Meet Your Chair
Fardin Sanai was appointed UAlbany’s Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director of The University at Albany Foundation in fall 2007 with oversight of all fundraising and alumni affairs functions. As Executive Director of the Foundation, Fardin serves as the liaison to the Foundation board and oversees foundation operations including, investments, real estate, and governance.
Under his leadership, UAlbany has expanded relationships both nationally and internationally, launched and successfully completed the $150 million This is Our Time fundraising campaign, the largest in the University’s 175-year history. Additionally, during his tenure, the university’s endowment grew from $16 million to its current level of over $110 million and has secured its first 8-figure gift.
Prior to his tenure at UAlbany, Fardin served as Senior Vice President for Development and Foundation Operations at Albany Medical Center, where he oversaw fundraising for both the college and hospital. Before that, Fardin served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Foundation at SUNY Cobleskill where he created and expanded the college’s fundraising and development operations. He began his fundraising career at Albany Law School and spent two years as a fundraising consultant for Morin & Anderson, Inc.
UAlbany was a 2012 recipient of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE’s) Circle of Excellence Awards Program for Educational Fundraising for overall improvement. Fardin received the same award at SUNY Cobleskill in 2003. He currently serves as the chair of SUNY’s Chief Advancement Officers and on the SUNY SAIL Institute faculty. Fardin is a board member of 15-Love, a local non-profit which creates, enhances and executes free educational programs for inner city youth. Additionally, Fardin serves on the University at Albany Biosciences Development Corporation (UABDC) and the University Auxiliary Services (UAS) boards.
Fardin holds a bachelor’s degree from Marist College.
Armin Afsahi was appointed Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development at the University of Chicago, effective April 1, 2023. In this role, Afsahi leads all aspects of fundraising strategy and activity, alumni engagement, and management of alumni relations and development.
An accomplished and respected advancement leader with nearly 30 years of experience, Afsahi brings a wide range of expertise in institutional advancement, strategic management, business development, leadership, and operations. Prior to joining UChicago, he held senior roles in advancement at multiple universities including the Harvard University, University of Denver, UC San Diego, and Georgetown University, respectively.
Afsahi has served on national and local boards and held volunteer leadership roles for both nonprofit and professional organizations. He holds a BA in communications from UC San Diego and an MBA from the University of San Diego.
Rodney M. Grabowski is UCF’s Senior Vice President for Advancement and Partnerships and CEO of the UCF Foundation, Inc. A passionate advocate for higher education and its power to transform lives, he oversees the university’s fundraising, alumni relations, partnership, communications and marketing efforts. Under his leadership, the Division of Advancement and Strategic Partnerships builds meaningful, fruitful connections that enhance UCF’s impact and result in new sources of revenue to fuel our excellence and unleash the potential of our students, faculty and community.
Mr. Grabowski has more than three decades of experience in nonprofit and advancement leadership, including extensive experience in higher education and health care philanthropy. He is a national leader in the use of artificial intelligence, data-driven strategy and innovative management strategies.
Before joining UCF in September of 2022, Mr. Grabowski served as Vice President for University Advancement with the University at Buffalo. His team surpassed the university’s fundraising goal of $650 million a full year early and increased the goal to $1 billion for the same time period of the campaign — an effort boosted by back-to-back record-setting years for UB.
Prior to his years at UB, Mr. Grabowski was at the University of Cincinnati as President of the University of Cincinnati Foundation, Vice President of Advancement, and President and CEO of the UC Health Foundation. At Cincinnati, he successfully concluded a $1 billion campaign, surpassing the goal by 10 percent. In Florida, he served as the University of South Florida’s Senior Associate Vice President for Advancement and campaign director, where he managed the university’s $600 million fundraising campaign. He also served in fundraising leadership positions at the University of North Florida and at Jacksonville University.
A native of Phoenix, New York, Grabowski holds the prestigious CFRE credential — Certified Fund Raising Executive. He earned an MBA from the University of North Florida and a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from Syracuse University. He is an active member and leader in the Association of Fundraising Professionals and CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. An Eagle Scout, he is active in the Boy Scouts of America
Jason E. Lane
Jason E. Lane currently serves as Dean of the College of Education, Health, and Society at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, which recently announced the public phase of its $1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Previously, he served as the Dean of the Graduate School of Education at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany Vice Provost and Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Planning and Strategic Leadership for the SUNY System, where he was responsible for advancing several transformative academic initiatives, including Seamless Transfer, Open SUNY, and START-UP NY.
Throughout his career, Dr. Lane has worked to advance private-public partnerships to support innovation and expand access to higher education. Lane has been the PI on more than $20 million in state and federal funding and has raised more than $15 million from corporate and foundation sponsors as well as other private philanthropy. He recently assembled a community task force of corporate leaders in Cincinnati to assist with raising $20 million to fund TEACh Cincinnati, a grow-your-own initiative to address the teacher shortage, by mentoring and supporting more students of color to become teachers.
Dr. Lane is an internationally recognized commentator and expert on higher education leadership and politics, having consulted and spoke in over 30 countries and frequently quoted in main stream and trade press, including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fox News, Times Higher Education, and Inside Higher Ed. He has published more than 100 academic and policy papers related to the shifting dynamics of higher education and more than 10 books, including Colleges and Universities as Economic Drivers from SUNY Press. In 2022 he released Higher Education Systems Redesigned (SUNY Press) and the second edition of his best-selling text, Academic Leadership and Governance of Higher Education (Stylus Press).
Dr. Lane is a Fulbright New Century Scholar and has received numerous awards including the Cooperative Leadership Award from the National School Development Association and the Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Education Research from the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). He leads (or has led) several national efforts to strengthen and diversify leadership pipelines in higher education, including the Association of Governing Board’s Institute for Leadership and Governance; the National Association of System Heads’ (NASH) System Leadership Academy; and SUNY’s Academic and Innovative Leadership (SAIL) Institute.
Beth Thompson is Assistant Dean for Development in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) at Harvard University. In this role, she oversees major, principal, and planned giving fundraising efforts for the FAS which includes Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the academic divisions of Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science, the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Department of Athletics, and the Division of Continuing Education. Prior to this role, Beth served as the FAS’s Assistant Dean of Academic and Development Planning where she partnered with the FAS academic deans and administrative leaders to oversee the translation of academic priorities into fundraising plans and FAS Development’s fundraising platform. Before joining the FAS in 2005, Beth held roles as Director of Development for the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida International University and in reunion class campaign management, principal gifts, stewardship, and campaign strategy and planning at Harvard Business School.
Beth is a graduate of Smith College and earned a master’s in political science from Ball State University and an MBA from Simmons University. She has served on the board of EV Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing academic tutoring and mentoring services and summer camp experiences for at-risk youth in the Boston area. She has also served on the Board of First-Year Advisors at Harvard College and as a volunteer fundraiser for Smith College.