J. Russell Raker, III, has had an extensive 53-year career in fundraising, not-for-profit capacity building, and leadership in higher education, healthcare and social service. Over the past 50 years, he has led teams that have raised over $1 billion in funds for the not-for-profit sector. After retiring in late 2006, due to illness, he moved Southern Nevada, where he was elected in 2007 as the Associate Vice President for Development for Nevada State College and Foundation in Henderson, NV. He is working with the College’s leadership team, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and with the Nevada System of Higher Education to develop a comprehensive fundraising program at the College, with a commitment to integrity, collaboration, accountability, quality, and stewardship. In addition, in 2008, he co-founded the Gift Planning Advisors, which was a collaborative partnership of six (6) not-for-profit organizations in Southern Nevada, working with planned giving professionals to enhance the educational opportunities available to them and to strengthen the awareness of the six charter not-for-profits.
For the first half of his professional career, he held senior advancement and senior administrative positions in higher education at such institutions as Lehigh University (PA), Columbia University/Graduate School of Business (NY), University of Rochester (NY), Hiram College (OH), Ottawa University (KS), University of Redlands (CA), and Texas Tech Health Sciences (TX). He also served as a senior consultant on the staff of Campbell & Company (IL), a full service consulting firm, conducting numerous capital campaigns for nonprofit organizations across North America, and as Vice President of Client Services, IDC, Henderson, NV. He finished his higher education tenure as President of the Nebraska Independent College Foundation (NE), leading it to the top independent state fundraising organization within the Independent College Funds of America (ICFA) three years in a row.
In healthcare, over the past twenty-five years, he has served and led organizations such as: Kettering Medical Center Corporation and Foundation (OH); Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (NY), Morton Plant Mease Foundation (FL), Loma Linda University Health Sciences Center and Corporation (CA); and, the renowned Don & Sybil Harrington Cancer Center/Texas Tech University School of Medicine (TX).
In the field of social service, he has led philanthropy teams for Family Service America (WI) and the Family Foundation of North America (WI).
Throughout his career, he has directed staff and volunteer committees in such advancement activities as: all phases of comprehensive fundraising initiatives, marketing, communications, public relations, community relations, strategic philanthropy planning and positioning, board and volunteer fundraising development, institutional strategic planning, and programs directed in the support of education, research and service delivery. In healthcare, he built clinical product lines in heart, cancer, ob/gyn medicine, rehabilitation and orthopedic services, professional medical education, medical recruitment and facility development.
Russ earned his BA (cum laude) from Alderson-Broaddus College (WV) and his advanced degrees (MA/summa cum laude and PhD/with honors) in higher education administration from Teachers College, Columbia University (NY). He has a minor in fundraising from Columbia, which at that time was the program directed by Dr. Abel Hanson, one of the co-founders of NSFRE/AFP. He holds or has held membership in many health, higher education, and professional fundraising organizations, including AFP, AAFRC, AAHE, AMA, AHP, CASE and Phi Kappa Delta. He is one of approximately 100 individuals world-wide to hold the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executives (ACFRE/Life) designation of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Alexandria, VA. As a member of NSFRE/AFP, he led the formation of three chapters (Omaha, NE; Dayton, OH; Inland Empire, CA); served as a national board member, chairing numerous committees in the Professional Advancement Division of AFP; served as a two-term member of the AFP Certification Board; and, chaired the Advanced Certification Committee for seven years, which under his direction, led to the creation of the ACFRE credential for AFP. Russ is often called the “Father of ACFRE.”
In 1987, he was selected by the NSFRE/AFP Omaha (NE) Chapter to be the first Nebraska Professional Fundraiser of the Year. He received the same first award from the NSFRE/AFP Miami Valley (OH) Chapter in 1991, and the same award from the NSFRE/AFP Greater Milwaukee (WI) Chapter in 1998. In 2009, he received this award from the NSFRE/AFP Las Vegas Chapter (NV). Russ was in the first class of AFP/CFRE recipients in 1981, and again in the first class AFP/ACFRE recipients in 1993.
In 1985, 1986, and again in 1987, he received the prestigious Charles W. L. Foreman Distinguished Performance Award from the Independent College Funds of America (ICFA) for the top sustained ICFA fundraising program in the country. Raker has served the not-for-profit field for the past 50 years as a senior chief development officer and executive leader of not-for-profit organizations. He has led or been a member of fundraising teams that have raised over $1 billion during his career. His specialties include strategic planning, resource development planning and management, staff and board development, major gifts, capital campaigns and capacity building for nonprofits. He has authored and edited books and articles for the nonprofit sector. He annually speaks at numerous conferences and workshops. He has also served on the national boards of other not-for-profit organizations, including: Family Service America (WI); Family Foundation of North America (WI); Red Cross of Ohio; Red Cross (DC); Dayton Ballet (OH); Omaha Ballet (NE); Amarillo Ballet of West Texas (TX); Omaha Symphony (NE); the Women’s Foundation of Nebraska (NE); ICFA (NY) and as Vice President/Programs of The Milton Murray Foundation (CO),where he led the Foundation to its new focus in grant making. With the complete endorsement of NSC and NSCF, and on his own time and at his own expense, he presently serves as an advisor to several not-for-profits, including as a Consultant to a special program of The Center for Philanthropy, Indianapolis (IN); and as Founder and Facilitator of the national Board Chair/CEO Institute of the Alliance for Children and Families (WI), and as Chairman of the Board/CEO (Pro Bono), Tall Pines Network & Associates, LLFRC (NV/CA). Tall Pines currently serves 39 clients in and outside of the United States.