Bayer Center - Classes & Events

At the Bayer Center, our approach to education is to stay on top of what's happening in the sector, plan for the future, listen to you, and offer the ever-adapting menu of classes you see here.

Our approach to thought leadership is to leverage our role as a Robert Morris University center and listen to you through conversations and community gatherings to bring together the best thinking on how our sector can most effectively enhance our community.

Summer 2024 Catalog      Register Online




One-on-One Clinics

Bayer Center clinics are your chance to schedule an hour of individualized, expert advice on topics of interest to your organization for only $75 an hour.

Register Online

Custom Training and Facilitation

Just because you can’t find it on our website doesn’t mean we don't do it. We can create a custom training or facilitation for you on the subject and at the location of your choice.

Here are some areas that might interest you:

  • Fundraising
  • Finance
  • Supervision and leadership
  • Board development
  • Staff management

Our successful custom trainings have run the gamut from a three-year long management development curriculum for more than 100 leaders in a large nonprofit to facilitating a one-day retreat on effective Board meetings and governance practices for a small domestic violence agency.

For more information, please contact Carrie Richards at

Additional Information

Instructor Biographies

Mary Kate Bartley is an Executive Service Corps (ESC) volunteer and Director of Human Resources at WVU Medicine Uniontown Hospital. A lifelong Pittsburgher, she has a background in human resources, talent acquisition, performance management, and workforce/community development. She has a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in public management and policy from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and is a SHRM Certified Professional. Mary Kate is a board member at Dress for Success Pittsburgh and The Blessing Board.

Don Block is an ESC volunteer, and retired Executive Director of Literacy Pittsburgh, where he worked since 1984. He has extensive experience in working with boards and fundraising, including capital campaigns. At Literacy Pittsburgh, private giving increased significantly in the past few years, thanks to the close partnership between staff and board. Under his leadership, Literacy Pittsburgh received the Wishart Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management and Don was honored as the Outstanding Administrator of Adult Education in the nation. He holds a master’s degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, and has served in the Peace Corps.

Wendy Burtner is a nonprofit leader, trusted advisor and consultant with 30 years’ experience leading organizations through transitions and building strong foundations for growth. She is the “nuts and bolts” of Nonprofit SideKick, with a wide range of experience across the nonprofit sector, including leadership roles in corporate philanthropy, arts administration, health and human services, and economic and workforce development. She was a member of the startup team at GuideStar (now Candid), the founding director of The CarMax Corporate Foundation, and the operations lead of the Early Childhood Initiative of the United Way of Allegheny County. She has been a coach, advisor and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses for more than 5 years. Specifics of Wendy’s professional experience can be found on LinkedIn.

Chris Cooke, is CEO of Cooke Consulting, focused on strategic and operational planning, board development, succession planning, and risk management. He has served as a consultant and executive coach with the Bayer Center, The Forbes Funds, and New Sun Rising, among others, and as an instructor and Advisory Board Member for the Bayer Center. Previously, he was the Executive Director of PULSE where he developed the small nonprofit from a single person operation to a team of seven staff and a budget about $1 million with 85% earned revenue. Chris has served on several boards and is the recipient of the City of Pittsburgh’s Citizen Service Award.

Jeremy V. Farrell, Esq. is a trial lawyer who helps employers with the many legal issues they encounter in the workplace. In addition to representing them in court and before administrative agencies, he assists them with the day-to-day legalities of managing a workplace, including complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act; reviewing pay practices; preventing and investigating discrimination and harassment claims; drafting non-compete, non-solicitation, and confidentiality agreements; revising employee handbooks and workplace policies; handling claims for unemployment compensation; and offering guidance on personnel matters, such as terminations and other disciplinary issues.

Brett Fulesday has 20 years’ of experience in providing business valuation and litigation-support services for individuals as well as public and privately held, early stage and mature companies. Driven by the desires to help and to continue to learn, Brett pours his energy and effort into the areas of arts, education, entrepreneurship and emerging technology, for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

Phyllis G. Hartman, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, is founder and President of PGHR Consulting, Inc. with 30+ years’ experience in HR. She is a member of the SHRM Expert Panel and a member of the Government Advocacy Team. She has an M.S. in human resource management from La Roche University and is a certified Senior Professional in HR. Phyllis has written numerous articles and three books, “A Manager’s Guide to Developing Competencies in HR Staff,” “Looking to Hire an HR Leader?” and “Never Get Lost Again: Navigating Your HR Career.” She is a past Board of Trustee member for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund.

Lizz Helmsen, Managing Director at Carter, combines 20 years of fundraising experience with a background in the arts, education, and community service. She is known as a creative and energetic professional with a proven ability to build relationships with, and create connections among multiple constituencies. Lizz has directed comprehensive fundraising programs and provides expertise in the areas of campaign counsel, major gifts, development planning, governance, annual giving and grant making.

Jon Hoffmann is the principal of Hoffmann Consulting, serving both nonprofit and for-profit clients with a focus on strategic planning, program design and evaluation, and operations management. Prior to launching his own consulting business, his career has spanned executive leadership roles in social services, communications strategy for an advocacy organization, and housing development with a focus on affordability. A Pittsburgh native, Jon holds a master’s degree in social work and bachelor of science in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Emma Kieran brings 20 years of fundraising experience to Pilot Peak Consulting. She has worked with over 50 nonprofits in her career as a coach, teacher, and change agent. Previously, Emma was the Vice President for Fundraising and Development at Orr Associates, Inc., and a consultant with Changing Our World. Emma holds an M.A. from Columbia University in organizational psychology, an M.P.A. from American University in nonprofit management and a B.A. from Connecticut College. She is a dedicated volunteer for The Ellis School for Girls, her alma mater, and for Girls on the Run.

Mark Lynch, Carter, has more than 30 years of experience in fundraising, communications, marketing and branding, and organizational development for nonprofit organizations, including fundraising consulting through Ketchum, Inc., and A.L. Brourman Associates, Inc. He is a registered fundraising consultant in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Mark is active in the community, currently serving on the Community Advisory Board of the Allegheny Regional Asset District, and has served on many other committees and boards for nonprofit organizations including Support Inc. and the Sewickley YMCA. He is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh, Class XIII.

Stephanie Masters is co-founder and partner at Nonprofit SideKick and a certified CliftonStrengths™ and Predictive Index™ Coach. She is the “heart and soul” of Nonprofit SideKick, with 25 years’ experience focusing on organizational development and leadership. She has worked within nonprofit organizations in human services, economic renewal, historic preservation and education. Stephanie has created and led leadership development initiatives with large corporations and small to midsize nonprofits. For the past 11 years, Stephanie has been the leadership facilitator for Leadership Washington County, a community-based leadership program. She has actively coached and developed over 300 leaders through the program. Specifics of Stephanie’s professional experience can be found on LinkedIn.

Sarah McMullen, M.B.A. is an ESC volunteer and is Director Senior Leadership Projects at the University of Pittsburgh. She has worked for Pittsburgh nonprofits and education organizations for over 20 years specializing in the areas of event management, program and resource development, project management, volunteer management, marketing, user experience enhancement, and strategic partnerships. Sarah holds a B.A. from Westminster College and an M.B.A. in nonprofit management from Marylhurst University. She is secretary of the board for the North Hills Art Center and is a board member and chair of the Development/Fundraising committee for the Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program (PSFP). She is also a fiber artist and participates in independent shows and community-based fiber art projects.

Paul Novelli is the Social Media Coordinator at Robert Morris University. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in the spring of 2018 with bachelor’s degrees in rhetoric and communication, and film and media studies. Prior to joining RMU, Paul managed and created a variety of social media accounts for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK – Pittsburgh, the Black Sheep and La Roche University’s athletic department. His creative skills include photography, videography, editing, social media management, writing and knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite.

Dr. Jo Ellen Parker is a former college president and museum executive with extensive fundraising experience. As President and CEO of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, she oversaw the successful campaign to expand the Carnegie Science Center. And as a long-time educator, she loves sharing information to help nonprofit leaders and their organizations thrive.

Michael Printz founded Nonprofit CFO with his wife Suzanne to serve small nonprofits who lack the resources to employ a full time Chief Financial Executive. He was employed in executive leadership roles by nonprofits in the Pittsburgh region spanning the past 4 decades, including Community Human Services Corporation, Cornerstone Ministries, Family House and Bethlen Communities. Michael has experience with board recruitment, orientation, training and engagement as well as operations and financial staff. His unique experience provides him with insight beyond traditional financial leaders, including strategic vision, organizational development, and board governance.

Laura Ruschak is the Alumni Engagement and Outreach Manager for Leadership Pittsburgh Inc., shaping the alumni experience and external communications for through digital storytelling. Previously, she was Director of the Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program at Robert Morris University. Laura’s work has included nonprofit leadership as well as strategic communications projects for Fortune 100 and 500 companies, startups, and NGOs. Laura thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, one of only 20,000 people to do so, and hopes to inspire leaders to follow their passion down their own unique path. She earned her master’s in organizational leadership with a certificate in nonprofit management from Robert Morris University.

Melanie Rutan works with a wide variety of nonprofit clients at Bookminders, where she serves as an accountant and trainer. She received her B.S. in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from West Virginia State College in 1988 (Summa Cum Laude). Melanie was an ExaminerIn-Charge with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for 11 years before joining Bookminders in 2001.

Kathy Serenko is a writing coach, published author, and founder of Create-a-Buzz Writing Programs. A corporate trainer for several years, a competitive Toastmaster, and a public speaker on the topic of domestic violence, Kathy’s writing has appeared in many publications, including Forbes, Credit Suisse, Stainless Steel Americas, Working Parts, NEXTPittsburgh, and more. Her years as a Communications and PR Manager, along with her penchant for creativity and storytelling, helped Kathy develop a style of writing that translates the knowledge of experts into content for non-technical readers.

Tom Sullivan is a Leadership & Organizational Development Consultant with ProGrowth Associates, LLC. He has many years of service in key human resource positions creating solutions for executive learning, talent assessment and succession planning. Tom works closely with senior management teams as a trusted advisor, serving in a variety of corporate, health care and nonprofit industries. He is an accredited facilitator for multiple leadership and team development models, and has conducted seminars throughout North America and in Europe. Tom has a master’s degree in public administration from Long Island University, and a bachelor’s in social work from Kean University.

Chris Thyberg understands the challenge of leading effectively in complexity and how vital it is for leaders to have a partner in their professional and personal growth. After 30+ years in leadership at Carnegie Mellon, Penn State and a global nonprofit, Chris now offers executive coaching to emerging and experienced leaders in all sectors. Since 1987, Chris and his family have lived in East Liberty, shared in its gains and losses, and take hope from rising community leaders. To serve the common good fuels his passion to support purpose-minded leaders who empower and sustain resilient organizations committed to our shared flourishing. You can find Chris on LinkedIn.

Megan Troxell, Partner, A&A Services Group has over 16 years’ experience in public accounting, specializing in audit and accounting services for nonprofit organizations. She serves as board vice chair for George Junior Republic, treasurer for Family Guidance, and treasurer for Community Bible Study – Pittsburgh West. She is an active volunteer with her church and children’s school, and a member of the 2022 Cohort of the Pittsburgh Foundation’s New Philanthropic Leaders program. A valued coach and role model for developing CPAs at GYF, Megan serves as Business Mentor through Pittsburgh Fellows. She is an active member of the Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs, and was named as one of their “Women to Watch” in 2020.

Trina Walker is the Lead Consultant for TLW Strategy, a consulting firm designed to help nonprofits create efficiencies in their plans, people, and processes so they can have a greater impact. Trina has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership, strategy, and marketing experience in healthcare, advertising, consulting, education, religious, and cultural organizations. She has helped organizations with strategic planning, organizational change, staff development, fundraising, marketing, and communications. Prior to launching her own consulting company, Trina served as Director of Communications and Creative Services at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and Director of Marketing and Outreach at the University of Pittsburgh’s College of General Studies.

Chris Thyberg understands the challenge of leading effectively in complexity and how vital it is for leaders to have a partner in their professional and personal growth. After 30+ years in leadership at Carnegie Mellon, Penn State and a global nonprofit, Chris now offers executive coaching to emerging and experienced leaders in all sectors. Since 1987, Chris and his family have lived in East Liberty, shared in its gains and losses, and take hope from rising community leaders. To serve the common good fuels his passion to support purpose-minded leaders who empower and sustain resilient organizations committed to our shared flourishing. You can find Chris at

Drew Zerick is an assurance services manager with Sisterson & Co. LLP with over 15 years of professional experience. Her professional career has involved providing accounting and auditing services to a variety of clients, with a focus on nonprofit organizations, as well as spending several years working as a Controller for a healthcare company. Drew rejoined Sisterson in 2013 where she also serves on the Firm’s Recruiting Committee and as an instructor for their in-house continuing professional education program. Drew also has experience serving on a nonprofit board and presenting financial statements to nonprofit boards.

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