Birgit Smith Burton
Birgit is the Founder and Executive Director of AADO, the African American Development Officers Network, which she launched at Georgia Tech in 1998 to provide professional development, education, employment support, mentorship, and networking opportunities for African American fundraisers. She is a well-regarded speaker on the topics of fundraising and diversity and has authored articles on diversity in the fundraising profession, co-authored the book, The Philanthropic Covenant with Black America, and contributed to the book Five Minutes for Fundraising, A Collection of Expert Advice. Birgit is honored to tell her personal story in the book Collecting Courage, which shares the lived experiences of Black women and men working in the nonprofit and charitable space (published fall 2020). During her 25-year career at Georgia Tech, Birgit was selected to participate in the first cohort of Leading Women @ Tech and chosen as one of the 2020 Faces of Inclusive Excellence, which recognized faculty, staff, and students committed to gender diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Birgit serves on the global board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and recently was voted as the Chair-Elect for 2021. She has the distinction of being the first African American woman in AFP’s 60-year history to serve in this role. Birgit received the Opportunity and Inclusion Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education which recognized her leadership in fostering inclusion and diversity within the fundraising profession. In 2020 the R.I.S.E. Fund was established in Birgit’s honor with a mission to advance women of color in fundraising by providing Resources, Inspiration, Support, and Education.
Birgit chairs the A.E. Lowe Grice Scholarship Fund, serves on the advisory board for Hosea Helps, chairs the Ahmaud Arbery Foundation, and advises the Aspen Leadership Group. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Birgit earned a bachelor's degree in media communications from Medaille College in Buffalo, New York and serves on its board of Trustees.
Chardina Choate has served in higher education advancement for more than 13 years and joined Spelman College in 2014. While at Spelman, she has served as associate director of alumnae engagement and is currently a leadership gifts officer. In her roles at Spelman she has been charged with reunion engagement, volunteer program management, alumnae global travel program, and major gift fundraising. Prior to Spelman, Choate worked in alumni relations at Emory University as assistant director of regional volunteer programs, where she was responsible for the management and implementation of overall alumni volunteer group development, strategy, priorities and goals for alumni chapters and affinity groups in her territory. Prior to Emory, she worked for her alma mater, the University of Georgia, as an alumni programs coordinator focused on engaging alumni in the Atlanta metro area through programs and events.
Choate has served on the CASE District III conference planning committee since 2009. As a member of the CASE District III Board of Directors, she co-chaired the 2014 District III "Make Waves" conference in Orlando, Florida, and organized advancement workshops throughout the district. She also provided leadership for the HBCU and Newcomers preconference in 2016-2017. She is a VOX Atlanta Board member and an active member of 12 Days of Christmas, Inc. - Atlanta Chapter.
Josh Harraman serves as vice president for alumni engagement, annual giving and advancement communications for the Rutgers University Foundation. He joined the Rutgers University Alumni Association as the associate vice president for alumni engagement in September 2017.
In his role at Rutgers, Harraman has university wide responsibilities for engaging Rutgers alumni through volunteer engagement, events and programs, alumni career services, and student engagement. He also assists in facilitating their support via a robust annual giving program and oversees strategic advancement communications in preparation for the comprehensive campaign.
Prior to joining Rutgers, Harraman served as the senior director for alumni and constituent engagement at The Ohio State University where he led life stage programming and regional engagement efforts. He previously worked at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and focused on student leadership and involvement. Harraman received his bachelor’s degree in history from The Ohio State University and his master’s degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University. He received his doctoral degree in educational philosophy at The Ohio State University in 2019.
Brittini Lasseigne is the director of philanthropy at YWCA Clark County, a nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Prior to her time at YWCA Clark County, she was the director of fundraising and communications at Innovative Housing, Inc, an affordable housing property developer, in Portland, Oregon. She has a passion for the public sector and has worked and volunteered at nonprofits for the last 14 years.
Lasseigne previously served on the board of Vida's Ark and in 2016 co-founded a nonprofit, Concerned Humans Against Poverty. She is currently a member of the Clark College Alumni Board, is the Philanthropy Track chair for CASE's Conference on Diverse Philanthropy and Leadership in April, and is on the Diversity Committee of AFP Oregon and Southwest Washington.
She holds a psychology degree from Washington State University-Vancouver.
Ashley Robinson is the current senior major gifts officer at the Center for American Progress (CAP). Prior to that, she was at Sierra Club for three years as the assistant advancement director for the Eastern and Mid-Atlantic regions, raising mid-level major gifts. In this role, she also served on the Staff Equity Team and led the advancement department's Equity Team.
While completing a master's degree in fundraising management at Columbia, she served as a development coordinator for Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, supporting the annual and parents funds. She is currently the co-chair for AFP DC's IDEA Committee and a member of AFP HQ's IDEA Committee. She is a co-chair for 2019's AADO Conference.
Robinson attended Elon University.
As chief philanthropy officer for Communities In Schools of Georgia, Jomal Vailes works closely with its president and board of directors to lead the statewide agency's resource development strategies focused on expanding philanthropic investments and agency visibility. Vailes, a Certified Fundraising Executive, is no stranger to advocating for vulnerable populations. He previously served as chief external affairs officer for The Center for Working Families, overseeing fund development, communications, and strategic partnerships as part of its Family Economic Success and Two-Generation portfolios. An accomplished leader focused on achieving outcomes, impacting families and children, and strengthening communities, Vailes has served Atlanta's nonprofit community for more than 20 years, including roles as manager of corporate and foundation relations for Georgia Aquarium, and as manager of community engagement and diversity programs for the world-renowned Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Vailes is a 2020 candidate for a master's degree in philanthropy from LaGrange College and holds a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership from Valdosta State University. He was inducted as a member of Outstanding Atlanta, Class of 2018; is an alumni of the High Potential Diverse Leaders (HPDL) Program of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits; is an alumni fellow of the Atlanta Leaders for Results (ALR) Program of The Annie E. Casey Foundation (2013) and is an inaugural Diversity Fellow of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Atlanta Chapter (2010). He serves on the board of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project (HDCDP) and is on the national Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee of Communities In Schools (national). Vailes is a member of the African-American Development Officers (AADO) Network and Association of Fundraising Professionals. He also serves on the Development Authority Board of Union City,
Anita B. Walton
Anita B. Walton serves as the Vice Chancellor of University of Advancement at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU).
Prior to joining ECSU, she served as director of diversity and talent management for CASE. She provided leadership in developing, communicating, and executing a comprehensive strategy to successfully attract, hire and maintain a continuous talent pipeline, engage and serve select CASE constituencies with significant emphasis on efforts to diversify the profession, enhance and promote student programs including CASE ASAP, the CASE Advancement Internship Program and provide oversight to the CASE Career Central.
Before CASE, Walton served at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) for five years as director of alumni relations and the last two years as assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. Prior to NCCU, she served at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) for 18 years, seven years in student affairs and 11 years in alumni relations. With a master's degree in higher education and 25 years of experience including program management, volunteer stewardship, strategic and process development and relationship building, Walton is no stranger to CASE. She has served in numerous volunteer roles, including chair of CASE III, a member of the Commission on Alumni Relations, an active contributor to CASE's opportunity and inclusion activities serving as the DIII O&I chair from 2007-2011, CASE ASAP activities and has been a frequent CASE speaker.
She earned her bachelor's degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her master's degree in education, with a concentration in higher education administration, from North Carolina State University.
Carla Willis joined Saint Leo University in 2019 with more than 25 years of experience as an advancement thought leader. Most recently, she served as the vice chancellor for University Advancement and executive director of the Foundation at the University of North Carolina- Asheville. Carla has served in advancement leadership roles at Kean University, The Ohio State University, Florida A&M University, the University of Toledo, and the University of Michigan. A long-serving member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Carla is a graduate from the University of Toledo with a Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies.