2021 Conference Speakers

Bob Burdenski 
Bob Burdenski
 is an internationally-recognized annual and regular giving programs consultant for schools, colleges, and universities. He is a prolific writer and published author, often appearing in CURRENTS Magazine, the member magazine of the Council for the Advancement and the Support of Education (CASE). Bob is the author of three CASE books: Innovations in Annual GivingTen Departures That Worked, which presents ten U.S. case histories of advanced annual giving strategies; More Innovations in Annual GivingTen Global Departures That Worked, which features case histories from institutions around the world; and a new CASE book, Online Innovations in Annual and Regular Giving, Ten Dozen Departures That Worked.  In 2013, Innovations in Annual Giving was published by Fudan University in Shanghai, becoming the first CASE book translated into Chinese.

Bob is a recipient of the CASE Crystal Apple Award for Lifetime Teaching Excellence as ranked by his audiences. He has educated (and entertained) at presentations throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, including numerous CASE Europe Annual and Regular Giving Conferences and Masterclasses.  He presented CASE’s first-ever annual giving training programs in India, Japan, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Australia, and he is also a frequent contributor to CASE’s Online Speaker Series on the subject of annual and regular giving.  In 2019, Bob was named a CASE Laureate for his volunteer service to the profession.

Since 2002, Bob has served as the moderator of FundList, the largest fundraising e-mail discussion listserv in the world, with nearly 4,000 development professional subscribers.

Jenny Gilson Alstad
Jenny Gilson Alstad is Director, Annual Giving Programs at College of Charleston.
 In her role, she assists with setting the strategic vision of Annual Giving Programs, carries a portfolio of leadership level prospects and oversees a team of three leadership annual gift officers. Before joining the College of Charleston in 2014, Jenny served in fundraising roles as the Director of Special Events at the Medical University of South Carolina and Director of Development at the American Heart Association. She is a graduate of the College of Charleston with a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Erica Arroyo
Erica Arroyo is Associate Vice President, Engagement, University of Miami.


Jamie Davis Brandon, DNP, RN, CNE
Dr. Jamie  Brandon  is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at UNC Charlotte.  She is the lead faculty member in the Population Health Nursing program within the UNC Charlotte School of Nursing.  Jamie’s research focuses on self-care, and she presents on topics related to physical and mental health – particularly during times of crisis. 

Tracy Coleman
Tracy Coleman is the Associate Director of Strategic Annual Campaigns at the University of South Alabama.  Tracy has worked at the University of South Alabama for 19 years in the Development and Alumni Relations office. She has served in several development positions. In her initial role she was Development Specialist with USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital Development where she focused on Children’s Miracle Network sponsors and donors. After two years she was promoted to Associate Director of Medical Affairs concentrating on annual giving for the medical units, including initiating a grateful patient program.  In her current position, Tracy manages the University’s efforts with the Employee Annual Giving Campaign, with a cumulative fundraising impact of more than $13 million. In addition, Tracy plans and organizes the University’s Employee Annual United Way Campaign. She also assists with alumni annual giving, including the USA Giving Day.  A 1997 graduate of the University of South Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management. She is a life-time member of the USA National Alumni Association and a member of the 1974 Society, which is one of the major sources of funding for the USA MacQueen Alumni Center.

Susan Cowart
Susan Cowart is the Director of Parent and Annual Giving at Auburn University and has had a lifetime of fundraising. Susan began with overseeing an 11,000,000-piece direct mail program for Citizens for a Sound Economy.  She has worked for the Alabama Symphony, volunteered for the Junior League of Birmingham, and run a Congressional campaign office. While as Annual Fund Director at Birmingham Southern, she inaugurated multiple successful campaigns for BSC including the Battle of the Greeks, which rose the college’s giving percentage by 5 points in two months. Susan accepted the directorship of Auburn’s Annual Giving program in April 2015. The Annual Giving team since that time has doubled annual giving and increased donors by 40%. Susan recently earned the recognition as a Certified Fund Raising Executive.  Susan is married to Phillip Cowart, Director of Development for the Auburn University College of Agriculture. They together have six children, two sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. Susan enjoys attempting to grow an English garden in Auburn’s clay soil, trying new recipes and attempting to write down recipes that have been created by trial and error, and watching a sunset anytime she can.

Colin Cumming
Colin Cumming is a Senior Major Gift Officer at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.  Previously, Colin served as the Director of Leadership Annual Giving at Georgia Institute of Technology.  A proud Michigander, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Social Policy from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Grand Valley State University. He has served on the boards of the Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Grand Rapids. Colin currently lives in Midtown, Atlanta with his husband, Chris, and two cats, Cooper and Cosmo. 

Shannon Dale
Shannon Dale is Director of Communications and External Relations at Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof College of Nursing.  Prior to GVSU, she served as the Director of Annual Giving for the University of North Carolina Asheville.  She holds a B.A. in English and French from Elmhurst College and earned her M.A. in English with a specialization in rhetoric and composition from Colorado State University. In her role at UNC Asheville, she provides strategic leadership and management of a comprehensive, integrated annual giving program for the University. Prior to joining UNC Asheville, she most recently served as the Assistant Director of Development for the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, where she leveraged her communications and public relations experience to develop annual giving materials and programming for the College, crafted development communications, and wrote proposals. Her deep appreciation for the Liberal Arts was born out of a childhood spent writing stories for her grandfather, performing in musical groups and in local theatre productions, and from many hours spent in the library where she fell in love with reading.

Jaclyn Pingel Day
Jaclyn Day is the Annual Giving Manager at UNC School of the Arts and oversees all aspects of the annual giving program, including direct mail, UNCSA’s annual Day of Giving, the Giannini Society – UNCSA’s outstanding leadership gifts program – and more. As a professional fundraiser with ten years of fundraising experience, she found her love for annual giving as a student caller at Brigham Young University.  Working for UNCSA has blended her love for the arts and passion for higher education. Jaclyn obtained her M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy from Bay Path University and a B.S. in Psychology from Brigham Young University.

James Forte
James Forte is the Director Of Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving at Delta State University.



Gloria Goosby
Gloria Goosby is the Director of Annual Giving at Furman University.  She is a higher education fundraising professional with more than a decade of progressive experience in annual giving and constituent relations.  Loves to track metrics, set and achieve big goals, “do new stuff,” and encourage colleagues to do the same!


Cameron J. Hall
Cameron J. Hall serves as Senior Director of Annual Giving for Institutional Advancement at the Texas Tech University System 
(TTUS), which is comprised of Angelo State University (ASU), Texas Tech University (TTU), Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC EP). In this role, he serves as the chief annual giving officer for TTU overseeing advancement marketing strategies and as an annual giving consultant to TTUHSC and TTUHSC EP providing insight and expertise in their respective annual giving programs. His department’s focus is to develop programs aimed to retain donors for more than 3 years consecutively, and his department oversees direct and digital marketing, social fundraising and the TTUS Tele-engagement center.

Angela Harn
Angela Harn is Senior Director of Campaign Promotions at Georgia Southern University.


Kristy Henry
Kristy Henry is the Director of Advancement at Mitchell’s Place in Birmingham, Alabama.   She previously served as the Director of The Annual Fund at Oglethorpe University, and Director of Annul Giving at Barry University. 


Rebecca Hogge
Rebecca Hogge is the Alumni Engagement Coordinator at Randolph College.  As an Alumni Engagement Coordinator, she has the opportunity to connect and build relationships with Randolph College’s incredible young alumni by engaging in individual meetings and events. She has a passion for working to keep alums connected with their alma mater through fundraising and volunteer opportunities. Overall, her heart lies in working in higher education with current students and alumni who share the same passion of seeing their institution flourish!

Cory Howat
Cory Howat is the Executive Director of the Catholic Community Foundation at the Archdiocese of New Orleans.


Amy Irwin
Amy Irwin is the Director of Higher-Ed and K-12 Engagement at GiveGab, the #1 digital solution for Giving Days and year-round fundraising offering the most innovative platform for education advancement. Amy has worked with GiveGab since December 2018 as a leader in the Nonprofit and Education space, helping thousands of organizations gain access to digital fundraising solutions. A former fundraiser herself, Amy is passionate about empowering organizations of all sizes to reach their full potential through digital fundraising and engagement. 

Alisa Karten
Alisa Karten is Associate Vice President of Advancement at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Florida.
Careers in public relations and teaching were the perfect foundation for engaging all constituencies in the philanthropic life cycle of Pine Crest. Providing opportunities for students to become the most exceptional versions of themselves is at the heart of her work. And, this is a lot of fun!

Heather Kopec
Heather Kopec is the Director of Annual Giving at Virginia Tech University.  She brings an entrepreneurial perspective to developing annual giving strategies, and integrating new technology to propel giving at Virginia Tech. Heather is responsible for developing an innovative one-to-many fundraising program aimed at increasing the alumni giving rate from 12% to 22% by 2022 while also sustainably growing current-use funds. Her strategies are deeply rooted in marketing analytics, behavioral segmentation, and encouraging a test-and-learn team environment.  In her career, Heather has worked for numerous universities at RNL, and then at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she was the Director of Annual Giving. Heather worked to align campus partners and cross-functional teams to be at the forefront of best practices.

Shayna Long
Shayna Long is the Director of Annual Giving at University of North Carolina at Charlotte.



Geneva Longlois-Marney

Geneva Longlois-Marney is the Director Annual Fund and Alumnae Relations ~ Newcomb Institute at Tulane University.



Kat McCarron
Kat McCarron is the Customer Success Manager with Gravyty.  As a Major Gift Officer, Development Director, and Annual Fund aficionado, Kat McCarron has the unique distinction of increasing participation every year at every nonprofit organization she’s ever worked for. As Customer Success Manager at Gravyty, she helps even more organizations apply the methods that have worked for her and at a revolutionary scale with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). Kat’s personal motto is “Do the work, see the results,” and she is passionate about spreading a culture of philanthropy.

Juan A. McGruder, Ph.D.
Juan A. McGruder, Ph.D. is the Vice President for Advancement at Oglethorpe University.



Smilka Melgoza
Smilka Melgoza is an Associate Director at Florida International University. 


Alison Mercer
As the Executive Director of Donor Engagement and Communications at Georgia State University, Alison Mercer oversees Annual Giving, Donor Relations, and Digital Engagement & Communications.
Alison leads her team to work strategically in increasing the donor pipeline with streamlined and effective donor operations processes. Since the beginning of her career, Alison has matched her data-minded philosophy with a donor-centric approach to produce increased year-over-year results. Alison graduated from the University of Georgia with a BS in Psychology where she also got her start in fundraising as a student caller. Alison, her husband, her two little girls, and rescue dog live in the metro-Atlanta area. 

Rachel Miller
Rachel Miller is the Director of Atlanta Regional Development at Georgia Southern University.


Michelle Mullins
Michelle Mullins is the Assistant Director, Integrated Marketing Strategy at the College of Charleston.  



Christina Nichols
Christina Nichols, CFRE and bCRE-Pro, has a passion for making the world a better place for all and loves a good “why.” After nearly two decades in non-profit and higher education fundraising, she has joined the team at Marketing Communication Resource, Inc. (MCR) to leverage her skills and experience on behalf of MCR clients. She was a first-generation college student who is fiercely committed to providing post-secondary education to those who choose it. She firmly believes that showcasing causes that are meaningful and connect with donors is important to work.

Susan Peirce
Susan Peirce is Vice President of Advancement at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Florida. Building bold programs that drive and inspire philanthropy is at the heart of Susan’s career. She served higher education for three decades, and today she is transforming the advancement program at this renowned Pre-K – Grade 12 independent school. A mentor to many, Susan has received the CASE Crystal Apple Award for Teaching Excellence.

Michael Rohling
Michael Rohling is Director of Communications and Digital Engagement at Georgia State University.  He oversees communications and digital philanthropy for the newly formed Donor Engagement & Communications department and works with Annual Giving and Donor Relations staff to fulfill the department’s mission. In his time at Georgia State, Michael has developed digital strategies rooted in data integrity, organizational collaboration, personalized content, and end-user experience to build a successful giving day program and increase online engagement and giving year-over-year. He leads a team charged with increasing online giving, young alumni participation, student engagement, and managing strategic communications for the University Advancement division. Michael is a Georgia native and holds a BS in History, Technology, & Society from Georgia Tech where he began fundraising as a Phonathon caller. Before joining the team at Georgia State, he managed RNL programs at large public universities in the southeast. 

Brian Rowe
Brian Rowe is a Development Officer at the College of Charleston.  




Bea Walters Smith
Bea Walters Smith is the Executive Director of the Spartanburg Community College Foundation, where she has overseen fundraising efforts and daily operations since 2017.   Previously, she served for 15 years as director of alumni relations at the University of South Carolina Upstate, where she also helped raise money for the university’s Susan Jacobs Arboretum and the USC Upstate Foundation Scholarship.

Brittany Staggers
Brittany Staggers is Assistant Director, Digital Philanthropy at Virginia Tech University.  She is a Virginia Tech graduate with a degree Management and a minor in International Studies and later went on to complete her MBA from East Carolina University. She started her career working for the American Cancer Society focused on supporting collegiate Relay for Life events. Brittany returned to her alma mater in 2017 and began her career in Advancement as a Digital Gift Officer and now serves as the Assistant Director, Digital Philanthropy leading key digital fundraising strategies for Giving Day, crowdfunding, and other micro campaigns to support the goal of achieving 22% alumni giving by 2022.

Jonathan Van Oss
Jon Van Oss brings over 30 years of in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience gained from various senior data analytics and market research positions for organizations, such as the American Medical Association and World Vision. Jon has also served for more than 15 years as Vice President of Data Analytics at several advertising agencies that served a wide range of national and international non-profit organizations. He is nationally recognized for his insightful marketing and fundraising database analytics, decision-tree modeling, segmentation, testing and attrition strategies and analyses.

Laurie Soenen
Laurie Soenen serves as the Executive Director of Annual Giving Programs and the Parent Advisory Council at the College of Charleston, and has over 15 years of experience in development. She provides leadership and oversight to the office of Annual Giving Programs and serves as a liaison to the Foundation Board Development Committee and leads the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) as the Executive Director of PAC. Laurie also manages a portfolio of donors and serves as a strategic annual communications partner for schools/units/ and campus collaborators and is responsible for the marketing, creation and carefully calibrated messaging of direct mail, digital strategy, and stewardship of the 17 annual giving priority funds.  Laurie began her career at the College of Charleston as the director of annual giving programs in 2009. Prior to coming to the College, Laurie held the positions of director of development with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western N.C., director of annual giving at Queens University of Charlotte, and development associate at Charlotte Advocates for Education.

Rachel Spencer
Rachel is the Telefundraising Expert at VanillaSoft and works with 100+ universities on telephone-based campaigns. She is a true phonathon expert benefitting from a long and varied career in tele-fundraising. Over the last decade she has graduated from student caller, to professional tele-fundraiser, to phonathon manager and now phonathon advisor and consultant. In her present role at VanillaSoft she works closely with more than 80 universities around the world on a wide variety of telephone-based campaigns.

Alex Washington
Alex Washington is the Director of Alumni Engagement at The George Washington University.  


Laura White
Laura White is the Director of Philanthropic Giving at the University of Miami. Before joining the U in 2019, Laura was a Marketing Director at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts responsible for building the sales strategy for the Broadway in Miami and Knight Masterworks Classical Music Signature Series. During her time in that role, both Series experienced the highest number of subscribers and ticket revenue in their 13-year histories. She has also held roles in finance and ticket services and brings her analytical, audience development, and direct marketing skills to higher ed to help guide the annual giving strategy at the U.