Meet the Experts
Kevin T. Crilly, J.D.
Kevin T. Crilly, J.D. graduated from The George Washington University in Washington, DC and the University of Maine School of Law in Portland, ME. After law school, he served four years in the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General's Corps.
He has spent 23 years working in the field of gift planning, including more than 11 years as team lead at UC Berkeley. During this time, the Gift Planning team has facilitated $1.1 billion in new life income, outright, and estate gifts.
After eleven years, Kevin continues to enjoy learning about the amazing life stories of Cal's committed supporters, and helping them make the most appropriate gifts possible while providing for a cause they love. From a professional growth standpoint, Kevin thrives on leading a team and sharing the knowledge he has acquired over the course of his more than two decades of gift planning fundraising.
Randi Silverman, J.D.
Randi has been with UC Berkeley for more than nine years. She especially enjoys working with the wonderful alumni, professors, staff, and friends of the university as they provide for the future of Cal with their gifts. Randi is constantly inspired and awed by the amazing research and other work that takes place here at Berkeley.
For eight years prior to joining Berkeley, Randi practiced law in the area of estate planning at Cooley Godward LLP. During that time she was privileged to work with many charitably inclined clients. In her early career as an attorney, Randi served as the supervising attorney at the Homeless Advocacy Project of the Bar Association of San Francisco. Randi has a BA with distinction in history from Cornell University and a law degree from Stanford University.
Rebecca De Kalb, J.D., LL.M
Rebecca De Kalb is a proud “Double Bear,” earning both her undergraduate degree in economics and her law degree from UC Berkeley. Working with donors and university faculty and staff, Rebecca helps facilitate and structure planned gifts that accomplish the donor’s goals and meet the university’s needs.
Prior to joining the Office of Gift Planning, Rebecca practiced for 14 years as an estate planning attorney with the Leibovitz Law Group in Orinda, California, also earning her LL.M in taxation during that time. Previously she worked for a decade in the University of California Office of the President, where she gained a depth of understanding of the UC system that serves her well in supporting Berkeley’s mission. Additionally, she has practiced in the areas of corporate law and commercial real estate law.
Understanding the unique and invaluable role Cal has played in her own life, Rebecca can relate to the desire that motivates Cal's donors to support this extraordinary place. She knows that private giving is critical to ensure that Berkeley maintains its role as the preeminent public university in the world. Rebecca finds being part of such a vital endeavor inspiring, meaningful, and never routine.
Melanie Keilholtz, CSPG
Melanie Keilholtz is a Northern California native, who spent her early years near Mount Lassen in the small town of Palo Cedro. Before entering college, Melanie had a bad case of wanderlust. She spent many years abroad in Europe and Africa — studying for a brief time at the Sorbonne in Paris — before coming back to graduate from UC Santa Cruz (Go Slugs!) and Boston University (Go Rhett!)
Before Berkeley, Melanie worked for Bay Area nonprofits such as the Oakland Museum, the Dunsmuir Historic Estate, and Opera San Jose. She was the marketing director of ANG Newspapers (Oakland Tribune, San Mateo County Times, and The Tri-Valley Herald to name a few) for five years prior to coming to UC Berkeley.
She knows that for students past, present, and future, studying at Berkeley is the opportunity of a lifetime. She enjoys collaborating with alumni who want others to have the same experiences — or even better ones — than they did at Cal. Private philanthropy enables Cal to fulfill its public mission of accepting students based on their ability to achieve, not their capacity to pay. She is grateful to help fulfill that mission. Melanie has been in Gift Planning for 10 years and recently completed the Certified Specialist in Planned Giving program at Cal State Long Beach (Go Prospector Pete!)
Melanie lives with her husband, daughter, and assorted animals in Vallejo, where they enjoy swimming, whale boat rowing on the Napa River, and gardening.
Kimberly Vawter, J.D.
Kimberly is a Bay Area native who grew up in the peaceful town of Los Altos Hills before there was any such thing as the Silicon Valley! She is very proud to be assisting donors in the Gift Planning Office at UC Berkeley where she received her B.A. in Anthropology. As a reformed estate planning attorney, Kimberly finds working with donors who are interested in giving back to one of the world’s great universities both profoundly rewarding and fulfilling.
Kimberly also attended UC Hastings College of the Law across the bay in San Francisco, and after graduation became a member of both the California and Washington State Bar Associations. She then practiced law in the area of estate planning focusing on trust administration and probate for many years with the law firm of Strazzeri Mancini, LLP in San Diego. Additionally, Kimberly became interested in the world of philanthropy, volunteering for various local and national charities along with her daughters while members of the National Charity League, Poway Chapter in San Diego County and later with the Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, Poway Chapter.
Kimberly recognizes the vital importance and critical role that philanthropy provides to public education in our beloved state. In fact, her entire immediate family consists of University of California graduates! She considers it to be an honor and a privilege to work with our generous donors to design and structure gifts so that Cal receives the highest and best benefits now and in perpetuity.
Samantha Meritt, J.D.
Samantha is a San Francisco native who is delighted to be working with donors to support UC Berkeley as a preeminent teaching and research university. Having spent the majority of her career in university and other non-profit environments, Samantha has a deep appreciation for the power of public-private partnerships in supporting the common good. She finds great satisfaction in facilitating such partnerships to help secure Cal’s future.
After graduating from Stanford University with B.A.s in linguistics and German studies, Samantha dedicated the first twelve years of her career to higher education and non-profit management, focusing on budget, finance, and administration. Upon subsequently earning her law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law, Samantha gained experience in the for-profit arena while working on legal issues for a technology start-up in San Francisco before happily returning to the university environment at UC. Just before joining Cal’s gift planning team, Samantha worked in sponsored project research administration at UC San Francisco, concentrating on budget and compliance issues. Samantha’s role as a gift planning officer at Cal integrates the aspects of her career she enjoys most — working with individuals and organizations to achieve their strategic, financial, and legal goals while benefiting the larger community.
Damon Paiz, J.D.
Gift Planning Officer
Damon is thrilled to be serving as a gift planning officer at his alma mater, where he received his B.A. in Neurobiology. After graduating Cal, he cofounded a boutique media relations firm in San Francisco. A 12-year veteran advisor in financial media, Damon created award-winning media campaigns for national and international financial corporations. During that time, he especially enjoyed translating complex financial concepts into manageable information that was timely, useful, and engaging to the investing public.
Damon also attended the University of San Francisco School of Law where he specialized in intellectual property law, eventually applying his legal knowledge to furthering the missions of various Bay Area nonprofit organizations. In particular, Damon had the pleasure of working as a Law Fellow with California Lawyers for the Arts where he found great satisfaction in helping both nationally recognized as well as emerging local artists obtain top-notch legal representation.
As a second-generation alumnus, Damon enjoys speaking with Cal supporters about how their philanthropic goals can ensure the continued success of Berkeley’s educational mission. He lives in Alameda with his wife, two children, and a spunky Boston Terrier. The Paiz family enjoys seeking out new local cuisine and exploring Bay Area farmers' markets.