Who We Are

Paula J. Peter

Paula Peter founded The Solstice Group in July 2002, to utilize decades of experience with a wide range of not-for-profit organizations. She has particular strengths in board development, campaign readiness and management, strategic planning, major gift fund-raising and training. She designs and facilitates board retreats and 360 performance reviews for senior leaders and provides one-on-one coaching services.

Paula began her consulting career in 1991 with Carol O'Brien Associates, where she conducted feasibility studies and/or development assessments for dozens of clients, including Duke University and Duke University Medical Center; Harvard University, The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, University of Pennsylvania and WGBH Educational Foundation (in Boston, MA). Prior to consulting, Paula held several positions with Cornell University's division of Public Affairs (now AA&D).
Paula also serves as an advisor with the Capital Campaign Toolkit, an online consulting platform. In that capacity she has worked with a diverse set of clients including, Finger Lakes Museum, Hospice of Southern Maine, Marin Humane (CA), and Project Home (Philadelphia).

Paula graduated from Cornell University in 1977. She is a lifelong learner, having completed: Napier and Associates' Group Leadership Intensive, a facilitation internship program; The Temagami Experience, a program on developing community and leadership skills conducted on a remote island in Northern Ontario, as well as programs through the Hoffman Institute (St Helena, CA), Outward Bound (Baja, Mexico), and the Gestalt International Study Center (South Wellfleet, MA.) She has lectured and presented workshops on board development, campaign planning, starting major gift programs, and how to be a good board member for many groups including the Association for Fundraising Professionals, CASE, SUNY CUAD, Leadership Tompkins (Ithaca, NY) and Duke University's continuing education program (Durham, NC).

She resides near Ithaca, NY with her husband, Michael Ward. Between them, they have four grown children and nine grandchildren.

Maya Gasuk

Maya Gasuk joined West Wind Consulting Strategies in Fund Raising LLC in July 2010, bringing 23 years of professional fundraising experience. Her experience includes strategic planning, campaign management, volunteer management, change management, and the integration of annual fund programs into major and planned gift fundraising and alumni affairs.

Maya served as director of the Cornell Annual Fund for Cornell University for the past 10 years growing the Annual Fund from raising $10 million to $27 million annually. She led a 40-person team along with 120 paid student employees and over 1,500 engaged volunteers to design and implement reunion, parent, leadership giving, alumni regional, and affinity-based personal solicitation programs.

Maya was charged with increasing the annual fund as part of Cornell's Far Above campaign, which included Annual Funds in 16 undergraduate programs in Colleges and academic units. In 2004, she assumed additional direct responsibility for the Annual Fund programs in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Johnson Graduate School of Management, and the Cornell Law School. Through her creation of strategic plans for increasing annual fund revenue, Maya was able to increase revenue from these professional school programs by 50% in five years, increase efficiencies through shared participation initiatives and standardizing work processes among colleges.

Maya has a demonstrated track record of significantly increasing results in each program she has managed during her 19-year tenure at Cornell University, covering a range of giving programs and initiatives. Her analytical and problem-solving skills have enabled her to develop innovative approaches in both program and staff management resulting in extraordinary results. She has successfully implemented changes to volunteer programs in multiple areas to increase accountability and productivity of committees-consistently increasing both revenue and completed work by volunteers. She increased donor participation, giving society membership, and dollars raised in multiple programs assigned to her in her career, and reduced staff turnover from 50% annually to 15% or less annually during her tenure as Annual Fund director.

Having served for 13 years as a volunteer rowing coach in her community, she has a passion for teaching and leading teams to greater levels of achievement and satisfaction.

Maya lives in Ithaca with her husband Mark and their Labrador, Yarra.

Andrea Kihlstedt

Andrea Kihlstedt is cofounder of Capital Campaign Toolkit, a support system for nonprofits planning and conducting capital campaigns.

Over the course of her career, hundreds of development professionals working both inside organizations and as consultants, have sought her advice about the theory and strategy of capital campaign fundraising.

She has pioneered many new approaches to capital campaign fundraising including a new, innovative approach to feasibility studies, a system of on-line capital campaign resources, the use of donor discussion guides and the concept of Asking Styles. 

She lives in New York City where she continues to write and advise on the capital campaign field.

Jezra Kaye

Jezra Kaye is an acclaimed public speaking coach who teaches people how to communicate with passion, power, authenticity, and ease - in person, via Skype, and through her books, Speak Like Yourself... No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills to Great Public Speaking and Interview Like Yourself... No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills to GET THE JOB. These books bring you the same down-to-earth, step-by-step coaching insights that Jezra shares with private clients ranging from university presidents to company presidents, and from scientists to celebrity chefs.

A former jazz singer and bandleader, Jezra is also is the co-author of Managing the Unmanageable: How to Motivate Even the Most Unruly Employee , and the author of a novel, The Tattooed Heart , and a book of poems. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

We aspire to:

• respect, enjoy and grow from each relationship we create

• be authentic and honest in all our interactions

• make a difference in the lives of the individuals with whom we work

• use our skills and talents to bring added value to the organizations we serve

• experience daily joy in our work and find satisfaction in the impact of our efforts

• live from a sense of gratitude


We are commited to:

• help organizations grow responsibly - building capacity that can be sustained over time

• help you capitalize on change that inevitably will come to your organization

• respect and integrate the full range of perspectives and talents within your institution

• foster a sense of perspective and context for the work you set out to do

We tailor our solutions to meet each clients unique requirements and evolving situation.  Call (607) 279-2923

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