About Us

The principal and associates of The Kester Group (profiled below) are members of professional organizations, adhere to a professional code of ethics and stay current in the field. Other talented associates join us as-needed and on a contract basis when a proejct fits their unique skill-sets, allowing us great flexibility in responding to your grant seeking situation. 

Cheryl L. Kester (CRFE), is Principal of The Kester Group and co-author of Writing to Win Federal Grants: A Must-Have for Your Fundraising Toolbox and its companion workbook (forthcoming). She has more than 30 years of experience in the non-profit sector and has been a grants professional since 1999. Today, the firm, specializes in winning federal grants and serving as an external evaluator. Since 1999, Cheryl has helped secure more than $96 million in funding from grants and contracts. An engaging speaker, she serves as a plenary speaker, teaches workshops on all aspects of grantseeking, and makes conference presentations. She also serves as a grant reviewer for private and federal funders. You may view a copy of her complete vita here.


Morgan ScholzMorgan Scholz - Project Manager - Morgan has more than six years of adminisrative and directing experience in nonprofits, including higher education, community development, historic preservation, and health care research. Morgan communicates with clients, prepares and edits proposals, and keeps us all organized! She holds a bachelor's degree in English from John Brown University.


April Christiansen - Writer/Editor  - The firm's former Project Manager, April still contributes to projects as writer and editor. She has more than three years experience in nonprofit development work and grantsmanship. Her skills include reserach, writing, editing, budgeting and project management for foundation, corporate, state and federal grants. She has helped secure millions in grant funds for clients and employers. April earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arkansas and her BA in English from the University of Washington.


Laura Chioldi - Research and Graphics - is a licensed architect with fifteen years of professional experience in the practice of architecture. This included three years with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, where she contributed to community planning and development projects. With the intention of expanding her professional abilities beyond working with drawings and buildings, she has spent the last few years focusing more on words and people, while contributing to grant writing and research with The Kester Group. 


We often tap the expertise of our colleagues with specialities in complementary areas to better serve our clients.

Karen Cassidy, GPC - Karen is Principal of Governmental Grants Professionals LLC. She began her career in the US House of Representatives working for Congressmen Bob Wise and Dick Gephardt. Transitioning into the nonprofit field, Karen applied her knowledge to help educational institutions and nonprofit organizations obtain and manage more than $250 million in grant awards. She is co-author with Cheryl of Writing to Win Federal Grants, and the two frequently co-present at conferences.

Tia Cavender, MA, GPC  - As Principal of Chase Park Grants, Cavender operates her own successful grants consulting firm, specializing in green grants and sustainability projects. The Kester Group and Chase Park Grants regularly collaborate on joint projects. Cavender has 12 years of experience in higher education and hospitals conducting research, evaluation and grant seeking projects. Throughout her grant writing career, Cavender has prepared grant proposals to a wide range of funding sources including private, family, and corporate foundations, state and federal agencies as well as local and national corporations.