Our Associates

Karen A. Owens, President

Karen Owens has a career in service to nonprofit organizations that spans more than three decades, including service to the fund-raising programs of Cleveland Scholarship Programs, Lake Erie College, The National Federation of Independent Business and the United States Chamber of Commerce. 

In 1989, she founded Resource Development Network, a consulting group serving nonprofit organizations in planning, management and resource development. She has planned, implemented and directed successful fund-raising campaigns for more than 100 social service, andhealthcare agencies, educational institutions, and public-policy/advocacy organizations.Her expertise includes campaign (annual, capital, endowment)planning/management, board development and solicitation training.

She was one of two professionals selected to design and teach the first Advanced Fund-Raising Management course offered as part of the Master’s program at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. Karen founded and coordinates Principles of Successful Fund-Raising, an educational program attended by more than 3,500 nonprofit professionals and volunteers.

A founding member of the Cleveland Chapter of the National Society of Fund- Raising Executives (predecessor to Association of Fund Raising Professionals), Karen served as president and represented Cleveland on the national board of directors in Alexandria, VA. In 1994, the Chapter recognized her contributions to the field by naming her the Outstanding Fund-raising Professional of the year.

Michelle L. Sanson, CFRE

Michelle has more than 18 years of experience in fund raising and nonprofit management and administration.  Her wide-ranging expertise includes major-gift solicitation, proposal writing, corporate and annual campaigns and, utilizing her M.S. in Library Science, prospect research.  A former consultant with Research Associates, Michelle is also a talented executive search professional.    

Before joining the firm, Michelle successfully directed and/or managed fund development programs for several of the community’s most respected institutions, including the Cuyahoga County Public Library, University Circle, Inc., and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.  An active volunteer, she has served on the boards of Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Heather Hill Research Institute and Friends of the Mayfield Regional Library.

Michelle is also on the faculty of the University of Phoenix, where she teaches courses in social media.  Her experience includes directing the installation of computer hardware and networks, evaluating and recommending donor management systems, the development of nonprofit websites, and managing social media, marketing and communications. 

L.Leanne Schwind

Leanne, who has more than 30 years of fund-raising experience, was recruited in the early 1990s as the very first member of the Resource Development team. She left to accept a position with the American Heart Association where she spent 22 years, the last decade of which specializing in planned giving and generating over $21 million in future and outright gifts.

Leanne served for six years as Executive Director of United Church of Christ affiliated Deaconess Hospital Foundation, reinventing their fund-raising programs in both annual and capital campaigns and working with trustees who were instrumental in the relocation of UCC’s national headquarters to Cleveland.

She started her career in development at Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services where she served as campaign coordinator for the final two years of Breckenridge Village’s capital campaign and instituted its annual fund to expand its growing its donor base. She was promoted to Regional Director responsible for overseeing development staff at Breckenridge, Park Vista (Youngstown) and Rockynol (Akron), where she also managed the preparation for their capital campaign.

Leanne is a member of the Northern Ohio Planned Giving Council, and a member and past president of the Cleveland Chapter of NSFRE (National Society of Fund Raising Executives), now AFP (Association of Fund Raising Professionals; she chaired the Chapter’s first All-Ohio Conference and was active at the national level, developing, and initiating the first “Like Organization” Breakfast Roundtable at the 1988 International Conference. 

In 2008, she returned to Resource Development Network as a senior consultant in campaign development and management, planned-giving programs, fund-raising plans and execution, and faculty for “Principles of Successful Fund-Raising.”