About Our Team

Grant Identification | Writing | Submission | Management | SAM Registry | Federal Procurement | Business Plan Development

National Grants Management AssociationThe National Grants Management Association (NGMA) is recognized throughout the grants management industry as the membership association leader providing tools and resources for grants professionals to support and maintain high levels of grants management competency and to establish standards of excellence for grants managers.


Aspire Grant Writing Consultants are members of the NGMA, receiving the latest in education on grant compliance, submission and financial reporting. So, before you hire a firm to write your state or federal grants, ask yourself:


  1. Does the firm specialize in grant writing or something different?
  2. Are they members of the NGMA with graduate level education?
  3. Can the firm cite numerous awards that have been made to a mix of clients, and paid out, with no audit flags?
  4. Does your firm have economic impact software comparable to that used by the state/federal governments? We use IMPLAN Professional, and our studies have been cited by national media.
  5. Can you say that your contractual agreement supports an all-female team who loves to create energy and impact in the communities in which they work?


If not, Aspire to contract with a different type of firm (one that’s making headlines)!

Michele R. Beener

Founder and Lead Consultant

Michele R. Beener is the President of Aspire Grant & Development, LLC, a full service Federal, State and private grant research/management company. Aspire is women-owned and run, based in Appalachia. To date, Aspire has consulting contracts with 19 professional grant writers, each holding a graduate degree and a specialty area of practice.

All grant writing consultants are members of the National Grants Management Association, NGMA. The National Grants Management Association, formerly the National Assistance Management Association, is a professional association, based in Washington D.C., dedicated to the profession of grants management. The firm is proud to be actively managing over $36 million in public/private grants awards at the present time (August, 2017).

Michele specializes in business plan writing and development for nonprofit firms and public/private partnerships. Aspire offers clients over fifty-years of combined consulting experience in the field. While the firm is proud to serve a diverse mix of clients, competitive funding proposals supporting hospital/health center construction or service line expansion are a special area of interest. In the past few years, Michele has developed & closed strategic business development plans for various Western Pennsylvania firms, including: The UMWA Career Centers, Inc., Gautier Steel Ltd; Corsa Coal Corp. (North America), Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Highmark Health. Aspire uses IMPLAN modeling to develop a compelling economic impact model for each proposal. Recently, Michele’s study on the Acosta Mine, the first new coal

mine to open under President Trump, received national media attention, while resulting in a $3 million economic development grant.

Prior to launching Aspire, Michele served Somerset Hospital as the senior manager for government relations, marketing, strategic planning and community/diabetic education. Beener earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Waynesburg University and a Master of Science in Business Ethics from Duquesne University. Since 1999, Beener has served Allegany College of Maryland’s Department of Business and Economics as an adjunct lecturer, teaching various undergraduate business courses. She is presently the Chair of the College’s Foundation Board of Directors (Somerset Campus). She is also happy to serve the United States Health Resources and Services Administration as a registered Federal Grant Reviewer.

Over the past ten years, Michele has served various nonprofit boards, including Past President of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, Children’s Aid Home of Somerset County, and the Rotary Club of Somerset. In 2007, Beener was honored by the YWCA of Greater Johnstown’s Tribute to Women Award Program as Educator of the Year. In 2014

she was honored by the Boy Scouts of America, Penn’s Woods Council, with their annual “Salute to Women” award. She enjoys raising funds for the benefit of local community organizations and serves on both the Board of Directors and the Somerset County Distribution Committee for the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. Michele operates a 300-

acre beef farm in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, selling local grown products to Highlands Market, Seven Springs Mountain Resort. She is also the Vice President of Miller Antique and Restoration, LLC, a national leader in the preservation of steam railroad and farm equipment. Michele enjoys the arts and is also a member of the Board of Directors

for the Mountain Playhouse, a historic summer equity theatre program located in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania. In August of 2017, Michele was nominated for the Athena Award of Greater Pittsburgh, a prestigious nomination for women who support other women and community projects

Ms. Catherine “Katie” Quinn, MA, Notary Public

Catherine has lived and worked in Somerset County her entire life. After graduating from Frostburg State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Law and Society, Catherine worked as a paralegal for the law firm of Barbera, Clapper, Beener, Rullo & Melvin. While working at the law firm, Catherine attended online classes through California University of Pennsylvania and she obtained her Master of Arts Degree in Applied Criminology. From there, Catherine went on to pursue a job in social services and became a caseworker for Somerset County Children & Youth Services.

Throughout her academic and professional career, Catherine has become active in several organizations. These include the BACCHUS National Peer Education Network, Pi Sigma Alpha, and the Pennsylvania Association of Notaries. Contact Catherine for assistance with federal, state or private grants to fuels projects in the areas of youth advocacy, social and human service, and criminal justice. She is also available as a Notary Public. cquinn@aspiregrantdev.com


Brooke L. Sheeler, Grant Associate

Brooke Sheeler has returned to Aspire Grant & Development Partners as a grant associate after graduating from Slippery Rock University. Brooke graduated with a B.S. in Communications, Public Relations and a minor in business administration. She is currently studying at West Virginia University to earn a M.S. in Integrated Marketing & Communications. Throughout her academic career, Brooke became heavily involved in organizations at Slippery Rock University. She served as the Special Events Chair for Rock Productions, Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. She did event planning and coordination for the organization throughout her time as the chair. Brooke also served as the Public Relations Chair for Up ‘til Dawn, an organization aimed at raising money and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Brooke assisted in helping the organization raise a total of $16,000 at the event in February 2016.

At Aspire Grant & Development Partners, Brooke works with clients and the Aspire team to develop competitive grant proposals on a federal, state and local level. Brooke is avid Pittsburgh sports fan and enjoys spending long weekends with her family in Savannah, Georgia.  To start your next project, email Brooke at bsheeler@aspiregrantdev.com.

Ashley G. Beener, Grant Associate

In November of 2016, Ms. Ashley Beener joined the Aspire team after employment as a Field Representative for United States Congressman Bill Shuster. Ms. Beener develops competitive grant proposals at the private, state, and federal level. She has experience working with a range of non-profit projects involving environmentally friendly initiatives, fire departments, the Arts, and community centers. Ms. Beener has experience and success across the following funding sources: Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance, the Laurel Highlands Tourism Grants, the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, PA Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant, FEMA, Firehouse Subs, Gaming and Economic Development Funds, Multimodal projects, the Mellon Foundation, the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. Recent awards include a $500,000 grant from the R.K. Mellon Foundation towards expansion of Twin Lakes Center for Drug & Alcohol’s rehabilitation and detox services. Ms. Beener also specializes in applications to the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program with 2017 round $1 million awards for two economic development projects in Allegheny and Fayette Counties. Ms. Beener received her undergraduate degree in History and Political Science from Waynesburg University and is currently furthering her education at Widener Commonwealth Law, expecting to receive her Juris Doctorate in 2021. To start your next project, feel free to contact her at abeener@aspiregrantdev.com.

Shemariah E. Waggoner – Consultant

Shemariah E. Waggoner is the President of Emery Consulting Services, LLC. (ECS) a Certified Minority-Owned Organizational Consulting Services firm located in Collier Township, PA. The firm specializes in procurement, operational programming and contract compliance strategies with a focus in diverse business plans, procurement and contract compliance. To date ECS has provided services to some of the largest non-profits, institutional organizations and emerging markets within the Region. Most recently ECS received the highest score 93/100 in the State of Pennsylvania on the Diversity Section of the State of Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Grower/Processor Permit Application for PurePenn LLC, a recipient of one of the 12 permits awarded in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additionally, ECS was instrumental in assisting Knox Medical-CansortiumPA in receiving a permit for a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in the State of PA. ECS continues to manage over $24M in diverse business contracts and RFP submittals for various clients within the medical marijuana industry.

Shemariah specializes in creating operational infrastructures through the maximization of procurement and compliance strategies to generate revenue and create efficiencies for private clients and corporations. Shemariah has developed disadvantaged business procurement initiatives and compliance management strategies for various clients including: UPMC, UPMC Insurance Services, Community Care Behavioral Health and MWELA. Her expertise has assisted in the award and management of over $3.5B in Medicaid, CHIP, Behavioral Health, Third Party Benefits Contracts and other state, local and private foundation grant funds.

Prior to starting ECS in 2008, Shemariah was the Supplier Diversity Program Coordinator for UPMC, responsible for managing a portfolio of over 400 Disadvantaged Businesses. Within 2 years the Program increased the diverse spend by $20M.  Mrs. Waggoner has also held positions with PNC Financial Services, INC. as a Community Consultant in the Community Development Banking Division and as the Housing Development Program Manager at the Northside Leadership Program. Shemariah has acquired a diversified background in community and economic development, fundraising and nonprofit management and finance.

Shemariah earned a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies and Sociology from The Pennsylvania State University at State College. She is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh’s Leadership Development Initiative Class IV and was appointed by County Executive Richard Fitzgerald to his 2012 Workforce Development Vision/Transition Team.

Over the past 15 years, Shemariah has served on various boards and been involved in various organizations in her community. She was a member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council Healthcare Advisory Group, on the Board of Directors of the Chartiers Valley Swim Club, a member of Girls Scouts of Western Pennsylvania and is a member of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority. In 2007, while working at UPMC, the Organization was awarded the esteemed “Corporation of the Year” award by the Western Pennsylvania Supplier Development Council, the Pennsylvania affiliate of the National Minority Supplier Development Council. She is passionate about improving the lives of minorities, disadvantaged individuals and business owners. She continues to provide mentoring and business development coaching to minority individuals and minority and women-owned businesses.

Ms. Kelly Rea Stroup, Event Planning

Kelly is a graduate of Clarion University with a B.S. in Political Science and is especially proud of her past volunteer work for Congressman Glenn (GT) Thompson, Senator Pat Toomey, and former Governor Tom Corbett.

Stroup was elected to serve as a Clarion County Republican Committee Member in 2012. Wanting to make a bigger difference in her community, Stroup ran for Clarion County Commissioner in 2015. Kelly is a 2016 graduate of the Anne B. Anstine Excellence in Public Service Series program. After graduating from the Anstine Program, Stroup worked as an independent consultant for the Pennsylvania Republican Party. Professionally, Stroup has helped open two businesses. She served as manager at 6th & Main Market in Clarion where she coordinated and catered numerous business dinners with companies both local and out of town. The 6th & Main Market had bigger dreams of transforming into Clarion River Brewing Company. Stroup had worked closely with the owners while closing 6th & Main Market and opening Clarion River Brewing Company. She had served as both Front of House Manager and Events Coordinator for the Brewing Company. Welcome, Kelly, to the all-girl corporate family under Aspire Grant & Development, LLC.

Kelly Sheridan – Consultant

Kelly Sheridan will graduate from Slippery Rock University in May of 2018. She is studying Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Art and Sociology and Special Education Transition Programming (Double Major). She has an extensive background in volunteerism and advocacy for individuals with disabilities in the areas of education, job skills, independent living skills, nutrition and physical activity. As a board member on Slippery Rock University’s Student Nonprofit Alliance, she has lead several events on campus including IZE on Addiction, Focus on Homelessness Panel and a campus-wide hurricane relief campaign. Kelly is currently a Community Relations intern for the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. Her responsibilities include assisting the organization with the collaboration and design of marketing and fundraising tools such as the promotion of the annual Penguins Charity Night on AT&T SportsNet, which raised over $2 million. Kelly is passionate about community development, social inclusion, the arts, adapted physical activity and the advancement of ice hockey at all levels.

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