Conferences & Training
Alumni Relations Institute 2018 - Speakers


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.


Christine Fairchild
Director of Alumni Relations
University of Oxford

Christine Fairchild was appointed Oxford University's Director of Alumni Relations in March 2011. At Oxford, the Office of Alumni Relations supports links between alumni of the collegiate University and Oxford through a dynamic offering of events, resources and engagement vehicles. The University has more than 250,000 known alumni, including over 44,000 in 188 countries outside the UK.

Prior to coming to Oxford, Ms Fairchild worked in various capacities at the Harvard Business School; namely, Director of Alumni Relations and, most recently, Executive Director of External Relations where she oversaw development, alumni relations, and alumni communications. Before arriving at HBS, she worked at the Harvard Art Museums for ten years in the areas of membership, development, special events and public education. She was educated at Connecticut College in the US where she graduated with a BA in Asian Studies. She has volunteered for Hospice of Cambridge, Mount Auburn Hospital, Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic, Learning by Design, Concord Academy and Connecticut College and currently serves on the boards of Oxford Limited and Malvern College. She is a Hugh Price Fellow at Jesus College and a Senior Associate of Somerville College.

Emma Jones
Director of Alumni Engagement
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Emma Jones started working in alumni relations in 2006, managing the alumni team at Imperial College London. In 2008, Jones accepted the CASE Circle of Excellence Silver Medal for Imperial College's 'International Ambassador Scheme', a scheme designed to engage Faculty in progressing international alumni relations.

Emma returned to her native Sweden in 2011 to advance the alumni relations programme at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and to set up its first annual fund. KTH's annual fund (KTH Opportunities Fund), is the first of its kind in Sweden in that it raises both financial donations and gifts of time. Emma has experience from a wide range of alumni relations and alumni giving programmes, with a specific expertise in developing international networks and working with volunteers and donors.

Emma was a Faculty member at the first CASE Alumni Relations Institute in 2013 and is a CASE Europe Trustee.

Claire O’Sullivan

Claire O’Sullivan
Associate Director (Global Engagement)
University of Birmingham

Claire's role is to embed alumni relations across the University, identifying opportunities for alumni to support key institutional priorities and to work with colleagues to realise the latent potential of the alumni network. Claire leads a team of 25 staff who manage a programme of events, communications and volunteer opportunities to engage the University's contactable alumni body of over 180,000. In addition to working with the core alumni audience, the team are also responsible for connecting current students with the alumni network, engaging new audiences with the University and for appropriately thanking the University's donor community for their generous support. Claire has worked at the University of Birmingham since 2003 and has held a variety of roles in the Development and Alumni Relations team. Claire was appointed to the post of Head of Alumni Relations in 2011, a portfolio which was expanded to Supporter Engagement in 2014. Claire was the Acting Director of Development and Alumni Relations from August to December 2015.

Phil Steel

Phil Steel
Head of Alumni Engagement
University of Leeds

Phil Steel has held Senior Alumni and Fundraising roles at the University of Leeds since 2007. Following roles in Marketing and Communications, Phil joined the University as its first Head of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, where he co-ordinated an expansion in the alumni engagement, communications and events programme, developed the University's first Alumni Strategy, and oversaw the development of the Alumni Annual Fund, creating a new Footsteps Fund brand, increasing annual income and donor numbers, and implementing a fundraising propensity-indicator system. Since 2015 Phil has been Head of Alumni Engagement, where his current priorities are: leading the development and implementation of a Supporter Volunteering Programme, implementing a new Alumni Communications Strategy, and refreshing an Alumni Relations Programme to a contact base that now numbers 240,000 alumni in more than 160 countries worldwide.

David Williams
Director, Alumni Relations and Annual Giving
University College Cork

David Williams heads up alumni relations and annual giving for University College Cork. A former broadsheet journalist with expertise in stakeholder engagement, communications, fundraising campaigns, graduate employability, the global postgraduate and business education markets, and articulating and disseminating research.

Guest Speakers

Tom Fern
Senior Communications Officer
University of Manchester

Tom Fern is a Senior Communications Officer in The University of Manchester's Alumni Relations team, where he helps their global community of 350,000 graduates maintain a lifelong connection with the institution.

After joining the Alumni Relations team in 2015, Tom spent a year overhauling how the University engages with its graduates online - before accepting the challenge of overseeing a wider range of communications projects, including print and face-to-face. Before moving to higher education, Tom worked in online communications roles in both secondary and primary education and he also has experience managing websites and social media for football clubs.

Tom's just as interested in how to get words and pictures in front of people as he is in the stories his content tells, and that's why you're just as likely to see him scouring email analytics as you are finding him writing a magazine piece.

Bill Friar
Director of Development and Alumni Relations
University of Leicester

William Friar has more than 15 years' experience in fundraising, fundraising strategy, capital campaigns, alumni relations, higher-education communications and print and online journalism.

Bill joined the University of Leicester as Director of Development and Alumni Relations in July of 2016. For the four years before that, he was Head of Development at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a world-leading centre for research and postgraduate education in public and global health.

Before moving to the UK from California, Bill worked on Stanford University's Initiative on Human Health and its Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability, two key pillars of the most successful university fundraising campaign to date ($6.2 billion raised). Earlier in his career he was Director of Development for the Hesperian Foundation, based in California and Mexico.

Yashraj Jain
Research Manager
CASE Europe

Passionate about all things research, Yash has a creative right-brain brimming with ideas combined with a rare analytical left-brain full of numbers. Currently he is Research Manager at CASE Europe where he successfully managed to bring the Ross-CASE Survey in-house and is responsible for delivering CASE Europe's research and benchmarking products, resources and services to the educational advancement community. Past work includes research projects for University of Westminster, Westminster Business Consultants, DMA UK, ETOA and the V&A.

Kenneth Mullen
Partner, Intellectual Property and Technology
Withers LLP

Kenneth heads the London-based intellectual property (IP) and technology team and advises on IP, commercial technology and data protection. He has extensive experience advising clients across a range of sectors including luxury brands, digital commerce, software and technology, design, hotels and leisure, music, publishing, financial services, retail and manufacturing. Kenneth also regularly assists charities and not for profit organisations.

Rajay Naik
CEO (Europe)
Keypath Education UK Ltd

Rajay Naik is Chief Executive Officer (Europe) of Keypath Education, the world's largest provider of marketing and technology services for universities. In the UK they are exclusively focussed on investing in, designing, marketing and delivering high-quality online degree programmes on behalf of leading universities - in 2014 Naik coined this model "online enabling".

From 2010-2015, Rajay was a Director at The Open University - Britain's biggest university and a global leader in e-learning - where he was a leading architect of the FutureLearn MOOC platform. Prior to that he was one of five members on the Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance chaired by Lord Browne.

Rajay continues to serve on the UK-ASEAN Business Council, British Council Education Board and the Yes campaign for the EU referendum. He was formerly UK Chairman at the Big Lottery Fund which invests over £1bn per year, Associate Director at Coventry City Football Club and a Council Member of the Learning and Skills Council.

Holly Palmer
Alumni and Supporter Experience Consultant
Holly Palmer Consulting

Holly specialises in understanding alumni, donors, and volunteers, and uses this insight to strengthen fundraising and engagement programmes. Since starting her consulting firm in 2016, she has worked with several leading UK education institutions to deliver qualitative and quantitative alumni and supporter research studies. Holly began her education fundraising career in donor relations at The University of Auckland and later led the University of Nottingham development team's strategic planning and project management function.