Background

Linda Kleinhans Beeman, MBA, GPC
Founder and President

Linda is a certified Grants Professional, holds an MBA in Marketing from the University of North Texas, received a Comprehensive Fund Development certificate from Rice University, and is a former Association of Fundraising Professionals – Greater Houston Chapter Board Member. She is also a member of the Grant Professionals Association’s Southeast Texas Chapter, Houston Philanthropic Society, and Texas Trotters Toastmasters. Linda brings experience gained over twenty-five years in various marketing roles to the field of writing grant proposals.

In the for-profit sector, Linda’s expertise stems from working primarily with small- and mid-sized entrepreneurial ventures. This, she believes, was an excellent training ground for working with nonprofits. “Like all entrepreneurs, nonprofit executive directors are driven, passionate, and very focused. Our team approach of working together with them, their development directors and board members, offers optimal opportunities for grant funding success.

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Suzanne von Lengerke, MBA

Contract Research Assistant, Grant Writer

Suzy joined Aurora Grants in 2012 as a consultant. She researches background materials, seeks potential funders, writes and edits grant applications, and helps clients manage their grant calendars. Suzy holds an MBA in Finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her BS in Economics from Georgetown.

After more than a decade working on Wall Street as a stock trader, Suzy switched careers to become a writer, editor and publisher of specialized newsletters for consumers and professionals. As a result, she brings to Aurora Grants a strong research background gained through her experience in the medical, legal, estate planning and insurance fields.

Suzy is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, sits on the grant review committee for the Caldwell-West Caldwell Education Foundation, volunteers as a grant writer for the Grover Cleveland Birthplace Memorial Association and the Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy, and began her grant-writing career working as a volunteer for several other not-for-profit organizations.

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Kathryn (Kathy) Sullivan, MBA, CFRE
Contract Grant Writer Support

Kathy joined Aurora Grants in 2014. She enjoys researching information for clients, looking for material that will be useful when writing grant proposals and applications. Kathy received her BA with high honor in English from Michigan State University, holds an MBA from Oakland University in Michigan, and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive.

After Kathy worked as Director of Administrative Services for a community college in the Detroit suburbs, she moved to Texas to become the Vice President of Administrative Services at Galveston College; she became Executive Director of the Galveston College Foundation and its Chief Development Officer. Kathy then moved to Houston where she took on the role of Development Director for the University of Houston. Ultimately, she decided to consult with nonprofit organizations, particularly in the area of grant writing. Kathy frequently volunteers her expertise in nonprofits with the Executive Service Corps of Houston. She is a member of the Grant Professionals Association, and has been an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for 15 years.

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Volunteering at Houston ToolBank

Susan Byrd, BA

Contract Grant Writer

Susan joined Aurora Grants and Consulting in 2014. She has spent her entire career working for Houston area non-profits organizations in various capacities, including the American Heart Association and the Houston Zoo. Susan has an extensive background in individual, corporate, foundation and special event fundraising. She has proven experience with volunteer recruitment and management and her collective knowledge allows her to have a unique understanding of Houston’s vast philanthropic community.

Susan graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in History. Her interest in writing and research compliment her work for Aurora Grants and Consulting and she enjoys working with organizations that strive to make a difference in the world. Understanding the need to give back, Susan enjoys volunteering her time and is active in her children’s school and local community.

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Katy Atkiss, MPH

Contract Grant Writer

Katy joined Aurora Grants in 2015, bringing over 14 years of professional experience in organization, program and fund development with a focus on community-driven health solutions through capacity and collaboration building, education and action.

Katy earned a Bachelors in Communications Arts and Sciences from the University of Southern California, and a Masters in Public Health from the University of California Los Angeles. She worked for eight years with youth in South Central L.A., building youth capacity to create environmental and policy changes for food systems that support healthy behaviors. That local food movement grew into the youth-run nonprofit RootDown LA, which still exists today.

Since moving to Houston in 2010, Katy has been a Program Officer at Houston LISC where she managed the GO Neighborhoods program, and has consulted for various nonprofit organizations including Project Row Houses, CAN DO Houston, and Urban Harvest. Katy has developed trainings, events and environmental assets, such as gardens and orchards, to build community health.

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Jennifer Newton, BS
Contract Grant Writer

Jennifer Newton joined Aurora Grants in 2016. She has more than 10 years of experience in nonprofit work, ranging from project management and implementation to fundraising and communications. A love of writing is the common thread tying together her varied experience in the field.

Jennifer has a BS in Psychology from the University of Houston, and she is a Certified Prevention Specialist. She is currently the Communications Coordinator for a Houston-based nonprofit, where she creates and distributes content for traditional and digital media channels. Her passion for grant writing has found a good home with the Aurora Grants team.

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Emily Barlow, BS
Contract Grant Writer

Prior to joining Aurora Grants & Consulting in 2016, Emily Barlow worked for eleven years in the philanthropic sector as a founder, program director and development director for several Texas nonprofits. Through her work, Emily gained experience in all phases of nonprofit business including fund development, event planning, volunteer coordination, program management and grant writing. Emily holds a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Edward’s University and performed graduate studies in biochemistry at the University of Texas before choosing to pursue her passion with a career in the nonprofit sector. She is a member of The Junior League of Houston and serves as a volunteer for the Houston Area Women’s Center.

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Linda M. Avedon, BS, MA
Contract Grant Writer

Linda Avedon joined the Aurora Grants Team in 2017 with a most impressive background. An experienced non-profit executive, Linda’s professional career spans over 30 years in leadership positions, including 22 years as President and Chief Executive Officer for United Way organizations in two communities: Modesto, CA and Richmond, IN. Most recently, she was Director of Donor and Agency Relations for the United Way of Greater Baytown Area & Chambers County.

Linda has extensive volunteer management and outcome based strategic planning experience, having worked with top Fortune 500 Corporation Chief Executive Officers and Senior Executives. She has successfully directed fund raising efforts for annual and capital funds throughout her career, totaling over $75 million in charitable contributions.

Linda Avedon holds an MA in Organizational Communications/Higher Education Administration from Ohio University, a BS degree in Organizational Communications from Ohio University, and a certificate in Total Quality Management from California State University Stanislaus. Linda has taught numerous fundraising and new CEO classes at the National Academy of Voluntarism, Alexandria, VA. She is actively involved in giving back to the community and has donated many hours to various organizations such as the Harriet and Joe Foster Family YMCA, American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the Greater Houston Partnership, and many more.

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Candace Okin, BA, MA
Contract Grant Writer

Candace Okin offers nearly 10 years of professional writing, communications and relationship management experience. Having worked as a professional Grant Writer for several nonprofits, Candace has effectively raised more than $3.3 million in private and government funds over the course of her career. She has been published by several Houston-based publications including 002 Magazine and Bliss the Magazine, a relationship themed online magazine. Candace holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Texas Southern University and a Masters in Psychology from Houston Baptist University.