your project partners
Our team of professionals provides you with proven methodology, a pleasant and positive demeanor, and a sincere gratitude for the privilege of being your partner for good. Add decades of experience and deep relationships across a vast network, and you'll see why your Project Partners experience will be an exceptional one.
Lerii F. Smith, CFRE
FOUNDER AND President
Lerii has dedicated her 35-year career to exceeding goals. She has designed and developed fundraising programs resulting in millions of dollars of contributions and in-kind donations of products, services and media.
She has facilitated the work of more than 250 volunteer task forces, committees and boards of directors, and managed more than 1000 influential events. Lerii has built scores of new community programs -- communicating and coordinating directly with hundreds of internal and external audiences, for the benefit of a myriad of worthwhile causes.
Lerii brings 24 years of consulting experience, serving more than ninety distinguished organizations to date - the majority of which Project Partners serves for multiple years and/or for multiple projects. Before founding Project Partners, she served as Director of Local Business Development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce within the Economic Development Division; a Regional Director and Development Director for the American Heart Association; and a Community Education/Community Engagement Specialist for the Texas Cooperative Extension Service in Taylor and Blanco Counties.
Lerii is a 1983 honors graduate of Texas Tech University’s College of Human Sciences, and was named a Distinguished Alumna of that college in 2006. Lerii currently consults, speaks, writes and directs a talented, committed team of professionals providing personable, dependable, results-oriented consulting and project management services for public, private, and nonprofit organizations who make a difference in our community.
Lerii and her husband of 33 years, Steve, have two children, ages 24 and 27. She volunteers for her church, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and numerous other nonprofit and educational boards and committees.
*The CFRE, Certified Fund Raising Executive, is a professional designation from the Association of Fundraising Professionals earned through experience, success, leadership and tested knowledge. Lerii is one of only 5000 fundraisers world-wide to receive this designation.
Jenna M. Waters has served distinguished organizations with expert consulting and project management for more than 25 years.
Her career began as a researcher in the economic development department of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, then extended to other notable positions across North Texas - Assistant Vice President of Governmental Affairs for OmniAmerican Federal Credit Union, Director of Marketing for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director of the North Texas Clean Air Coalition, Public Affairs Manager for Chesapeake Energy and President of the Colleyville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Jenna’s Project Partners portfolio includes high profile initiatives for clients such as Galderma, North Texas Clean Air Coalition, Texas Exile, Veterans Coalition of Tarrant County (VETCO), Crime Prevention Resources Center, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, HEB ISD Education Foundation, Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas, Birdville Education Foundation, Republican Party of Texas, Child Study Center Foundation and the Arlington Chamber/Arlington ISD collaboration - A+Arlington.
Jenna increases the capacity of our clients’ work through her expertise in nonprofit management, volunteer and board engagement, fundraising, membership development, community relations and marketing, donor-centric communications, event management, community program development, and strategic planning. She also adds value to each project through her skill sets in technology, social media and graphic design.
Jenna earned her Associates of Arts degree from Tarrant County College and was honored to be recognized as a TCC Distinguished Alumni. She continued her education at Texas Woman’s University. Appointments to the City of Bedford Community Affairs Commission and the Birdville ISD Textbook Review Committee are among her various volunteer commitments. Her family life includes being mom to an active 14-year-old son and being a marching band parent.
Christy Crytzer Pierce brings more than 16 years of well-rounded nonprofit industry experience, greatly expanding our capacity to serve our clients including Cassata Catholic High School, Plano ISD Education Foundation, TCC Foundation and Fort Worth Academy.
An accomplished professional known for her friendly, results-oriented approach, Christy has held positions in communications at the National Endowment for the Arts, Nashville Symphony Orchestra and Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Her work on national PR campaigns includes congressional grant workshops, the grand opening of Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, the GRAMMY award-winning "Made in America" recording, two music director announcements and a high-profile fundraising event with Oscar de la Renta.
As a fundraiser, Christy raised more than $1 million dollars annually for the Dallas Symphony through government agencies, private and public foundations, and corporate grants. At the University of Texas at Arlington and the YWCA of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, she was responsible for identifying, cultivating and soliciting major gifts (including planned gifts), communications, annual fund and event management, and board/volunteer relations.
In addition to her vast work experience, Christy also served as an adjunct professor for four years at the Univeristy of North Texas, where she taught a course in nonprofit management.
Christy received her Master’s degree in art management from American University in Washington, DC and her BFA in music and minor in German from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is a native of Pittsburgh, PA, and currently lives in Fort Worth with her husband Brad, a chemistry professor at UT Arlington, and their son, Corbin.
Cynthia Miller, Ph.D. comes to Project Partners following 16 years at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce from 2001 to 2017. As Vice President of Workforce Development and Education at the Chamber, she directed workforce and education initiatives in the 16-county North Texas region.
She built coalitions with employers, community, education, nonprofit and governmental organizations to address issues of workforce supply and demand, advocating for education as the foundation of economic development. She played a key role in writing grants and securing more than $2 million of grant funding during her tenure at the Chamber to address issues such as college and career readiness, career pathway development, workforce preparation, and industry cluster development. Just before joining the Chamber, Cynthia served as a consultant at the Fort Worth Independent School District in communications, business/education partnership coordination, and event management.
Cynthia is known for her collaborative and inclusive leadership style. She thrives when serving in a facilitating role to stimulate improved alignment between education, business and the community. Cynthia has built an extensive network over the course of her 40-year career and brings high energy, determination, enthusiasm, compassion and commitment to serve Project Partners and its clients.
Cynthia began her business career at Bechtel Corporation in San Francisco, CA, and directed the corporate-wide Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action function prior to joining Bank of America in California in 1984. She developed and managed a bank-wide employee transportation strategy, encouraging employees to use ride-sharing and mass transit commute alternatives. She developed and implemented an education programs strategy, focusing on school-to-work transition to foster excellence in the K-12 public education system.
Upon the Bank of America’s entry into Texas in 1993, Cynthia moved to Texas to launch a cause-related marketing campaign focusing on business/education partnerships and volunteer engagement. She directed the Bank of America Foundation for Texas, placing $5.5 million annually in education, community development, health and human services and arts and cultural charitable grants.
Cynthia received a Bachelor of Arts in French from the University of California at Davis and a Master of Business Administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas at Arlington in December 2014. She has served on nonprofit boards and advisory groups in California, Texas, Washington, D.C. and New York. Cynthia served as a founding member of the Leadership ISD Tarrant County Advisory Board from 2016 through 2018. She currently serves on the Education Foundation for Fort Worth Schools (EF4FW) Board and the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) Texas Leadership Center Board.
Cynthia is an accomplished pianist and enjoys playing for community and charity events.
Corinne Fiagome brings 18 years of experience in fundraising, policy research and analysis, program design and evaluation, and communications to Project Partners’ clients. Prior to joining Project Partners, Corinne held increasing positions of leadership and responsibility at human service and education nonprofits in California, Oklahoma, and, finally, her native state of Texas.
Corinne has led grant writing, corporate engagement, and foundation relations for small, medium, and large nonprofits at different stages of the organizational life cycle and, in each case, managed consistent growth in corporate and foundation giving. Most recently, she oversaw all fundraising and communications functions for Child Care Associates – a $70M nonprofit providing early childhood education and comprehensive family services for low-income children in Tarrant County. Corinne’s selected career highlights include the following:
- Laid the infrastructure for a new fundraising and communications department at Child Care Associates (CCA) – a primarily government-funded organization – resulting in a 104% increase in current and prospective private donors and volunteers over an 18-month period and a 51% year-over-year increase in private contributions.
- Initiated, designed and directed CCA’s inaugural fundraising event and 50th anniversary celebration, which raised $135K in net revenue through corporate sponsorships, event ticket sales, and individual contributions.
- Resourced and coordinated a team of staff and board members at the YWCA Tulsa – a mid-size nonprofit – to completion of a $1.95M capital campaign within 18-months while also achieving a 9% average increase in grants and annual giving.
- Facilitated strategic planning, data collection, and policy analysis for countywide implementation of a federal initiative to reduce the overrepresentation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system in collaboration with justice system and community leaders in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, resulting in direct services for at-risk youth and training for law enforcement officers that contributed to a significant reduction in disproportionate arrests.
Through her professional and personal activities, Corinne lives out her passion and commitment to issues of education, equity, and economic well-being for vulnerable populations. She is an active alumna of Teach For America (Bay Area, 2000 Corps) and Leadership ISD – Tarrant County (2017 Fellowship), and a founding board member of Women in Power Empowering (a philanthropic giving circle of African-American women in DFW) and the Tulsa Children’s Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Within her professional and volunteer roles, Corinne frequently facilitates community conversations and stakeholder dialogues to help define pressing organizational and/or community needs, potential solutions, action plans, and evaluation timelines. She presented a case study on effective use of the Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Evaluation (SARA) Problem Solving Model at the 2010 National Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Conference hosted by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and will be offering SARA services to Project Partners’ clients.
Corinne earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce, specializing in management and marketing, from the University of Virginia and a Master of Public Policy degree, specializing in social policy, from Duke University. She was named to Oklahoma Magazine’s “40 under 40” list in 2008 and has received content writing awards from the Tulsa Press Club and Parenting Publications of America. In her free time, she loves reading, exploring, and spending time with her three children and husband.
Kristin Kirkpatrick comes to us from Texas Christian University, where she served as the Assistant Director of Conference Services for more than eight years. In that role, she coordinated more than 200 events annually, including huge high school graduations, community awareness and fundraising events, corporate meetings and conferences, and many TCU-hosted events.
Kristin developed strong ties with all of her clients including the Fort Worth ISD, Habitat for Humanity, YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth, Private School Interscholastic Association (PSIA), Tarrant County Literacy Coalition, Texas Diversity Council and the Child Study Center.
Kristin is a Texas girl and bleeds purple! She was born and raised in Mansfield and moved to Fort Worth to attend TCU. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in advertising before joining Conference Services. While working in Student Affairs, Kristin was able to do something she truly loves: build and engage community. It was that experience that cultivated her desire to become involved with the Fort Worth community and several nonprofit organizations.
Kristin is a 2014 Leadership Fort Worth Leading Edge graduate and has spent time working with Communities In Schools, the TCU Staff Assembly, TCU College Resource, TCU Brand Ambassadors and the Association of Event Directors-International (ACCED-I).
Also a creative writer, Kristin is currently working on a fiction novel. She and her husband, Jaycob, live in Aledo with their two daughters, Kelsey and Kimbrey.
Wendy A. Williamson brings more than twenty years of experience in marketing and community relations, event management, volunteer engagement, fund development, administration and project management. Her work performance displays a conscientious, self-disciplined, and professionally-driven attitude.
Wendy’s cooperative style of work engages others and motivates them to collaborate. We especially depend on her ability to utilize creative design ideas in practical and efficient applications. Wendy is uniquely able to combine her highly organized technique of accomplishing critical tasks at hand with a “grace under pressure” style and terrific sense of humor.
Prior to joining the Project Partners team in 2001, Wendy held two different positions at Cook Children’s Medical Center. Wendy is a 1997 graduate of TCU with a Bachelor of Science degree in design and minors in art and business. She enjoys her two children, Ethan and Nina, cooking, volunteering for her children’s schools, and entertaining in her home.
Wendy’s Project Partners portfolio includes work for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Arlington ISD Education Foundation, Safe City Commission, Sundance Square, Cook Children’s Medical Center, Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, Fort Worth Academy, Fort Worth Sister Cities, Tarrant Independent School Consortium, Key School, Alliance for Children, Brighter Outlook, Inc., Child Study Center Foundation, First Command Educational Foundation, and "I Have a Dream" Foundation® Fort Worth.
Michele Burnett, a senior major events and community engagement specialist and a 1987 OSU graduate with two Bachelor of Science degrees, joined forces with Project Partners in 1998. Michele brings unmatched expertise, enthusiasm and professionalism to your project.
She is perhaps best known for her determination and commitment to making a difference in our community, and also for her firm, yet friendly effective management of vendors and volunteers. Her earned respect from clients is greatly responsible for much of the repeat work we enjoy from year to year, as our clients have come to depend on Michele’s expert advice and guidance.
Michele’s prior work includes serving as a customer service agent for a major insurance company and extensive volunteer experience with several key nonprofit groups. In her rare down time from Project Partners, Michele enjoys her family, friends and horses.
Michele’s Project Partners portfolio includes work for Fort Worth Sister Cities International, Missions Resource Network, Fort Worth ISD, Arlington Chamber of Commerce - Downtown Development, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, North Texas Commission, North Texas Clean Air Coalition, Camp Fire USA First Texas Council, Safe City Commission, Republican Party of Texas and Amtrak.
Scott Smith provides what all companies and community causes desire: an ambitious, educated, and engaged millennial with a desire to do good work for good people. While born and raised in Fort Worth, Scott’s travels have taken him across the country and around the globe, providing a real appreciation for North Texas.
He brings the skill sets and aptitudes of his generation (technology, research, digital media, writing, creativity, and social consciousness), along with educational experiences that fill gaps to help exceed goals. Scott values Project Partners’ 25-year work history and expertise and has already added to the company’s success through his work with BoardBuild. He’s also leading the charge to meet Project Partners’ strategic goal to become your partner for good, 24-7. Stay tuned.
Scott earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Business Foundations Certificate from the University of Texas at Austin. His prior work has provided experience in team building, outreach, presentations, analytics, events, project management, and software applications. When Scott is not working (or sometimes when he is), you can find him outdoors or cooking delicious, fresh food – one of his passions for living well.