Gifts of Love


“When I first met Melanie Cecarelli and the team at Harvest Development Group I was a candidate in an Executive Director search that they were managing. What I didn’t know at the time, and never would have guessed, was that Melanie was managing an overload of candidates and dozens of phone screens. Melanie is tremendously personable; and she made me feel comfortable with the process and so valued as a candidate that I was extremely appreciative to have her as my advocate. Since that initial screen Harvest has walked me through multiple interviews, an in person “tour” of the organization I was applying to, a contract negotiation, a thorough onboarding process, and a strategic planning retreat with my Board of Directors.

To say that I’ve been impressed with Harvest Development Group’s professionalism and business acumen would be an understatement. But, perhaps more importantly during a recruitment process, their kindness and ability to make a candidate feel valued and connected is second to none. I highly recommend their team.”

— Ryan Pettengill, Executive Director

Connecticut Public

Feasibility Study

“Connecticut Public retained Harvest Development Group to conduct a feasibility study to better understand the fundraising potential of key content and program priorities of the organization.  Working with senior staff and the board’s fund development committee, Harvest designed a research protocol that included a survey to thousands of our members along with more in-depth conversations with our leadership donors. This approach provided needed data and information as we determined our next steps in advancing our fundraising strategies.

The Harvest team has both breadth and depth of expertise. As such, they guided discussions around the feasibility study findings as well as the larger philanthropic environment so that we could make informed and realistic strategic decisions.”

— Deidre Tavera, Chief Development Officer


Goodspeed Musicals

Capital Campaign

“We worked with Harvest for about a year on planning and executing the silent phase of our capital campaign.  Their expertise and counsel was exactly what we needed to move our campaign to its next phase.  Specially, we engaged them to help with campaign strategy, planning and execution as well as board development. 

We got all of that and then some from their consultants and principals. They know how to effectively work with boards of all kinds, they look for an institution’s strengths and look to build on those strengths, working from within the organization, and they bring unfailing optimism and good cheer to their work.  

We didn’t make it easy for Harvest to do their work with us.  Not only were we working with them at the outbreak of a pandemic, we also asked them to help us with this work when we didn’t have a board-approved campaign project or budget in place. To say that they are flexible and creative thinkers and can pivot on a dime is an understatement.  

We look forward to continuing our work with Harvest in the very near future! “

— Nancy Altschuler, Director of Development

Hartford Youth Scholars

Strategic Planning

“I found [Harvest Development Group] to offer the most comprehensive and varied services for a smaller sized firm, I got to know and trust the principals in the organization and knew that they would help us deliver the results we needed to our stakeholders.

I interviewed many individual consultants but liked the resources available and team concept of Harvest. They brought us a long way, we are a developing community based organization with big goals, and unsophisticated and limited infrastructure, so they were able to meet us where we were and help us identify reasonable next steps to reach our near term and long term goals. They are a gem – great people (women) who know what they are doing.”

— Roxanna Booth Miller

YWCA Hartford Region

Capital Campaign

“As we wanted to move into campaign planning mode, we contacted Sondra again and were very impressed with her insights and ability to marshal local resources for this important project. She had also worked with some other organizations recently and they spoke very highly of the firm’s work. Bringing Mary Jane to the table was exactly what we needed. I have been very impressed with Harvest’s ability to find people and make good matches of people and organizations. All members of the team are very responsive. I would definitely recommend Harvest.”

— Deborah Ullman, Retired CEO, YWCA Hartford Region

United States Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association

Grants Office Development and Administration Services

“The United States Coast Guard Academy after reviewing the results of a study completed by Harvest Development Group and recognizing the opportunities available to the Academy for grants funding embarked on the creation of a Sponsored Programs and Research (Grants) Office. Their work in collaboration with the Academy’s Alumni Association and Faculty, created the overall operational requirements, processes, and polices to establish a grants management office. Their ability to assess and assimilate  the Academy’s culture and policies, instilled confidence and trust within our community and yielded great results as we established the first program of its kind within the United States Coast Guard Academy and first of any service academy.”

 Interim Leadership and Recruitment

“Harvest, after creating our first ever Sponsored Programs and Research (Grants) Office, provided interim leadership to deliver on the strategy, manage grant development, and work with faculty and institution leaders to secure and administer grant opportunities. Their engagement provided valuable insights as we embarked on the recruitment of the office’s first Executive Director. Harvest met with us to develop the position description and compensation, recruitment and interview process. Keeping us advised throughout the process, and through their comprehensive screening and interview process, Harvest presented the Recruitment Committee with their top three candidates. They skillfully guided us through the interview and selection process, coordinated the offer and compensation package to the successful candidate, provided onboarding tools and resources, and remained engaged after the candidate’s hire date to ensure a smooth transition.”

 Captain Andrea Marcille (Ret),  President