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Co-Founder and President

Pearl D. Shaw

Pearl D. Shaw, CFRE,  is a fund development strategist and nationally syndicated writer with management experience in the private and non-profit sectors. As a principal at Saad&Shaw she works directly with diverse nonprofit and higher education leaders conducting feasibility studies, designing fundraising programs, and leading training sessions that engage trustees, volunteers and staff.

In 2004 Pearl joined Mel Shaw in founding Saad&Shaw. Since 2018 she has served as president. Prior to forming Saad&Shaw she headed her own firm, Phrased Write, providing nonprofit organizations with proposal writing, executive coaching, and strategic fund development services. She has also served as development director of the Women’s Funding Network, an international association of more than 150 women and girls’ foundations, and as a major gifts officer for Mills College. Her private-sector experience includes operations management, business development, and marketing for a software development firm. 

An accomplished writer Pearl is the co-author of the nationally distributed weekly column FUNdraising Good Times published in 30 publications across the country and in blog format. She is also the co-author of three books on fundraising, Prerequisites for Fundraising Success and The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts and The Grand Experiment.

Pearl serves on the board of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and the marketing committee of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. She holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master of Public Administration degree from California State University East Bay. She is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and a graduate of the Leadership Memphis class of 2012. She is married to Mel Shaw.

Founder & Vice President, Creative & Strategy

Mel Shaw

Melvin B. Shaw offers more than 40 years of experience in fund development and marketing. Formerly the vice president of marketing for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), he created and produced the Lou Rawls Telethon, raising $4 million annually in corporate sponsorships and more than $500 million in gifts to date. The telethon was designated as the largest special event in the African American community. Mel also served as the Executive Director of the Texas Association of Developing Colleges, facilitating joint programs and fundraising. There he established the East Texas Educational Opportunity Center, a federally funded program that has served more than 60,000 students since its founding.

Mel Shaw founded Saad&Shaw with Pearl Shaw in 2004. The firm’s work is rooted in his years of experience working across the country with institutions of higher education, grass roots organizations, faith communities, and civic, social and professional organizations. His tried and tested techniques form the backbone of the Saad&Shaw approach to fundraising, community engagement, and successful business operations. Mel currently serves as Vice President, Creative and Strategy.

He is nationally recognized for his work in creating and designing programs that combine marketing and fundraising and increase revenue and alumni/volunteer engagement. Mel’s strategies create involvement and opportunities for corporate partnerships. He has developed cause marketing programs for Anheuser-Busch, General Motors, American Airlines, Chrysler Black Dealers Association, McDonald’s, Essence Magazine, Disney World, and 7-Eleven.

Prior to forming Saad&Shaw Comprehensive Fund Development Services he headed his own firm, Shaw & Company, which specialized in capital campaigns, annual giving, development assessments, feasibility studies, board development, campaign designs and planning, and major donors. Mel holds a B.S. from Lane College in Tennessee; a Master’s in Business Education from the University of Memphis; and was a fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Educational Management. In 1991 Mel received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Lane College in recognition of his unique donor engagement and cause marketing programs and their impact on the fields of philanthropy and higher education. He was named a Memphis Living Legend in 2012.

Senior Philanthropic Advisor

Robert 'Bob' Poole

Robert “Bob” Poole offers nearly 40 years of experience in higher education fund development, with expertise in corporate and foundation relations, planned giving, major gifts, and alumni giving. He is also skilled in the creation of effective marketing and public relations programs.

In his role as a Senior Philanthropic Advisor at Saad&Shaw, Poole applies his expertise to working with colleges and universities, with an emphasis on historically black colleges and universities, and small colleges. His areas of expertise include:

  • Growing annual giving campaigns
  • Increasing donor participation
  • Structuring direct mail campaigns
  • Donor segmentation
  • Fundraising assessments (staff and donor base)
  • Board development
  • Prospect portfolio development and management
  • Donor analysis

Poole served for 14 years in institutional advancement at Meharry Medical College, most recently in the role of senior vice president. There, he partnered with the board of trustees and president toward successful completion of the historic $125 million Campaign for Meharry, and later he and his team helped secure more than $90 million in private philanthropy.

Poole launched his career at Fisk University before serving as director and vice chancellor for development at North Carolina Central University, where he launched and completed the institution’s first comprehensive campaign. He then served at Norfolk State University as vice president for development, expanding private giving and marketing initiatives and generating significant federal funding. He later returned to Fisk University as vice president for institutional advancement, and subsequently worked in the major gifts division at Dillard University.

A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Poole earned his degree in economics at Fisk University. He has served on a number of volunteer and community boards, including CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education), and local American Heart Association, United Way, and Chambers of Commerce boards.

Senior Philanthropic Advisor

Lewis Rambo, Ph.D

Lew Rambo, Ph.D., is a senior advisor with Saad&Shaw specializing in strategic planning and organizational change. Dr. Rambo has been engaged as a consultant for multinational corporations, governmental agencies, educational institutions, professional corporations, family-owned businesses, and nonprofit organizations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Saad&Shaw draws upon this diverse experience when addressing the organization development, managerial performance, board effectiveness, and team building challenges facing our clients. Dr. Rambo’s insights help us assist our clients to change, reposition or grow in ways they may not have believed possible. In addition to working with Saad&Shaw, he is also a professor of organizational behavior and human resources management at the Hult International Business School, Cambridge, MA, and an adjunct professor at the Bentley College Graduate School of Business in Waltham, MA.

For more than 20 years Dr. Rambo was Senior Vice President and Director of Human Resources at Arthur D. Little, an internationally recognized management, research, and technical consulting firm with nearly 3,000 consultants in 30 offices located in 18 countries. Previously, he held senior human resources management positions at the Ford Motor Company’s World Headquarters and at General Electric’s Aircraft Engine Division.

Throughout his career he has been heavily involved with education and educational institutions at all levels. He has taught and lectured students, worked with faculty and senior administrators, and conducted executive seminars at colleges and universities around the globe.

Dr. Rambo received his M.A. and Ph.D. at Wayne State University in organizational-industrial psychology, studied industrial relations at the University of Illinois, and completed postdoctoral studies at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He is a licensed psychologist and the author and co-author of numerous articles and publications.

Graphics & Administrative Support

Julie Christen

Julie Christen is a creative administrator, responsible for graphic design and document production at Saad&Shaw. With a 20+ year history within the nonprofit, corporate, and medical sectors, Julie brings a positive, dedicated, and problem-solving approach to all her work. Since 2017 she has worked closely with the Saad&Shaw team ensuring clients have professional, engaging, easy-to-understand materials that support their fundraising efforts. When not working with Saad&Shaw, Julie is busy as a performer and art facilitator. She currently has a focus on entertaining and engaging people in senior living communities. A self-described “creativity champion,” Julie brings her enthusiasm and cheer to all her engagements. You can learn more about her at her website (

Marketing & Communications Support

Irene Bolds-Hatten

Irene Bolds-Hatten is a multi-hyphenate artist, educator, and community builder responsible for Saad&Shaw’s blog and social media. As a communications and marketing professional, she specializes in publishing, graphic design, social media management, and copywriting. Irene graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Urban Studies and Planning and is passionate about creating impactful change. She also serves as the Communications Coordinator for the New Orleans African American Museum.


We Can Help

Contact our team to learn more about the variety of ways we can help your organization get to the next level. With a successful track record of over 20 years of fundraising and consulting, we have the tools, knowledge, and experience to help you and your organization succeed.