Rebecca Kocher is the Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement at Wittenberg University. In her role, Rebecca is responsible for leading the alumni engagement and fundraising efforts to help Wittenberg University successfully launch and complete its Having Light comprehensive campaign. Rebecca has a passion for developing, implementing, and analyzing strategies to expand outreach with limited resources, as well as extensive experience in relationship-building and cross-divisional collaboration, all within a metrics-driven environment. With more than 16 years of experience in higher education fundraising, Rebecca understands and embraces the value of creating a metric-driven environment that includes high levels of accountability and a high-touch modeling method. Her advancement experience spans both public and private institutions in all phases of campaign execution, board management, operations development, and goal setting. Prior to Wittenberg University, Rebecca served in various advancement roles at Bowling Green State University, Albion College, and the University of Mary Washington. Prior to her career higher education, she worked for a private publishing company in Virginia focused on marketing and communications.
Jay Davenport began his position as vice president for Development and Alumni Relations in September 2017. Before joining VCU, Davenport served as associate vice president of individual giving and campaign management at Wake Forest University.
As VCU’s chief development officer, Davenport leads development and alumni engagement efforts for both the university and VCU Health. Areas under his purview include advancement solutions, alumni relations, annual giving, corporate and foundation relations, development and alumni communications, donor relations, regional philanthropy and the university wide development staff.
Davenport has served in several roles at Wake Forest since 2010, including as assistant vice president of college development, assistant vice president of major gifts and associate vice president and campaign director. Previously, Davenport was director of development and team leader at Rice University and held fundraising positions as a college development director at the University of Memphis College of Business and Wright State University College of Engineering. He began his higher education career as an assistant dean of admissions at Wittenberg University in 1995.
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.
Kristina Devine currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for Advancement and Operations at Wittenberg University. In her role, Kristina focuses on the creation and implementation of Wittenberg’s advancement strategic vision for fundraising and donor cultivation, assisting the Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement, and other institutional leaders, in enterprise-wide advancement strategy and initiatives.
As an experienced fundraiser, Kristina is devoted to the advancement and expansion of higher education through helping others find the joy in giving back. With nearly 15 years of fundraising experience, Kristina has participated in campaigns of all sizes and methodologies, as part of both private and public entities and institutions. Her experience spans from small nonprofits to higher education, with demonstrated fundraising success in capital campaigns, targeted annual campaigns, special project campaigns, and comprehensive campaigns. Prior to Wittenberg University, Kristina served in various advancement roles at Bowling Green State University, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland, and several regional nonprofit organizations.
Joe Edens currently serves as Director of Advancement for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences with the University at Buffalo. Compelled by his experience as a first-generation college student, Joe carries a lifelong devotion to higher education and to helping to pay forward that life-transforming opportunity to the next generation.
After several years in student affairs, Joe entered advancement at Virginia Tech in 2017 and has since served on annual giving, leadership giving, and major gift teams at institutions of varying size and type. Over this time, Joe has contributed to several comprehensive campaigns at multiple stages, including the quiet phase of the $1.5B Boundless Impact campaign at Virginia Tech, the successful conclusion of the $250M Building Lives for the World campaign at Bowling Green State University, and the ongoing $1B Boldly Buffalo campaign at the University at Buffalo.
Joe is an active member of his community as a board member with several nonprofit organizations and has advised on their capital and comprehensive campaigns.
Joe earned a B.S. in Secondary Education from Bowling Green State University and a M.Ed. in Higher Education from Virginia Tech. He currently resides in Bowling Green, Ohio with his spouse, Jessica, pug dog, Porky, and enjoys the outdoors, curling, and a good cup of coffee.
Dan Lee is Vice President of University Relations for Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. His team builds and stewards partnerships with university constituents, encouraging investment in the vital mission of PLU. Prior to integrating the key external functions of Marketing & Communications, Alumni and Student Connections, and Advancement, Dan served as PLU’s Vice President of Advancement.
In his eight years at PLU, Dan has elevated community-engaged philanthropy and comprehensive constituent partnership as core values of the University. Through innovative collaborations between regional public and private partners, Native nations, faculty, students, and alumni, PLU has continued to reclaim and evolve the critical role of a private regional university – one that centers community and serves as a hub for collective impact in the South Puget Sound.
Until 2014, Dan was Vice President of External Relations for Lutheran World Relief, an international relief and development organization serving more than 7 million people in 35 countries. As the chief fundraising, donor relations and constituent engagement executive, Dan set the strategic direction of all external-facing efforts and guided LWR through three years of record-setting growth.
Jessica Browning brings more than 25 years of nonprofit experience to Winkler Group clients. She serves on the executive leadership team that oversees all firm projects to ensure their successful progression.
In addition to overseeing projects, Jessica creates white papers, blogs, and other resources for advancement and development professionals. She is a frequent guest contributor on nonprofit sites.
Jessica’s area of expertise is donor communications; she has written case statements and fundraising materials for more than 100 universities, schools, and nonprofit organizations. Among other awards, her writing has received the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence award.
Jessica received a B.A. from Duke University as well as an M.A. and M.B.A. from the College of William and Mary. She served on Giving USA’s National Editorial Review Board and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Jim Bush has more than 20 years of experience as a successful fundraiser and nonprofit executive. He is recognized for his expertise in planning and managing successful capital campaigns that incorporate annual giving, major gifts, planned giving, and government and foundation grants.
Prior to joining the Winkler Group, he was an Enterprise Business Architect at Blackbaud, Mr. Bush served as counsel to colleges and universities including the Texas and Michigan State University Systems. At Elon University, Mr. Bush played an integral role in the college’s successful Campaign for Excellence.
A well-known speaker, Mr. Bush has presented at more than fifty national and international fundraising conferences; he has been named the top speaker at six international conferences. His articles on fundraising have been published in leading nonprofit journals.
Mr. Bush holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Elon University, as well as a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University.
Melanie J. Norton
Melanie J. Norton is the founder and CEO of Norton Philanthropic Counsel (NPC), a full-service fundraising consulting firm in Indianapolis, Ind. Melanie’s unique and broad-based background in business and fundraising allows NPC to specialize in a variety of strategic, campaign, and advancement consulting services.
Melanie has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing institutions of higher education. Before the launch of NPC, she was the vice president for development and alumni engagement at DePauw University, leading the University to more than $320 million of a successful $383 million comprehensive campaign that surpassed its original goal some 2 ½ years in advance of the campaign’s end. Her career has included leadership positions in higher education administration and fundraising, fundraising consulting, and banking (trust and retail). NPC’s work with clients ranges from strategic planning to fundraising prioritization, campaign counsel, high-level prospect strategies, board management, and more.
Melanie is a Certified Fundraising Executive and a proud member of the Association of Philanthropic Counsel and the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, where she was formerly the national chair of the board in 2016. She is Chair of the Board for The Cabaret Theatre in Indianapolis and has served in several board leadership and volunteer roles for various nonprofit organizations. Melanie regularly speaks across the nation on various topics involving philanthropic work and planning.
Founded in 2017, Norton Philanthropic Counsel customizes solutions that honor the unique opportunities available to every client. NPC is dedicated to its mission of blending the art and science of philanthropy to provide solutions that focus on client success.