Meet the Planned Giving Team
Stanford’s planned giving staff has extensive experience in charitable gift planning and can help you consider the options to design your gift to best meet your charitable, financial, and tax goals. We would be happy to help you explore how a planned gift might work for you.
Planned giving team
Kara D. Wertheimer
Assistant Vice President, Development
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.
Director of Planned Giving, Medical Center Development and Deputy Director of Planned Giving
Wendy Chou joined the Office of Planned Giving in 2019 after helping donors create funds at the Oregon Community Foundation and Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Prior to working in the community foundation field for eight years, she was a relationship manager at TIAA Kaspick and also held positions at the gift planning offices of Boston College and Santa Clara University. Wendy earned her bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and her JD from Santa Clara University.
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 team 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.
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 National Association of Charitable Gift Planners and of the Northern California Planned Giving Council. She is a past president of the Silicon Valley Planned Giving Council.
Senior Associate Director
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.
Senior Associate Director
Jeff Underwood joined the Office of Planned Giving in 2019 after working at TIAA Kaspick as a gift planning consultant and relationship manager for over 10 years. Prior to that, Jeff was a charitable gift planner at the University of California, Berkeley, from 2006–2008, and a director of planned giving at The First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston. Jeff earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1984 and his MBA from Northeastern University in 1995.
Associate Director, Medical Center Development
Abigail earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri in 2013. She also earned her JD with a certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution and a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of Missouri in 2017. Abigail joined Stanford University in 2017 as a development officer at Stanford Law School and transitioned to the Office of Planned Giving in 2020. Abigail is a member of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners and of the Northern California Planned Giving Council and has served on the board of multiple nonprofit organizations.
Julie C. Lanz
Julie Lanz earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1994 and her JD from the University of Washington in 2001. Prior to joining Stanford in 2021, she practiced estate planning for fifteen years, first at Carr, McClellan, Ingersoll, Thompson & Horn, in Burlingame, California, and then at Lanz Legal in Menlo Park, California. She regularly taught “Estate Planning in Plain English” through Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program from 2015-2020.
Ron Peoples earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Nevada, Reno, and his law degree from UC Hastings. Prior to joining Stanford, Ron practiced estate planning, probate and trust administration, and litigation in San Francisco, first at Johnston, Kinney, and Zulaica LLP and later at his own practice, Peoples Law, P.C. Ron also serves on the Emerging Advisors Network for the SF Foundation and has taught continuing education courses on estate planning and advanced tax planning.
Assistant Director, Medical Center Development
Laurel Sevier earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and her JD from Santa Clara University. Prior to joining Stanford, she practiced family law for fourteen years, first at McManis Faulkner and then at her own firm of Helwick Sevier. She also serves as a fundraiser for an education foundation and leads a local youth enrichment non-profit.