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Board Members


Monica Grant,  President

  • Monica Grant, CFRE, has been the CEO of the San Luis Obispo County YMCA since May, 2013.  She has over 20 years of management experience with the YMCA, including the YMCA of Honolulu, where she served as Vice President for the $27 million island-wide association. Monica has thirty years of experience as a nonprofit and development professional, including work with UC Santa Cruz, The Nature Conservancy, United Way, and Sierra Club.  She has also run her own consulting firm, providing fundraising consulting, planning, organizational development, training and facilitation for nonprofits with a focus on capacity building and sustainability.  She has a BS in Recreation Administration and an MS in Organizational Leadership.  Monica currently serves on the SLO Chamber Board of Directors, the Board of Leadership SLO, and is the current Chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, SLO County Chapter.  She lives in Arroyo Grande with her wife, Colleen Murphy.


Debby Nicklas, Vice President

  • Debby Nicklas is currently the vice president of philanthropy for French Hospital Medical Center Foundation in San Luis Obispo, California. Ms. Nicklas led the effort to establish the hospital foundation in 2004 when Dignity Health acquired French Hospital Medical Center. Since then, the Foundation has raised more than $35 million to support French Hospital and its patients. Under her leadership, the Foundation was named “Foundation of the Year” by Dignity Health for fiscal year 2015. Prior to her current role, Ms. Nicklas held numerous senior-level management positions in health care marketing, business development, public relations, and fundraising, and was a part-time lecturer at California Polytechnic State University. She also served as board chairwoman for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, which named her Citizen of the Year in 2002. She received the Woman of Distinction Award from Cuesta College in 2006, and continues to be a dedicated volunteer in her community. Ms. Nicklas holds a master’s degree in health service administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ithaca College. 


Matthew Cottle, Past President 

  • Matthew Cottle is a senior director for the fundraising firm CCS. He also serves as vice president of the board for the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre. Matthew has been a campaign leader for California Polytechnic State University, Princeton University, the University of Idaho, and the National Academy of Sciences, as well as serving as vice president for Franklin W. Olin College.  Matthew is a long-time member and volunteer leader for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He is a board member and president of the AFP San Luis Obispo County Chapter. He served as chair of the AFP Education Advisory Committee (2013-15) and currently is a member of the AFP Research Council. Matthew is a graduate of the AFP Faculty Training Academy and a Certified Master Trainer. He is a frequent presenter at professional conferences on topics including major and planned giving, corporate relations, and capital campaigns.  In addition to his work with AFP, Matthew is an active member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). He is a CASE 5-Star conference speaker and received a CASE Silver Award for his leadership of the University of Idaho's first capital campaign.


Shannon Hill, Treasurer 

Annette Montoya, Secretary

  • Annette Montoya immigrated from Germany to the US in 1992 and became a Citizens in 2010. She has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Europe, which has tremendously aided her with positions held in banking and at Peoples’ Self-Help Housing. She gained invaluable experience at Wells Fargo Bank working in lending, investments, customer service and high net worth client relations. In 1996 Mrs. Montoya joined Peoples’ Self-Help Housing to assist with special projects, including the new office construction, office management and event planning. Through the years responsibilities expanded to oversee communications, traditional and social media/marketing, donor software implementation, IT management, equipment procurement and other special projects as assigned by the Executive Director. In 2010 Mrs. Montoya was encouraged to move into the role of Project Manager for the Rental Housing Development Department, which involved new real estate development, securing financing/funding, fiscal responsibilities and construction management. In early 2012 Ms. Montoya was offered an opportunity to directly support the Executive Director/President. Since stepping into the role of Special Assistant she has supported the organization, its over 15 corporate affiliates, the CEO, the Board of Directors, various committees and department heads, while overseeing management of the corporate office in San Luis Obispo and four satelite offices.


Loren Leidinger-Avila, Membership Chair

Cozy Faber, Program Co-Chair

  • Cozy Faber is the Development Director at SLO Classical Academy.  She has worked with the school during a growth of over 200% during the past 10 years. Her work has included a constant evolution in funding methods as the population has grown and changed.  Entering the nonprofit world from the start up environment of Silicon Valley, Cozy has found an equally exciting set of challenges in her current role.  She is thrilled to be serving on the board of the AFP here in SLO County and to be a part of an organization slated to grow and support our community.


Elena Romero, Programs Co-Chair 

  • Elena Romero has more than 20 years of successful fund development and nonprofit management experience, with a focus on health and human service organizations. Her fund development expertise includes annual giving, capital, major gifts, planned giving and special project campaigns. Past employers include Marian Regional Medical Center, Santa Maria; Valley Children’s Hospital, Madera; Big Brothers Big Sisters in Central California; and United Way Silicon Valley. Elena has also consulted with nonprofit organizations providing fund development training, strategic planning and board development. She has served in the philanthropic community as board member, volunteer and donor. Elena has been an AFP member since 1994 and currently serves on the AFP San Luis Obispo County Board as Program Co-Chair.


Patty Thayer, Chair National Philanthropy Day

  • After earning a BA in Theatre and Speech Communications, Patty began her professional life in the San Diego area, working as an actress, box office and house manager, as well as in tour scheduling, fundraising, marketing and even bookkeeping. Thus are launched lifelong arts administrators. Since then, she has spent her entire professional career working on behalf of nonprofit performing arts organizations. She has been the Communications and Development Director for the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre since March of 2013 and is thrilled to be a part of this 70 year old arts institution. From 1997-2013, she worked under three different titles and filled multiple roles in marketing, fundraising and development at the San Luis Obispo Symphony; part of a dedicated team who helped to transform that organization from a small community orchestra into the respected, successful organization it is today. A graduate of Leadership SLO Class XI, Patty currently serves on the Parking and Access Committee and the SLO Cultural Arts Committee for the SLO Downtown Association, on the Steering Committee for Arts Obispo’s AE5 project and on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, SLO County Chapter. Patty and her husband David live in San Luis Obispo.


Allie Burnett, Member at Large

  • Allie Burnett has more than 16 years of professional fundraising experience working at university, hospital and local non-profit organizations.  Allie has been in San Luis Obispo since 2006 when she joined Cal Poly as the Scholarship Coordinator.  At Cal Poly, Allie has held numerous development roles including Regional Development Director, Director of Development for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, and currently as the Senior Director of Gift Planning.  Allie holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of San Diego and a master's in public policy from Cal Poly. Allie enjoys hiking, cooking, traveling, and loving her three-year-old daughter. 


Jill Jones, Chapter Administrator

  • Jill Jones graduated from Cal Poly in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Liberal Studies. She previously worked for the San Luis Obispo County YMCA as the Director of Community Outreach and was an active member in the Association of Fundraising Professionals San Luis Obispo.  Jill currently resides in the Bay Area working as a swim coach for a local year-round club team while serving as the remote Chapter Administrator for AFP San Luis Obispo County Chapter.