Nonprofit Leader Joins RMHC SWFL to Lead Fundraising Efforts

FORT MYERS, FL (February 15, 2021) Ronald McDonald House Charities® Southwest Florida (RMHC SWFL) announces today that it has hired Karen Zelden as Senior Director of Development.  

Zelden joins RMHC SWFL, having most recently innovated and led multi-faceted fundraising, donor relations, and development communications program as Chief Development Officer of JFCS of the Suncoast in Sarasota, Florida. Among her accomplishments, Zelden innovated and led the fundraising efforts for JFCS COVID-19 Emergency Hardship Program resulting in the disbursement of nearly $525,000 to over 400 families financially impacted by the pandemic. She was responsible for 30% of the total organizational annual budget. She inherited an under-performing department and led the efforts resulting in budget performance from 17% to 105% to goal in just under eight months.   

Before JFCS, Zelden held several senior leadership, revenue-generating, communications, and community outreach positions in the for-and non-profit sectors, including three international companies. As Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving for WakeMed Health & Hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolinaher responsibilities included leading the major gifts fundraising efforts for a successful $20 million campaign to build the first children’s hospital in Wake County (Raleigh) and expand pediatric specialty services. There, she became passionate about Ronald McDonald House Charities as she had the privilege of working with the local team to bring a Ronald McDonald Family Room and House to WakeMed Children’s Hospital.  

At RHMC SWFL, Zelden’s responsibilities will include developing and executing revenue-generating, development communications, and community outreach strategies to build upon and expand the organization’s successful fundraising efforts.    

“We are thrilled to welcome Karen to our RHMC team,” said Laura Ragain, Executive Director. “With our successful expansion campaign completed, I sought to hire a fundraising leader with a proven track record of success in building existing and identifying new relationships who also was a good fit for our close-knit team. Karen brings the fundraising experience, leadership, relationship building, and business skills I hoped to find for this important role,” Ragain added. 

I appreciate Laura’s confidence and, when the opportunity to contribute to an organization that I have known and respected for years occurred, I jumped at the chance,” said Zelden. “I look forward to working with Laura, my new colleagues, our five-county communities, and our board to accomplish on behalf of the families who turn to us during critical times of need,” she added. 

Zelden cares passionately about giving back, and her community efforts have included service on several boards and committees. When not working, her diverse interests include all things outdoors, including hiking and the beach; travel; reading; and music; an avid writer, she authored a retired CEO’s biography in 2014.  

About Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida 

The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida is to create, find, and support programs that directly impact the health and well-being of children and their families in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, and Hendry counties. RMHC SWFL supports The Ronald McDonald House®, The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® program, and The Ronald McDonald Family Room®, at Golisano Children’s Hospital. For more information about RMHC SWFL, visit or check us out on Facebook at