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Meet the Staff
Stanford's Planned Giving staff has extensive expertise in charitable gift planning and can help you design your gift to best meet your charitable objectives at Stanford, as well as your financial and tax goals. And when you decide to include Stanford in your plans, we’d like to welcome you into Stanford’s Founding Grant Society.
Kara D. Wertheimer
Senior Director of Planned Giving
Kara Wertheimer earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1987 and her JD from Cornell University in 1990. She practiced corporate law at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison before joining her mother in their estate planning, probate, and trust firm of Wertheimer & Wertheimer. She was a principal of Fotenos & Suttle, P.C. after its merger with W & W and before joining Stanford in 1999. Kara is a past board member of the Northern California Planned Giving Council.
Senior Associate Director
Jonrie Dávila, '81, earned her JD from Hastings College of the Law in 1984. She practiced law at firms in Nevada and California, including Holtzmann, Wise & Shepard in Palo Alto, then served as a fundraiser at Stanford and other universities. She returned to Stanford to join its Office of Planned Giving in 2001. Jonrie is a member of the board of the Silicon Valley Planned Giving Council.
Senior Associate Director
Philip Golden, '81, joined the Office of Planned Giving in 2011 after practicing trusts and estates law for over 25 years. Early in his career, Phil was an associate at Carr, McClellan, Ingersoll, Thompson and Horn. He then moved to Merced, California and established a well respected solo practice. Phil began his migration back to the Bay Area with an of counsel position at Berliner Cohen for four years before coming to Stanford. Phil received a JD from Santa Clara University in 1984 and a LLM in estate planning from the University of Miami in 1985, and still maintains his certification as a specialist in estate planning, probate and trust law.
Ellen S. Lussier
Senior Associate Director
Ellen Lussier earned her bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University in 1978 and her JD from Hastings College of the Law in 1983. She practiced at law firms in San Jose and San Francisco, including Collette and Erickson and Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison before joining Stanford in 2005. She currently serves on the board of the Northern California Planned Giving Council.
Fred Hartwick, '78, earned his JD from Hastings College of the Law in 1981. After practicing estate and tax planning at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto and Bronson, Bronson & McKinnon in San Francisco, he joined the Stanford Planned Giving Office in 1986. From 2001 to 2011, he managed the planned giving offices at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. He returned to Stanford in 2011.
Blake Grossman received his BA from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2003, his JD from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2007, and his LLM from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2012. Blake practiced as a trust and estate planning attorney at Springs & Associates, P.C., in San Francisco for more than five years before joining Stanford in 2013.
Philanthropic Advisor, Medical Center Development
Carol Kersten, JD '82, earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Notre Dame in 1978 and her law degree from Stanford. She has been a part of the development operation for Stanford University Medical Center since 1983. Carol is part of the Northern California Planned Giving Council's ethics committee and served as a youth and family volunteer and vice president of Kara, a grief support nonprofit in Palo Alto. Carol served on the board of the American Council on Gift Annuities from 2006 to 2012.
Director of Planned Giving for Stanford Medicine
Tish earned her bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from University of California, Davis in 1988, a master's of science in public policy from the University of Massachusetts in 1995, and a JD from Loyola Law School in 1999. Tish was a visiting student at the Stanford Law School from 1998–99. She practiced estate and tax planning for 19 years, first at Cooley LLP in Palo Alto and most recently at GCA Law Partners in Mountain View. Tish was a member of the faculty at Santa Clara University, where she taught estate planning courses at the School of Law from 2003–06. Tish joined the Stanford Planned Giving Office in 2018.
Associate Director of Planned Giving for Stanford Medicine
Jamie Downes earned her bachelor's degree in finance from Michigan State University and her JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Prior to joining Stanford in 2018, Jamie practiced as a trusts and estates attorney in Michigan at Varnum LLP. As a firm believer in community philanthropy, Jamie previously served on the Board of Directors of Rethinking Dementia: Accelerating Change and the Humane Society of West Michigan, where she also served as the organization's Development Committee Chair. Jamie is a current member of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners and the Northern California Planned Giving Council.