Consultant Profiles

Breadth of skills and experience


We understand the importance of ongoing education and learning. That is why our consultants regularly participate in conferences and professional development sessions sponsored by organizations such as Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP), Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Canadian Association of Gift Planners (CAGP), Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Canada, Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) and Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR).

Joan Blight, President and Managing Consultant

spi_jblightJoan Blight, Strategic Philanthropy’s president and managing consultant, has worked as an independent consultant for over twenty-five years and founded the firm in 2002.

A graduate of the University of Manitoba, Joan has extensive, multi-level voluntary-sector development experience. She has lived, worked and honed her skills in three major Canadian cities: Winnipeg, Calgary and Toronto.

“Joan Blight truly sets the standard for integrity in her professional relationships. Very few have her depth of knowledge of the charitable sector and she consistently demonstrates the responsibility and discretion that comes with that. Participating as a stakeholder in her environmental scans means respectful, thoughtful, far ranging questions, and the guarantee of an objective and thorough analysis. While many consultants conduct surveys, the high level of stewardship Joan provides back to clients and stakeholders alike, is rare.”

Jan Belanger,

Vice-President, Community Relations Great-West Life, London Life & Canada Life

In these distinct communities and environments, Joan has provided organizational and fund development services to local, national and international charitable organizations in education, health, human services, the arts and international development. She has conducted and consulted on many successful annual, capital and endowment campaigns including the following:

  • Establishing the fund development department at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and raising $31 million to reach the halfway mark of the capital campaign’s private sector goal in less than three years.
  • Managing corporate campaigns for a university’s $250 million and a hospital’s $30 million capital campaign in the 1990s
  • Directing seven annual United Way campaigns in three cities in the 1980s, each raising from $4 to $39 million
  • Joan also advises donors (individuals, families, and family foundations) about philanthropy.

Committed to philanthropy, Joan currently serves as a director of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners Foundation which promotes a better world through strategic charitable giving. Joan has also been extensively involved with CAGP’s local chapter.

Pat Harper, senior associate

spi_patPat Harper, senior associate, is SPI’s expert on research and data analysis. Pat joined SPI after a successful 25-year career with the United Ways in both Calgary and Winnipeg. Pat’s depth and range of experience is stellar and includes operational and strategic planning, community engagement, market and social issue research, program development, project management, fundraising, fund distribution, marketing and communications.

“Pat Harper’s work is thoughtful, comprehensive and infused with energy. Pat is known for not only exploring “what” but “so what” bringing added depth to research, reviews and initiatives. We have appreciated Pat’s commitment to defining meaningful engagement processes, developing ambitious work plans, with clear milestones and delivering on them. In fact, Pat delivers with excellence and professionalism time and time again.”

Connie Walker,

President & CEO, United Way of Winnipeg

In her final position at United Way of Winnipeg, Pat served as the director, Strategic Planning, Research and Business Development. She was also a member of the staff leadership team that supported the organization’s volunteer Board of Trustees, Executive Committee and several standing committees and task groups.

Prior to her involvement with United Way, Pat spent seven years working with the Province of Manitoba in health, social services and income security. There she assisted Winnipeggers to access financial, health and social services; developed resident-centered programs in personal care homes; and developed community-based programs to support homebound individuals in both being safe and feeling safe in their homes.

An avid runner, Pat served for six years on the board of the Manitoba Marathon Foundation, including one year as the board chair. Pat has also volunteered with United Way of Canada on several national committees and task forces and was founding member and chair of the parent councils at both Royal School and Charleswood Junior High.

Pat’s formal education includes Bachelor (University of Manitoba) and Masters (University of North Dakota) degrees in Psychology with an emphasis on research.

Lorna Mayer, senior associate

spi_lornaLorna Mayer is a CPA, CMA and exceptional professional who has provided management resource services for clients in the not-for-profit and government sectors since 1995.

Lorna has an amazing ability to collate and synthesize reams of data and to elegantly weave financial information, nuance, and strategy into written reports. These reports include cases for support; discussion papers for management groups and boards of directors; strategic, business, and operating plans; progress reports for stakeholders; environmental scans; and summaries of the discussions and decisions reached at retreats, workshops, and important meetings.

Clients describe Lorna’s reports as succinct, cohesive, and easy to read and understand. They use them to equalize knowledge, create shared understanding, support good decision making, and in the words of one client for “preparing us to move forward”.

“Lorna has played an integral role in the development of strategic plans for many organizations that I have lead. Her ability to work with an organization’s team to elegantly weave together financial information with strategy has resulted in brilliant plans that are detailed, outcome based and practical.”

Christina Smith,

Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation, Toronto

Prior to working as an independent consultant, Lorna spent eleven years with United Way of Winnipeg serving as the director of finance before transitioning to work in community relations, research and planning.

Lorna has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba and has studied communications and marketing at the University of Winnipeg. She is a founding member of a community group dedicated to restoring the riparian forest and natural habitat of an old Winnipeg neighbourhood. Over the past fifteen years the group has involved area residents in planting over 5,000 trees and shrubs and creating a one-acre native grass prairie.

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