Planning Committee

Conference Chair and Pre-Conference Chair

Maarten Vervaat
Former Director of Outreach and Advancement
The American University of Paris, France

With more than 15 years' of experience in cultural and educational management, Vervaat has held positions in communications, alumni relations and development at World Press Photo, the universities of Amsterdam Utrecht and The Cyprus Institute. In 2015, he joined The American University of Paris as Director of Outreach & Advancement to strengthening AUP's international alumni relations programme and developing their first 26 million Euro capital campaign.

Karen Cairney
Founder and Managing Director
KWC Consulting Ltd

An experienced and established professional in the Higher Education sector, Karen was until recently the Director of External Relations and Communications at Edinburgh Napier University, where over a ten-year period she had lead responsibility for the management and implementation of Edinburgh Napier University's External Engagement, Marketing and Communications, and Fundraising and Alumni strategies. She managed a team of over 40 staff and was responsible for the seamless integration of all aspects of fundraising, alumni and marketing and communications while ensuring the University's brand, profile and reputation were maintained.

Karen has worked as a senior-level professional in the charitable and educational sectors for over 25 years in Canada, US, Asia and the UK. She has experience working with a variety of different sectors including health, education, arts, environment and social services.

Karen has led many major campaigns in the education sector and recently launched an ambitious £100m campaign at Edinburgh Napier. Over her career she has personally raised over £200m for the organisations she has served. She has extensive expertise in Campaign and Major Gift Solicitations, Mass Fundraising, Managing Volunteers, Coaching and Leadership, and Strategy.

Karen is a regular industry speaker at CASE, Institute of Fundraising and other industry forums.

Delia de Vreeze
Development Director University Fund
Wageningen UR, The Netherlands

Delia has over 15 years' experience in higher education including international marketing, communications, and student recruitment in various universities in The Netherlands. She taught event management and tutored problem based learning. In 2011, she became head of the department alumni relations & funds at Wageningen UR and director of Wageningen University Fund.

Delia currently leads a team of 9 staff which will change into a team of 14 because of the soon to be realised integration of her team and the alumni association as of January 2015. Wageningen University was the first university in the Netherlands to develop a major donor campaign which was recently successfully completed where we raised €15.5million. The next steps are to build on the success of the current major donor campaign and align our annual giving into a comprehensive campaign where alumni engagement will continue to be key in our strategy.

Delia has a Bachelor degree in International Hospitality Management and studied a Master programme in Management & Policy sciences.

Schools Track Chairs

Suzi Squires
Development Manager
Erskine Stewart's Melville Schools

Suzi Squires is the development manager at Erskine Stewart's Melville Schools, a diamond structure school in the heart of Edinburgh with over 2500 pupils. Suzi cut her teeth in the industry on a telethon campaign as a student at Heriot Watt in 2001 and found an unlikely career for a trained interpreter. After working in administrative roles at both Heriot Watt and Edinburgh Napier Universities, Development Manager at ESMS was a natural first step into Management.

Suzi sits on the Institute of Fundraising Scotland's Professional Development Committee, organising affordable, local training sessions and assisting with the Scottish Conference which takes place in October each year. She obtained a Diploma in Fundraising through the Institute of Fundraising in April 2012. Suzi supported Rif Scotland through their launch and establishment as well as initiating and co-ordinating a user group for Donor Strategy in Scotland

Clive Watkins
Director of Advancement
International School of Prague, Czech Republic

Clive Watkins has launched and raised funds for start-ups throughout his career in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. He is a dual national of the UK and the US, and was educated in both countries (having survived boarding school starting at the age of 8). He holds an MBA in entrepreneurship from Babson College. He worked in Venture Capital in Boston and Luxembourg before turning to private school advancement. Clive is the director of advancement at the International School of Prague, and is a member of the Advancement Committee for the European Council of International Schools.

Alumni Relations Track Chairs

Claire Kilner
Deputy Director and Head of Alumni and Donor Communications and Engagement
University of Manchester, UK

Claire Kilner has worked in higher education Advancement since 1996 at the Universities of Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester, starting in public relations before moving into alumni relations. She is currently deputy director and head of alumni & donor communications & engagement at the University of Manchester, where she has responsibility for the strategic development of alumni relations programming for over 280,000 alumni based in over 200 countries and territories.
She has particular responsibility for and interest in communications, international alumni relations, senior alumni engagement, volunteering, alumni involvement in enhancing student employability & experience and the role of the University in the continuing career development of alumni.

Claire is a double alumna from the University of Sheffield with a BSc in Anatomy and Cell Biology and a MA in Journalism Studies.

Sandra Rincon
Director of International Alumni Relations
Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Sandra Rincon is Director of International Alumni Relations at Tilburg University, Development and Alumni Relations since August 2009

Sandra has more than 20 years of experience in International Education including Biligual Education, Language Acquisition and Curriculum Development of International Programs (Dual Degrees, Eramus Mundus & Atlantis). She has taught languages and intercultural communication in USA, Colombia, Spain and the Netherlands.
She has been working at Tilburg University since 1997 in different positions: Language Trainer, Coordinator IT & Education, Lecturer of Intercultural Communication, Director of International Affairs for the School of Economics and Management, Director of International Initiatives for School of Social & Behavioral Sciences. She currently serves as board member of NAFSA Knowledge Community for International Education Leaders and of EAIE-Special Interest Group -International Alumni Relations. She co-authored an article for EAIE-Forum Magazine (Spring 2012) titled International Alumni Matter.

At Tilburg University, Sandra is currently responsible for developing and implementing the international alumni program for more than 3,500 alumni representing more than 100 countries.

Sandra holds a BA in Comparative Literature from University of California at Davis, and MSc. in Education from California State University Fullerton. Sandra was born in Bogota, Colombia, grew up in Los Angeles, USA and now lives in the Netherlands.

Communications Track Chairs

Pamela Agar

Pamela Agar
Head of Digital and Creative Media
Imperial College London

Pamela Agar has over fifteen years of higher education experience spanning digital communications, events and project management. Currently Head of Digital and Creative Media at Imperial College London, Pamela is responsible for the delivery of creative solutions wherever the College brand is projected. She leads a team which oversees Imperial's web presence, social media, video production, photography, print production, brand management and regular giving. She has led two major website redesigns, the launch of a revamped news channel for Imperial, the introduction of student blogs and an award-winning institutional magazine.

Denis Ancion
Deputy Director Marketing and Communications
Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Denis is a veteran in the Dutch world of marketing and communications in higher education. After working as a spokesman at the chemical multinational DSM Denis transferred to Maastricht University in 1997. He was one of the key players responsible for the development of the discipline within the youngest university of the Netherlands. During the years Denis has been strongly involved in building up the international reputation Maastricht University by now has. He is clearly an all-rounder and has earned his credits working in all kinds of relevant areas like strategic communication, branding, press relations, internal communication, national and internal recruitment and alumni relations. On national level he has been chairman of DCM, the informal association of the all Dutch university directors in marketing and communications. During the period of his chairmanship the first collective initiatives were taken for joined projects on national level, for example in the area of bachelor and master recruitment. Until last year he was president of EUPRIO, the association for marketing and communications professional working in Higher Education in Europe. Within EUPRIO he participated in a group who was responsible for the development of a new long term strategy, which was implemented during his presidency.

Fundraising Track Chairs


Barbara de Colombe
Executive Director
Foundation HEC, France

Since December 2008, Barbara de Colombe has been the executive director at Foundation HEC, in charge of the coordination of the current fundraising campaign with a team of dedicated professionals and volunteers. The campaign's goal is to raise 100M€ over five years to support HEC development (Scholarships, Research and faculty, facilities) and build its endowment to ensure sustainable support.

From September 2007 to November 2008, she was the development director at Fondation HEC in charge of individual major gifts, to prepare the launch of the HEC Campaign. Prior to this, Barbara de Colombe was in charge of major gift fundraising in France and Belgium at INSEAD, and contributed to the raising of 18M€ in pledges in those countries during the second capital campaign.

Barbara de Colombe is an alumna of ESCP-EAP and INSEAD business schools in France. She spent one year in Russia, where she worked in a law firm and then 2 years in the USA, to study issues and fundraising practices of the non-profit sector in the US.

Kirsty MacDonald
Deputy Principal (Advancement and Campaigns)
Royal Academy of Music

Kirsty MacDonald has twenty-five years of fundraising experience in North America and the UK. Kirsty is currently Deputy Principal (Advancement and Campaigns) at the Royal Academy of Music in London. This new role was created to lead a campaign to celebrate the bicentenary of the Academy in 2022. Kirsty has worked in fundraising leadership roles at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oxford. Her previous experience across higher education and the arts includes London Business School, English National Opera, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Glyndebourne. Kirsty has an Honours BA from the University of Toronto and in 2009 was awarded an MA Oxon.

Marketing Track Chairs

Thomas Veit
Director of External Relations
University of Dundee, UK

After graduating from Tübingen University, Germany in 1992, Thomas joined Guinness Plc as part of their executive graduate trainee scheme and subsequently worked for over 15 years in marketing roles in the UK and internationally, amongst others for Diageo and Scottish-Newcastle. Since 2007 he has worked in various higher education roles, amongst others Head of International Office at De Montfort University and Director of Student Recruitment for the University of Birmingham. Most recently Thomas was the Director of External Relations at the University of Leicester and has joined the University of Dundee in the same role. He is in interested in UK and international HE policy and as such is a non-executive board member for WonkHE.

Chris Watts  Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment York St John University

Chris Watts
Director of University Recruitment
Leeds Beckett University

Chris is Director of University Recruitment at Leeds Beckett University where he is responsible for UK & international student recruitment; widening participation; student recruitment marketing; marketing research and analysis; and admissions. Before joining Leeds Beckett Chris led marketing, student recruitment and admissions at York St John and Northumbria universities and prior to that worked in further education marketing, recruitment and business development. However, his marketing grounding was in the high street in which he spent 10 years marketing (and selling) brown goods (TV, Video, DVD) for a major retailer. He entered the retail sector with a degree in Politics from Newcastle University. His particular interests in HE marketing focus on three main areas: effective student recruitment strategies and operations; direct and digital marketing techniques to boost recruitment conversion rates; and, putting marketing and service delivery at the core of decision making.