An Arizona native, Mara Gerst has been involved with the nonprofit sector as a grant professional, fundraising professional, adjunct professor, and volunteer for more than 25 years. As the owner and principal consultant for Gerst Grants & Nonprofit Consulting, she partners with nonprofits statewide on mission-focused growth through grant readiness, grant funding, fundraising, donor stewardship, and budget development.
Mara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from the University of Arizona and is a member of Class 12 of the American Express Leadership Academy through ASU Lodestar. She earned her GPC (Grant Professional Certified) designation in 2014 and her CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) designation in 2019. A strong advocate for professionalism and ethics, Mara has served as chapter president for the Arizona Founding Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association and is a current national board member for the Grant Professionals Certification Institute. She is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts USA, a Girl Scout troop leader, and serves on her neighborhood Girl Scout Service Team. She has been a peer reviewer for the JM Kaplan Fund, the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and holds memberships with the Grant Professionals Association (GPA), the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, and the Society for Nonprofits.