Meet our interns!

April 4, 2019
Margaret Battistelli Gardner

The staff at Lighthouse Counsel is a close-knit family-- a mixed bag of backgrounds, personalities, skill sets and interests. We range in age from quite young to not quite so.

But one thing we have in common is a genuine dedication to making the world a better place.

One invaluable part of our team is our interns. We love their enthusiasm, their fresh insights and their hunger to learn. We are fortunate that many of them come on board and stay with us for years – an indication that this relationship is as fulfilling and helpful to them as it is to us.

“Our interns provide us with needed skills and fresh insight. We are very grateful for their contributions to our firm and to our goal of serving each client with excellence and personal attention,” says Chris Willis, senior director of operations and marketing at Lighthouse Counsel, who works closely with our interns.

I invite you now to meet these inspiring young members of our staff as, in this season of gratitude, we celebrate them and their contributions to our team and our clients.

Alex Walton


Alex hails from Nolensville, Tennessee, and is a recent graduate from Belmont University with a bachelor’s of business administration in marketing. She’s been with Lighthouse Counsel since April 2017 and aspires to work as a marketing copywriter or account executive.

Alex says she came to Lighthouse Counsel knowing “next to nothing” about the nonprofit sector. But she caught on fast – especially to the importance of planning.

“When it comes to campaigns, more time doesn’t mean more money,” she shares. “It is through the planning process that nonprofits are able to maximize their potential.”

Alex feels all nonprofits need to recognize that,“It’s important to know who knows you – donors, volunteers, partners – and to keep in contact with them as personally as possible.”

“Relationship building and maintaining is essential,”she shares, “so you should have a communications plan that shares your organization’s story and the impact of gifts.”

Daniel Seeler


Daniel is from Lawrenceville, Georgia, and graduate from The University of Georgia in 2017 with a bachelor’s of science degree in food science & technology. While an undergraduate, he was active on the StudentAlumni Council and is a member of Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity. He interned with Lighthouse Counsel during all four of his undergraduate years.

Now Daniel is a graduate student in Food Sciences and is a member of the Student Philanthropy Council.

Daniel says he has learned that no matter how important and compassionate its mission, a nonprofit will not succeed if its leadership and/or board are not fully invested and ready to commit to the cause.

A true data aficionado, Daniel advises nonprofits to invest in research.

“I’d advise nonprofits to undergo survey research with their constituents. As a science major, I appreciate data and what conclusions you can draw from that data,” he shares. “I was always surprised to see how some of the problems a nonprofit was experiencing were identified by participants ofthe survey.”

Austin McCollom

Austin is from St. Louis, Missouri, and is a finance and economics major at Belmont University, where he’s active on the cheer team and with the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He’s been with Lighthouse Counsel since 2017 and hopes to eventually work at a consulting firm, building software solutions to business problems.

Austin says he was surprised to learn how similar nonprofit organizations are to for-profit businesses in how they operate.

“In order to continue receiving funding, nonprofits‘compete’ to benefit society the most, just as for-profits compete for[customers and clients] for profits,” he shares. “Cultivating donors is very similar to prospecting potential clients for a financial advisor.”

Austin believes nonprofits must recognize that, “Software is eating the world,” and advises that they don’t get left behind. It’s essential for organizations to find ways to leverage their efforts with the right technology. But there’s aflip side to that as well, he says.

“Don’t get so distracted by this that you sacrifice the humanity of your organization,” Austin shares. “All business or nonprofit work comes down to a series of pivotal human connections and interactions. This is especially true in fundraising.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margaret Battistelli Gardner

Margaret Battistelli Gardner is a Lighthouse Counsel writer and editor. Most recently, Margaret was the chief scribe and content manager for The Resource Alliance, a London based nonprofit that curates the International Fundraising Congress in Holland, IFC Asia in Bangkok and IFC Pop-Up events in South Africa. Prior to that, she was the editor-in-chief of the US-based FundRaising Success (now NonProfit Pro) for 13 years. Margaret has been an editor for America Online and held chief editor positions with a number of newspapers and magazines in the Philadelphia and New Jersey areas. Margaret is a tireless advocate for the nonprofit sector, a collector and teller of stories, and a starry-eyed champion of people who want to make the world a better place.