FIU Estate & Planned Giving

Meet the Team

FIU Estate and Planned Giving team, from left, Gary F. Snerson, Nuria Saenz, Esq., Steven L. Schwartz and Julia Zubkova

FIU Estate and Planned Giving team, from left, Gary F. Snerson, Nuria Saenz, Esq., Steven L. Schwartz and Julia Zubkova

The FIU Estate & Planned Giving team specializes in working with philanthropists throughout the South Florida community and beyond to create planned giving opportunities, of all amounts, by empowering donors who will help propel FIU to its next horizon.

This talented team rivals those of some of the best planned giving programs in the nation. They utilize their depth and breadth of experience to determine the most strategic ways that donors can invest in the future of FIU while also ensuring their own financial futures.

Steven L. Schwartz joined FIU in 2010 with the mission to build the program. Since then, as FIU's Estate and Planned Giving Advisor, Steve, along with the help of the University Advancement team, has raised more than $38 million in planned gifts.

His professional background spans more than 40 years of law practice and university teaching. Additionally, he serves on the boards of the Estate Planning Council of Greater Miami and Leave a Legacy, and is an active member of the Financial Planning Association, Partnership for Philanthropic Planning and Association of Fundraising Professionals.

As the team's leader, his philosophy involves working to "fulfill FIU's mission as a Worlds Ahead solutions center and resource for the community."

"With our supporters, we strive to educate them about how their philanthropic investments can also return significant personal financial advantages," Steve says.

Dr. Stephen Fain, Chair of the FIU Faculty & Staff Ignite Campaign, is one of the many donors who received expert guidance from Steve and the FIU team.

"As an FIU founding faculty member, I wanted to make a gift to my ‘FIU family' but did not know how to do it or what it would cost," Stephen says. "The Estate & Planned Giving staff met with me, listened to what I wanted to accomplish and made several suggestions. The one I picked not only allowed me to make a bigger gift for the same amount of money, but also made it tax deductible."

Likewise, longtime supporters and friends of FIU Raul Chavez '80 and Angela Martinez have also benefited from the services offered by FIU's Estate & Planned Giving office.

"We were looking to include FIU in our estate plan but weren't acquainted with the process. Steve's team explained how charitable gifts are a viable option. After speaking with our estate planning lawyer, we have now included FIU in our estate plans and are confident that FIU will fulfill our wishes. The team was very helpful and a pleasure to work with," Raul says.

When it was time to grow the team, Steve brought colleague Nuria Saenz, Esq. to the program as the team's Planned Giving Officer in May 2015. Prior to joining FIU, Nuria served as a County Court Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit for about 10 years after being initially appointed by Governor Jeb Bush in July 2005.

Nuria has dedicated her career to public service and says that joining the FIU team was a natural next choice. Like so many FIU students, she was the first in her family to graduate from college. Born in Havana, Cuba, she came to the United States at the age of 9 and has called Miami home ever since.

Gary F. Snerson is Nuria and Steve's counterpart as the Principal and Managing Member of Planned Giving Innovations LLC, a company providing planned giving consulting services to individuals and institutions. He is also a senior consulting associate for the Heaton Smith Group, managing director of business development for the Trust Analytics Group, and a partner in Charitable Estate Settlement Solutions.

Previously, Gary served as the senior vice president of estates and special investments for the Harvard Endowment for more than 15 years, where he worked extensively with the planned giving and development officers throughout Harvard University.

Rounding out the team is Julia Zubkova, who joined FIU in March 2014 as an Administrative Coordinator in Development. She manages the daily operations of the Estate & Planned Giving department. Julia came to FIU from Illinois State University and is originally from Tallinn, Estonia.

For Steve, assembling this "dream team" has been a labor of love that ultimately benefits both FIU and the donors who support the university.

"We strive to be a knowledgeable and trusted resource for our clients' charitable giving. For the community, we endeavor to facilitate the financial means for educating those who will be the economic, political and ethical drivers of our future," he says.

Contact the Team to Create Your Gift
For more information about the team or how to make a planned gift to FIU, please call 305-348-8351 or 305-348-7491.

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