Armin Afsahi was appointed Associate Vice President of Alumni Affairs and Development (AA&D) and Dean of Development for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) by Edgerley Family Dean Claudine Gay in August 2019. In this key executive leadership role, Afsahi is responsible for designing and executing a fundraising vision that advances FAS’s mission and diverse academic priorities.
In this capacity, Afsahi leads a fundraising enterprise that works collaboratively to generate annual philanthropic resources in excess of $1 Billion, and contributes to strategies to engage alumni, parents and friends with Harvard through creative and meaningful engagement.
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 AA&D, he served as the vice chancellor for advancement at the University of Denver. Previously, he held senior roles in advancement for the University of California San Diego and Georgetown University.
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. Afsahi lives in Boston with his husband, Joe Eklund, and enjoy outdoors, travel, playing tennis and enjoying sports.
Jay Davenport serves as vice president of development and alumni relations at Virginia Commonwealth University. He oversees the execution of the $750M "Make It Real" campaign for VCU and VCU Health. He is responsible for the strategy and operations of alumni relations, annual giving, corporate and foundation relations, development and alumni communications, donor relations and regional philanthropy.
Over the last 20 years he has held a variety of fundraising positions in higher education and private secondary schools, working closely with leadership to organize campaign strategy. He has guided eight deans through the campaign planning process and helped prepare, organize and execute four comprehensive campaigns. He has also designed engagement programs which have supported more than 250 campaign volunteers to assist university fundraisers. His years of success as a front-line fundraiser have given him a unique ability to translate the numbers behind the campaign into compelling stories that generate philanthropic success.
Previously, Davenport served as the associate vice president of individual giving and campaign management at Wake Forest University and led the $1B "Wake Will" campaign. He served in several roles at Wake Forest including assistant vice president of college development, assistant vice president of major gifts and associate vice president and campaign director. Before Wake Forest, he was director of development and team leader at Rice University and also held fundraising positions as a development director at the University of Memphis College of Business and Wright State University College of Engineering.
He is a regular presenter at CASE conferences. Davenport holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Xavier University and a master's degree in higher education administration from Ball State University.
Michael G. Hirschfeld became Kent’s sixth Head of School in July 2020. Mike came to Kent having most recently served as the thirteenth rector of St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire.
A dedicated and passionate educator and administrator, Mike began his career as a history teacher and Assistant Director of Admissions at Kent immediately following his graduation from Princeton in 1990. Four years later, Mike moved to St. Paul’s School where he spent the next 24 years and held leadership roles in virtually every aspect of school life, leading up to his appointment as Rector in 2011. Mike was the Associate Director of College Advising, Director of Admissions, Vice Rector for Enrollment and Communications, and Vice Rector for External Affairs.
Mike received an A.B. in history in 1990 from Princeton University, where he captained the varsity lightweight crew to the 1989 national championship. He later earned an M.A. in liberal studies in 1999 from Dartmouth College. In 2017, Mike was a Klingenstein Fellow at Columbia Teachers College and recently earned an M.Phil in Educational Leadership and School Improvement from the University of Cambridge in England. He earned his high school diploma from St. Paul’s School in 1985.
Mike’s wife, Liesbeth, is also a former member of the Kent faculty and currently oversees the School's social media. While at St. Paul’s she served as athletic director. Mike and Liesbeth have a daughter, a recent graduate of Bowdoin College, and a son, a recent graduate of Brown University.
Matthew T. Lambert
Matthew is concurrently the chief executive officer of the William & Mary Foundation and the vice president for university advancement at William & Mary.
He oversees the university’s team of nearly 200 staff including constituent and regional development; alumni engagement; campaign operations & principal gifts; lifetime philanthropic engagement & annual giving; university marketing & communications; events; and strategic advancement initiatives. He leads a team that strives to strengthen William & Mary’s community by identifying and qualifying new prospective donors, volunteers and connectors, and providing the meaningful philanthropic and engagement opportunities to ensure alumni, parents, and friends become consistent supporters of the university.
As CEO of the W&M Foundation, he works with the Board of Trustees and dual-hat staff to ensure the Foundation's stewardship of nearly $1 billion in endowments for the benefit of William & Mary. He also oversees Foundation Services, LLC, which is responsible for the management and coordination of services supporting all of William & Mary's affiliated foundations.
Dr. Lambert and the leadership team successfully completed the historic For the Bold campaign in 2020, surpassing $1 billion, the highest alumni participation rate of any public university, and deeper ties among alumni and their alma mater. The All In Campaign for W&M Athletics was launched in March 2021, with a focused goal of $55 million by 2023.
Prior to W&M, Matthew was the associate vice president for university development at Georgetown University. During his 11 years at Georgetown, Matthew held a variety of roles incorporating major gift and annual fund together with alumni and volunteer engagement. He worked with students, alumni and parents, including reunion-specific fundraising, alumni relations and principal gift management. He had direct oversight of development operations and staff for the university’s $1.5 billion campaign, including all the Main Campus academic units, Athletics and Mission & Ministry programs, as well as the Regional Advancement team. Matthew created the Student Discovery Initiative and was involved with every step of the program’s evolution, which is now recognized nationally as a model for alumni engagement.
Dr. Lambert is active in public policy research and teaches in the Education and Public Policy programs. He is the author of Privatization and the Public Good, published by Harvard Education Press and co-editor of Advancing Higher Education, published by Roman & Littlefield (September 2019).
Jennifer Merrett leads communications and marketing strategy to support fundraising efforts at the University of California, Riverside. As the senior development communications manager, she has overseen messaging, branding, and creative for “Living the Promise: The Campaign for UC Riverside,” the institution’s first $300 million comprehensive campaign, as well as the recently launched Beyond Brilliant initiative for student support. In 2019, she piloted and produced a university podcast titled “The Creator State,” sharing stories of social innovation, entrepreneurship, change-makers, and creators from the UCR community.
Prior to joining the Highlander family in 2013, Merrett led nationwide wellness marketing at historic Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Southern California and became an expert in sesquicentennial celebrations, planning 150th anniversary public relations campaigns and events for Glen Ivy and the City of Anaheim.
Her most memorable student experiences while attending California State University, Fullerton include building lifelong friendships as a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and summer study abroad in Barcelona, Spain.
David L. Unruh
Rachel Vassel serves as the associate vice president, office of multicultural advancement, where she leads diverse alumni engagement and fundraising at Syracuse University. Previously, as the assistant vice president of the Office of Program Development, she and her team host SU's groundbreaking triennial Black and Latino alumni reunion, "Coming Back Together (CBT)," targeted regional events and trips, and has oversight for the Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholarship program (benefitting high-performing Black and Latino students with financial need). Under her leadership, these targeted programs have resulted in a 60 percent increase in Black and Latino alumni gifs.
Prior to joining Syracuse, Vassel led nationwide multicultural marketing at the American Cancer Society's Atlanta headquarters. She also enjoyed a 20-year career in brand marketing and account management, holding leadership positions with Tribune/Central City Productions, Turner Broadcasting, The Weather Channel, Music Choice and Young and Rubicam.
Michael J. Worth
Michael J. Worth is professor of nonprofit management at the George Washington University and principal of Michael J. Worth & Associates, LLC, a consulting firm that provides fundraising, governance, and management advice to educational institutions and nonprofit organizations.
Dr. Worth served as vice president for development and alumni affairs at the George Washington University, where he planned and directed two comprehensive campaigns that supported the University's extensive growth. He previously served as director of development at the University of Maryland. Earlier in his career, he was director of development at DeSales University and assistant to the Ppresident at Wilkes University.
Michael Worth has edited or written well-known books related to fundraising, boards, and nonprofit management, including Leading the Campaign (2017) and Comprehensive Campaigns: New Directions for Colleges and Universities (forthcoming, 2022). He was co-editor with Matthew T. Lambert of Advancing Higher Education: New Strategies for Fundraising, Philanthropy, and Engagement (2019). He is the author of Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice, a leading textbook in the field used at colleges and universities across the country, now in its sixth edition. He holds a B.A. from Wilkes University, an M.A. from the American University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.