Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 7

Everyone Has Something to Teach

Both first-time and seasoned presenters at last year's Conference for Community College Advancement say the experience has made them better professionals and are encouraging others to share their knowledge with colleagues at this year's event.

"It's what we learn after we think we know it all that counts," says Alan Moran, vice president of marketing and communications at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, and chair of the second Conference for Community College Advancement in October 2013. "Everybody has an idea, special experience or special knowledge. It doesn't matter if you've been doing your job five days or 50 years."

The call for sessions for the 2013 conference will remain open until Jan. 28, 2013. CASE is seeking engaging sessions that showcase best practices, identify emerging trends and inspire new ways of advancing community colleges.

Several presenters from last year's conference recently shared some advice on how to submit a proposal and structure a presentation. Among their advice:

  • Go with what you know. "When submitting a proposal, submit on topics that are your bread and butter and you can present passionately about," says John Gyllin, executive director of the Foundation for Seminole State College of Florida in Sanford, Fla. "Also, make sure the title—both clever and catchy—reflects what you are actually covering."
  • Team up with a partner. Kathy Baird, advancement associate at the Napa Valley College Foundation in Napa, Calif., suggests using professional listservs or other networking venues to see if a colleague from another institution would like to join a panel presentation. "As a first-time presenter, this turned out to be the best approach because seasoned presenters replied, advised and joined the effort," she says.
  • Make presentations interactive. Nancy Mihalko, grant and development manager at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Va., says interactivity is important to a good presentation. She adds, "I like to get a picture of who is in my audience by asking questions at the beginning, such as ‘How many X professionals are in the room?' or ‘Has anyone used X software? How did you like it?' But a presenter must be ready to take back control of the conversation so it can progress and not stay stuck on one topic."
  • Emphasize story and visuals. Gyllin says presenters should never read slides. Instead, he adds, "Help us relate to your slides and share your personal experience to the topic. Remember what you like as an audience member in a presentation is probably the same for most of us."
  • Stay calm. "Be yourself," says Ann-Marie Thornton, director of development and alumni relations at the Community College of Baltimore County. "You are the expert. Relax and enjoy it. Think of it as a conversation among friends. As cliché as it sounds, it really worked [for me]. As I started my presentation, I became more and more comfortable, participants were answering questions, and I felt like we were old friends sharing ideas, successes and challenges."

These presenters add that they feel as if they benefited as much—if not more—from presenting as their attendees did from attending their sessions.

Some in-demand topics for the 2013 Conference for Community College Advancement include:

  • Engaging an entire campus in the grant-making process
  • Legal considerations for marketing out of state/country
  • Effective writing and content development for social media/mobile campaigns
  • Tips for establishing and enhancing public/private partnerships
  • Scenarios and case studies on soliciting major gifts

"If you tried something new at your school and it worked—even not precisely as planned or hoped—then you have lessons learned that you can share with your colleagues," says Paul Heaton, director of the CASE Center for Community College Advancement. "Community college staff members tend to be modest and reluctant to toot their own horns."

Heaton encouraged people who were unsure what kind of proposal to submit to contact him at or (202) 478-5570.

This article is from the January 2013 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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Enhancing Internal Relations for Community College Fundraising Success
Feb. 19, 2013
2 p.m. EST

Conference for Community College Advancement
Oct. 2 - 4, 2013
San Diego, Calif.

More Community College Resources
See the full list of CASE resources for community colleges