Christy Cates is currently the executive director of advancement services for Development and Institute Relations at the California Institute of Technology. She is responsible for establishing and refining comprehensive programs that integrate into all facets of the organization. Her areas of focus include prospect research, prospect management, reporting, prospect analytics, talent acquisition, professional development, staff engagement, and performance management.
Prior to joining Caltech, Cates served as the senior executive director of advancement of human resources at UC Irvine. She has also held human resources positions with In-N-Out Burger and Pick Up Stix, Inc., multisite corporations employing 800-4,000 employees.
Deborah L. Correa
Deborah Correa has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management. She has overseen the stewardship program at Oregon State University Foundation since 2006, through the launch and conclusion of Oregon State's first comprehensive campaign. She has managed donor recognition in more than 15 building projects on campus.
Before Oregon State, she was a donor relations professional at the University of Oregon and a development director for the College of Fine Arts at the University of Arizona. She began her development career at the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation in 2001 as director of development, where she had previously served as operations director.
Liane Matherne joined San Diego Zoo Global more than 12 years ago, and feels fortunate to be part of such an amazing organization. In her current role as a stewardship supervisor, she plans and coordinates meaningful experiences, tributes and acknowledgements in an effort to help build strong donor relationships for the organization.
Liane has overseen the stewardship efforts surrounding "Roaring Forward," San Diego Zoo Global’s first-ever comprehensive campaign, which surpassed its $500 million goal. From custom stewardship touches for the campaign’s most generous donors, to design and placement of extensive plaques throughout the zoo’s multiple campuses, She enjoys creatively developing and implementing a stewardship program that engages patrons throughout the stages of their giving, driving them deeper within the organization’s hug.
Previously, she served as director of corporate and event marketing and director of supported employment at Easter Seals Southern California. She valued her time working to better the lives of adults with disabilities by implementing age appropriate day program activities and vocational programs.
She received a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton.
Haruka Neiswender is the coordinator of stewardship and donor relations for the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She manages strategic programs and processes that will foster and sustain long-term meaningful relations between six departments within the College of Engineering, their donors, and the College of Engineering at large.
Neiswender has worked in higher education advancement for six years. Prior to her current role, she worked for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Gies College of Business. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Joe Plante is the associate vice president of principal and leadership gifts at the University of St. Thomas. He is a graduate of St. Thomas and has worked for the university for more than 30 years-starting first in alumni relations, then major gifts and now principal gifts.
An expert at both the science and the art of fundraising, he will present how the most successful principal-gift strategy is best supported with a strong donor relations partnership from the start.
Sarah Schneider began her career in donor services at DePaul University where she served as both assistant director and director of donor relations. She successfully implemented a comprehensive reporting program, donor recognition objectives, and an acknowledgment program. Her path led her to Caltech, where she joined Development and Institute Relations in 2013.
As the senior director of donor services, Schneider rebuilt the donor relations team and created programming in preparation for Caltech's $2B "Break Through Campaign." Her team has been recognized with a CASE District VII Circle of Excellence Bronze Award and a CASE Circle of Excellence Award.
Carol Wilkie is director of donor relations for the University of St. Thomas. She has been at the University for 18 years and has operationalized and elevated the Donor Relations department during her tenure. Carol firmly believes that her Donor Relations team must be nimble in order to successfully support fundraising initiatives. She’ll show specific examples of how her team is supporting a holistic trustee engagement strategy.
Ross Williams is the assistant director of advancement in the College of Engineering. In his role, he represents three departments within the college, focusing on securing major gifts with key alumni and stakeholders. He has been with the College of Engineering for more than three years and has been in higher education fundraising for five years.
Prior to his current role, Williams worked in annual giving at Millikin University. He received his bachelor's degree from Bradley University and his master's degree from the University of Denver.
Dale Wright serves as associate vice chancellor for advancement at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. In this role he provides vision, strategic leadership, and coaching to a portfolio of chief advancement officers and deans and academic leaders.
Prior to this position, he served as associate dean & chief advancement officer for The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with responsibility for the strategy and operations in fundraising and constituent engagement. He also served as campaign director for the college’s $550M goal in the "With Illinois" $2.25B comprehensive campaign, achieving 114% of goal, which concludes in June, 2022.
Over the last 20+ years, Wright has held a variety of alumni and fundraising engagement roles in higher education. He has guided several deans, academic leaders and university leadership through the campaign planning process and execution, over three $1B+ comprehensive campaigns. He is an experienced fundraiser and leader, designing engagement programs to help teams and volunteers meet philanthropic goals.
Wright is an active CASE volunteer, currently serving on CASE District V Cabinet and appears regularly as a faculty member/speaker at CASE conferences and other CASE educational programs. Wright also holds membership in organizations such as the African American Development Officers Network, the Association of Fundraising Professionals and is involved in other non-profit work, including serving on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for the American Legion Boys State of Missouri (Missouri Boys State). He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Missouri (Mizzou).