Meet Emma Kieran

Emma Kieran, Principal, Pilot Peak Consulting

Bringing over 20 years of professional and volunteer fundraising experience, Emma started Pilot Peak Consulting in 2014. For the last 10 years, she has been a partner, coach, teacher, and change agent to nonprofits around the US. She has worked with over 60 nonprofits on various projects, from planning to implementation, coaching, and interim services. Most recently, Emma was the Vice President for Fundraising and Development at Orr Associates, Inc. (OAI). Before OAI, Emma was a consultant with Changing Our World (CW). During her tenure at these two nationally recognized fundraising consulting firms, she helped many nonprofit organizations augment their strategies and improve their fundraising activities. Before working as a consultant, Emma worked as a front-line fundraiser for Sidwell Friends School and Capitol Hill Day School in Washington, DC. A native Pittsburgher, Emma holds an MA from Columbia University in Organizational Psychology, an MPA from American University in Nonprofit Management, and a BA from Connecticut College. In her free time, Emma is a dedicated volunteer for several organizations in the Pittsburgh area. She is an avid marathoner and four-time Ironman triathlete and enjoys photography and being outdoors with her husband and their Labradoodles.

Presentations & Workshops

“The Role of Arts and Culture in Community Placemaking” – Appalachian Health Leadership Forum (April 28, 2023 – Stonewall Resort, West Virginia) organized by The Center for Rural Health Development

“Assets for Tourism-Based Economic Development” – Association County Commissioners of Georgia (April 27, 2023 – Savannah, Georgia) organized by Carl Vinson Institute of Government, UGA

“Cultural Tourism Trends: How to Responsibly and Collaboratively Tell Community Stories”  – Travel Unity Southeast Summit (March 29, 2023 – Lake Charles, Louisiana) organized by Travel Unity

“Tourism in Georgia: Concepts and Partnerships” + “Navigating through Any Crisis: Strategies & Steps” Cities United Summit (January 21, 2023 – Atlanta,  Georgia) organized by the Georgia Municipal Association

Appalachian Gateway Communities Initiative (October 27-29, 2023 – Lake Junaluska, North Carolina) hosted by The Conservation Fund, Appalachian Regional Commission, and National Endowment for the Arts

Clinch River Valley Strategic Plan PresentationWest Virginia Workshop

“Building Better Boards” – Appalachian Regional Commission COVID-19 Technical Assistance Program for Nonprofits (March 2021)

“Coastal Ecotourism: Challenges and Opportunities” – CARE (Coastal Awareness and Responsible Ecotourism) Certificate Course (March 2021)

“Heritage Tourism: More Relevant and Important Than Ever” – Arkansas Tourism Conference (March 2021)

“Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation: Local Planning & Development in Global Travel & Tourism” – Georgetown University, Washington DC (November 2020)

“Cultural Heritage Tourism: Overview, Trends, Issues and Opportunities for Sustainable Management and Growth” – Cape Breton University, Newfoundland (October 2020)

“Heritage Tourism: Making the Past Relevant to Current & Future High-Value Visitors”  – New Jersey Conference on Tourism – Atlantic City, New Jersey  (December 2019)

“Measuring Success” and “Role of Arts in Rural Economic Development” – Regional Appalachian Gateway Community Workshop organized by The Conservation Fund, Appalachian Regional Commission and National Endowment for the Arts – Bristol, Tennessee (November 2019)

“Outlook for Heritage Tourism – Overview, Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities for Sustainable Growth” – Marketing Outlook Forum – Bethesda, Maryland (October 2019) 

“The Necessary Reset: The Historic House Dilemma” – National Park Service Regional Conference – Jacksonville, Florida (September 2019) 

Project Financing & Fundraising” and “Measuring Success” – Advanced Gateway Conference (The Conservation Fund) – Shepherdstown, West Virginia (August 2019)

“Cultural Heritage Preservation as an Economic Development Strategy” (keynote) – Revitalization Revival: A Big Tent Approach to Preservation – Pulaski, Virginia (May 2019)

“Reframing the National Conversation in U.S. Cultural Heritage Tourism” (keynote) – Synergy Summit for Cultural & Heritage Tourism – Fort Lauderdale, Florida (May 2019)

“Best Practices in Rural Tourism” – Louisiana Rural Tourism Conference  (May 2019)

“Developing a Destination” – Balancing Nature & Commerce Workshop – Brandywine Valley, Delaware (April 2019)

State of Gateway Communities in America” –  National Summit for Gateway Communities – Shepherdstown, West Virginia (December 2018)

“Making Connections to Your Community & Beyond” – National Wildlife Refuge (U.S. Department of Interior) Visitor Services Conference – Shepherdstown, West Virginia (November 2018)

“Developing and Marketing Visitor-Ready Experiences” – Louisiana Byways Workshop (July 2018)

“Role of Arts in Rural Economic Development and Cultural Heritage Tourism” – Webinar for The Conservation Fund (June 2017)

“Heritage Tourism in 21st Century America” (keynote) – 31st Annual Virginia Preservation Conference – Charlottesville, Virginia (October 2016)

Facilitator for 3 Sessions “Digital Destination Management & Converting Interest to Action,” “Wed Tech – The Technology Driving the Weddings Market,” and “Farmer’s Maret to Market Square: The Global Guide to Culinary Tourism” – Hawai’i Tourism Conference – Honolulu, Hawai’i (September 2016)

“Cultural Heritage Tourism” (keynote) – Revitalize Washington (Main Street) Conference – Chelan, Washington (May 2016)

“Creating a Fundraising Board: Youth INC, A Case Study” – The Foundation Center – New York, NY (December 2012)

“Building the Best Board for Challenging Times” – GuideStar Webinar (July 2012)

“The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning” – Leadership Greater Washington DC (November 2011)

“Real Time Strategic Planning” – Leadership Greater Washington DC (June 2011)

Training & Instruction

Appalachian Regional Commissions’  ReadyNonprofit Technical Assistance Program  “Financial Management”, “Fundraising”, “Programs & Operations”, “Human Capital”, “Board Development” and “Marketing Communications” (online courses Fall 2020 – Fall 2022)

University of British Columbia Centre for Continuing Studies: “Cultural Tourism” (online courses 2013-2018)

College of Coastal Georgia: “Destination Marketing” (Fall 2014); “Principles of Marketing” (Summer, Fall 2014); “Integrated Promotion” (Spring 2014)

Southeast Tourism Society Marketing College: “Cultural Heritage Tourism,” “Product Development,” “Sustainable Tourism” (2007-2011, 2014)

The George Washington University College of Business: “Sustainable Tourism” (2014); “Destination Marketing” (2013)