2024 Speakers and Moderators

We’re grateful for the knowledge, expertise and generosity of our 2024 “Minds” speakers. We’re still adding more, so check back!
🍎 = Returning Meeting of the Minds Faculty Member!
🍏 = First-Time Meeting of the Minds Faculty Member!

Bob Burdenski – Co-Chair 🍎

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

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

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

John Taylor – Co-Chair 🍎

John Taylor is Principal of John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC.  For nearly 5 years John served as Associate Vice Chancellor for Advancement Services, as well as Interim Campaign Manager during his last 18 months, at North Carolina State University. He holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and Socio-Political Change from Vanderbilt University, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. John has also served as Vice President for Research and Data Services at CASE – a position he held from its inception in late 2002.  Prior to that he was the Director of Alumni & Development Records at Duke University for nearly 15 years.

John formed one of the largest advancement-related listservs in the world, FundSvcs, now with over 3,600 subscribers.  He has spoken at hundreds of conferences across the country and received the CASE Crystal Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching. He is the Founder and Former President of the Association of Advancement Services Professionals. John received the AASP Jonathan Lindsey Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.  He resides in Durham, NC, with his wife and children.

Gizel Avina 🍎

Gizel Avina is Associate Director of Alumni Relations & Development at Claremont Graduate University. Gizel Avina is associate director of alumni relations & development at Claremont Graduate University. She has over 6 years of experience working in nonprofit. In her current role, she works with the Office of Alumni Engagement in various alumni programs and events and the Office of Development & External Relations in engagement initiatives for all constituents and community members. Being a first-generation college student, Gizel is dedicated to working with donors in order to help students flourish.

Allison Barry 🍏

Allison Barry is Director of Annual Giving for the West Point Association of Graduates.

Doug Bennett 🍏

Doug Bennett is the Executive Director of College Advancement at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. He is the founding director of the Orange Coast College Foundation, one of California’s leading community college foundations. Hired as the Foundation’s first director in 1986, he has helped grow the foundation’s assets from less than $500,000 to over $50 million while providing a similar amount in support to college programs and activities. The OCC Foundation operates one of the largest boat donations programs in the country and, since 1986, has accepted hundreds of boats and yachts with stated total values of over $100 million.

Nicole Forrest Boggs 🍏

Nicole Forrest Boggs is the Assistant Vice President, University Relations and Development Operations at CSU Long Beach.

Jeffrey (Jeff) B. Callaghan 🍎

Jeff currently serves as the Director of Advancement Information Services at Loyola Marymount University, where he started as a Gift Processor in 2012. As leader of the Data & Analytics and Gift & Records Management teams, Jeff helps guide data collection strategies (and usage!) in support of LMU’s comprehensive campaign. He is a proud alumnus of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and received a more useful graduate degree in Educational Studies from LMU. The shift to remote work allowed Jeff and his wife to relocate to his hometown of San Francisco, where they currently reside.

Mark Casey 🍏

Mark Casey is Executive Director of Annual Giving Programs at Caltech.

Wayne Combs 🍎

Dr. Wayne Combs serves as Associate Vice President of Operations and Administrative Services for CHOC Children’s Foundation. He is a leader in campaign and advancement management with over 25 years of experience supporting higher education and healthcare. At USC Rossier School of Education, Dr. Combs teaches courses in Creativity and Innovation, Strategic Communications and Change Management, and Economics and Finance in the Organizational Change and Leadership doctoral program. In support of philanthropy, Dr. Combs delivers presentations on emerging trends while serving as President of the Association of Advancement Services Professionals, Faculty for AHP Madison Institute, and Chair/Faculty for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Rodger Devine 🍎

Rodger Devine, EdD is the AVP for Advancement Operations at Pomona College. He previously served as Senior Executive Director of Business Intelligence for USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, including USC Shoah Foundation, at the University of Southern California.  Rodger oversees data analytics, information strategy, advancement operations, data administration, prospect development and leadership annual giving programs. Prior to joining USC, Rodger served as the Director of Information, Analytics and Annual Giving at the Michigan Ross School of Business, where he managed information, analysis, reporting and business processes related to development strategy, portfolio activity and goal attainment.  Rodger brings over 15 years of experience in enterprise information systems, software engineering, IT operations, organizational development and cross-functional leadership. Rodger completed his graduate studies in information, analysis and retrieval at the University of Michigan, where he was a member of the Michigan Data Sciences team and co-founded the Student Organization for Information, Analysis, and Retrieval.  In his spare time, Rodger speaks at various conferences, teaches machine learning workshops and volunteers in data projects that benefit non-profits such as the A2 Data Dive. Rodger is the author of Data Science for Fundraising: Build Data-Driven Solutions Using R.

Nick Harvey 🍎

Nick Harvey is Associate Director of Development, Annual Giving at Western Washington University.

Wendy Johnson 🍏

Wendy Johnson is the Executive Director of Advancement Services at CalArts. She is a seasoned leader in advancement services and prospect research. In her current role, she leads the team in standardizing the chart of accounts between Finance and Advancement and implementing a new Salesforce Education Cloud CRM. In her previous roles, she successfully streamlined operations, optimized reporting functions, and installed industry best practices. She holds a Master of Arts in History from Central Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Walla Walla University.

Ryan Lawrence 🍎

Ryan Lawrence is the Director of Digital Philanthropy at UC Berkeley. With more than 13 years of experience in Higher Ed fundraising, Ryan manages UC Berkeley’s Annual Programs Digital Team that focuses on crowdfunding, giving days, student philanthropy, texting, and more. East-coaster turned west-coaster, Ryan previously worked at the University of Delaware where he worked on online fundraising in Annual Giving.

Mark Longo 🍎

Mark Longo is the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Mark Longo is the senior director of strategic initiatives and development administrative management in the office of advancement and alumni relations at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California. Mark collaborates with development stakeholders in this role to plan, facilitate, and accomplish strategically identified cross-functional projects and process improvements. Areas of focus include benchmarking, project management, development administrative management, and board meeting support. Previously, Mark was the deputy director of strategic development services at Georgetown University, and he led the development operations teams at the National Geographic Society and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Mark is a frequent presenter at MOTM, AASP, CASE, Academic Impressions, and other industry conferences.

Chris Meneses 🍏

Chris Meneses is the Director Of Advancement Information at Caltech, where he oversees the institute’s gift and records operations team. Chris has served at Caltech for over 10 years in various roles, including the institute’s gift agreement manager/writer, fund accounting analyst, and gifts and records specialist. He holds a B.A. in Sociology from UC Riverside and an M.A. in Education from University of Phoenix.

Kalyn Rose Miller 🍎

Kalyn Rose Miller is the Associate Director of Alumni and Family Engagement for Pomona College. Over the past ten years, Kalyn Rose has worked for non-profit and higher education organizations specializing in event planning, volunteer management and community engagement. In her current role, she leads the family engagement efforts for Pomona College. Connecting people to their higher education institutions through volunteerism, philanthropy and fun is her biggest passion.

Tania Mistry 🍏

Tania Mistry is the Director of Annual Giving Programs at Caltech.

Valerie Nguyen 🍎

Valerie is currently the Director of Advancement Services in University Advancement at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She has 18+ years of experience in higher education advancement services. She manages the daily operations of Advancement Services team including gift processing, database management, prospect management and tracking system (PMATS), online giving site development and maintenance for the university, financial accounting services, technological & training support, and other related functions. She serves on various campus-wide committees and partners with internal and external entities to anticipate needs and provide detailed targeted analytical needs that influence and support fundraising strategies and priorities. Valerie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with System Programming concentration from CSU Fullerton. She completed the Leadership Development Program at CSU Fullerton in 2010-2011. She also has a certificate in Healthcare Information Technology. She resides in Westminster, CA, with her husband and their 2 children. Her philosophy: ALWAYS REMAIN A STUDENT of industry, system, and people.

Jeff Pacini 🍏

Jeff Pacini, Vice President of Philanthropic Partnerships, is responsible for leading the engagement and fundraising business for Legends. Legends’ philanthropy vertical delivers increased donors, dollars and engagement through the power of data science, analytics, and meticulously coordinated strategies. Legends serves a variety of industries, including higher education institutions (foundations, alumni associations, and athletic departments), national governing bodies, museums & attractions, private schools, and national mission-based nonprofit organizations. Jeff joined Legends from the American Heart Association (AHA) where he served as National Development Director for Cycling. In this role he started a national series of road and stationary cycling events to support the mission of reducing deaths worldwide due to heart disease and stroke. During his time, Jeff successfully launched events in more than 30 markets across the country that resulted in more than $10M to support the mission. Prior to the AHA Jeff was Vice President of Business Development for the nonprofit Greater Cleveland Sports Commission (GCSC). Jeff successfully recruited more than 30 national events, including the 2015 NCAA DI Men’s Basketball Regional, 2018 NCAA DI Wrestling Championships, 2019 MLB All-Star Game and more, resulting in $200+ million of economic activity across the region. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Jeff is a 2002 graduate of The College of Wooster and received his Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Sports Administration (MSA) from Ohio University in 2005.

Eddie Padilla 🍏

Eddie Padilla is Associate Director of Prospect Management, Research and Analytics at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA). His start in University Advancement began at California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI) as a student assistant, where he fell in love with the world of fundraising. After working on the academic side of the University for a few years after graduating, Eddie took an opportunity at Cal State LA, working in prospect research and gift processing. His focus shifted to prospect research and database management and, more recently, to analytics. He served on the California Advancement Researchers Association (CARA) and has presented at Blackbaud’s annual conference, bbcon. Eddie holds a bachelor’s degree in performing arts from CSUCI and a Master of Public Administration from Cal State LA.

Sara Pond 🍎

Sara is the Vice President of Client Development at MCR, Inc. She is a philanthropic leader with a 20-year career serving educational and non-profit sectors with special focus on annual giving and pipeline development. Her experience details leading teams, targeted marketing and communications, technical data strategy, artful storytelling, and qualitative analysis. She is passionate about helping organizations provide economic mobility, access to educational pathways and healthcare services.

Grant Potter 🍏

Grant Potter is a Lead Business Relationship Manager for Advancement Services at UC Davis.  Grant has been with Advancement Services for five years and UC Davis for nine years total. Grant assists the Campus Annual Fund and Health Annual Fund teams with all their data/reporting needs so he’s an expert on all things annual giving data. Grant has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from American University.

Rachel Robertson 🍎

Rachel Robertson is the Director of Annual Giving at the University of Utah.

Loni Rocchio 🍎

Loni Rocchio is Senior Director, Annual Giving at UCLA Health.

Robin Savoian 🍎

Robin is the Associate Director of Leadership Annual Giving at Caltech. Previously, Robin was the Associate Director of Development at the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) overseeing upper-level, annual giving. Previously, she worked with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and Walt Disney World. She earned her BS degree in entomology from UC Davis.

Zac Spurlin 🍏

Zac Spurlin is the Senior Director Analytics and Reporting in Advancement Services at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. Zac has served in this capacity since April 2023, after rejoining the university in May 2022. Before returning to the University of the Pacific, Zac worked in finance as an Assistant Vice President for Products and Services. For 13 years before that, he served in various data analytic positions at the University, supporting business and finance operations and finally as the Project Manager for Planning and Institutional Research. He holds a Master of Science in Law from the McGeorge School of Law, an MBA from California State University Stanislaus, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from California State University Stanislaus. He focuses on data visualization, integration, and providing on-demand access to support decision-making at all levels. Zac resides with his better half and their children in Lodi, CA.

Matt Sulzer 🍏

Matt Sulzer is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for MCR, Inc. For the past 20 years, Matt has served more than 600 college, university and healthcare teams with their direct mail needs. He prides himself on providing clients with excellent customer service, while partnering with them to help achieve and exceed their organizational fundraising goals. In Matt’s tenure, he has achieved Sales Person of the Year eight times and regularly speaks at conferences on different annual giving and direct mail topics.

Ray Watts 🍎

Raymond W. Watts, CSPG, is Associate Vice President for Development at Claremont McKenna College. Ray manages the Development team at the College, and oversees all College philanthropic outreach efforts, working closely with Trustees, the President and the Vice President for Advancement to achieve organizational goals. Before assuming the role of AVP at CMC, Ray served for 12 years as Senior Associate Vice President for Advancement and Senior Philanthropic Advisor at the University of Redlands, and previously served for 5 years as the University’s Director of Development, overseeing the major gift fundraising for its historic Centennial Campaign. Prior to Redlands, Ray spent 7 years at his alma mater, Loyola Marymount University of Los Angeles, spending the last 4 years as Director of Annual and Special Campaigns. Prior to this role, Ray served as Director of University Relations Administration, overseeing special events, donor stewardship and worked closely with the Vice President of University Relations. Ray received a bachelor’s degree in English literature from LMU and a master’s degree in Business Administration from LMU with an emphasis in management. Ray received CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) certification in 1999, CSPG (Certified Specialist in Planned Giving) certification in 2014 and has presented at multiple conferences on varying topics relating to development and management. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the School of Business at the University of Redlands, teaching classes on management, leadership and working with students on their capstone projects.

James Yokelle 🍎

James Yokelle is the Senior Director of Annual Giving at UC Irvine.