LVCF Presents Speaker Series on Artificial Intelligence in the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Industry

LVCF Presents Speaker Series on Artificial Intelligence in the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Industry

Allentown, Pa.– August 21, 2023 – Lehigh Valley Community Foundation will host a three-part speaker series, “Navigating AI: Transforming Nonprofits and Philanthropy,” focused on the profound impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. This educational series, featuring nationally renowned AI experts, is set to take place in September 2023.

The series aims to equip nonprofit leaders, philanthropists, fundholders, and donors with a comprehensive understanding of the transformative potential, ethical considerations, and practical applications of AI within their respective domains. As the nonprofit sector continues to evolve in response to technological advancements, this series seeks to empower participants with the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively embrace AI.

The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation has curated this series in recognition of the growing significance of AI technology, including systems such as ChatGPT. By providing a platform for national industry leaders, the foundation seeks to facilitate insightful conversations that delve into the opportunities, challenges, and responsibilities associated with AI.

Session #1 – An Introduction to AI for Nonprofit Leaders & Philanthropists

Date: Thursday, September 14th, 2023
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Format: Virtual Webinar on Zoom
Presenters: Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, Co-authors of “The Smart Nonprofit”

This session will address the emergence of AI tools like ChatGPT, exploring their potential to reshape fundraising strategies and enhance donor relationships. Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, acclaimed authors of “The Smart Nonprofit,” will demystify the technology, share real-world applications, and deliberate on ethical considerations. Attendees will gain valuable insights into adopting AI in a conscientious, human-centric manner.

Session #2 – Responsible Artificial Intelligence in Philanthropy

Date: Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
Time: 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Format: Virtual Webinar on Zoom
Presenters: Dr. Julia Stoyanovich, Director of the Center for Responsible AI at NYU, and Philip Deng, CEO of Grantable

Session two delves into responsible AI practices, especially relevant to donors and fundholders. Dr. Julia Stoyanovich will illuminate the challenges of equity, bias, and data privacy within AI systems, while Philip Deng will provide practical insights into incorporating responsible AI in philanthropic endeavors.

Session #3 – Practical Possibilities and Legal Perspectives for Artificial Intelligence

Date: Friday, September 22nd, 2023
Time: 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Format: In-Person Event at SteelStacks
Presenters: Jeffrey A. Franklin, Esq. and Eric Robuck, Cyber Security Expert

The final session transitions to an in-person event, where Eric Robuck and Jeffrey A. Franklin will guide attendees through practical AI applications within nonprofits. Robuck will offer hands-on demonstrations, while Franklin will address legal implications. The session underscores the potential for nonprofits to leverage AI in shaping more equitable societies.

Participants can register for individual sessions or opt for all three sessions, saving significantly on the combined registration fee. Registration links and detailed event descriptions can be found on AI in the Nonprofit & Philanthropic Industry webpage.

Note for Nonprofits: Nonprofit organizations with annual revenues under $200,000 may inquire about reduced or complimentary tickets. Please reach out to Megan Briggs at for further information.

Maureen Connolley Wendling Joins LVCF as Director of Donor Initiatives

Maureen Connolley Wendling Joins LVCF as Director of Donor Initiatives

Maureen Wendling

Allentown, Pa., August 1, 2023—Lehigh Valley Community Foundation welcomes Maureen Connolley Wendling as the part-time Director of Donor Initiatives, enhancing the Foundation’s overall fund development and fundraising efforts with a specific focus on family legacy and philanthropy.

In her new role, Maureen’s primary responsibilities include donor identification, cultivation, and solicitation. She will build relationships with professional advisors and develop strategies for groups of donors, such as planned giving donors. Maureen collaborates closely with the Director of Donor Services and the Chief Executive Officer to offer a range of services to donors and fundholders.

Erika Riddle Petrozelli, CPA, CAP®, President, and CEO of the Community Foundation, expressed her excitement about Maureen’s arrival, stating, “Maureen brings extensive fundraising experience to the Community Foundation, having worked for Lehigh University, the Allentown Art Museum, and several other nonprofits in a consulting capacity. She most recently led the Shanthi Project, one of LVCF’s grantees, which makes her familiar with LVCF’s community work and the impact we expect to accomplish.”

With a background in higher education, the arts, and social services, Maureen is an experienced leader in the Lehigh Valley’s nonprofit sector. She brings strategic insight and a hands-on approach to each donor/client relationship. Drawing on her knowledge of best practices, she has helped numerous regional organizations develop and implement key strategies to advance their missions.

As a Lehigh Valley native, Maureen believes in giving back to the community where she grew up. Over the years, she has served on the Communications Committee of Resilient Lehigh Valley, the Northampton County Suicide Task Force, and the Board of Associates of Muhlenberg College.

Additionally, Maureen is a mindfulness meditation teacher, having completed her teaching training at the Mindfulness Institute at Thomas Jefferson University and the Center for Mindfulness at Lehigh Valley Health Network. She graduated from DeSales University with a B.S. in Marketing and Sales.


Staff Promotions Reflect Growing Expertise and Leadership in the Community

Staff Promotions Reflect Growing Expertise and Leadership in the Community

Allentown, Pa., August 1, 2023—The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation (LVCF) has recently promoted three staff members in recognition of their professional growth, increasing expertise, and demonstrated commitment and leadership in advancing the Foundation’s work.

Trisha Higgins, CPA, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Trisha Higgins, CPA, Executive Vice President for Finance and CFO

Trisha Higgins, CPA, has been promoted to the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, elevating her from her previous role as Vice President and CFO. With over 20 years of dedicated service since joining in 2002, Trisha oversees all aspects of the Foundation’s financial and operational administration. When announcing the promotion, Erika Riddle Petrozelli, CPA, CAP®, President and CEO at LVCF, said, “This title change acknowledges Trisha’s long tenure, unwavering commitment, and valued leadership in many critical functions at the Foundation.”

Megan Briggs, Vice President of Community Investments

Megan Briggs, Vice President for Community Investments

Megan Briggs has been named Vice President of Community Investments, a promotion from her previous role as Director of Community Investments. Megan joined the LVCF staff in 2017, and in her new role, she is responsible for overseeing grantmaking administration and strategy as well as the organization’s community leadership work, a key initiative of the organization’s strategic plan.  She collaborates with volunteer advisory committees to implement the Foundation’s high-impact grantmaking programs and analyzes data from the nonprofit community to maximize and promote community impact. Petrozelli noted, “With this promotion, the Foundation recognizes Megan’s impactful contributions to our community leadership work and her trusted partnerships in the community.”

Holly Fitzpatrick, Grants Manager

Holly Fitzpatrick

Holly Fitzpatrick, who joined the LVCF staff in March of 2022, has been promoted to the position of Grants Manager from her previous role as Grants Administrator. “This promotion acknowledges her elevated role in the grants process and all that she has done to take ownership of these processes and earn the trust of fundholders, nonprofits, and fellow staff members,” Petrozelli explained.  As Grants Manager, Holly collaborates with the Finance, Community Investments, and Donor Services teams to steward grants through the process, from initial input to preparation for payment.

The promotions were announced at the spring LVCF Board of Governors meeting and became effective in July 2023. To learn more about the staff at the Community Foundation, visit The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation Staff (


LVCF Announces 2023-25 Core Fellowship Participants 

LVCF Announces 2023-25 Core Fellowship Participants 

Allentown, Pa., July 25, 2023—Lehigh Valley Community Foundation (LVCF) has announced the 2023-2025 cohort for its CORE Fellowship Program, a two-year capacity-building process designed to bring Lehigh Valley nonprofit leaders together to center equity in themselves, their relationships, their organizations, and the nonprofit sector. LVCF is proud to partner with 15 fellows from 8 organizations, as well as 8 systems-stakeholder in this year’s fellowship.

“The CORE Fellowship Program name signifies that this work will focus on addressing the core of our own selves, the core of our organizations, and the core of our systems,” noted Megan Briggs, LVCF Vice President of Community Investments. “As a funder in the Lehigh Valley, we recognize that nonprofits are working to incorporate equity into their organizations. Due to our positioning and experience, our approach is to support that work that needs to be done to reach equity by providing the infrastructure and resources necessary to both individuals and organizations.”

“We recognize that individuals and organizations are in many different places in their work on equity, and the CORE Fellowship Program is designed to meet people where they are at in their own equity journey, as long as there is a demonstration of commitment to being on an equity journey,” explained Monique Saunders Moreno, Assistant Director Community Investments. 

The Community Foundation is partnering with consultants again this year to deliver the model, including Phyllis Alexander, Guillermo Lopez, Jr., and Carter Gilbert. These consultants contribute in the program design and decision-making as well as being in the facilitation role for the program. The CORE Fellowship program offers benefits to both the individuals in the cohort, but also their respective organizations. CORE Fellows will receive leadership development coaching along with guidance from organizational development consultants on the creation of an equity-centered capacity-building project. LVCF has partnered with Partnering For Change as the organizational development consultants for the fellowship.  They will conduct an in-depth equity and organizational discovery process with time to carry out an equity-centered capacity-building project. Fellows will also benefit from building connections to a network of nonprofit leaders. The CORE Fellowship offers a $25,000 grant to each participating organization.

Below is the list of Organizations and Fellows that were selected for the 2023-2025 CORE Fellowship Program:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley 

  • Susan Bartels, Chief Executive Officer
  • Tyrone Fisher, Director of Volunteer Engagement 
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley - CORE Fellows

Easton Area Community Center 

  • Lisa Campbell, Associate Director
  • Kathryn Presto, President of EACC Board of Directors
Easton Area Community Center

Muhlenberg College (Office of Multicultural Life and Trexler Library) 

  • Robin Riley Casey, Associate Dean of Students and Diversity Initiatives 
  • Jess Denke, Community Engagement Librarian
Muhlenberg College (Office of Multicultural Life and Trexler Library)   Robin Riley Casey, Associate Dean of Students and Diversity Initiatives   Jess Denke, Community Engagement Librarian

NAMI Lehigh Valley 

  • Mitchell Lopez, Director of Community Outreach 
  • Margaret Murphy, Executive Director  
NAMI Lehigh Valley - CORE Fellows

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem 

  • Ebony Stevens, Marketing Manager 
  • Christopher Jackson, Artistic Director & Conductor 
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem  - CORE Fellows

Pinebrook Family Answers 

  • Angie Andresen, Vice-President Human Resources 
  • Monica R. Harrison, Family Based Teams Coach 
Pinebrook Family Answers, Angie Anderson, Monica Harrison

Pratyush Sinha Foundation | Mindful Child Initiative

  • Prabha Sinha, Founder 
  • Sara Kanoff Martinez, Co-Executive Director  


  • Enid Santiago, Board Chair 
Enid Santiago, Board Chair SELF LV - CORE Fellow


In addition to nonprofit leaders selected to participate in the program, there are eight nonprofit stakeholders who were invited to participate in the CORE Fellowship Program. These stakeholders are important partners in shifting the nonprofit sector to becoming more equitable and have consistently demonstrated a commitment to equity. Stakeholders are represented from the philanthropic, government, or corporate sectors.  

The following stakeholders have agreed to participate in the 2023-25 fellowship cohort: 

Monica Brooks, Manager, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, PPL Corporation 
Dannah Hartman, Director of Marketing, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania 
Margaret McConnell, Director of Strategic Partnerships, People First Federal Credit Union 
Laura McHugh, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley 
Holona Ochs, Marcon Institute Director & Associate Professor, Lehigh University 
• Genesis Ortega, Communications Manager, City of Allentown 
Erika Riddle Petrozelli, CPA, CAP, President & CEO, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation 
Melissa Starace, Foundation Director, Baker Foundation/Boldly Go Philanthropy 

CORE Fellowship Stakeholders 2023-25

Learn more about the CORE Fellowship Program 


LVCF Grants Support Nonprofits Providing Early Care for Children and Families 

LVCF Grants Support Nonprofits Providing Early Care for Children and Families 

Youth and Families Grant Awards 2023-24

Allentown, Pa., April 25, 2023—Lehigh Valley Community Foundation recently distributed more than $190,000 in general operating grants to area nonprofits serving youth and families with an emphasis on early childcare as part of its foundation-directed community investments grantmaking. 

The Community Foundation manages several different area-of-interest funds that are focused on supporting Lehigh Valley youth and families, including the Edward & Inez Donley Fund; Walter & Alma Bastian Fund; Frances L. Barnard Fund for Children; Support from Roger & Kathy Yott; Lucille F. Driver Fund; William C. Rybak Fund for Persons with Disabilities; Robert D. & Gwendolyn-Jane Romeril Campership Fund; and Janice & Paul Gross Fund. 

“The Community Foundation’s goal in awarding these grants is to offer flexible funding to organizations that provide comprehensive approaches in engaging youth and their families with a focus on the early childcare sector,” explained Megan Briggs, LVCF’s Director of Community Investments.  “Early childhood is one of the most critical periods of a child’s development. Quality childcare is a fundamental requirement of a vibrant, healthy economy. Yet, in the Lehigh Valley, and across the country, there is a crisis occurring in early childhood education. With these grants, we seek to support childcare centers and help the many children that need care in the Lehigh Valley.” 

The following grantees have received three multi-year awards:  

• Resurrected Community Development Corporation | $25,000 

• Third Street Alliance for Women & Children | $25,000 

• Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania | $20,000 

Also grant one-time awards have been awarded to the following grantees:  

• Community Services for Children | $20,000 

• Greater Valley YMCA | $20,000 

• Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers, Inc. | $20,000 

• Pratyush Sinha Foundation| $6,000 

• NAMI Lehigh Valley| $6,000 

• Pinebrook Family Answers | $20,000 

• Saucon Valley Community Center | $5,000 

• Via of the Lehigh Valley | $20,000 

The grants applications were evaluated by the Youth & Families Advisory Grant Committee which included both content and context experts in the field of youth and families. Applications were evaluated based on the organization’s area of focus in meeting a critical gap in the current early childcare crisis, the population they serve, and how they are guided by the community in proving quality early childcare services.  Learn more about LVCF’s foundation-directed grantmaking – click here


City of Easton announces new athletic fund through LVCF for donations to support city recreational programs

City of Easton announces new athletic fund through LVCF for donations to support city recreational programs

City of Easton Press Conference, pictured are Luis Campos, Mayor Sal Panto, Jr. LVCF's Erika Riddle Petrozelli, CPA, CAP, and Kevin McCarthy

Easton, PA – March 7, 2023 – The City of Easton announced today that it is establishing a charitable fund through the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation to benefit the Easton Recreation Department for youth sports programming.

Individuals and companies can donate to the charitable fund to support the development of programs, such as the new AAU Boys Basketball Program, which is benefiting city residents.

The donated funds will not be limited to this program, but will also be used in the creation of future talent-developing programs in the city’s Recreation Department. Donors will have the option to designate funds to the specific program of their choice. Funds will support the purchase of team uniforms, facility rentals, equipment, and participation fees in an effort to reduce cost for city residents who may not be able to afford similar opportunities only offered in suburban municipalities.

“This fund will allow us to expand recreational programming by introducing new programs that support talent development,” said City Administrator Luis Campos. “I’ve had many discussions with community and business leaders who would like to financially support the city’s Recreational Department’s programs so that they can expand, but until now they didn’t have a way to do so.”

LVCF assists community organizations with their charitable activities by setting up funds to allow donations to be made by companies and individuals. LVCF then acts as the homebase for the funds, collecting and providing them to the organizations for their stated purposes.

“My administration’s goal for the Recreation Department is to create more programming for our youth because athletics has the power to bring them together,” said Mayor Sal Panto. Jr. “Our community programs develop much more than sports skills. They teach players how to be a member of a team where they contribute to a larger goal that benefits everyone involved. The individuals and companies that donate to this new fund will be empowering our youth through athletics.” 

“We are so pleased to partner with the City of Easton and play a role in supporting the residents through the development of this important charitable fund at the Community Foundation,” said Erika Riddle Petrozelli, CPA, CAP, President and CEO of Lehigh Valley Community Foundation. “This fund will enable a wide variety of interested parties to lend their support to enhancing opportunities for Easton area youth to benefit from organized recreational and athletic activities.”

“The city’s new charitable fund will expand the capacity of the Recreation Department to grow and strengthen the athletic programs that the city’s youth want to participate in,” said Kevin McCarthy, Recreation Department Director. “These programs will maximize their skill development, creating a pipeline of talent for area school teams. They also provide youth with a positive outlet of exercise, team building skills, and friendship.”

Make a donation to the City of Easton Sports and Recreation Fund

Jihan Solomon Joins LVCF Staff as Business Administrator

Jihan Solomon Joins LVCF Staff as Business Administrator

Allentown, Pa., January 17, 2023—Jihan Solomon joined the staff of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation in December 2022.  As Business Administrator, Jihan provides support for the Chief Executive Officer, Board, and Finance Department.  In addition, she is also responsible for Business Office Operations.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Jihan spent 12 years as an Accounts Payable and Billing Specialist at Computer Aid, Inc.  In addition to her accounting duties, she assisted in testing and implementing the Spend Management modules for the Workday Financial ERP. Part of her time there, she volunteered in the SHS Exploratory Program as an assistant and instructor. 

For several years, she participated in the Email Buddy Program and volunteered at the CAI Learning Academy.  Before joining Computer Aid, Jihan spent 5 years in the Banking industry, part of which included becoming a Walt Disney Cast Member for Partners Federal Credit Union in California.    

Jihan is a native of the Lehigh Valley and graduated from Penn State University with a A.A. in Business Administration.

Amy Sams Named Donor Services Associate at LVCF

Amy Sams Named Donor Services Associate at LVCF

Allentown, Pa., January 17, 2023—Amy Sams joined the staff of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation (LVCF) in January of 2023 as Donor Services Associate.  Under the leadership of the Director of Donor Services, Amy is responsible for managing, tracking, and stewarding relationships with current and prospective fundholders, and their advisors.  She also assists with Board events and activities. 

Prior to joining the Foundation, Amy developed and managed adult programs at The Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley.  Most recently, Amy worked in academic foundations and success, as well as civic and community engagement at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pa. 

Amy serves the Lehigh Valley community through her volunteer activities with ArtsQuest, The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, Civic Theatre and Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown.

Amy Sams is a native of Allentown and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. degree in Marketing. 

Leigh Ehrlich Joins LVCF Board of Governors

Leigh Ehrlich Joins LVCF Board of Governors

Leigh Ehrlich, LVCF Board of Governors

Allentown, Pa., January 26, 2023—Lehigh Valley Community Foundation recently named Leigh Ehrlich, CPA, CHFP, MBA, to its Board of Governors. Leigh is Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Hospital Operations at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). She will serve on the Community Foundation’s Finance Committee.

In Leigh’s role at LVHN, she is responsible for driving improvement in financial performance working closely with the senior leadership for the thirteen hospital facilities. In addition, Leigh spearheads Network initiatives that drive improved margin performance through revenue enhancement and/or expense reduction and market growth.

Leigh joined LVHN in 2015 following a 15-year tenure in Big 4 accounting followed by a corporate finance role at Catholic Health East/Trinity Health.

Leigh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management, concentrating in accounting from East Stroudsburg University and earned her MBA at Lehigh University. She is a Certified Public Accountant and is a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. 

Leigh is also a Certified Healthcare Financial Professional. She serves on the following boards: Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Governors, Women’s 5K Classic, Lehigh Valley Anesthesia Services and Lehigh Valley EMS.  She serves as treasurer for Lehigh Valley Anesthesia Services and Lehigh Valley EMS.

Leigh is a Lehigh Valley native and graduated from Pen Argyl High School.  She currently resides in Lower Macungie with her husband Bill and three daughters.

Upper Bucks Community Fund Issues 2022-23 Grants to Support Nonprofits

Upper Bucks Community Fund Issues 2022-23 Grants to Support Nonprofits

Allentown, Pa., December 1, 2022—The Upper Bucks Community Fund of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation issued $35,600 in grants to area nonprofit organizations. The Fund consists primarily of two area-of-interest funds. The Richard E. Gasser Fund and Erwin J. and Gertrude K. Neusch Fund are for organizations and programs primarily serving the Palisades, Pennridge and Quakertown School Districts in the Upper Bucks area.

Two of the grants will address the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) problem in the region. The invasive insect native to northeastern Asia was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and since has devastated the Ash Tree population in the United States. In 2012, the Emerald Ash Borer was confirmed in Bucks and Montgomery counties. EAB is very destructive and kills Ash trees quickly, within 1 -2 years. The leafy canopy of infested ash trees will begin to look thin. EAB chews through the tree’s water and nutrient-conducting tissues, strangling the tree. If there is a high population of EAB in the tree, the leafy canopy in ash trees will start to die. A third to a half of the branches may die in one year. The Bucks County Horse Park and the Heritage Conservancy are receiving 2022-23 grants from the Upper Bucks Community Fund at LVCF that will support efforts to remediate the problem by removing affected trees in the region.

These grants were made at the recommendation of the advisory committee for the Upper Bucks Community Fund, a geographic affiliate of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation. “The Upper Bucks Community Fund Advisory Group carefully considered each application in accordance with the fund’s priorities,” said Megan Briggs, Director of Community Investments at the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation. “After a very thorough discussion about all the excellent applications, the Advisory Group worked together to recommend the final grant awards. Each member contributed their own depth of knowledge about the Upper Bucks region again this year to award projects and programs that will increase the quality of life for Upper Bucks residents.”

The following organizations received grants for programs from the fund’s 2022-23 grant cycle. The funded programs are listed as well.

  • Bucks County Horse Park
    Bucks County Horse Park, Inc. Emerald Ash Borer Remediation
  • Durham Historical Society
    Archival effort to protect, display and share historical artifacts
  • Heritage Conservancy
    Ash Tree Remediation and Forest Stewardship Project at Fuller-Pursell Nature Preserve
  • National Inventors Hall of Fame, Inc.
    Camp Invention STEM, Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Programs in Upper Bucks County
  • Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
    FreeWill and WillPower Tour to Upper Bucks (Quakertown and Palisades School Districts)
  • Riegelsville Public Library
    Art for Kids in the Summer
  • Valley Choral Society
    Bringing the Faure Requiem with an Orchestra to the Upper Bucks Area
  • YMCA of Bucks County
    Quakertown Branch After School Arts Program

About the Upper Buck Community Fund of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation

The Upper Bucks Community Fund of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, a geographic affiliate of Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, consists primarily of two area-of-interest funds. The Richard E. Gasser Fund and Erwin J. and Gertrude K. Neusch Fund are for organizations and programs primarily serving the Palisades, Pennridge and Quakertown School Districts in the Upper Bucks area. Recently added to Upper Bucks umbrella, The Bucks County Free Library Endowment Fund is an agency fund that benefits the seven-branch county library system with locations in Bensalem, Doylestown, Langhorne, Levittown, Perkasie, Quakertown, and Yardley-Makefield.

Learn more about the Upper Bucks Community Fund on the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation website.