Nneka Allen is a Black woman, a descendant of the Underground Railroad, an Ojibwa of Anderson Nation, a Momma and a sixth generation Canadian. As a lover of justice, Nneka has inspired philanthropy as a Fundraising Executive in the charitable sector for over 20 years. She is the Principal and Founder of The Empathy Agency, where she helps organizations deliver more fairly on their missions and visions by coaching teams to explore the impact identity has on culture and equity outcomes. Nneka is the founder of the Black Canadian Fundraisers' Collective, a group that inspires and elevates the fundraising sector in the African tradition of Ubuntu - "I am because we are". She is also an author and joint editor of a book featuring the first-person narratives of 15 Black contributors, mainly fundraisers from the United States and Canada called Collecting Courage: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love.
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.
Ashley Bowden is a Managing Director, Special Gifts (Greater New York), at Dartmouth College. She is responsible for securing current-use and restricted commitments from a diverse constituency in support of the College's institutional priorities. Prior to her current role, Ashley was an Annual Giving Officer, Student Philanthropy & Young Alumni, at New York University, where managed the University’s senior giving campaign and young alumni leadership giving campaign. Ashley started her career at the African Burial Ground as a Park Ranger, followed by tenures at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Cool Culture. Ashley received Masters degrees in African American Studies and History Museum Studies from The Ohio State University and The Cooperstown Graduate Program (SUNY Oneonta), respectively. She received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Birgit Smith Burton
Birgit Smith Burton is a respected leader in the fundraising profession who has raised more than $500 million during her 33-year career. As the executive director of foundation relations at the Georgia Institute of Technology, she led her team in raising $309 million toward the Institute's most recent successful $1.8 billion capital campaign. 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 is the founder of AADO, the African American Development Officers Network, which for 23 years has provided professional development, education, employment support, mentorship, and networking opportunities for fundraisers of color.
Christal M. Cherry
Christal M. Cherry is a nationally recognized nonprofit executive and professionally trained fundraiser. Christal also served as a Senior Consultant at the GA Center for Nonprofits and is currently the CEO of The Board Pro, a consulting firm designed to transform leaders through board service. She is contributing author in Collecting Courage, a documenting of racism and survival by 15 accomplished Black fundraisers working across the United States and Canada. She founded F3: Fabulous Female Fundraisers, a network of women of color in fundraising in the Atlanta, GA metro area. She also enjoys her membership in the African American Development Officers Network and Toastmasters.
Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Ph.D.
For nearly 15 years, Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Ph.D., served as a professional fundraiser for social services, community development and higher education organizations. He was also Associate Director of The Fund Raising School, where he trained professional fundraisers across the U.S., and in Africa, Asia and Europe. Currently, he is an award-winning scholar and teacher who serves as Assistant Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. His research focuses on African American philanthropy, the history of philanthropy, and philanthropy and fundraising in higher education. His book entitled, Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow, was released in October 2020 by the University of Illinois Press and has been well received by advancement professionals and donors alike. His research has appeared in O: The Oprah Magazine, Harvard Business Review, USA Today, TIME, The Conversation, Black Perspectives, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Advancing Philanthropy, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, 3rd and 4th Editions. He is co-author of Race, Gender and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011.
Jessica is a long-time Educator and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Strategist and Consultant. In her 15 years as an educator, she has worked in a myriad of roles: high school teacher, youth program facilitator, university adjunct professor, school administrator and institutional DEI consultant and strategist. In 2012, she received her M.A. in Women and Gender Studies from DePaul University in Chicago with a focus on both anti-racist white identity development and the intersections of race and gender.
Jessica brings a strong intersectional lens to all of her work, helping people think holistically about how identity (race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ability) impacts how we see and move through the world. Her DEI expertise includes: transformative racial equity practices, building inclusive institutional culture, navigating politically diverse stakeholders, and facilitation and capacity-building. To learn more about her consulting work, visit: www.jessicahavens.com.
Yolanda F. Johnson is both a philanthropy and fundraising expert, successfully having led fundraising operations for a wide range of nonprofit organizations, launching creative event, sponsorship and marketing initiatives that produced new streams of both contributed and earned income. Through YFJ Consulting, LLC, Yolanda personally gives back to causes supporting racial and gender equity, those with disabilities and the arts. Yolanda is the Founder of WOC, Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy® and Founder of Allies in Action Membership Network in addition to the President of Women In Development, NY (WID). Yolanda has also had an outstanding career as a performing artist, as a composer, as a producer, as an educator, and she has used her background as a performer to become a sought-after fundraising and philanthropy expert.
Alexis serves as the director of advancement talent management at Dartmouth College where she helps people maximize their potential to achieve organizational priorities. Her responsibilities include shaping the overarching strategy for talent management, coaching leaders and supervisors, and designing training and professional development programs for 250 staff.
Alexis believes people should be engaged by their work and have the opportunity for continuous growth and development. During her more than 20 years of experience in higher education, Alexis has delivered educational experiences to hundreds of staff and students, led award-winning diversity and inclusion initiatives, and started two talent management departments. She is the founder of AKO Collective, a women's leadership development company that offers training to women and girls, and presents nationally on gender-related topics.
Alexis holds a bachelor's degree in organizational studies from the University of Michigan, a master's degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University, and a certificate in organization development from Colorado State University. She is a certified StrengthsQuest Educator, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Practitioner, and TEDx Speaker.
Mo Cotton Kelly
“Mo,” as she is called by family, friends, and colleagues is the senior vice president for stakeholder engagement and chief of organizational operations (SVP-COO), with responsibility for driving operational and capital campaign strategy, overseeing key administrative functions, and guiding a culture of inclusivity for the UConn Foundation. Mo oversees the departments of alumni relations, marketing and communications, annual giving, stewardship, and board engagement.
Mo was recruited to join the UConn Alumni Association as the Executive Director and Assistant Vice President for alumni relations in 2014. Mo brought with her a national reputation for strong leadership built over two decades in higher education advancement. Mo is known for her ability to lead across departments while building collaborative relationships to enhance the experiences of staff, students, alumni, and friends.
Mo believes that mentorship and sponsorship of not only her staff and colleagues but also those from other institutions is incredibly important. She gives of her time and talent as much as she can and is currently an active member of the Case Board of Trustees. She has been on the faculty for the Case Minority Institute (MAI), Senior Alumni Relations Institute and was a member of the 2018 Case Summit planning committee.
Previously she was executive director of Bowling Green State University’s Alumni Association. Mo received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BGSU.
Mo has more than 26 years of experience with higher education institutions in the university advancement field where she has developed exemplary leadership, created strategic plans, cultivated organizational change, and is known nationally as a leader in the industry.
Gloria Ko serves as the senior director for Alumni Career Engagement leading career initiatives for alumni and students. She currently oversees programs, such the Alumni Mentor Program, UCLAONE and other career and professional development programming. Her prior experience at UCLA Alumni Affairs includes leading Young Alumni Engagement and the Student Alumni Association.
Gloria serves as the Opportunity and Inclusion Chair on the CASE District VII Board. She has served on faculties for the Young Alumni and Student Engagement Institute. Gloria graduated in 2006 with a bachelors in communication studies and in 2007 with a M.Ed. in counseling in student affairs.
Juan McGruder, Ph.D.
Juan McGruder is senior vice president and chief development officer at Junior Achievement Juan is Vice President for Advancement at Oglethorpe University. Serving as a key member of the President’s Cabinet, he is responsible for designing and executing the overall strategy for advancement. He leads Oglethorpe’s Advancement team, which includes Alumni Relations, Corporate and Foundation Relations, Donor Relations, Annual Fund, and Major and Principal Gifts. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President & Chief Development Officer at Junior Achievement of Georgia, where he managed statewide comprehensive resource development activities throughout Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, and Savannah. Previously, he held advancement leadership positions at the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Institute of Technology, the Morehouse School of Medicine, and Clark Atlanta University (CAU). At CAU, he also served as Director of Development and Adjunct Professor in the School of Education. He is a founder of Men of Color in Development, a new professional development organization that launched during the pandemic.
Jennifer is a first-generation professional, called to serve in higher education because of her life-changing experience as a re-entry, transfer student at UCLA.
Currently, Jennifer leads the major gifts team in campaign fundraising at the University of San Francisco, where she is building the pipeline for programs and initiatives designed to support students, provide opportunities and enhance their college experience.
During her 14-year tenure at UC Berkeley, Jennifer established herself as an expert in scholarship fundraising and partnered with campus colleagues and donors to ensure underrepresented students received financial resources to support their college aspirations and goals. She began her career in alumni engagement and had the privilege of working with alumni around the globe while serving in various development roles at the Cal Alumni Association.
Prior to entering higher education advancement, Jennifer worked in the public relations and marketing sector throughout California representing non-profit organizations, government entities, and consumer brands. In addition to her volunteer roles with CASE, Jennifer serves as the Finance Chair for the UCLA Latino Alumni Association.
Kishshana Palmer is an international speaker, trainer, and coach with a 20+ year background in fundraising, marketing, and talent management who helps leaders create high performing teams. Kishshana is CEO of Kishshana & Co., an organizational development firm focused on helping everyday leaders live well and lead well. Her firm's work centers on equity and social justice and practical solutions for today’s organizations. She is the founder of The Rooted Collaborative -- a global community focused on the growth and development of women leaders of color in the social sector. She's the host of the podcast "Let's Take This Offline", an adjunct professor at Baruch College, a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer (CGT), A Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and an AFP Master Trainer.