Faculty & Guest Speakers
Marc A Barnes, Ph.D., CFRE
Marc A. Barnes, Ph.D. Barnes serves as Senior Vice President, Principal Gifts and Strategic Impact Investment at UNCF where he works directly with the President & CEO to strengthen financial support for strategic impact initiatives. In this capacity, he is responsible for the president’s strategic fundraising activities and leading a team to identify opportunities to broaden UNCF’s philanthropic revenue.
Barnes is an accomplished fund development officer who has more than two decades of experience in higher education and nonprofit management. Throughout his career, he has been an asset to leadership, having worked closely with university presidents, executives, and governing boards to raise capital for strategic goals and initiatives.
Prior to joining UNCF, Barnes served as Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Dillard University, one of UNCF’s 37 historically Black college and university (HBCU) member institutions. While at Dillard, Barnes directed strategic planning and operations for fundraising, public relations, community relations, marketing and communications and strategic alumni giving initiatives from. Under his leadership, the university raised over $150 million, increased the alumni giving rate to 23%, secured the largest alumni donation on record in the amount of $1 million, and received more than $10 million from private individuals for strategic initiatives. In previous roles, Barnes served Dillard as Assistant President for Development and Alumni Relations and Director of Major Gifts.
During his term as Director of Development for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival & Foundation, Barnes helped to create and deploy a growth-focused development program and capital campaign. His leadership garnered over $8 million to complete a capital campaign dedicated to building the George & Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, stimulated fundraising by more than 200%, and increased annual gala net revenue by 400%.
Barnes earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing at Xavier University of Louisiana, a master of arts in philanthropy & development at LaGrange College, and a doctorate in urban higher education administration at Jackson State University. He is also a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).
He is a past recipient of the Fr. Charles Hall Award (Alumnus of the Year) at St. Augustine High School, and has been recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Greater New Orleans Chapter and HBCU Grow for his fundraising leadership and innovation.
Barnes serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Commission on Philanthropy, the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Greater New Orleans Chapter Board of Directors, and the St. Augustine High School Board of Directors. He also co-chairs the CASE Advanced Development Strategies Conference and serves on the faculty for the CASE Conference on Leadership Development. He and his wife, Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes, have two children, Caitlin and Marc, Jr.
Endia M. DeCordova, MBA
As a mission-driven fund development and communications executive, Ms. DeCordova has raised millions of dollars to support institutions in building sustainable cultures of philanthropy. Widely recognized for her innovative community engagement and outreach initiatives, she has designed and executed a wide array of successful comprehensive fundraising and marketing-communications programs in the higher education and non-profit arenas.
Ms. DeCordova recently joined Rutgers University Foundation to serve as the Vice Chancellor for Advancement for Rutgers-Camden. In this role, Ms. DeCordova is the chief development officer for Rutgers-Camden and will serve as a member of the Chancellor’s Senior Leadership Team and on the Foundation President’s Executive Leadership Team. She will lead a comprehensive fundraising and alumni engagement program for Rutgers-Camden. Formerly, Ms. DeCordova served as the Assistant Vice President for Development at the University of Connecticut (UConn) Foundation. She led the major gifts fundraising team for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Business, and the Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. During her tenure, she launched a new advancement program supporting the Office of the Provost, and its interdisciplinary Academic Centers & Institutes, Honors and Enrichment, the Office of Global Affairs, and Cultural Centers. She also served as the Director of Development for Strategic Initiatives, at the UConn Foundation. Previously, she served as Vice President of Advancement at Mitchell College in New London, Conn., and the Assistant Vice President of Development for Georgian Court University in Lakewood, N.J. She also served as Dean of Institutional Advancement and Community Engagement for Manchester Community College in Manchester, Conn.
Ms. DeCordova is the principal for DeCordova Consulting, LLC., a boutique consulting firm which counsels nonprofit leaders and organizations in developing and sustaining innovative fundraising programs and building organizational capacity. A core focus of their mission includes executive and leadership coaching, as well as organizational development, supporting organizations in refining their strategic vision that inspires giving and create meaningful donor engagement. She is also a motivational speaker and founder of Megandi’s Dream, a girls and young women’s leadership development and empowerment program.
Ms. DeCordova holds a master of business administration degree from the University of Hartford, Barney School of Business, West Hartford, Conn., and a bachelor of science degree in communications from Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD. She has a college-aged son, Jaiden.
Gia Soublet, Ph.D
Dr. Gia Soublet has over 25 years of successful fundraising, development, and nonprofit management experience and currently serves as Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). In this role, she is responsible for the establishment and implementation of strategic initiatives for the solicitation of private gifts and oversees alumni relations. Before joining NCCU, Dr. Soublet served as Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Xavier University of Louisiana. Under her leadership at Xavier, the University enjoyed fundraising increases every year and she is credited with establishing a corporate partners program, expanding the planned giving program, establishing a presidential funding initiative for support of student emergencies, and overhauling the stewardship operation which resulted in significant growth in donor retention. Prior to Xavier, Dr. Soublet served as Director for Corporate and Foundation Relations at Dillard University, where she started her career in higher education as a Major Gifts Officer. Prior to Dillard she worked in several roles at United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area before eventually serving as the Assistant Vice President for Campaigns. During her tenure at United Way, Dr. Soublet won numerous national participation and goal achievement awards as the director for the Combined Federal Campaign.
Dr. Soublet currently serves on the Board for the New Orleans chapter of the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and is the principal for Soublet Consulting Group, where she provides governance, management and development consulting for nonprofits. In addition to CASE, she has also presented at AFP and United Way conferences on various topics including major gift acquisition, building donor participation, board development, diversity and inclusion, and ethics in fundraising.
Dr. Soublet earned Certification in Fund Raising Management from Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Xavier University of Louisiana, a Master of Business Management from the University of Phoenix, and a Doctorate in Urban Higher Education from Jackson State University. Her research focuses on the impact of same-gender mentoring on the career progression of women of color in higher education. Dr. Soublet is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. She is married to Eric Soublet and is the mother of three children, David, Dominick, and Angèle.
Shannon Woodward oversees all individual and gift planning for the Gary Sinise Foundation and manages a national team of frontline major gift planners supporting a mission of veterans, first responders and their families. Before joining the foundation Shannon spent 17 years serving higher education with major and principal gift work. Most recently she was the sr. philanthropic advisor at Tulane University and previously served as the executive director of gift planning where she implemented and managed the Office of Gift Planning for the university, which integrated major and planned gifts and changed the development culture at Tulane. Her greatest joy is working with donors who make transformational philanthropic investments and sharing innovative ways to make their goals come to fruition.
Shannon has presented on faculty for many years at CASE and is a regular presenter with AFP, Association of Charitable Gift Planners, and Partnership for Philanthropic Planners. She offers consulting and training to various nonprofits and worked closely with the late Robert Sharpe, Jr. as a member of his Encore team. Shannon lives with her husband and four year old son in The Woodlands, TX.
Cara Giacomini is the vice president of data, research, and technology for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In this role, she leads CASE’s AMAtlas initiative—a primary resource and service provider for data, benchmarking, analytics, and original research to the educational advancement community worldwide, launched by CASE in 2018.
Before starting at CASE this August, she spent 20 years at the University of Washington, most recently as the director of advancement analytics. In university advancement, she was instrumental in building a strong data culture where she improved donor outcomes at all levels and pioneered efforts to build infrastructure and expertise in digital analytics. Prior to her work in advancement, she served as a senior research scientist in the information technology department, studying the adoption of educational technologies and the effectiveness of IT services. She received her PhD in English and Textual Studies from the University of Washington in 2003. She is passionate about putting data into action—empowering CASE’s members to utilize AMAtlas resources to answer their most pressing questions and address their evolving needs.
Rachel is an accomplished non-profit leader with more than 12 years of experience in the U.S. and internationally. She has experience in annual giving, donor stewardship, event management, and major gifts. In her current role as Major Gift Officer at the University of New England in Portland, Maine, she secures gifts of $25,000 and up. Her greatest strengths are building personal connections with donors, demonstrating impact, and using the moves management system to increase giving.
Tara McDonough has been working in nonprofit development for the better part of three decades. She fell backward into the field of prospect research around the turn of the millennium at KQED in San Francisco, then took a ten-year hiatus before diving back into research at the University of New England five years ago. She enjoys finding the story behind the statistics.
Chris Mueller serves as the Vice President for College Advancement at The College of St. Scholastica, a private college in Duluth, MN. In November 2021, the College announced the public phase of a comprehensive campaign, a $63 million initiative with primary goals for capital projects, endowment, and scholarships.
Chris has served as chief advancement officer at three small to mid-sized colleges and universities, all in the Midwest. His previous institution was recognized with the CASE fundraising awards for Overall Fundraising Improvement and Overall Fundraising Performance.
Laura K. Padron
As Associate Vice President, Laura Padron leads major gift officers across FIU’s Academic Units, Athletics, Student Affairs, Estate & Planned Giving, and Research and Prospect Management in its Next Horizon Campaign. Previously, Laura served as Assistant Dean for Development at UM’s School of Business, spearheading the School’s role in the University's $1.6B campaign.
Before academia, Laura directed the prestigious Presidential Scholars in the Arts and YoungArts programs at the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.
Livia Souza joined the FIU Foundation development team as Associate Director of Estate & Planned Giving in April 2019. She leads major gift officers through FIU's Office of Estate & Planned Giving in its Next Horizon Campaign and is co-team lead for women’s initiatives under FIU’s Office of Inclusive Philanthropy. Livia has been invited to speak at multiple professional conferences including the 2021 CASE All Districts Conference and 2022 CASE District III Conference.
Previously, Livia worked as a fiduciary financial advisor managing a book of business of more than 350 clients and providing financial planning services for university employees in South Florida. She studied Finance and Economics at Florida State University.