2023 Speakers and Moderators

We’re grateful to all of our 2023 NEAGC speakers, for their generosity and their expertise.
? = Returning NEAGC Faculty Member!
? = First-Time NEAGC Faculty Member!
? = 20th Anniversary Hall of Fame Speaker!!

Skylar Beaver ?
Conference Chair

Skylar Beaver is the Assistant Director of Advancement, Director of The Lawrenceville Fund, and Alumni and Family Engagement at The Lawrenceville School. In this role Skylar oversees annual giving efforts, alumni and family engagement initiatives and oversees the advancement systems team. Previously, she led annual giving teams at The Spence School, Washington and Lee University and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She has thirteen years of annual giving experience, is a frequent presenter with CASE, is a past chair of STAFF (Sharing the Annual Fund Fundamentals), and serves on the Northeast Annual Giving Conference (NEAGC) planning committee. Skylar holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and a master’s degree in nonprofit management from SUNY Brockport.

Bob Burdenski ?
Conference Director 

Bob Burdenski is an internationally-known annual and regular giving programs consultant for schools, colleges and universities.  Bob is the author of three CASE annual giving books and is a recipient of the CASE Crystal Apple Award for Lifetime Teaching Excellence as ranked by his audiences. In 2019 he was also named a CASE Laureate for his years of volunteer service to the profession. He has educated (and entertained) at presentations throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, including numerous CASE Europe and CASE Asia Pacific 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 in 2019, Bob served for the third-straight year as Chair of the CASE Institute for Senior Annual Giving Professionals. Since 2002, Bob has served as the moderator of FundList, the largest fundraising e-mail discussion listserv in the world, with thousands of development professional subscribers.

Paul Barry ?

Paul Barry is an occasionally-retired direct mail authority and the founder of the Cape Cod Mail Group. A nationally recognized authority on annual giving direct mail solicitation, Paul’s career spans 49 years, including 27 years with Perrone Group, where he served as President and Senior Strategist. He has partnered with more than 200 higher education and healthcare Institutions; helping them to improve the performance of their mail programs. He’s a frequent speaker on the topic of direct marketing best practices and a recipient of numerous CASE Stellar Speaker awards. In 2018 he founded Cape Cod Mail Group for the sole purpose of helping institutions enhance the performance of their direct mail programs.

Dawn Baumgarten ?

Dawn M. Baumgarten is Executive Director of Annual Giving at the University at Buffalo. Dawn is a skilled development professional with a 20-year record of achievement in expanding, improving and managing a complex annual giving operation on behalf of the University at Buffalo, an institution with over 280,000 alumni worldwide and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. Dawn leads the annual giving team which raises millions in support of the student experience each year. She is responsible for strategic planning and implementation of a comprehensive multi-channel program including digital events, crowdfunding, social media, mass marketing and the oversight of digital gift officers focused on cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of leadership annual giving donors. Dawn oversees the solicitation of alumni, students, faculty and staff, parents and friends of the university. Dawn serves as Treasurer on the SUNYCUAD Board of Directors, a State University of New York (SUNY) wide association of advancement professionals. Twice a SUNY grad herself, she holds a Master of Science degree in Student Personnel Administration from Buffalo State College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from SUNY Fredonia.

Emma Barnes O’Neill ?

Emma Barnes O’Neill joined Blair’s advancement team in 2021 as director of annual giving. She is a 2015 alumna of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in media and American studies and played Division III field hockey. Emma began her career in advertising in New York City before gaining independent school experience as assistant director of the annual fund at Noble and Greenough School. A graduate of The Lawrenceville School—where she grew up on campus—Emma serves as a class representative for both of her alma maters.

Jennifer Boscia Smith ?

Jennifer Boscia Smith is the Assistant Vice President for Strategic Marketing and Communications in the University at Buffalo’s Division of University Advancement and a member of the CASE District II Cabinet (and communications committee chair). Jen joined the UB team in 2017 following leadership roles in alumni relations and communications at New York University and the Rutgers University Foundation/Rutgers University Alumni Association. From 2013-2017, she operated her own higher ed marketing and communications business, JBSmith Communications, helping clients including NYU, Cornell, Princeton, and Seton Hall fulfill their communications and marketing objectives. She has an MS in publishing from New York University and a BA in journalism/mass communications from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Jen loves a good story, a good laugh, a good meal, and her pretty-good family, which includes one husband, three sons, and two unruly basset hounds.

Alyssa Breunig ?

Alyssa Breunig is Associate Director of Development │ Assistant Athletic Director at Quinnipiac University. In her role, she serves as a key member of the fundraising team that works to enhance philanthropic and engagement opportunities with Athletic Alumni, Parents and Friends of Quinnipiac Athletics. Directing the Athletic Annual Fund, Breunig leads the growth and expansion of Quinnipiac’s Blue & Gold Society, a sport-specific giving society designed to steward athletic alumni in 5-year commitments to their athletic programs. Alyssa and her team recently planned, developed, and executed Quinnipiac’s Bobcat Challenge. The philanthropic three-day initiative raised over $521,00 and 2400+ donors, the largest fundraising event in Quinnipiac history. She is a 2020 graduate of Saint Michael’s College with dual degrees in Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Arts and Political Science, and currently working on her MS in Interactive Media and Communications at Quinnipiac.

Daniel Burgner ?

Daniel Burgner is the Executive Director of Annual Giving at The George Washington University. As executive director of annual giving, Daniel leads a team focused on increasing donor engagement and support for GW through direct marketing efforts, leadership annual giving, events, and GW Giving Day. Daniel started his career as a Phonathon caller at Abilene Christian University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Before his role at The George Washington University, he held various positions at Ruffalo Levitz and led the annual giving program for the Texas Tech University System. Over Daniel’s 15-year career, Daniel has partnered with nearly 20 universities nationwide, providing strategic, operational support or consultation for annual giving programs. Daniel and his wife Emily live in Alexandria, Virginia, with their littles Quincy (6) and Eleanor (2).

Emily Etzkorn ?

After spending over a decade in the higher education fundraising space, Emily Etzkorn joined VanillaSoft as a Fundraising Evangelist, bringing with her a background in annual giving, engagement centers, and phonathons. In her role at VanillaSoft, Emily is working closely with fundraising clients and promoting VanillaSoft within the fundraising world.

Elaine Ezrapour ?

Elaine Ezrapour is the Director of Annual Giving at Fordham University. Elaine Ezrapour is the Director of Annual Giving at Fordham University in New York City. Elaine’s career in philanthropy started as a phonathon caller at her alma mater, Binghamton University. In her current role, she oversees mass solicitation efforts to Fordham’s 250k constituents, which generates ~20k gifts and ~$10M each year for various institutional priorities.

Marissa Fitzgerald ?

Marissa joined Fairfield University in 2021 as the Manager of Young Alumni and Student Philanthropy. In her role, she manages the Student Phonathon Program, implements strategy for the Senior Class Gift Campaign, and offers insight into the young alumni generation as a fellow young alumna of Fairfield. Through her creative and strategic ideas, she has been able to break giving participation records for Senior Class Gift as well as create a culture of philanthropy amongst her student volunteers and Phonathon team. Before starting her full–time career in development Marissa experienced the advancement world through her efforts as a 4-year Phonathon caller and then supervisor, senior class gift committee member, and member of the Student Alumni Association. Through her Phonathon efforts, she was a lead fundraiser and took on leadership roles in training and facilitating calling shifts during her junior and senior years. As a former member of the Student Alumni Association, she held multiple executive board positions as well as co-chaired the 2020 CASE ASAP District 1 Conference. During her time in SAA, she attended 3 CASE ASAP District 1 conferences as well as 3 National Conferences. She also was the recipient of the CASE ASAP District 1 Outstanding Student Leader award. Marissa received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Graphic Design from Fairfield University and is currently working on her MBA.

Diana Forbus ?

Diana Forbus is the Annual Giving Manager at the University of Maryland. Diana Forbus has been working in fundraising for more than twelve years, the last six at the University of Maryland. She has been part of Maryland’s Office of Annual Giving since 2021, where she leads Giving Day efforts and supports other areas of the university’s multi-channel approach to philanthropy. Before joining her current team, she was part of a two-person development team in another academic unit on campus and worked at small arts organizations. Throughout her career in fundraising, Diana has done a little bit of everything and enjoys a collaborative and creative approach to problem-solving. Diana holds an M.F.A. in Arts Administration/Theatre Management from the University of Alabama/Alabama Shakespeare Festival and a dual B.A. in Drama and Communications (with an emphasis in Public Relations) from the University of Hartford.

Clark Gafke ?

Clark Gafke is the CEO with LEAD Philanthropy, Inc. Clark enables nonprofit institutions to attract and motivate donors to achieve the organization’s strategic goals. He helps the organization’s senior leadership evaluate and design strategic fundraising plans in the context of contemporary giving trends. He also assists the organization’s development staff to implement the plan through the design and conduct of specific communication initiatives for Capital and Annual Fund programs. Clark’s experience enables him to provide guidance on using appropriate channels to reach prospects and donors in ways they want to communicate – face-to-face, special events, peer-to-peer texting, calling programs, direct mail efforts, email campaigns, crowdfunding & giving days, online technologies, digital communications, text-to-give, text-to-pledge and a host of other mobile channels. In his 30+ years providing fundraising counsel, Clark has served more than 260 organizations in the US and Canada representing education, healthcare, arts, museums, zoos, aquariums, public broadcasting and membership organizations. He is a frequent speaker at fundraising conferences including NCDC, CASE, AFP, PSI, GEAC and on many college campuses. Clark is also a CASE Currents contributor. Clark began his fundraising work as a student caller in the alumni annual fund program at the University of Missouri. He created the first online caller training program for colleges and universities and served as Dean for 21 PHONE/MAIL 101 workshops. Clark resides near St. Louis, MO and enjoys fishing and traveling with his wife and their two daughters.

Jon Gregory ?

Jon Gregory is the Associate Director, Donor Participation & College and Unit Partnerships at Cornell University. In his role, Jon leads the coordination of strategic partnerships throughout Cornell Alumni Affairs and Development to develop integrated marketing strategies to solicit 250,000+ alumni annually, grow alumni and student giving year over year, and raise broad base support for the annual funds. He serves as the project manager for Cornell’s annual Giving Day, leading the strategy, implementation, oversight, partnerships, evaluation, and refinement of Cornell’s flagship integrated marketing campaign which results in as many as 15,000 donors and $10 million raised in one day. He spearheads the piloting of innovative initiatives that increase donor participation, and leads integration of new efforts making them scalable for college and unit partners. Prior to joining the Big Red, Jon started his career in athletic administration at his alma mater and served as Assistant Athletic Director at Johns Hopkins University before returning to Ithaca College as a member of the alumni engagement and philanthropy team. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management from Ithaca College with a master’s degree in Athletic Administration from Southern New Hampshire University.

Aly Harant ?

Aly Harant is a Business Project Manager at The Johns Hopkins University.

Sarah Harlan ?

Sarah Harlan is a Digital Engagement Officer at University of California, Davis where she has spent the last six months developing the university’s Digital Engagement Program. The program focuses on renewing and upgrading leadership annual giving donors ($1,000+) with the goal of growing the major gift pipeline. The university’s two digital engagement officers manage portfolios of 1,000+ households and have yearly fundraising goals of $300,000. Sarah’s career in higher education Advancement spans over a decade with roles in frontline fundraising, Alumni & Volunteer Services, Development publications and Annual Fund.

Colin D. Hennessy, Ed.D ?

Colin Hennessy is the Vice President of Alumni and Donor Engagement at The University of Iowa Center for Advancement. As vice president for Alumni and Donor Engagement, Colin leads a team dedicated to supporting the University of Iowa through thoughtful and innovative engagement and programming — overseeing alumni engagement, annual giving, communication and marketing, events, and stewardship efforts. Before joining the UI Center for Advancement in 2022, Colin held positions at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago. Most recently, Colin was a senior vice president at the fundraising management consulting firm Grenzebach Glier and Associates. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies from the University of Iowa, master’s degrees in adult and distance education from the University of Phoenix and public policy and administration from Iowa State University, and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Colin is a CASE Crystal Apple Award Winning Speaker and the 2019 NEAGC Diane Thompson Award Winner.

Jon Hunn ?

In his role as Creative Director at Vinyl Marketing, Jon Hunn’s superpower is integrating proven strategy with compelling messaging to create lasting connections between our ever-growing roster of advancement partners and their donors. As passionate about delivering data-driven results for your institution as he is tall—which is saying a lot; his commute to work might as well involve a beanstalk—Jon brings an aesthetic eye to every phase of campaign strategy and implementation. Outside work, he spends time hanging out with his wife, two boys, and their very good dog; reveling in the magic that is Saturday yard work; and rooting for Chelsea F.C.

Elizabeth Keppel ?

Elizabeth Keppel M.Ed., PMP, is the Director of Annual Giving & Digital Strategy at The Johns Hopkins University. Elizabeth Keppel is the director of annual giving & digital strategy at Johns Hopkins University, where she oversees the institution’s graduate and undergraduate giving strategies. Prior to joining the Hopkins team in April 2020, Elizabeth served in several roles at the University of Florida, most recently as the director of annual giving and strategic initiatives. In that role, she led a comprehensive, university-wide leadership annual giving program which also served as the organization’s talent pipeline for major gift fundraisers. At the outset of her fundraising career, she worked as an assistant director in the Office of Lifetime Philanthropic Engagement & Annual Giving at her alma mater, the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from William & Mary. Elizabeth obtained her Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification in 2022.

Julie Knight, Ph.D ?

Julie Knight is Executive Director, Annual Giving at Carnegie Mellon University. Julie is the lead strategist for the annual giving team at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Knight is an expert in data analysis in the field of advancement and is passionate about creating a donor-centric engagement and giving experience. She holds a PhD from Cardiff University in the Social Sciences and is a proud Penn State alumna.

Dominique Marcial-Clark ?

Dominique Marcial-Clark is Associate Director of Reunion and Class Campaigns at The Lawrenceville School. Dominique manages cohort-specific annual fund volunteer programs and solicitation strategy. She also oversees fundraising efforts for the 20th, 25th, and 55th Reunion classes. Dedicated to providing and funding educational experiences for all, Dominique aims to tailor class-by-class annual fund programs to best suit the communication styles, availability, and needs of each cohort. Prior to her current role, Dominique worked in Alumni Engagement and Art/Museum operations.

Sophia Macek ?

Sophia Macek is a Program Manager at firstname.co. In her role as Program Manager, Sophia works directly with client partners and student teams to create unique, organic video content to strengthen university missions and increase engagement. Sophia started her career as a student intern in the office of Advancement and Alumni Relations at St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in French and Global Studies. Prior to her role at firstname.co, Sophia held various positions at Johns Hopkins University – Development and Alumni Relations. Sophia and her fiancé live in Towson, MD and enjoy spending their free time outdoors, golfing and traveling.

Adam Martel ?

Adam Martel is the Founder and CEO of Givzey, the first Give Now, Pay Later and flexible giving solution for nonprofit fundraising. Adam is also known as the founder and former CEO of Gravyty, the fundraiser enablement solution that first introduced AI to the nonprofit sector. Through his experience as a fundraiser and a founder, Adam has developed a keen eye for taking cutting-edge technologies and reengineering them to solve challenges within fundraising.

Dulcie Meyer ?

Dulcie Meyer is Director of Annual and Athletic Giving at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In this role, Dulcie leads the Annual Giving program and is responsible for generating $8M annually for HWS. She’s been in the Advancement field for over twenty years, the last seventeen at Hobart and William Smith. In addition to her expertise in annual giving, she has experience in alumni relations, leadership giving and planned giving. She has degrees from St. John Fisher University and Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY. Dulcie is passionate about philanthropy, the donor experience and providing access and opportunities for deserving students.

Kristen Murphy ?

Kristen Murphy is the Assistant Vice President for Alumni Engagement at the University at Buffalo. Serving more than 20 years in the alumni office, Kristen now leads the effort to engage the more than 287,000 alumni who live in every state and 150 countries around the world. An early adopter and proponent for alumni engagement metrics, Kristen was on the forefront of developing and using a comprehensive set of metrics as well as engagement portfolios in the day-to-day work of alumni professionals. A 1996 graduate of the university, Kristen is proud to serve her alma mater and ‘bleeds blue’ as a football and basketball season ticket holder, 20-year donor and volunteer. Prior to working at UB, Kristen held positions outside of the university in sports marketing and radio promotions.

Stephanie Rasamny ?

As the founder and president of MainSpring Media Communications, Inc., Stephanie is responsible for the company’s day-to-day operations, as well as leading the strategic planning of projects, business development and implementation of new technology. Her fundamental vision for MainSpring was to assist fundraisers more effectively grow participation and contributions by integrating digital tools with traditional fundraising methods. Under Stephanie’s leadership, MainSpring is at the forefront of effective digital fundraising.

Tammie Ruda ?

Tammie Ruda is a Senior Consultant with West Wind Consulting. Previously she oversaw the Brown (University) Annual Fund and the Harvard College Fund and led Advancement IT and prospect research teams. She has witnessed philanthropy’s transformational power and is committed to bringing its benefits to the institutions with which she partners. Tammie enjoys helping clients enhance their data-based decision making and strengthen their relationship-based fundraising efforts. She brings her expertise to a wide range of projects, including annual giving assessments, planning, and management; campaign feasibility studies, readiness assessments, planning, and management; staff and volunteer training and coaching; and development of reports and analysis of metrics for the management of fundraising programs. CASE has published her articles and chapters on fundraising topics, awarded her a Crystal Apple Teaching Award, and named her a CASE Laureate in 2019. She was also honored to receive the Diane Thompson Award from the NEAGC in 2016. Tammie earned her bachelor’s degree in History and Science and her Ed.M. in higher education at Harvard University.

Madeline Sanzo ?

Madeline Sanzo is the Assistant Director of Annual Giving at the University of Connecticut Foundation, Inc.

Nicole Shepherd ?

Nicole Shepherd is assistant vice president for donor and constituent relations at the University at Buffalo. She manages a donor relations program which encompasses donor recognition events, gift acknowledgments, stewardship reports and strategic recognition efforts. Her portfolio also includes management of a talent development program for University Advancement staff. A graduate of Ohio University with a degree in communications, she has 20 years experience in the areas of event planning, customer service, volunteer management and donor relations. Prior to joining the UB team, Nicole started her career working in professional sports, with the Buffalo Bills, and later migrated toward a career in fundraising with a position at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center before moving to UB.

Jake Strang ?

Jake Strang is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Alumni Annual Giving at the University of Pittsburgh. In this role, he leads a central annual giving team that engages alumni constituents and secures sustainable funds for Pitt’s highest priorities. Jake is a resource and convener for annual giving staff at Pitt’s regional campuses and has primary responsibility for the operations and staff of Panthers Forward, a signature student debt relief program. Prior to joining Pitt, Jake was the director of annual giving and alumni engagement at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. While there, he led a comprehensive annual giving program including reunions, volunteers, graduating class gift campaigns, and the school’s leadership society. In addition to annual giving responsibilities, he also was responsible for alumni marketing including newsletters, social media, alumni webinars, and the semi-annual Tepper Magazine. Jake also worked at Columbia University, where he was the senior associate director for annual fund programs. At Columbia, he served on the core team for the first five Columbia Giving Days and led the direct marketing for multiple annual funds across the university. Before joining Columbia University, he was a program center manager with Ruffalo Noel Levitz. While with RNL, he managed the on-site telefunds for Columbia University and the University of South Carolina. Jake holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina in Marketing and Management and a master’s degree from Columbia University in non-profit management.

Janelle Stevenson ?

Janelle’s career began in Chicago, where she worked for a seminary, a university, and then the Art Institute of Chicago. Following a dubious move to the Northeast, she found a home in annual giving at Columbia University Medical Center and Yale College. Recently, she switched to leadership giving in support of the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine.

Lane Sulzer ?

Lane Sulzer is the Associate Director of Annual Giving, Digital Engagement Officer at Vassar College. Prior to joining Vassar, Lane spent two years working on a small advancement team at Curry College in Milton, Mass., where he gained experience with direct mail and digital marketing appeals and leadership annual giving as a frontline fundraiser. Currently, Lane is working as a Digital Engagement Officer, commonly referred to as a, ‘DXO’ at Vassar where he leverages the technologies provided by Evertrue to manage a 1,000 constituent portfolio to fundraise leadership annual fund gifts and identify, qualify, and lead conversations for planned and major gifts to the College.

Matt Sulzer ?

Matt Sulzer is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for MCR, Inc. He offers his non-profit fundraising clients nearly 20 years of experience embedded in marketing and print strategies that yield results. Matt currently works with 150+ higher-education and 50+ healthcare clients. In his service to these organizations, he has earned the accolade of “Salesman of the Year” eight times for providing extraordinary leadership, customer service and helping them raise the fundraising bar.

Justin Ware ?

Justin Ware is the Co-Founder and Chief Consulting Officer at firstname.co. At firstname.co, Justin leads the company’s services around the scalable personalization of video-driven donor engagement. Prior to joining firstname.co, Justin launched Groundwork Digital after working at Ruffalo Noel Levitz as a Vice President for product development. In fall of 2019, Groundwork Digital was acquired by BWF leading to the launch of firstname.co in February 2021. Justin started his higher education and fundraising career with the University of Minnesota in 2007, where he was the executive producer on one of the first YouTube videos to win an Emmy. Justin and his family enjoy skiing, camping, spending time on Minnesota’s beautiful lakes, and cheering for the Gophers.

Jamie Williams ?

Jamie Williams is Partner Success Manager with GiveCampus supporting Higher-Ed institutions across the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest. Prior to GiveCampus, she served as the Associate Director of Engagement at Lake Forest College, also her alma mater. During her time at Lake Forest she worked closely on their annual giving day, cross-campus partnership, networking events, managing the young alumni council, among other fundraising responsibilities. She found her passion for fundraising after serving on her senior class gift committee – and comes from a family of fundraisers!