As the founder of Gardiner-based Elizabeth Rose Consulting, which assists nonprofits with event management and fundraising, Liz Glover Wilson has worked with some of the most influential names on the planet. Among her clients are the Tyra Banks TZONE Foundation, a self-esteem-building program for girls and young women; Green Cross International, a humanitarian and environmental group founded by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev; and actress Goldie Hawn’s Hawn Foundation, which provides educational programming for kids. Those are the boldface names, but she’s also worked with many less glitzy organizations, like food pantries and children’s medical aid groups, raising some $30 million for clients since she founded her firm in 2009.
Over the course of her career, Glover Wilson estimates that she has produced some 1,000 events. Before her current venture, she worked for 13 years at a real estate investment firm as VP of corporate events, while also developing a charitable foundation from the ground up. But her first true work with helping the nonprofit community began when she was growing up in Yorktown Heights in the 1970s, the child of ministers of an independent, nondenominational church.
“We were very focused on helping people in need,” says Glover Wilson. Her earliest memories include helping out at her parents’ Peekskill church, which provided basics like food and clothing for needy residents.
“We didn’t have much ourselves. My father wasn’t paid by the church, and we essentially lived off of love offerings and philanthropy,” Glover Wilson recalls. “My parents were wonderful role models for me. And along with what the church was doing. It all offered a great platform for me, as a kid, to understand the different ways you can help in the community.”
Glover Wilson graduated from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry with a degree in business management and studied briefly at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. Still, her best education came from those early life lessons that taught her about the importance of community. And they resonate to this day: Her latest goal is to offer services that are geared toward rejuvenating fundraising efforts for local non-profits, particularly those in the regional arts scene.
One manifestation of that passion has been the Sunflower Art Festival, which Glover Wilson founded and debuted in 2015, attracting 2,500 visitors. Held in Gardiner, it offers a full day of live music, art, and fun – including a chance for folks to try hands-on art projects.
The event is a tribute to her sister Esther, a poet, lover of the arts and nature, and a New York Police Department officer, who died in 2012. “Esther loved Gardiner, and always admired the sunflowers in the area, so the festival is named in her honor.”
“In 2016, we plan to expand and include more activities, from dance to acrobatic art, and encourage people to create artwork right there at the festival. We want it to be about expressing yourself in a safe, family-friendly way.”
Glover Wilson also seeks to partner with local groups and residents to create small, art-oriented community centers, starting with a facility in Gardiner. The project, known as “be studios” will offer a variety of gatherings and artistic programs for kids, adults, and seniors, as well as yoga and healing-oriented clinics.
“The Hudson Valley is saturated with so much beautiful art. I want to dig deeper in working with groups that use all types of art, including art therapy, music, dance, and more,” says Glover Wilson. “We’re so big on buying local clothes, local food–now we need to push buying local art. Instead of going into a big store to buy, say, a print for the hallway, we can encourage people to instead buy a piece from a local artist. There’s tons of affordable art here, and you’re getting a one-of a-kind piece.”