & Pension and ArtsNow, where he is also Board President.


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