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Robert Wahlers

Lecturer; Vice President of Philanthropy, Foundation, AdventHealth

Personal Statement

Our lives offer opportunities at every turn. I am grateful for the chance to instruct our students in the Master of Science program in Nonprofit Management for several reasons, but none greater than being able to give back to my profession and impact fundraisers and future leaders to enhance the missions and the programs of many charities around the U.S. and the world. I draw my passion from the fact that my life was saved when I was 3 ½ years old by a few caring physicians and nurses at a hospital supported by philanthropy. As one of the first survivors of an extreme case of a very rare virus, I am still here today and have devoted my career to fundraising and advancing philanthropy because others had the vision to support healthcare. We can all benefit from fundraising and being able to teach this to interested professionals is a great reward for the opportunity I have been given.


Robert E. Wahlers, MS, CFRE, has served Meridian Health Affiliated Foundations since February of 2010 as the Senior Director of Development & Gift Planning and was promoted to Vice President of Development. In addition to leading the gift planning program across the six-hospital system, he has stepped in to oversee the Jersey Shore University Medical Center Foundation. In this role, he is managing both the development program in support of the mission at JSUMC and the K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital.

Wahlers, who came to Meridian Health from Virtua where he was AVP for Major & Planned Giving, has spent the last 22 years of his career in nonprofit fundraising with the Boy Scouts of America, the American Cancer Society and Virtua Foundation. He is also on the faculty at Columbia University for their Master of Science program in Nonprofit Management.

Wahlers is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and is professionally associated as a member of AFP, PPP, and AHP, having served as a President on the board of the New Jersey chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, on the Committee on Directorship for AFP, as a Board Member of the Gift Planning Council of New Jersey, and as a National Board Member with the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning.

Wahlers has coauthored The Philanthropic Planning Companion: The Fundraisers’ and Professional Advisors’ Guide to Charitable Gift Planning with Brian Sagrestano, JD, CFRE, which is the winner of the AFP/Skystone Partners Research Award (2013). They are working on their second and third books, Getting Started in Charitable Gift Planning and Getting Started in Charitable Gift Planning Workbook to be published by Charity Channel.


  • NOPM PS5370: Fundraising Fundamentals for Nonprofits
  • NOPM PS5240: Major and Leadership Giving


  • M.S., Murray State University
  • B.A., Muhlenberg College


  • The Philanthropic Planning Companion: The Fundraisers’ and Professional Advisors’ Guide to Charitable Gift Planning (Wiley & Sons, 2012), co-authored with Brian Sagrestano, J.D., CFRE