M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Essentials of Development

Meet the Team

The role of an Essentials of Development coach is to come alongside the participants from each organization to strengthen their fundraising through the 6 Essentials and guide them through the training program. In addition to the two in-person training sessions, organizations receive 8 hours of virtual coaching and 8 hours of in-person coaching. The in-person coaching includes the coach accompanying the development team on two donor asks, and the coach meeting with both the development team and the board. See below for more information on these development experts, all of whom are active practitioners of the Essentials methods!

Essentials of Development Coaches

Deborah Wilds
Deborah Wilds is a Senior Fellow at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Dr. Wilds has dedicated her life’s work to expanding the secondary school to college pipeline for underrepresented students as a teacher, founder of an independent school, president of the College Success Foundation, senior program officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and deputy director of the American Council on Education’s Office of Minorities in Higher Education. Throughout her career, Dr. Wilds has served on numerous public, university and non-profit boards. She serves as a coach in the Trust’s Essentials of Development and Board Leadership Development programs, as well as a faculty member in its Green Room: Board Leadership for People of Color. She holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Policy, Planning and Administration from the University of Maryland College Park. She and her husband, Fred, reside in Sacramento, CA.
Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson has served on staff for 44 years at Warm Beach Camp Ministries in Stanwood, WA. She began writing grant proposals 41 years ago. For the last 24 years Nancy has been full-time raising resources as the Director of Donor Relations. Since 2010, she has been on the faculty of the M.J.Murdock Trust’s Essentials of Development program. Nancy also teaches development as part of the Christian Camps and Conference Associations’ Thriving Boards training. Still, her all-time favorite job description is “GRANDMA.”
David Thakkar
David first connected with Young Life during high school in the early 1980’s and then served as a volunteer leader while attending University of Alberta. Dave joined the full-time Young Life staff in 1988 and served as the Director in Calgary, Alberta. In 2003, he moved east to become the Eastern Divisional Director with the intent of reviving YL in Ontario. It was there that he finished his Master of Theology Degree at Tyndale Seminary. In 2016, he was appointed Vice President of Field Ministry, assuming responsibility to oversee the national field ministry. In January of 2021, David became the National President. He is a sports enthusiast, a passionate hockey fan and takes cooking to the next level. He and his wife, Kelly, have three adult sons and have recently welcomed their first grandchild.
Amy Karjala
Amy has been in fundraising and nonprofit leadership for more than 20 years. She has served in direct fundraising roles and as a development consultant and campaign counsel for many organizations. Her approach involves helping organizations to integrate fundraising and revenue into the core mission of the organization. Amy’s prior work led her to begin developing curriculum for nonprofit leaders. Today, she leads product and content development for RevJen Group, a social enterprise dedicated to eliminating barriers for the social sector. Amy lives in Oregon and devotes much of her time to her family and “bonus” family, volunteering as coach or board member for a few nonprofits, riding her mountain bike or paddleboard, and pursuing her love of good tea.
Brad Layland
Faculty
Brad Layland, lead faculty instructor for the Essentials of Development program and CEO of The FOCUS Group fundraising consulting group, has over 25 years of fundraising and consulting experience to draw from as he partners with organizations to fulfill their mission through effective fundraising strategies. Brad’s distinguished career began at Young Life, where he served in various roles including Area Director, Field Development Director, Gift Planning Associate, and ultimately Chief Development Officer. He moved into his role as owner and CEO of The FOCUS Group in 2012, after several years as a Senior Consultant.
Evangeline Pattison
Evangeline brings over 17 years of nonprofit experience and a wealth of fundraising and project management knowledge to her role as Consultant and Director of Project Management at The FOCUS Group. In her current role, Evangeline serves as development consultant and campaign counsel helping organizations enhance their organizational infrastructure and financial sustainability. Her development and operations experience ranges from higher education to world missions, and from local to national organizations. Evangeline earned her undergraduate degree from George Fox University and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). She lives in Camas, Washington, and spends her time investing in friends and family, crewing for hot air balloons, and leaning into her passion project, the Don’t Give Up Movement.
Ray Keen
Ray serves as the Executive Director of The Canby Center, an Oregon-based nonprofit known for its transformative approach to poverty by renewing human dignity. With a nonprofit career spanning 25 years, he has consistently demonstrated strategic acumen and a relentless commitment to driving social change. An alum of The University of Portland, Ray holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Nonprofit Management. His accolades include a Certificate in Fund Raising Management (CFRM) from Indiana University and esteemed recognition as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Ray loves spending time with his family in Oregon’s mountains, rivers, and lakes.
Jeremy Simler
Jeremy graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Speech Communication. He spent his early career working with non-profits in the local community and also in Central America. After a season in finance, Jeremy found his way to NW Furniture Bank where he has held various positions including Director of Development. In 2023 Jeremy was selected to succeed NW Furniture Bank’s founding Executive Director Bill Lemke. Jeremy lives in Gig Harbor with his wife, their two children and their dog. Ask him about his interests….he has many!
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The Trust guides nonprofit organizations through every level of their development through grants and other resources.

The Trust has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make all the difference to you and your organization.