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Certificate in Nonprofit Fundraising - Instructor Bios

Amy Erekson Varga, M.A.

Amy Erekson Varga, M.A. is a seasoned professional with sixteen years experience working in higher education and nonprofit administration. Key areas of responsibility have included fundraising, large-scale event planning, strategic planning, alumni and community relations. Amy teaches graduate level courses in fundraising strategy in Portland State's Masters of Public Administration program, as well as teaches the core Fundraising Fundamentals course in the PSU/WVDO Certificate in Nonprofit Fundraising and acts as the Program Manager for the partnership.

In 2006, Amy helped create the Fundraising & Grant Management Certificate program at Portland Community College in partnership with Willamette Valley Development Officers in which she teaches the core fundraising course each term. Amy has also maintained a small consulting practice since 2008. Amy holds a masters degree from Santa Clara University and a bachelors degree from Willamette University. 


Tobey E. Goldfarb, J.D., LL.M.                                 
An attorney by training, Tobey has always been drawn to social justice work. Over time, she found that the structured, persuasive writing of legal briefs and memoranda could be humanized and translated into a key piece of successful non-profit fundraising strategies. As demand for this skill set continues to grow, Tobey has carved out a consulting niche helping community-based organizations tell their stories to funders and supporters in compelling ways. She has worked with local, national and international organizations – including Bridge Meadows, YWCA and Women for Women International – to communicate impact, build relationships and inspire ongoing engagement. Tobey has an LL.M. from American University's Washington College of Law, a J.D. from California Western School of Law, and a B.A. from the College of Wooster. She is also a certified Community Mediator and Domestic Violence Advocate and a member of the State Bar of California.


Lori Sweeney, Senior Director of Development, OHSU Foundation

Lori has worked in development for almost 30 years with experiences ranging from her undergraduate alma mater, Whitworth University, to a prep school in Brentwood, California to Oregon State and OHSU Foundations. Lori holds a M.Ed. from UCLA. She is a native Oregonian who knows the broad landscape of fundraising in this region and is enthusiastic about development. She is the proud (and harried) mother of a teenage boy.


Sally Dadmun Bixby, MAT

Not long after receiving her Master's in teaching degree Sally discovered her love for philanthropy, and in 1988 she began working in the nonprofit sector. Her experience over the past 20 years includes working with organizations serving children, the arts, environmental causes, social services, healthcare, housing, and more.  Sally is an experienced speaker and presenter at workshops and seminars on nonprofit fund development and management. As a consultant, she combines her skills as a teacher, manager, and proven fundraiser to help others build successful, sustainable development programs.


Lara Arlen-Wier,

Lara has worked in prospect research for over 10 years at a variety of organizations, ranging from the arts, performing arts, human services, international humanitarian aid, and higher education. Most recently, she served as the Associate Director of Research and Prospect Management at the Juilliard School. 

Over the years, Lara has established prospect research programs and instituted research and prospect management systems. She has managed and guided research programs through all stages of capital campaigns – from pre-campaign, mid-campaign and campaign wrap-up – and supported the research needs for all areas of development including Board elections, Principal Giving programs, Major Giving programs and Annual Giving programs.

Through her roles in research and prospect management, Lara has gained experience as a database manager and has led database cleanup projects and instituted best practice systems. Lara enjoys training others in the areas of research, prospect management and database management.

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