Mike Barzacchini has worked in marketing communication and public relations for more than 20 years. For the past 14 years, he has served as director of the Marketing Services Department at Harper College, where he developed Harper's first branding campaign and leads the college's integrated marketing, web, and social media initiatives.
Along with his higher education experience, Barzacchini has developed communication campaigns for healthcare providers, state government agencies, manufacturers and consumer service companies. Whether delivering a workshop, writing copy for a direct marketing project or planning a campaign, his work is guided by the following three principles: access, usability and relevance.
Ashley Budd is director of digital marketing for alumni affairs and development at Cornell University. She is based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., working remotely for the university as a digital strategist and project manager for the division. She runs a small team based in Ithaca, N.Y., executing social media, digital content and digital marketing analytics.
Prior to joining the digital team at Cornell, Budd spent more than five years at her alma mater, Rochester Institute of Technology, where she led social media strategy for undergraduate admissions. She serves as producer for the Higher Ed Live network, a podcast exploring innovations and trends in higher education. She speaks before national nonprofit groups and appears regularly at higher education conferences including Confab Events, NACAC, CASE, and HighEdWeb.
David J. Gibson
David Gibson joined Middlebury College in 2019 as the Vice President for Communications and Marketing where he oversees news and media relations, internal communications, web strategy, social media, marketing, publications, and creative services.
Gibson brings over 30 years of experience advancing the interests of mission-driven organizations, with a focus on higher education. Prior to Middlebury, he served as the first chief creative officer at Hampshire College for four years where he led a talented team of writers, designers and media specialists who ensure that Hampshire's story—its values, people and experimenting pedagogy—are part of the national conversation in education.
He is a former vice president for strategic communications and creative services at Grenzebach Glier and Associates, where he consulted for nonprofit institutions in education and other sectors, including the London School of Economics, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. At MIT he was executive director of communications, stewardship and events for resource development and led strategy and creative to support a multibillion-dollar campaign. He had a similar role at Dartmouth College, where his portfolio included speech writing, film production and stage-managing dozens of high-profile events. He has held senior editorial roles at higher-education magazines, including Cornell Magazine, where he and his team were twice named by Newsweek as winners of the Sibley Magazine of the Year award. As a former managing editor of Yankee Magazine, he helped earn its first-ever National Magazine Award nomination for reporting.
Liz Gross is a data-driven researcher and scholar who specializes in creating entrepreneurial social media strategies in higher education. Her professional super power is to embolden colleges and universities and help them launch modern market research strategies using social listening. Teaching is her passion and she brings that to colleges and universities as the founder and CEO of Campus Sonar, a specialized social listening agency that matches high-value social media intelligence and engagement opportunities to organizational strategic initiatives.
Gross has more than 15 years' experience spanning the private and public sector including Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. She received a doctorate in leadership for the advancement of learning and service in higher education at Cardinal Stritch University, a master's degree in educational policy and leadership from Marquette University, and a bachelor's degree in interpersonal communication from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Matthew V. Jennings
Matt Jennings is the editor of Middlebury Magazine, a quarterly periodical published by Middlebury College. Under his guidance, Middlebury Magazine won numerous national awards for general excellence, editorial content, and design; has been cited by education associations and journalism foundations for excellence in higher education reporting; and received national plaudits for its 2012 redesign by renowned creative director D.J. Stout.
Jennings has twice co-chaired the CASE Editors' Forum and regularly conducts conference workshops and webinars on editorial best practices. He also co-directs the Middlebury Fellowships in Narrative Journalism and is a member of the American Society of Magazine Editors. In January, he spent two days cloistered in a room with 24 other magazine professionals, judging the best feature writing in American magazines (and ultimately voting on the National Magazine Award in this category). It was as close to nirvana as he'll ever get.
Dayana Kibilds is the manager of undergraduate recruitment at Western University. Previously, she was a digital strategist at Cornell University and a business analyst at Penn State. Her favorite work happens when she can combine the analytical and the creative, and her strength is creating strategy based both on data and intuition.
She has been a speaker at conferences in the United States and Canada, including Confab, HighEdWeb, and OURA.
Rick Smith has more than 30 years’ experience in higher education, healthcare administration, public relations, crisis communications training, marketing, business development and television news. He currently serves as the senior vice president of advancement and chief development officer for the Kentucky College of Art + Design (KyCAD).
Previously, he served as vice president of external relations and development and later the interim vice president of institutional advancement, athletics and alumni relations at Kentucky State University.
In 2005, Smith was named the vice president of community relations and marketing at Southeast Alabama Medical Center, where he served for five years before joining the senior leadership team at Ephraim McDowell Medical Center, where he served as the senior vice president and chief marketing officer.
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.
Alexis Kanda-Olmstead started a new role as the director of advancement talent management at Dartmouth College. Prior to this position, she was the managing director for talent management, training and support at Colorado State University. She leads diversity and inclusion efforts, coordinates career and professional development initiatives, and delivers learning programs for 140 staff in the division of University Advancement. She has worked in higher education for 20 years, primarily in the field of student affairs where she taught leadership classes and coordinated programming for undergraduate students.
Her work around diversity and women's development has been recognized at the university and national levels. She is the founder of AKO Collective, a women's leadership development initiative based in Northern Colorado that offers training and development to women and girls.
Kander-Olmstead 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 and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Practitioner.