Session Speakers A–C
Jaime Allen is Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement with the Cal Aggie Alumni Association at UC Davis. In this role, she supports out of state and international alumni clubs, co-advises the Student Alumni Association, and is the staff liaison for two board committees. Jaime has been with UC Davis for six years. Before supporting alumni clubs, she was supporting student clubs. She received her Masters of Education in Postsecondary Admission and Student Affairs at University of Southern California.
Tom Arteaga serves as the Director of Alumnae Relations and Volunteer Engagement at Mount Saint Mary’s University, the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. With over 14 years of experience in alumni relations, Arteaga joined MSMU in 2020 having previously worked at Loyola Marymount University. During his tenure at LMU, he partnered with the career office to engage alumni in the career development of current students. He has extensive experience working with alumni volunteers on various boards and councils and has developed programs to engage students as future alumni. Prior to his 13-year career at LMU, Arteaga served as the Production Manager at Fox Sports Net, managing on-location live events for the Best Damn Sports Show Period. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Loyola Marymount University.
Christian Barnes, M.S. Human Development and Leadership
Christian Barnes currently serves Murray State University as its Director of Annual Giving. In this role, Christian oversees all annual giving efforts for the Murray State Office of Development, including direct mail, crowdfunding campaigns, the student-driven phonathon program, and alumni/donor engagement. Christian is in his second year as Director of Annual Giving as he began in the fall of 2019. Prior to his work in development, Christian spent time both in enrollment management and student life, focusing on the recruitment of future students for the institution and coordinating all registered student organizations on campus. Christian enjoys the focus of relationship-building and the connectivity of people that advancement brings to our educational institutions.
N. Geoffrey Bartlett, PhD
N. Geoffrey Bartlett, PhD is the Assistant Vice President for Annual Giving and adjunct instructor in higher educational administration at the University at Buffalo. Geoff has nearly 25 years of fundraising experience in higher education and cultural organizations. His research interests include donor motivation, organizational culture and philanthropy in higher education. He has presented widely at both practitioner and academic conferences, including the RNL 2020.
Mr. David P. Bennett serves as the Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at Howard University. In this role, Mr. Bennett provides strategic vision, and leads the critical work of developing campaigns and activities that will enhance philanthropic support and alumni engagement for the University.
Mr. Bennett is an energetic leader with more than 25 years of experience advancing development strategies for organizations with national and international focus. Most recently he led all philanthropic programs globally for one of the world’s largest nonprofit organizations, the National Geographic Society. Serving as Chief Development Officer, his responsibilities included managing a portfolio of trustees and high net-worth donors and prospects, overseeing all international fundraising efforts and providing direction for several keys areas including principal and major gifts, planned giving, annual giving, and stewardship. In addition, he helped to build a network of fundraising and programmatic offices for National Geographic around the world. Mr. Bennett has a proven track record of building close, collaborative, and transparent relationships across teams, creating strategies that increase engagement, and driving campaigns that exceed their target goal.
Prior to joining National Geographic, Mr. Bennett was Chief Advancement Officer of Safe Kids Worldwide, an international injury prevention organization. In this role, he was responsible for the fundraising, communications, and public policy functions of an organization with over 350 affiliates in the United States and operations in 17 other countries. His previous experience also includes serving as vice president of United Cerebral Palsy of America and as director of the Fundraising and Sponsorship Group of Odell, Simms, & Lynch, a consulting firm that provide services to nonprofit organizations. Early in his career, Bennett worked in federal politics as a finance director for two United States Senate campaigns and as a fundraiser for a national political party.
Mr. Bennett earned a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.
Sandy Brill is the Associate Director of Prospect Management in NYU’s Office of University Development and Alumni Relations. She leads a four-person team focused on promoting proactive, interactive, and strategic fundraising through effective and customized partnership with frontline fundraisers and support staff. In her role, Sandy has developed a client-oriented, concierge model of support for over 50 frontline fundraisers; created and operationalized a new prospect management system; and assisted with the designing of dashboards that provide visibility into pipeline, productivity, and progress to goals for frontline fundraisers and leadership.
Amy Bronson is associate vice president of advancement resources and strategic talent management at Boston University, where she is engaged in building and sustaining an outstanding team of advancement professionals who are undertaking an enormous challenge: the first comprehensive campaign in the history of the university.
She oversees the talent management program for a staff of 225 including 17 schools and colleges at the university. Encompassing talent acquisition, organizational and learning development, human resource management, finance and administration, she partners with colleagues across the university to ensure the advancement team is ready to meet the campaign challenge.
Prior to joining BU in September 2010, Bronson led the strategic staffing initiative for the "Light the World Campaign" at Boston College. Before joining BC in 2005, she was at Harvard Law School where her many roles included managing special events, curriculum planning and program administration for executive legal education, and as a fundraiser and administrator at Baker House Alumni Center. Her prior experience includes working for Tiffany & Co. in Chicago and Houston and teaching in Athens, Greece. With more than 20 years of advancement experience, she has served in leadership roles and presented at numerous conferences.
Sunni B. Brown
Sunni Brown, University of Richmond’s director of media and public relations, is an award-winning media relations professional who works closely with the STEM majors out of the University of Richmond School of Arts & Sciences and the Richmond School of Law. Brown prides herself on communicating complex information in a way that is easy for anyone to understand. Her media relations efforts have resulted in placements in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Scientific American, National Geographic, Newsweek, and more. Brown has worked at the University of Richmond since 2014. Before coming to UR, she served as the media spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. She also worked as an anchor and reporter at two Virginia TV stations. Brown is a first-generation college student who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory & Henry College where she double majored in Mass Communications and English Literature. She has a Master of Liberal Arts from the University of Richmond.
Amy Burke serves as Senior Director of Annual Giving Programs at Wellesley University. Amy comes to Wellesley from Harvard where she served as Managing Director, Direct Marketing and Participation for the Harvard College Fund. Amy’s previous professional experience includes positions at Harvard Business School, Bentley University, MassGAP, MIT, and UMASS Lowell.
Amy has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MBA from Bentley University.
Sarah Byrd is a leader in the non-profit and higher education industries with nearly 20 years of experience in fundraising, writing, and volunteer management. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving at Knox College where she oversees all annual solicitation strategies and alumni engagement programs, including communication tactics. Sarah has a bachelor's degree in English from Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH.
Linnie S. Carter, Ph.D., APR is the vice president of college advancement at HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, and executive director of the HACC Foundation. She oversees the HACC Foundation and advertising, alumni affairs, branding, fundraising, grants, graphic design, marketing, photography, public relations, publications, scholarships, special events, sponsorships, videography and website development. Linnie earned a Ph.D. in community college leadership from Old Dominion University, and a master's degree in mass communications and a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Virginia Commonwealth University. She earned the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation from the Public Relations Society of America.
Jill Cassidy is currently the Director of Digital Marketing for the Oregon State University Foundation, the institutionally-related organization dedicated to enhancing the university’s excellence and impact. The OSU Foundation manages a $614.9 million endowment, as well as relationships with 500,000+ alumni and donors related to the largest university in the state. At the close of the 2020 fiscal year, philanthropic giving totaled $131.42 million. Prior to joining the OSU Foundation, Jill was the Director at Phillips & Company, a strategic communications agency focused on the space industry, higher education and technology companies, including NASA, Gemalto and Texas A&M University. Jill spearheaded the discovery, planning, adoption and rollout of comprehensive business, marketing and communications programs for initiatives in these organizations. With over a decade of experience, Jill incorporates data analytics with human insights to inform marketing strategy, define audiences, craft compelling experiences, measure results and drive operational decisions.
Durba has over twenty years of experience in prospect-development, data-management and advancement operations. She has worked for private undergraduate colleges, state universities, system office administering the technical college system of Georgia and an independent K-12 institution at various phases of campaigns and leadership changes. Her data-driven perspective helped her secure transformational gifts for her former employer, VSU. Durba completed her MBAs from Burdwan University, India and University of Missouri, Columbia. She has been a member of CASE, AFP, APRA and AASP and served on the APRA-GA board as VP and Program Director. She enjoys presenting at conferences, networking and mentoring.
Thomas Chaves is the Associate Vice President for Advancement Operations at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. Prior to that, he served as the Associate Vice President for Development & Alumni Relations at Lehigh University for nine years and led the traditional advancement services areas of information processing, reporting & analytics, & prospect management & research. He has also led the implementation of strategic talent management within Lehigh's Advancement organization as well as Campaign Management programs and initiatives. He spent over seventeen years at SunGard/SCT working with over 100 higher education clients to implement and effectively use advancement software. He chaired the 2010 CASE Senior Advancement Services conference, the 2013 & 2014 CASE Summer Institute for Advancement Services, and was a member of the Banner Advancement advisory board and imodules advisory board. He is currently a member of the CASE Commission on Philanthropy and works closely with other advancement services leaders. He completed serving as President of AASP in 2016 and has been on the board since 2008. Tom is a current member of the Board of Trustees at Albright College's (Reading, PA) after completing being a member of it’s Alumni Association board where he was president the last two years. He holds a BA from Albright College and an MS from Penn State.
As Executive Director of Engagement at Davidson College since 2017, Lisa oversees engagement strategies for alumni and families and manages the Alumni and Family Engagement team as well as the Donor Relations team. She also serves on the senior leadership team for the College Relations division. At Davidson, Lisa has held positions in the Office of Alumni and Family Engagement, Major Gifts, and was previously Director of the Fund for Davidson. Lisa has also served as an independent campaign consultant for private secondary schools and several religious organizations. A graduate of Davidson, she and her husband have four children and three dogs who keep them entertained and busy!
Kristen M. Cometto
Kristen Cometto offers over a decade of experience in philanthropy and nonprofit management. Specializing in building infrastructure and leading strategic processes, Cometto knows the value of cultivating enduring relationships to support an organization’s long-term sustainability. Cometto joined Oakland University’s advancement team in November 2016 and currently serves as the Director of Philanthropy to Oakland University's School of Business Administration. Previously, Cometto served as Director of Development, Membership and Special Events at Culture Source; Director of Annual Giving and Membership Programs at Cranbrook Institute of Science; Assistant Director of Annual Giving at Cranbrook Schools and Director of Development at Detroit PAL. Cometto earned her M.P.A. and B.A. from Oakland University, as well as a Certificate in Fundraising Management (CFRM) from Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Most recently, Cometto received her second Prime Manager Award from Blackbaud/Reeher CRM Platform in recognition of exceptional performance as a front-line fundraiser.
Pat Coyle has served as Director of Marketing and Communications for Georgetown Preparatory School for the past seven years. He’s a marketing and brand strategist that is passionate about storytelling and brand development. He is also a communications, public relations, and crisis communications-trained professional and has successfully led communications and fundraising for Prep’s $60 million capital campaign.
Johnny Cruz is associate vice chancellor and chief communications and marketing officer at University of California, Riverside. He leads the team responsible for brand advancement, media relations, creative services, content development, publications, executive communications, digital marketing, video production, and social media. He also temporarily served as UC Riverside's acting associate chancellor. As chief of staff in the Office of the Chancellor, he was a principal advisor to university leadership and played a key role in executing the university's strategic vision and goals. He joined UC Riverside from World Vision, where he was responsible for telling the global humanitarian organization's story through media and public relations, advocacy communications, celebrity engagement, emergency communications, promotional campaigns, and influencer relations. Before joining World Vision, he was assistant vice president for communications at the University of Arizona. In this position, he served as the university’s chief communications officer and oversaw all institutional communications, media relations, content creation, internal communications, social media, crisis communications, and executive communications. He also served in various brand management, marketing, and communications roles at the Make-A-Wish national headquarters. At Make-A-Wish America, he led the external communications division and managed national communications and marketing initiatives in English and Spanish.