Tag: alumni relations

AT20. The Future of Alumni Boards and Strategic Planning with Gary Olsen

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; and
  • strategic planning.

Gary 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. 

AT19. Creating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from the Inside Out with Yolanda F. Johnson

What’s Up Trendsetters!

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.

Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC)™ 
Website: https://www.woc-fp.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/woc.fp/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/women-of-color-in-fundraising-and-philanthropy-woc/

Allies in Action Website: https://www.yfj-consulting.com/allies-in-action


With more than two decades of experience in the non-profit sector, Yolanda F. Johnson has successfully led fundraising operations for a wide range of non-profit organizations, launching creative event, sponsorship and marketing initiatives that produced new streams of both contributed and earned income. Her fundraising expertise includes securing foundation, corporate, and government funding and cultivating a diverse major gifts portfolio.

In addition to leading YFJ Consulting, LLC, Yolanda is the Founder of WOC, Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy™ and President of Women In Development (WID), NY, the NYC area’s premier professional organization for women in fundraising and philanthropy. Yolanda has also had an outstanding career as a performing artist, as a composer, as a producer, as an educator, and she has used her background as a performer to become a sought-after fundraising expert.

Her leadership roles include: serving as an International Advisory Board member and the former Representative for the Foundation for Post Conflict Development to the United Nations; a member of the board of directors of the Lehman College Art Gallery; a member of the board of trustees of the Hudson River Museum and a member of the PowHerNY board of directors. A trailblazing figure on the national fundraising landscape, Yolanda is the first African American President in the 40-year history of WID. She co-established the WID Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and is often a featured expert on incorporating DEI initiatives into organizational culture. She has appeared as a panelist at Fundraising Day in New York, the Women’s Alliance National Conference and CASE events among others. Yolanda is also a member of the Chronicle of Philanthropy Advisory Committee of national leaders in the non-profit sector.

Tying together her life as a successful performing artist and a non-profit leader, she developed All the World’s A Stage, a special workshop using performance practice for getting what one wants out of fundraising, philanthropy and life. She presents All the World’s A Stage to audiences across the country. Yolanda is the Worship Leader/Music Director at the church she attends, a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Women’s Music Fraternity and is on the artist roster for Random Access Music/Queens New Music Festival and the newly formed Westchester Chamber Soloists Orchestra. She holds a B.A. in Voice (Music Performance) and an M.A. in Arts Administration with a focus on Fundraising and Events and is the author of various publications and articles on event fundraising, including A Useful Guide for Special Events.

AT18. Steward of our Profession with Abby Hopkins of Penn State

What’s Up Trendsetters!

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 institution
  • Getting involved with your professional organization 
  • The power of professional networking

Since 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. 

AT17. Start-Up Mentality with Virginia’s Cindy Fredrick

What’s Up Trendsetters!

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.

Quick Listening Guide
at 2:59 Career in Alumni Relations
at 6:03 UVa Office of Engagement
at 9:36 Startup mentality to overcome COVID 19
at 9:50 Believe You Can
at 11:01 Fight the Fear
at 11:21 Be nimble not perfect
at 14:03 Support the volunteers with platforms
at 14:35 150 virtual events, regional focus
at 22:25 Tenet of alumni relations: Stories increases the value of your institutions degree
at 27:42 Story about our community of practice

Cindy Fredrick is a respected leader with over 30 years of administrative experience in higher education and community-based organizations. Throughout her career, Cindy has been a champion for building community through mission-driven results, volunteer engagement, and philanthropic support.

Cindy currently leads the University of Virginia’s central engagement office for alumni, parents, and friends. A founding leader of UVA’s  Office of Engagement, created in 2006, her team has produced over 16,000 events, engaging thousands of constituents in the life of the University. In FY20, her office produced 1,000 events (20% virtual), registering over 63,000 constituents (50% virtual).  The Office of Engagement is the lead producer of all alumni engagement events at UVA, representing 67% of events and 54% of event registrations.

In her role as AVP, Cindy created an inclusive constituent engagement model for all alumni, parents, and friends, regardless of membership, affiliation, or donor status. She created a volunteer centered approach where alumni, parents, and faculty are key players in the design and delivery of engagement content.  Cindy oversees the central annual giving team, including the creation of The Virginia Fund, which raises financial support for Presidential priorities. She serves on the University Advancement senior leadership and the $5 billion capital campaign team.

Cindy previously served as President and CEO for Madison House, UVA’s award-winning volunteer service non-profit organization. Before her time at UVA, she held leadership positions with the Virginia coalition of sexual assault crisis centers, a start-up professional touring theatre for children, and long-term care facilities where she helped create the first Alzheimer’s unit in California.

A dedicated volunteer, she is the recipient of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Crystal Apple Award for Teaching Excellence and has taught at over ten international conferences. Cindy is the current chair for the Institute for Alumni Relations, a former CASE District III board member, and co-chair for the 2015 conference. Board Chair appointments have included: Virginia Campus Outreach Opportunity League, Charlottesville Social Services Advisory Board, and Jefferson Area Board for Aging-Retired Volunteers.

Cindy holds a B.S.W. from Luther College and an M.Ed. from California State Sacramento. She is a recipient of UVA’s Champion Respect@ Award, a  member of the 2020 Advancement Leadership Lab, a graduate of Leadership Charlottesville, and a graduate of UVA’s Leadership in Academic Matters program.

AT16. Integrated marketing, racial equity and tough conversations with Tom Bull

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.

Quick Listening Guide
at 4:26 Finding a passion for alumni relations
at 6:09 Four Foci: Student Outreach, Strategic Communications, Volunteerism On-Campus and Volunteerism Off-campus
at 6:28 Strategic Communications on a budget
at 8:51 Connect Alumni to the University not the Association
at 10:20 Adjusting to culture of campus and region
at 11:15 Unconscious bias and slights
at 11:59 Public vs Private
at 14:08 Honest truths about being a Black professional in higher education
at 17:30 Being anti-racist by having conversations
at 17:45 Be anti-racist by showing up
at 18:55 Be anti-racist by learning
at 20:32 Fair hiring practices in higher education
at 24:45 Alumni Clubs now called Networks

Tom 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.

AT15. Power of Partnerships with Microsoft’s Susan Vosper

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.

Quick Listening Guide
at 2:43 Microsoft Exec turned high education pro
at 6:12 Diversified Business Experience
at 8:05 Complaining with solutions
at 9:38 Difference between corporate and higher education? Technology and Budget!
at 10:57 Environment where innovation and creativity thrive
at 11:21 Our biggest innovation where in our partnerships
at 12:20 Benchmarking against others
at 15:16 Corporate Alumni Chapters
at 18:13 Conversations on social justice at Microsoft
ay 21:20 What are you reading and binging?

As 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.