Alumni Trending Podcast

Paul Clifford

Alumni Trending is a podcast that explores the issues that higher education advancement professionals face each day. From episode to episode, you hear the voices of our profession discussing the challenges and opportunities they face and the innovative and creative solutions they deploy.

As advancement professionals, we are here to lead a movement, a mobilization of our alumni in service to their alma mater.

AT01. Stay #OnTrend with the Alumni Trending podcast
Trailer 3 min 56 sec

All Episodes

On this episode of the podcast, I talk with Wendy Wilsker, managing partner, with Boyden, an international executive search firm.  Our trend lines include:the current state of executive search;allyship for the Jewish community; and understanding the executive search process. 

Jun 6

35 min 34 sec

On this episode of the podcast, I talk with Steven Mezzacappa, author of Passion With Purpose.  Our trend lines include:go beyond living your passion...experience it ;struggles with depression and removing mental health stigma; and understanding career and personal fulfillment. Special rate: Download his new book for .99 cents on AmazonWebsite: BioSteven Mezzacappa is a  graduate of The Pennsylvania State University where he received a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degree with a concentration in Construction Management. It was during his five years at Penn State that the vision for Passion With Purpose was born.Thoughts for such an organization came to Steve as early as his freshman year. Seeing a college culture engulfed by peer pressure, and the immense challenges of authenticity faced by his peers, Steve dreamed of an organization one day being on campus that would give students the tools and atmosphere to be authentic and pursue their passions despite the overwhelming obstacles to do so while in college. It is here where the motto for Passion With Purpose originates - Semper Authentica - Always Authentic. 

May 16

21 min 20 sec

On this episode of the podcast, I talk with Dr. Yonette Thomas of Strategic Transitions LLC.  Our trend lines include:when your career lightbulb flickers;incorporating all your passions; and the ongoing social justice movement and push for equity in higher education.BioDr. Yonette Felicity Thomas is a globally acknowledged thought leader, urban health champion, and an advocate for valuing the health of women and girls as an economic imperative.  A social epidemiologist/medical sociologist, she founded UrbanHealth360, an NGO focused on the health of urban populations in the Global South and has served as the chief of Epidemiology in the NIDA/NIH, held academic positions at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Howard University, and as a vice president for research. Following her passion, she founded Strategic Transitions LLC to help individuals at all stages of their journey make strategic professional transitions while keeping their passion alive.  See more about Dr. Thomas’ work at  As a founding board member of Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI), she leads the organization’s focus on the health of women and girls as an economic value. Her work as a board member of LVCT Health in Nairobi, Kenya, and as a global advisor for Evidence for Sustainable Human Development Systems in Africa (EVIHDAF) and the Centre for Urban Health and Development within the Asian Institute of Poverty Alleviation (CUHD-AIPA) extends her focus on the global south and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals in this last decade. She is the Associate Editor for Women and Girls for Cities & Health. Email: ythomas@yfthomasdr.comWebsite: www.yonettethomasphd.comLN: @YFThomasPhD

Mar 28

26 min 2 sec

On this episode of the podcast, I talk with Dale Wright, Associate Dean of Advancement in the Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois.  Our trend lines include:the transition from alumni relations to development and the tough decision to leave your alma mater;preparing young professionals for a career in advancement;helping Deans and academic leaders build their fundraising acumen; and the ongoing social justice movement and push for equity in higher education.

Mar 14

32 min 5 sec

On this episode, I talk with Lauren Hamilton, Associate Director of Student and Recent Alumni Programs at Boise State.Trendlines include:the challenge of COVID,Student Engagement, andthe CASE ASAP community.

Mar 7

23 min 19 sec

This episode's trend lines include:the impact of developing your team;launching a campaign during a pandemic; andand service to CASE.BioShaun Keister became UC Davis’ first vice chancellor for development and alumni relations in 2011 and functions as the campus’s chief development officer, leading a team of over 300, and president of the UC Davis Foundation. In his role as vice chancellor, Keister also serves on the Chancellor’s Leadership Council. He led UC Davis in completing its first comprehensive campaign raising more than $1.13 billion from 110,000 donors. He led the planning and recent execution of the university’s $2 billion Expect Greater campaign launch. Previously, Keister served in leadership development roles at Penn State, Florida State, and Iowa State. Keister is an active member of CASE, having both chaired and participated in many district, national, and international conferences. He is a recipient of the CASE Crystal Apple award in recognition of his outstanding performance at CASE international educational programs. Most recently, Keister has served on the CASE Philanthropy Commission.  Keister has a bachelor's degree in political science from Penn State and a master's and doctoral degree in sociology from Iowa State.  

Mar 1

30 min 56 sec

On this episode of Alumni Trending, we dive into engaging diverse alumni with the University of Oregon's, A. Philanda Moore.  Trend lines include:Aspen Leadership Group Diversity Talent Partnership,importance of data collection and utilization,engaging diverse alumni, anda little bit about HBCU marching bands!BioA. Philanda (A.P.) Moore is the assistant director for alumni engagement, affinity groups. As the point of contact for the minority, special interest, and professional alumni constituencies groups, A.P. provides support for event and programming planning, implementation and execution, membership growth, and volunteer recruitment for the various groups. A.P. graduated from Clark Atlanta University in 2011 with a BBA in supply chain management, after moving cross-country to Atlanta from his hometown, Sacramento. Post-graduation, he became an IT consultant for three years and during his training lived in India for five weeks. He moved back to Sacramento where he became a substitute teacher and then later began working for UC Davis Development and Alumni Relations-Advancement Services. During his free time he enjoys watching, coaching, and playing sports–go Kings!–playing trivia, and watching movies.

Feb 21

38 min 32 sec

On this episode of Alumni Trending, we talk with Todd McCubbin, Executive Director of the Mizzou Alumni Association.  Trendlines include:learnings from Covid-19;building a diversity, equity, and inclusion infrastructure; anddisruption in Alumni Engagement.BioTodd is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations and Executive Director of the Mizzou Alumni Association. As the chief alumni relations officer, Todd leads the alumni relations, annual giving, donor relations and advancement marketing and communication teams. Todd joined the Mizzou Alumni Association staff in 1995 and recently celebrated 25 years at Mizzou. During his tenure, he has served on two advancement leadership teams who completed $1 billion campaigns.Since 2000, the Mizzou Alumni Association has won 26 national programming awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Todd has served in numerous district and national roles for CASE including the Commission on Alumni Relations. He is a longtime member and former board member for the Council of Alumni Association Executives.

Feb 14

24 min 7 sec

On this episode,  I talk with Sara Wald, Senior Director of Development with the NDSU Foundation:Today's trend lines include:- her career journey,- support of colleagues through COVID -19, - and a little NDSU Bison sports talk.BioSara Wald has worked in higher education advancement for 19 years at North Dakota State University. Passion for keeping alumni and students connected has driven Sara’s career. She has seen how connecting people creates synergy in alumni, donors, faculty, and students. She has been active in CASE District VI for her entire career and currently serves on the Cabinet for the district.   Sara is an avid sports fan and enjoys watching the Bison and San Francisco 49ers.

Feb 7

25 min 49 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Today, I talk with Rob DiMartino, Co-founder and Chief Evangelist at Finalsite:Today's trend lines include:- the entrepreneurial journey,- key elements of an engagement strategy, - UConn sports, and- life and leadership lessons learned from Dee Rowe.BioRob DiMartino, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist at Finalsite, has presented globally on effective use of strategic web communications for independent schools.  Rob brings 25 years of experience working with the internet in the education arena.  For the past two decades, Rob has been a thought leader at Finalsite guiding their way through web strategy, marketing, communications, data integration and most importantly digital engagement.  Rob brings experience, trends, and real world “takeaways” to audiences about maximizing technology to increase efficiencies in the independent school environment.  Prior to Finalsite, Rob led innovative efforts in digital engagement for Athletics and Alumni Relations at his alma mater, The University of Connecticut.  Rob resides in Connecticut with his wife, Liza and their four children, Skylar, Jackson, Tristan, and Lucas. 

Jan 31

36 min 16 sec

On this episode,  I visit with Caitlin Johnson, Director of Alumni Engagement at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.  Trendlines include:building a college-based engagement program;college-based affiliate groups; andengagement through COVID.Caitlin Johnson facilitates, maintains, and grows relationships connecting alumni back to the business school and bring people together to continue to support the mission of the school; building a better world through positive business.As Director of Alumni Engagement for the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, she manages and executes various alumni programs that connect Michigan Ross alumni with the school through new and existing programs for engagement. She has expertise and experience in engagement strategy, program execution, and relationship building with both internal and external audiences.

Jan 24

17 min 39 sec

NOTE: This episode was produced before the University of Cincinnati appeared in the 2021 Peach Bowl.On this episode,  I visit with Jennifer Heisey, Chief Alumni Relations Officer for the University of Cincinnati and we discuss data and customization for richer alumni engagement.  Trendlines include:learnings from 2020;optimism for 2021; andher plan to leverage data to customize alumni engagement.Jennifer Heisey is the executive director of UCAA and vice president of alumni relations for the University of Cincinnati Foundation.Before Cincinnati, Heisey served as associate vice president for alumni relations and annual giving as well as the executive director of the alumni association at the University of Louisville. Prior to that, she led alumni affairs efforts for SUNY College at Buffalo. She has more than 21 years of experience serving higher education institutions where she developed exemplary leadership, advancement, and relationship building skills.

Jan 17

18 min 54 sec

A conversation with the Vice President for Advancement at Lander University (SC), Mike Worley, about learnings from 2020 and the state of higher education advancement.Trend lines:- learnings from 2020;- looking forward to 2021; and- launching a campaign in 2021.

Jan 10

19 min 47 sec

A conversation with William Corbin, Vice President of Revenue and Brand Partnerships for Sound that Brands.Trend lines include:Engagement through podcasting;telling your brands story; andrevenue generation.

Jan 3

17 min 2 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Today, I talk with Viannca Velez, Director of Alumni Communication and Digital Engagement at Seton Hall University. Our trend lines include:- ramping up digital engagement,- podcasting, and - conversations about racial equality.

Dec 2020

35 min 33 sec

Today, I talk with Dr. Kevin Fleming, Co-Founder and CEO of Prosper, a consulting firm that provides guidance to nonprofit organizations to transform their engagement and philanthropic programs, specializing in fundraising practice, Board management, volunteer programs, event planning, and communications.Today’s trend lines include:– student experience is the strongest indicator of alumni involvement,– pots of water framework for alumni engagement, and – trends in higher education.BioKevin has 20 years of expertise in alumni engagement and non-profit management, paired with exceptional knowledge and skills within the realms of college student development and teaching.  Through experiences at Mount Holyoke College, Emerson College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Bowling Green State University, the University of Connecticut, and James Madison University, he has led transformations of alumni boards of directors, overall alumni engagement and communications strategies, volunteer programs, signature events, staffing alignments, and cross-departmental collaborations at several institutions.  Kevin approaches organizational change through excellent listening skills, a positive and collaborative nature, collegiality, humor, and gratitude, providing the foundation through which he fosters unity and common purpose amongst community members and the accomplishment of shared successes.An educator and researcher by nature, Kevin’s background in teaching makes him an excellent meeting facilitator. Additionally, he is a thought leader in the areas of alumni engagement and fundraising.  He authored his dissertation on “Examining the Influence of Graduate Student Experience on Graduate Alumni Giving,” and has published a ground-breaking theory of alumni engagement in the peer-reviewed Journal of Philanthropy and Education, entitled “The Pots of Water Framework for Alumni Engagement.” He also serves as a member of the Council and Support of Education (CASE) District I Board of Directors, and serves as the co-chair of the Horizon Issues Committee.

Nov 2020

27 min 50 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Today, I talk with Alisha Hartley, CASE resident and Assistant Director of Leadership Giving at Penn State.Today's trend lines include:- perspective of a new professional,- self-care and grace, - CASE residency program, and- development in Covid times.BioAlisha Hartley is a native of Monroe, NC. She earned a B.A. in Psychology and minors in Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise and African Studies from Wake Forest University in 2018. Following graduation, Alisha served her alma mater as the Campus Life Fellow, where she created workshops and programs to promote wellbeing across the Wake Forest Community. After her fellowship, Alisha decided to reconnect with her love of traveling the world by leading a group of high school students on a Leadership and Social Change program in South Africa and later, studying abroad and interning in Barcelona, Spain. Her love for people, serving others, and higher education has led her to join the Nittany Lion Family. She is now an Assistant Director of Annual Leadership Gifts here at Penn State, where she reaches out to Penn Staters in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Northeast, PA.

Nov 2020

24 min 17 sec

Today,  I talk with Mo Cotton Kelly, the Vice President for Alumni Relations and Communications at the UConn FoundationToday's trend lines include:- COVID-19 engagement,- UConn's advancement model, and- Leadership in challenging times.BioMONTIQUE (MO) COTTON KELLYVice President, Alumni Relations and CommunicationsMo Cotton Kelly leads the University of Connecticut Alumni Relations staff and hundreds of volunteers to connect UConn’s 255,000-plus alumni worldwide. With nearly 22 years in the higher education advancement field, she has a national reputation as a strategic and visionary leader in alumni relations. She joined UConn in 2014 and is a member of the Foundation’s Senior Management Team. Previously she was executive director of Bowling Green State University’s Alumni Association. Mo received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BGSU. She is active in the Council for Alumni Association Executives and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Nov 2020

30 min 54 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Today,  I talk with Dr. Anthony McAdoo, the Executive Director of the WKU Alumni Association.Today's trend lines include:- COVID-19 innovation,- the new WKU Alumni diversity, equity and inclusion council, and- his advice to new professionalsBioDr. Anthony McAdoo currently serves as the Executive Director of the WKU Alumni Association. He holds three degrees in agriculture and education from the University of Arkansas, including a doctorate in higher education leadership. As a 21-year professional in higher education, Anthony has spent the last 18 years in alumni relations in progressive leadership roles.  He served 10 years at the University of Arkansas Alumni Association where he oversaw all programming and engagement opportunities for alumni. After serving the University of Oregon as the Assistant Vice President for Advancement and Senior Director for the University of Oregon Alumni Association, Anthony moved to the Hill in June 2016.

Nov 2020

41 min 54 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Today, I talk with a panel of experts about engaging graduate and doctoral alumni from alumni relations, career development, and philanthropic perspectives.  Our panelists include:Anna De Cheke Qualls, Director of External and Alumni Relations, Graduate School, University of Maryland (Linkedin)Natalie Lundsteen, Assistant Dean for Career and Professional Development, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Past President of the Graduate Career Consortium (Linkedin)Tiffanie Purvis, Director, Office of Gift Planning, University of Maryland (Linkedin)Our trend lines include:what makes graduate and doctoral alumni unique,examples of impactful engagement and philanthropic projects, andissues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education.

Nov 2020

44 min 2 sec

Today’s trend lines with People Grove CEO Adam Saven and Jen Pollard, Interim Executive Director Wellesley College Career Education, include:using technology to scale career services;making technology decisions;COVID-19 collaboration for innovation;micro-internships and gig projects sourced from alumni for students.About Adam SavenAbout Jen Pollard

Oct 2020

41 min 17 sec

Today's trend lines with Amber Redmond, Director of Alumni relation for Penn State's World Campus, include:online alumni engagement is the new normal;collaboration is the key;leveraging faculty for alumni engagement.BIO:Amber is the Director of Alumni Relations for Penn State World Campus. She is newer to her role, having taken over the position in February of this year. However, she is not new to the world of Development and Alumni Relations. Amber started her career at Penn State working in the Office of Gift Planning. Before her current role, Amber worked in the Admissions and Financial Aid Office for Penn State World Campus, which introduced her to the world of online learning. During her time in admissions, Amber coordinated the Alumni Ambassador Program, which pairs alumni and current students with prospective Penn State World Campus students to help these students decide if Penn State World Campus is a good fit for them. It was doing this work that Amber realized her passion for working with alumni volunteers. When the role of Director of Alumni Relations was posted, Amber jumped on the opportunity to apply.Amber is a two-time Penn State alumna, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Smeal College of Business in 2009 and a Master of Public Administration from Penn State World Campus in 2018.

Oct 2020

25 min 15 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!On this episode of the podcast, I visit with Gary Olsen, former associate vice president for alumni engagement at Villanova University and vice president for university advancement at the University of Scranton.Trend lines include:career in higher education advancement;the future of alumni boards; andstrategic planning.BioGary Olsen is widely respected as one of the most knowledgeable alumni engagement professionals in the country.  His career in higher education spans more than 27 years.  He served for 20 years as associate vice president for alumni engagement at Villanova University.  Following this, he served for five years as vice president for university advancement at the University of Scranton.  He now provides consulting services to numerous educational institutions in the United States and beyond.  His areas of expertise include strategic planning, alumni board training, alumni engagement metrics, program review and assessment, executive leadership coaching and interim executive leadership services. A recognized leader in the advancement profession, Gary has served on the CASE Board of Trustees and has chaired the CASE Commission on Alumni Relations. He has presented at numerous CASE conferences including the CASE Summit for Senior Advancement Leaders, the CASE Latinoamerica Conference, the CASE Summer Institute on Alumni Relations, where he served as faculty chair and the CASE peer review team. Gary also chaired the CASE Alumni Relations Metrics Task Force, which established a comprehensive alumni engagement metrics model which serves more than 3,500 CASE institutional members worldwide.As a consultant Gary has served public and private institutions, liberal arts colleges, independent schools, and faith-based institutions.  Gary is a principal with eAdvancement Consulting and a senior consultant with MPK&D Partners.  Gary earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Villanova University. 

Oct 2020

33 min 16 sec

Today, I talk with Yolanda F. Johnson, President, YFJ Consulting, LLC, Founder, Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC), and President, Women In Development, NY.Today's trend lines include:- non-profit philanthropy,- creating diversity, equity and inclusion from the inside out and- the Blacks in Advancement pledge.LinksWomen of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC)™ Website: in Action Website:

Oct 2020

36 min 41 sec

Today, I talk with Abby Hopkins, Associate Director of Development, College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State and most recent chair of the CASE District V conference.Today’s trend lines include:growing in your career at 1 institutionGetting involved with your professional organization The power of professional networkingBioSince 1999, Abby Hopkins has played in integral role in the success of Penn State’s fundraising efforts, first as a development assistant and stewardship professional in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and then working in stewardship University-wide to provide guidance and leadership on stewardship policy, procedures and best practices. In 2018, Abby decided on a career shift and returned to the College of Agricultural Sciences to apply her stewardship knowledge to major gift fundraising.Helping people reach their full potential, making meaningful connections with others, and continuous learning has been a thread throughout her career, and in 2015 Abby joined the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District V conference committee to contribute to her profession. This service culminated in her role as conference chair for the 2019 conference, which was held in Chicago this past December.Abby holds a bachelor’s degree from Penn State in Human Development and Family Studies and is a graduate of the University Scholar’s program. A lifelong resident of State College, Abby is one of nine Penn Staters in her family and a lifetime member of the Penn State Alumni Association. 

Sep 2020

26 min 8 sec

On this episode, I talk with Cindy Frederick, Associate Vice President, University of Virginia.  Cindy is the 2020 Faculty Chair of the Summer Institute in Alumni Relations.Today's trend lines include:- start-up mentality through COVID-19,- providing resources for volunteers,- and the power of the alumni professional community.

Sep 2020

35 min 55 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Today, I talk with Tom Bull, former Executive Director of Alumni Engagement at Portland State University.Today's trend lines include:- alumni marketing and communication,- trends in alumni engagement, and- his perspective as an African-American in higher ed advancement.BioTom Bull was the executive director for the Portland State University Alumni Association serving more than 185,000 (+) graduates 2011 - January 2020. He was responsible for overseeing and managing all alumni association activities and communications including serving as a member of the Foundation's executive team for alumni engagement, Advocacy, and communications while representing the continuing interests and affinities of graduates at the University.Tom has worked in the advancement field since 1995, serving in leadership roles for Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University and Bastyr University. He has a strong belief in supporting communities: activities include service to his alma mater alumni in various volunteer roles, professional boards, student mentoring, neighborhood and community programs. He earned a bachelor's degree at Loyola University Chicago and a master's degree from Northwestern University.

Sep 2020

28 min 39 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Today,  I talk with Susan Vosper, the Chief of Staff for Customer Service and Support at Microsoft and former Assistant Vice President for Alumni Engagement at Seattle University.Today's trend lines include:- power of partnership,- corporate alumni groups, and- lessons learned in corporate life and higher education.BioAs Chief of Staff for Customer Service and Support at Microsoft, Susan serves as an integral member and trusted advisor of the senior leadership team. She also leads Strategy & Business Planning which drives shared services for the organization including strategic planning, business management, communications, and employee experience.Susan came back to Microsoft in October 2017 after successfully serving for 20 years building upon a broad portfolio of skills in operations, product planning, and change management. She backed the development of the company’s first sales operations team tasked with supporting Inside and Outside Sales. As a Business & Product Management Leader, Susan led strategic planning efforts and execution of initiatives such as leading organization development across global teams responsible for the delivery of technical support for Microsoft’s cloud services. Susan also brings significant business planning expertise through her experience overseeing the Corporate Controller’s office where she developed key financial and performance reporting, communications and strategic plans.Prior to coming back to Microsoft, Susan spent over 6 years as Assistant Vice President at Seattle University where she oversaw the strategic direction for the alumni engagement strategy and outreach efforts. Susan built a world-class Alumni Engagement Office by restructuring their business based on a customer relationship management model, designed to position the institution as a forward-thinking organization igniting human potential and forming leaders for purpose and impact. Susan excels at setting organizational vision, leading major change, scaling operations, and building positive organizational culture.She holds a BA in Psychology & Communications and a Leadership Executive MBA, both from Seattle University.On a personal note, Susan is married to Douglas and both are avid dog lovers with two golden retrievers Jupiter (11) and Darby (6). Outside of family, Susan is passionate about creating great experiences for customers and employees, creating clarity and strategic direction, and helping her team achieve their goals as well as reading, gardening and being a fitness junkie. 

Sep 2020

25 min 52 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!On the podcast, I talk with Hilary Cohen, Senior Director of Alumni Engagement at Rutgers University- – New Brunswick.Today's trend lines include:alumni engagement strategies,virtual events in response to COVID 19,trends in alumni engagement.Quick Listen Guideat 2:40 What do you love most about your work? The 3:30 Difference between corporate and higher education? BUDGETat 4:52 Outcome driven event planningat 8:25 COVID 19 and switch to virtualat 10:26 Lessons Learned with virtual eventsat 13:18 Strategic approach to eventsat 15:06 Post-COVID 19 engagementat 17:18 Fall plan without Rutgers Athleticsat 19:54 Navigating without a mapat 20:45 B1G Community of Practiceat 21:26 Re-org forced by COVIDat 23:54 Lightning Round: book recommendations, pizza and adviceat 28:15 Epic Engagement: Mosaic and the WhoBioHilary started at Rutgers in December 2014 as the Senior Director for Events and Benefits for the Rutgers University Alumni Association, a title she held until July, when she became the Senior Director of Alumni Engagement – New Brunswick. Hilary came to Rutgers with 15 years of event planning experience, though Rutgers is her first foray into the higher education industry. Prior to Rutgers, Hilary worked at a variety of financial institutions, trade associations and founded her own event and meeting company. Hilary received her BA in English from Haverford College in Haverford, PA and earned her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) in August 2014.

Aug 2020

32 min 40 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Today, on this episode I talk with East Carolina Pirate, Scott Francis. Scott is the Associate Vice Chancellor of Alumni and President of the ECU Alumni Association board at East Carolina University.Today's trend lines include:- his career,- affiliate groups - the Florida Gator way,- fall plans in response to COVID 19,- and his perspective as an African-American in higher ed advancement.BioScott Francis is the Associate Vice Chancellor of Alumni and leads the alumni team. In this role, he works directly with the ECU Alumni Association board, serving as its President.Scott joined the Pirate Nation in August of 2019, bringing 20 years of Higher Education experience to the role. Scott served his first 12 years in higher education in housing and residence life, followed by 7 years serving as the Director of Gator Clubs and Affiliate Groups for the University of Florida Alumni Association where he was responsible for support and development of the 95 Gator Clubs®, and the 6 affiliate groups, representing over 422,000 alumni.A graduate of Stockton University, Scott earned a degree in Criminal Justice. He also earned his Master of Science degree from Western Illinois University in College Student Personnel. Scott hails from South Orange, New Jersey and lives in Winterville, NC with his wife Stephanie and their children Steven (8) and Isabelle (6).Scott is committed to the vision of the ECU Alumni Association developing and executing programs and initiatives that transform the experience of being a Pirate.

Aug 2020

51 min 31 sec

On this episode I talk with Michael Sgro, higher ed veteran, executive coach, superhero, the godfather and OG of the Alumni Trending brand!  Michael is the owner of Michael Sgro Leadership Coaching in SyracuseToday's trend lines include:- the Alumni Trending origin story,- executive coaching,- and his perspective on higher ed advancement.Quick Listening Guideat 3:30 Alumni Trending Origin Storyat 6:04 #AlumChat on Twitterat 8:35 Creating an Online Community of Practiceat 13:16 Serving your Purposeat 15:31 The role of an executive coachat 20:54 Motivation to achieve your goalsat 22:01 The Leadership Challenge for post COVID 19 worldBioMichael D. Sgro is a business owner, a certified professional coach, an advocate, a performance expert and empathic leader. He coaches professionals to improve their overall effectiveness, leadership skills, career readiness, digital savvy and so much more. Michael's vision for himself is to help people achieve their human potential through relationship building, developing emotional intelligence and community building. Sgro, a Syracuse native, ascended the ranks in higher education at several institutions in New York state, earning a stellar reputation for his work with constituent engagement, program management, professional networking and digital marketing. He spent 20- years on college campuses in New York City and the Central New York area before coming home to Syracuse to start his own coaching practice. Michael has earned several honors through the years, including the NYU Advocate for Change Award, the SUNYCUAD award for best alumni program, the Downtown Syracuse Committee Perfect Partner award and the prestigious Le Moyne College Ignatian Award for Service.He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Le Moyne College, a certificate in business coaching from the Professional Business Coaches Alliance of North America, a certificate in project management from the American Management Association and is a certified facilitator of Extended DISC.

Aug 2020

30 min 52 sec

On episode 11 of the Alumni Trending podcast, I visit with Kim Nyoni, Associate Vice President for Development at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).Today's trend lines include:- the power of philanthropy,- mentoring and team building,- and the pledge (AADO and Black Leaders in Advancement)BiographyKim Nyoni serves as an Associate Vice President for Development with the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).  He is a seasoned fundraising executive with over fifteen years of experience in higher education. Kim has been with UNLV since 2017 and oversees fundraising teams that work to secure philanthropic gifts in support of UNLV’s strategic priorities in academics and athletics. Additionally, Kim is responsible for working closely with academic leaders to develop and execute fundraising initiatives.   Kim started his career at the University of California Berkeley and served in key fundraising roles at Washington University, Utah State University, University of Arizona, and the University of Missouri. Kim joined UNLV from the University of Missouri, where he served in various leadership roles in university advancement.  Kim is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a Master of Arts in Advertising and a Bachelor of Journalism in Broadcasting. He also attended the Institute of Education Management (IEM) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  He enjoys serving the Las Vegas community as a proud member of The Rotary Club of Las Vegas. Kim is an avid Nebraska Cornhusker, a Lifetime Member of the University of Nebraska Alumni Association and a proud Las Vegas Raiders fan.

Aug 2020

49 min 39 sec

Sorry about the sound quality.Our guest is alumni relations and fundraising practitioner, Barney Ellis-Perry and today's trend line includes:Strategic Planning,Outcome Metrics,and how COVID-19 sparks a change in engagement.Barney Ellis-Perry is the former Senior Vice President in the Alumni Relations practice at Grenzebach Glier and Associates. A veteran of higher education advancement, Barney has over 25 years of experience in alumni relations and fundraising spanning education, non-profit and health care organizations. Barney is known for his ability to deliver unique and creative ideas with execution rooted in strategy. His vast experience covers all aspects of nonprofit work with expertise in strategic planning, board and constituent relations, campaign visioning and planning, marketing and branding, and in spearheading innovative and immersive alumni engagement strategies across various digital, social media and in-person platforms. Prior to GGA, Barney served as CEO of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Alumni Association. During his tenure, Barney worked collaboratively with campus leaders and alumni volunteers to develop and implement a new vision and strategic plan for the University and the alumni endeavor. He also designed a system for tracking alumni engagement metrics, launched the Bridge Media program to improve online alumni and donor engagement, and led a re-branding of the organization. Under his leadership, alumni engagement increased from 7,650 to 10,533 from 2015 –2016 and reached 13,161 in 2017.Before his role at UCI, Barney held several fundraising and alumni relations positions during his 14-year tenure at the University of British Columbia (UBC), including Director of Alumni Engagement Campaign and Director of Alumni Relations. From 2000- 2005 he served as Strategic External Relations Officer at UBC Land & Building Services where he created Canada’s first campaign for aging university infrastructure. He also successfully designed, launched and co-ledStart an Evolution, the world’s first dual-goal campaign for a major university, with goals of raising $1.5 billion and of doubling active alumni engagement by 2015. In support of the campaign, he also conceived and led a ground-breaking social media campaign—your evolution—in 2011, connecting alumni with each other and the community through a collaborative online project-sharing platform. Under his direction, Alumni UBC met the campaign’s engagement goal a year early. Prior to UBC, Barney worked as a fundraiser for a number of large organizations and served as a founding partner in a fundraising consultancy for three years. From 1996-1999 he served as Director of Annual Giving at St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation of Vancouver where he created and executed the innovativeLights of Hope campaign and developed a major gift program for the Foundation. When not at work, Barney is an active volunteer at the local and national levels. In 2012, the Prime Minister of Canada and Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the Diamond Jubilee Medal for his social engagement and community service, most notably with Volunteer Canada.

Aug 2020

32 min 46 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Our guest is alumni relations consultant and practitioner extraordinaire, Chris Marshall and today's trend line includes:Strategic Planning,Engagement Metrics,and managing a volunteer board.BioChris Marshall is a senior higher education advancement professional with 18 years of alumni relations and fundraising experience.He spent twelve years leading alumni relations programs at two top ranked national research universities – Lehigh University (seven years) and Cornell University (five years).Chris has five years of experience serving as an alumni relations consultant at one of the top philanthropic consulting practices in the United States - Grenzebach Glier and Associates (GG+A) where he served as Senior Vice President and Managing Director. While at GG+A, Chris led the Alumni Relations practice area and served as a consultant to over 100 clients around the world.Most recently, Chris has served for two years as President of Graduway North America. Graduway is the world’s leading provider of alumni networking and career mentoring software. Trusted by 750+ educational institutions to engage alumni and provide career guidance to students. The vision of the company is rooted in the belief that the alumni network is at the heart of improving philanthropy, employability, and enrollment.Chris has been highly successful in engaging the buy-in and support of key stakeholders in executing new initiatives with clients. He is a strategic planner, creative thinker, data-driven, and a consensus builder with a strong work ethic. He has proven success in guiding teams of all sizes in complex organizations.A bit about CMAC:CMAC is a full-service advancement consulting firm focused on the education sector. They bring extensive experience from our work with over 100 clients in higher education, independent schools, and non-profit organizations - see full client list. They specialize in alumni relations but offer consulting services in all advancement areas - see complete list of services.Website:

Jul 2020

36 min 16 sec

Our guest is Timothy A. Minor, Vice President for University Advancement at The University of North Carolina System and today's trend line includes:The "Why" behind his passion for higher education,The UNC System Advancement officeand challenges presented by COVID-19.Here’s a quick listening guide:at 2:08 A career in advancement "is all about the WHY."at 3:33 Advice for newcomers to the field, "Your greater is coming!"at 5:37 Campus Advancement vs System Advancementat 10:02 Navigating the political landscape of working with Board of Governors and General Assemblyat 14:01 Return on Investment on advancement spending 7:1, 12:1, 16:1at 15:55 COVID-19 and The UNC approachat 18:00 Impact on campaigns in North Carolinaat 18:55 COVID Creativity - Shout out to Nancy Bird (Penn State)at 20:26 Social equity through education and systemic racism conversations at 22:26 "at least for me, and I'm African-American, having these conversations and seeing the news every day on what's happening in America has brought out a little PTSD in me and some of the things that I have suppressed just to go about my day-to-day have started to leak out in other ways."at 23:41 The final word on the state of the profession.

Jul 2020

28 min 39 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!Our guest is Chris Vlahos of Chris Vlahos Alumni Engagement Consulting  and today's trend line includes:Characteristics of High Performing Alumni Relations office,Challenges presented by COVID-19,and his career in higher education advancement.Full blog post: The 12 Characteristics of a High Performing Alumni Relations OfficeAbout ChrisAfter 20+ years in the marketing and public relations world on the private side, Chris took his talents to his alma mater's alumni association at THE Ohio State University where he was the vice president for membership and marketing.  He went on to lead alumni efforts at the University of Arizona and Case Western Reserve, before fully committing to  his consulting practice first under his own shingle and now under the shingle of one of higher education advancements premier consultancies at Marts and Lundy. Here’s a quick listening guide:at 2:21 Revelations of a 20-year marketing veteran upon entry to higher educationat 4:09 Career in Alumni Relationsat 4:40 The truth about the Penn State Alumni Associationat 5:27 Alumni Association as the voice of alumni on campusat 6:27 Advice for newcomers to the fieldat 9:20 Performance metricsat 10:42 Characteristics of a High Performing Alumni Relations Officeat 12:00 Importance of a strategic planningat 13:15 Digital first strategyat 15:30 Stop using the term "friendraiser"at 16:01 Move alumni to actionat 17:16 Centralized approach to alumni relationsat 21:49 Culture of Innovation and purposeful programmingFull BioChris is the author of numerous blogs and articles, most notably his work on the link between alumni engagement and fundraising. His most recent report is "The Evolving Role of Alumni Relations: How institutions are organizing, mobilizing and measuring the value of alumni engagement." He has assisted numerous institutions in the areas of planning and strategy prior to establishing Chris Vlahos Alumni Engagement Consulting LLC in 2015.He served as AVP of Alumni Relations at Case Western Reserve University, where he developed engagement strategies that positioned the alumni relations office as the alumni gateway to the university.Prior to joining CWRU, Chris was President and Executive Director of the University of Arizona Alumni Association. In this capacity, he was a member of the university Cabinet as well as the Board of Directors for the U of A Foundation.Chris began his alumni relations career as VP of Membership & Marketing at The Ohio State University Alumni Association, following a 20-year career in the field of marketing communications. He is a founding member of the Council for Alumni Membership & Marketing Professionals (CAMMP) and has maintained a long affiliation with the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Chris has served CASE as a faculty member in the U.S., Asia and Europe; as a two-time chair of the Summer Institute on Alumni Relations; and as a member of the CASE Commission on Alumni Relations. Chris is a recipient of the CASE Crystal Apple award. 

Jul 2020

28 min 2 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!  This is a bonus episode of the Alumni Trending podcast and is a re-airing of an episode of the #OnTheStacks podcast hosted by Bill Corcoran Jr. Check out the #OnTheStacks podcast at was honored to be a guest on the May 13 episode of #OnTheStacks and I thought that this might be a good way to introduce myself to my Alumni Trending audience.On this trend line you will hear about my professional and personal background, the Penn State Alumni Association’s COVID-19 approach, and an amazing story about how the Penn State Alumni Association helped Bill propose to his wife.Quick listening guide:3:45 My career progression5:53 My 90 days as a college football player8:04 How I become my college mascot9:14 What I love about my work: “No two days are the same.”13:30 The Penn State Alumni Association’s approach to COVID-19 14:56 Form Three Prides (Digital First, Class of 2020, Lifting Up Lions)17:48 Using membership as the key for ALL alumni21:53 Advice to the Class of 202023:51 Celebrating milestones24:48 The power of technology28:14 A great wedding proposalThanks for staying #OnTrend with the Alumni Trending podcast. 

Jul 2020

37 min 14 sec

What's Up Trendsetters!  Our guest is Dr. Jay Le Roux Dillon, chief alumni strategist at the University of California - Berkeley and today's trend line includes:Alumni Identity,Building a Community of Practice during COVID-19,and his career in higher education advancement.Here’s a quick listening guide:At 4:30 - About me and careers in higher educationAt 7:30 - My ultimate frustration with advancement work (hint: lack of research)At 9:50 - What do music and fundraising have in common?At 16:15 - What is the best thing alumni and alma mater can do for one another right now?At 23:30 - My favorite alumni relations brainstorming exerciseAt 29:30 - Identity making and the alumni experienceAt 34:45 - Creating professional community without “gurus”At 40:20 - How to test your own Alumni IdentityBioDr. Jay Le Roux Dillon is a redhead, father of a redhead, social scientist, and executive director of alumni relations for the University of California, Berkeley. His research is focused on "Alumni Identity" - a new approach to identifying ideal alumni donors through the lens of social psychology and data science. He was previously director of alumni engagement at the University of San Francisco and executive director of alumni strategic initiatives at UCLA. Jay is dedicated to improving philanthropy in order to bring social justice and equity to education. He is the founder and principal of Alumni Identity Fundraising Consultants and holds a doctorate in organization and leadership from USF and a master’s and bachelor’s degree in music from UCLA.A bit about Alumni Identity:Your Alumni Identity is that quantifiable part of who you are - your own self-identity - that is related to your alma mater. It's both a measure of engagement and a predictor of future philanthropy. You can test your own alumni identity in under two-minutes at Website: https://alumniidentity.comTo test your own Alumni Identity:

Jul 2020

44 min 9 sec

On this episode,  I visit with Jennifer Heisey, Chief Alumni Relations Officer for the University of Cincinnati and we discuss power of integration and the value of the Alumni Association brand.On April 14, 2014, The University of Cincinnati named Jennifer Heisey to the dual role of executive director of UCAA and vice president of alumni relations for the UC Foundation.Heisey’s core responsibilities will be to provide strategic leadership and vision for UCAA while managing the daily operations of alumni staff and volunteers. She will work closely with the UC Foundation president to connect with alumni and cultivate development opportunities for the university. Her efforts, along with those of UCAA staff and volunteers, ensure that alumni stay engaged and active in the UC community.Before Cincinnati, Heisey served as associate vice president for alumni relations and annual giving as well as the executive director of the alumni association at the University of Louisville. Prior to that, she led alumni affairs efforts for SUNY College at Buffalo. She has more than 21 years of experience serving higher education institutions where she developed exemplary leadership, advancement and relationship building skills.

Jun 2020

38 min 9 sec

John Feudo is vice chancellor for advancement at UMass Lowell, leading a team of 46 staff members through the university’s first-ever fundraising and engagement campaign. With more than three decades of experience in higher education advancement and nonprofit management, Feudo is an internationally respected fundraising and alumni relations professional. He formerly served as senior vice president of development and chief development officer for United Way of Massachusetts Bay, one of the top organizations within the global network of United Way affiliates. Prior to arriving at United Way, Feudo spent eight years at his undergraduate alma mater, Boston College, as both associate vice president for alumni relations, and later as senior development officer.From 1999-2006, Feudo served as executive director of the University of Connecticut Alumni Association, where he also built and led the association’s capital campaign. Prior to his arrival at UConn, he spent six years as the associate vice chancellor for university advancement at UMass Amherst, and executive director of the UMass Amherst Alumni Association. John’s expertise has been sought by more than 200 colleges, universities and organizations around the world. He is also an award-winning speaker and author, having published six books in the field of advancement.

Jun 2020

58 min 44 sec

A conversation with the Vice President for Advancement at Lander University (SC), Mike Worley, about his career and the state of higher education advancement.With more than 20 years of  experience in philanthropy, Worley became the Vice President for Advancement and Executive director of the Lander University Foundation in October of 2018.  Prior to Lander he served as Senior Associate Vice President for Constituent Relations at Georgia State University, where he led a team of fundraisers and helped steer the university’s $300 million capital campaign.Worley also had stints at Washington University (St. Louis), East Carolina University, and Ohio University. He has served in leadership roles with Sisters of St. Mary (SSM) Health Care Foundations and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in Missouri. He earned a bachelor's degree in Sport Sciences and a master's in Athletic Administration from Ohio University.A native of New Albany, Ohio, Worley is an avid fly fisherman and marathon runner. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn at and instagram at @bearcatphilanthropy.  

Jun 2020

31 min 28 sec

Alumni Trending is a podcast that will explore the issues that alumni relations professionals face each day. From episode to episode, you will hear the voices of our profession discussing the challenges and opportunities they face and the innovative and creative solutions they deploy  As alumni professionals we are here to lead a movement, a mobilization of our alumni in service to their alma mater.Listen for ideas. Listen for inspiration.  Listen to Alumni Trending for professional development and guidance on your favorite podcast app.B0PeKfxf52o6W6HuQhIF

Jun 2020

3 min 56 sec