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Alumni Trending Podcast

Author: Paul Clifford

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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. Listen for ideas. Listen for inspiration. Listen for professional development. Subscribe to Alumni Trending on your favorite podcast app today.
42 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. 
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. 
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
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.
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.
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.  
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Comments (1)

Joseph Clifford

Great ideas on a foundation of real experience

Aug 4th
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