Sharpe Consultants

Sharpe is led by a group of people who truly care about the nonprofits we work with and the missions you support. Sharpe’s lead consultants each have more than 25 years of experience in planning and implementing effective gift planning programs. They also bring perspective gained from years as active volunteers in their communities. Others on the Sharpe team are specialists in the fields that drive successful gift planning programs – attorneys, writers, editors, designers, print and digital marketing experts and management consultants.

bob mims

Bob Mims | CPA, CGMA


Bob is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Mississippi and brings his 30+ years of experience in finance and nonprofits to the Memphis office. Previously, he served as the chief financial officer for Wetlands America Trust and controller and director of investments for Ducks Unlimited. He has also served on the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory and Not-for-Profit Advisory Councils for the national Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).

For nine years, he chaired the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts’ (AICPA) Not-for-Profit Conference and is the current chair of the Environmental Roundtable, which is a membership organization comprised of CFOs from the largest environmental nonprofit organizations in the United States. An active speaker at AICPA conferences, he also is frequently published in the Journal of Accountancy, NonProfit Times and other industry publications.

Bob helps Sharpe Group enhance our services to fundraisers by helping our clients identify training and recruiting needs of their development departments.

jana lawyer

Jana Lawyer


Jana is a graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in business administration in marketing. Before joining Sharpe Group, she served on the National Direct Marketing Acquisition Team for ALSAC/St. Jude and was an advertising representative for The Reflector, Mississippi State’s newspaper.

Jana works with the Sharpe consulting team and partners with clients to help them develop and strengthen their gift planning fundraising strategies. She advises organizations and institutions of many sizes and missions on communications to educate their donors on planned giving.

She has volunteered her time and talent at many nonprofit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Operation Christmas Child and the Humane Society.

joe chickey

Joe Chickey | MBA, CFP®


Joe brings more than 30 years of experience in the charitable arena, with a focus on gift planning to Sharpe Group. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, he is a senior vice president and senior consultant. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in finance from Rhodes College and a master’s degree in business administration from University of Illinois.

Joe has spoken locally, regionally and nationally on planned giving to estate planning councils, AFP, CASE and local CGP groups. His recent speaking engagements include the Chicago Council on Planned Giving, Colorado Summer Symposium, Middle Tennessee Planned Giving Council and The Carolinas Planned Giving Conference. Joe recently completed a three-year term as a board member of the National Association of the Charitable Gift Planners (CGP).

Joe served as lead fundraiser for a $1.5 billion capital campaign at the University of Illinois and a $500 million capital campaign for a major hospital in Chicago. He has administered charitable remainder trusts, lead trusts, gift annuities, life estates and IRA gifts.

He has experience from the nonprofit side and for-profit side, as a gift planner for nonprofits and a bank trust officer. For 14 years, he worked with nonprofit endowments, family foundations and high-net-worth clients. His expertise includes estate and financial planning, asset management and charitable planning. As a vice president and trust officer for Regions Bank, he was a leader in the Endowments and Foundations Group and worked with more than 125 charities throughout the Southeastern United States. Prior to Regions, Joe was a vice president and business development officer for SunTrust Bank. In the fundraising arena, he served as director of gift planning for the University of Illinois Foundation. He was also a major gift officer for Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and a planned giving officer for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

julie schuldner

Julie Schuldner | MBA, CFRE


Julie has always had a passion for the nonprofit community, involving herself in volunteering, teaching and community outreach for nonprofits throughout her career. Before joining Sharpe Group, she served as the executive director of the Fellowship Foundation, where she helped to build and sustain an industry-standard Life Plan Community (LPC)-based fundraising program as a senior leadership team member.

Other roles in nonprofit leadership included serving as vice president of development and communications for Alzheimer’s New Jersey and executive director of Family Promise of Sussex County. Most recently, Julie earned certification as a CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive).

Julie graduated from Seton Hall University with a history major and Temple University with an MBA in health administration. Before relocating to North Carolina from New Jersey, Julie served as a board member for Family Promise of Sussex County, member of the Nonprofit Advisory Board for Sobel Co. and as chair of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce Not-for-Profit Roundtable.

Julie resides in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband and two sons.

kristin croone

Kristen Croone | JD


Kristin is a Sharpe Group senior consultant returning to the Sharpe team after a hiatus from the gift planning field. Previously, Kristin worked with Sharpe as a technical editor. She has also worked as an associate in tax and estate planning in Cleveland, Ohio and Memphis, Tennessee. She also served as director of planned giving and legal counsel for The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. She brings valuable experience in donor stewardship as well as tax and estate planning law.

Kristin is a graduate of the Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. She is available to assist planned giving, major gift and other staff members of Sharpe Group client organizations with estate gift administration and gift planning strategies.

melissa phillips

Melissa Phillips | MSW


Melissa graduated with her master’s degree in social work from Florida Gulf Coast University. For more than 25 years, Melissa has held leadership roles in the humanitarian community, including health care, education, social work and advocacy, both in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

As a fundraiser, she has successfully raised more than $200 million. Melissa brings considerable knowledge in the areas of major gift fundraising, strategic fundraising, marketing and branding, capital campaign strategies and direct mail campaigns to Sharpe Group.

Melissa is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and volunteers for several nonprofit organizations, including Rookery Bay Estuary, Meals of Hope and Florida Gulf Coast University.

tom grimm

Tom Grimm


Tom is a senior consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. His planned giving and nonprofit experience includes more than a decade with World Vision and four years with the American Bible Society. In his role as a consultant, Tom has worked with numerous charities to design, build and enhance their planned giving and major gift programs. He also has extensive experience in the insurance, venture capital, private equity, banking and financial services industries.

Tom’s combination of experience and passion for the philanthropic arena equips him to assist Sharpe clients in designing, implementing and evaluating successful planned giving programs in a way that will help maximize giving potential through the careful balancing of personal financial and philanthropic objectives.

barlow mann

Barlow T. Mann | JD


Barlow has more than three decades of experience in charitable gift planning and serves as general counsel for Sharpe Group. Before joining Sharpe, he was director of development at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, where he was responsible for current, deferred and capital giving for the colleges of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and allied health. He also has served as director of planned giving for the University of Memphis. He coordinated resource development projects with the Crippled Children’s Hospital Foundation and the University of Tennessee Bowld Hospital.

Barlow is a member of the American and Tennessee Bar Associations and has authored articles on planned giving for Planned Giving Today, Trusts & Estates Magazine, The Journal of Gift Planning and Fundraising Management, and his commentaries have been featured in The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The NonProfit Times. Barlow has been a frequent speaker for numerous local and national fundraising groups for more than 30 years, including the AHP Madison Institute, National Planned Giving Institutes, Association of Fundraising Professionals, CGP, ACGA, NCDC, AHA and others. He is a graduate of Tulane University and the University of Memphis School of Law.

Additional Consulting Resources

russell james

Russell James | JD, PhD, CFP®


Russell N. James III, JD, PhD, CFP® is a professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University where he directs the on-campus and online graduate program in Charitable Financial Planning (planned giving).

Prior to his career as an academic researcher, James worked as the Director of Planned Giving for Central Christian College in Moberly, Missouri for six years and later served as president of the college for more than five years, where he had direct and supervisory responsibility for all fundraising.

James has published research in more than 40 different peer-reviewed scientific journals and has been quoted on charitable and financial issues in a variety of news sources including The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, ABC News, US News & World Report, USA Today, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and his financial neuroimaging research was profiled in The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine.

dennis koerner

Dennis Koerner | PhD


Dennis Korner is an expert on cognitive data and business performance metrics using artificial intelligence. He works with Sharpe Group clients to collect and analyze donor data to help gift planners gain more insight into their donors and hone their communications and fundraising strategies. Her has served as chief operating officer of ACH Foods, an international food and chemical company and as vice president of research and development at Kraft Foods.

Dennis has a Bachelor of Science and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Memphis in the Herff College of Engineering and as chairman of the Assessment Standards Institute and on a number of other corporate and community boards.

kathy sperlak

Kathy Sperlak | JD


Kathy Sperlak, JD, earned her BS in Journalism from Northern Illinois University and her JD and LLM (taxation) from The John Marshall Law School. Kathy is a member of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, the PPP Leadership Institute and the Suburban Chicago Planned Giving Council. She is a member of the DuPage County Estate Planning Council and serves on the planned giving advisory council of the Chicago Zoological Society (Brookfield Zoo).

christopher woehrle

Christopher P. Woehrle | JD


A member of the Pennsylvania Bar, Chris teaches charitable gift planning in the LL.M taxation program at the Widger School of Law of Villanova University, as well as wealth management courses in estate and financial planning at the College for Financial Planning in Centennial, Colorado. A magna cum laude graduate of Cornell University, Chris earned his J.D. and LL.M (Taxation) from the Widger School of Law at Villanova University. He is currently a member of the Graduate Tax Program Advisory Board.

Chris is also an award-winning author and member of the editorial board of Trusts & Estates since 2014. He has written extensively on how to improve retirement income through philanthropic planning. Before becoming a professor, Chris enjoyed a seventeen-year career as a senior development professional executive, including serving as senior associate vice president and acting senior vice president of institutional advancement for Drexel University. Drexel was a five-time achiever of Philanthropy 400 status which is awarded to the most productive development programs in the United States.