2024 Foundation Leadership Forum: Schedule

January 28–30, 2024
InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown
Los Angeles, CA

Check out the program schedule.

Browse the Forum schedule below. Please check back for updates as we continue to finalize programming. As you plan your travel, we encourage participants to arrive in time to participate in workshops and peer group meetings on the afternoon of Sunday, January 28, 2024, and stay through Tuesday afternoon to take advantage of one of the deep-dive workshops taking place 1:15–3:15 pm on January 30.

Sunday, January 28

10:30 AM – 6:00 PM PT | Registration Open

12:00 – 7:00 PM PT | AGB Experience Open

1:00 – 3:30 PM PT | Roadmap to Success for Foundation Board Chairs, Vice Chairs, and Chairs-Elect

Consistently cited as one of the most valuable sessions of the Forum, this workshop addresses the special roles and responsibilities of foundation board chairs. Learn strategies for ensuring effective board leadership, forging an effective partnership with the foundation chief executive, troubleshooting common board challenges, and elevating the work of the board and committees.

(This session is intended for foundation board chairs, vice chairs, and chairs-elect.)

Louis Holland
, board vice-chair, University of Wisconsin Foundation
James Lanier, senior fellow and senior consultant, AGB
Cheri O’Neill, president and CEO, Colorado State University Foundation
George Watt, senior fellow and senior consultant, AGB

1:15 – 1:45 PM PT | Welcome for First-Time Attendees

First-time Forum attendees are invited to attend this session and learn from Forum veterans about how to make the most of their conference experience and the other services and resources available to AGB member foundations. The session will include:

  • An overview of AGB member services and resources to enhance board leadership and foundation effectiveness
  • A preview of the 2024 Foundation Leadership Forum program highlighting sessions that may be of particular value for first-time attendees
  • A discussion about how to make the most of your Forum experience and put insights to work in future board and committee work.

David Bass
, executive director philanthropic governance, AGB
Cristin Toutsi Grigos, senior vice president & chief content and program officer, AGB
Audrey R. Young, senior director membership experience, AGB

2:00 – 3:30 PM PT | Roadmap to Success for New Foundation Chief Executives

CEOs who are new to the role will learn from seasoned foundation leaders about the challenges and opportunities they will encounter, questions they should be asking about the organizations they’re leading, and critical conversations they should be having with their board, institution leaders, and other constituents.

(This session is intended for foundation chief executives new to their role in the past 18 months.)

Christine Marquez-Hudson
, vice president of university advancement and executive director, Metropolitan State University of Denver Foundation
Rickey McCurry, president, University of Nevada Las Vegas Foundation
Ian Mercier, president and CEO, Medical College of Georgia
Melissa Mount, vice president of university advancement and executive director, Fort Lewis College Foundation

2:00 – 3:30 PM PT | Roadmap to Success for Future Foundation Executives

Prospective foundation executives will gain an understanding of the role foundation leadership team members play in supporting, engaging, and leveraging the board. Participants will learn from industry experts about the qualities boards and institutional leaders seek in candidates for CEO and other cabinet-level staff, questions they should ask about prospective foundation leadership opportunities, and best practices for successfully navigating search processes.

(This session is intended for senior foundation staff below the level of chief executive who aspire to become a foundation CEO.)

DeAnna Carlson Zink
, CEO, University of North Dakota Foundation
Cheryl Webster Crounse, vice president advancement and executive director, Salem State University Alumni Association and Foundation Inc.
Jeffery Mills, president and CEO, University of Maine Foundation
Jim Poolman, board chair, University of North Dakota Foundation

2:15 – 3:30 PM PT | Peer Group Convenings

Peer group convenings provide an opportunity to meet and build relationships with colleagues from similar foundations (or filling similar roles) across the country and learn how they are addressing common challenges and opportunities. Facilitators will provide an overview of some widely shared issues, and participants are encouraged to come prepared to share their questions, innovations, and insights. Peer group sessions, except those focused on specific professional roles, are intended for both board members and foundation staff.

Integrated Foundations

(generally smaller foundations operating as a closely integrated component of the institution)

Lori M. Buckheister
, senior consultant, AGB
Vita Pickrum, president, Delaware State University Foundation

Operationally Independent Foundations Responsible for Fundraising

(generally mid-sized foundations with more independent operations responsible for fundraising)

Tod Burnett
, president, University of Alaska Foundation
Chris Dyba, president, East Carolina University Foundation

Operationally Independent Foundations with Limited or No Fundraising Responsibility

(operationally independent foundations that are not responsible for fundraising programs)

Elizabeth McClanahan
, CEO, Virginia Tech Foundation
R. Jason Caskey, president and CEO, University of South Carolina Educational Foundation

Large Foundations (Assets of $500 Million+)

Mike Goodwin
, senior consultant, AGB
Jeff Todd, CEO, University of New Mexico Foundation

Board Professionals and Other Staff with Primary Responsibility for Supporting the Work of the Foundation Board

Lauren Norris
, senior director, board operations and volunteer engagement, University of Maryland Alumni Association
Patricia Smith-Phillips, senior director of board and donor engagement, University of Illinois Foundation

Community College Foundations

Susan Taylor Demming
, executive director, Elgin Community College Foundation
Amanda Sbriscia, vice president for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director, Holyoke Community College Foundation

3:30 – 4:00 PM PT | Break

4:00 – 5:00 PM PT | Opening Plenary: Lessons in Leadership

Military metaphors are common in descriptions of higher education today. Presidents are “embattled.” Board independence and academic freedom are “under attack.” Campuses are embroiled in “culture wars.” Escalating turnover rates among presidents and chancellors suggest that higher ed leadership has indeed gotten harder and more unforgiving. In our opening plenary session, two distinguished university presidents will draw on their prior career experience in the military to provide lessons on leadership for the boardroom, administration, campus, and community. This high-energy conversation will provide insights for board and staff leaders at a time when the stakes are high and their work matters more than ever.

Shauna Ryder Diggs, regent emerita, The University of Michigan; director, secretary, AGB Board of Directors

Ted Carter
, president, Ohio State University
Michael Dumont, interim president, California State University Maritime Academy

5:00 – 7:00 PM PT | Opening Reception

With thanks to AGB Mission Partner TIAA

Monday, January 29

7:15 AM – 7:00 PM PT | Registration Open

7:15 AM – 7:00 PM PT | AGB Experience Open

7:15 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast

Individuals participating in breakfast meetings are invited to serve themselves from the main breakfast buffets and take their plates to the designated meeting room.

7:15 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast Meetings: Navigating and Customizing the Conference Through the Lens of a Board Professional

Join your peers who have attended previous Foundation Leadership Forums to talk about how to navigate the conference in an intentional way. They will share how you can optimize your experience by finding those nuggets of information along the way for you to become an even more valuable and strategic partner to your board and CEO. This is an opportunity to ask questions and share concerns in a safe space while strengthening and expanding your network.

Jessica Burns
, board administrator and executive to the CEO, West Virginia University Foundation
Jessica Spruill, liaison, East Carolina University Foundation

7:15 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast Meetings: Institute for Foundation Board Chairs & Chief Executives Reunion Breakfast

An opportunity for all past Institute for Foundation Board Chairs and Chief Executives attendees to come together to reflect on their experiences and outcomes.

Cheri O’Neill
, president and CEO, Colorado State University Foundation
George Watt, senior fellow and senior consultant, AGB

7:45 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast Meetings: Town Hall on AGB Institution-Foundation MOUs

Strategic alignment and a culture of collaboration are hallmarks of high-impact foundaiton-institution partnerships and thoughtfully developed MOU is an essential tool to help advance these objectives. This session informal discussion introduces AGB’s updated illustrative memoranda of understanding and provides an opportunity to pose questions and share your suggestions with the authors in advance of final edits and publication.

David Bass
, executive director philanthropic governance, AGB
Tom Hyatt, specialist and senior fellow, AGB

8:45 – 9:40 AM PT | Plenary: Advancing Higher Education as a Strategic National Asset

The Council on Higher Education as a Strategic Asset (HESA) is a coalition of national leaders hailing from higher education, government, business, and the nonprofit sector working to develop policy recommendations for ensuring that higher education institutions can deliver the workforce and educated citizenry necessary to address the United States’ most critical national priorities. During this plenary session, a panel will introduce and discuss preliminary recommendations of HESA and explore their implications for the work of foundation boards.

Mary Papazian, executive vice president, AGB

Tyson Voelkel
, president, Texas A&M Foundation
David Wilson, president, Morgan State University
Kysha Wright Frazier, president and CEO, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce

9:40 – 9:55 AM PT | Winners of the 2023 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership

9:55 – 10:15 AM PT | Break

10:15 – 11:05 AM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 1

Enhancing Institutional Partnerships: Evaluation, Selection, and Oversight of OCIOs and Investment Consultants

Now more than ever, endowments and foundations are faced with the pressing need to evaluate their investment programs, outsourced chief investment officers (OCIOs), and/or investment consultant relationships to mitigate risks and maximize outcomes. As a leader and trustee, what steps can you take to ensure that your organization’s governance is well-situated and working? How can you verify that your relationships function optimally and that performance meets your needs? Additionally, how can you ensure that your policy aligns with your organization’s objectives and culture? This session will provide crucial knowledge regarding benchmarking investment programs and selecting OCIOs and investment consultants effectively. You will learn why oversight and due diligence are essential for foundations, and how to properly assess your provider relationships to ensure they align with your unique needs, paving the way for optimal performance.

Areas of focus will include:

  • The importance of regular due diligence
  • Strategies for evaluation, oversight, and benchmarking
  • Risk mitigation tactics
  • Search and RFP best practices

Learn from seasoned experts who have conducted over 90 evaluation and search projects totaling $100 billion in assets. By the end of this session, you will be equipped with the knowledge to strengthen your organization’s position through effective OCIO and investment consultant relationships.

Gregg S. Fisher,
investment committee chair, University at Buffalo Foundation
Gregory Metzger,
search practice leader, North Pier Search Consulting
Scott Rash,
president and CEO, Wright State University Foundation
Jim Scheinberg,
managing partner, North Pier Search Consulting

Good Governance as a Driver of Foundation Excellence

Good governance entails more than simply fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities. A board’s investment in creating good governance and implementing best practice sets the stage for an engaged board, organizational excellence, and enhanced strategic alignment with the institution. This session will bring together leaders of two foundations for a discussion about the ways their boards are leveraging governance fundamentals such as updating the mission, vision, and values; reviewing the institution-foundation MOU and bylaws; and creating orientation and mentoring programs to become more impactful strategic partners to their institutions.

Cheryl Webster Crounse
, vice president of advancement, Salem State University Alumni Association and Foundation, Inc.
Annalisa Di Palma, chair, Salem State University Alumni Association and Foundation, Inc.
Julie Fenton, board vice chair, Oakton College Foundation
Katherine Sawyer, chief advancement officer, Oakton College; executive director, Oakton College Educational Foundation

Next-Generation Alumni Relations

U.S. News & World Report eliminated alumni giving as a factor in its 2024 Best Colleges rankings. This reflects a long-standing trend within alumni relations of focusing on ways institutions can most effectively support the success of students from the classroom into careers and forge mutually beneficial long-term relationships with former students. In this session, leading alumni relations professionals will explore the next generation of alumni relations and strategies to align the work of foundations and alumni associations to support student success, engage new volunteer perspectives, and foster philanthropy in recent and future alumni.

Paul Rucker, executive director, University of Washington Alumni Association
Julie A. Sina, associate vice chancellor for alumni affairs, UCLA

A Practical Approach to Enterprise Risk Management

Enterprise risk management (ERM) is an effective tool to identify, assess, manage, and report risks to the achievement of strategic objectives. However, implementation of an ERM program often seems like a daunting task. This session will include discussion of simple strategies to get your ERM program implemented to a degree appropriate for your organization’s complexity and available resources.

Evan Gatian
, director of internal audit, West Virginia University Foundation
Robert D. Johnson, chair, audit committee, West Virginia University Foundation Board of Directors

Top 10 Mistakes of Investment Policy Development

A successful investment policy should address risk and return, liquidity needs, variance tolerance, and, most importantly, mission alignment. Unclear goals, problematic methods of determining risk tolerance, confusion regarding roles and responsibilities, and vague guidelines on evaluating success are just some of the pitfalls in investment policy development. Drawing on case studies and best practices, this session will explore the top 10 mistakes boards make in designing an investment policy and share recommendations for how boards and committees can avoid them. Attendees will leave with an understanding of what to avoid for successful investment policy design, tips and tricks for how to structure committees for success, and insight into how they can apply these insights at their own foundations.

Alexander Kocher
, director, Global Endowment Management
Hannah Rahill, associate director, Global Endowment Management
Keith Sauls, vice chair, The College of Charleston Foundation

Unlocking Opportunities with AI: Futureproofing with Modern Data Systems

In today’s data-driven world, organizations across industries are recognizing the immense potential of modern data systems and AI-driven intelligence. These technologies have the ability to identify revenue opportunities, provide cost savings, and drive actionable insights.

During this session, we will delve into futureproofing your organization by maximizing personalization and preferences to unlock the next generation of donors. Understand how this type of technology investment helps organizations attract and retain new talent.

You’ll hear a brief result-oriented introduction to cloud-based infrastructures, automation, and machine learning. Discover how these modern data systems use intelligence to adapt and scale to meet evolving business needs, and how to deal with the macroeconomic forces of tomorrow, through optimizing costs and spending.

Draw inspiration from Mark Koenig, chief innovation officer at the Oregon State University Foundation, as he highlights the achievements and lessons learned from the foundation’s journey.

Rachel Crosbie, vice president of strategy and operations, Fundmetric
Mark Hobbs, CEO, Fundmetric
Mark Koenig, chief innovation officer, Oregon State University Foundation

11:05 – 11:25 AM PT | Break

11:25 AM – 12:15 PM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 2

The Current Higher Education Environment: “This is Not Fine”

A ubiquitous meme shows a cartoon dog calmly drinking coffee in a room that is engulfed in flames. He smiles and says, “This is fine.” Many in higher education would disagree. Public confidence in higher education and its value proposition is low. Business models are under stress and many institutions are facing enrollment headwinds driven in part by demographic trends. Public policy interventions and pressures from private interests are challenging board independence and academic freedom. Political and cultural divisions are making the always difficult job of the president more challenging than ever. This session will provide an overview of some of the issues impacting public institutions and foundations and challenge participants to think about the ways their foundations can partner with their institutions to navigate through current challenges.

Merrill Schwartz
, senior fellow and senior consultant, AGB

Carol Cartwright
, senior consultant and senior fellow, AGB
Brian Flahaven, vice president strategic partnerships, CASE
Tom Harnisch, vice president for government relations, SHEEO

Data, Efficiency, AI, and Revolutionizing Relationship-Based Fundraising

Join us for an engaging session as we delve into groundbreaking insights on gift officer performance, providing invaluable guidance for leaders seeking to make strategic decisions.

Discover how your organization can leverage the power of AI and automation to enhance fundraiser efficiency and revolutionize one-on-one development efforts. You’ll see examples being put into practice across the advancement sector and learn about potential opportunities to maximize your team’s potential and elevate relationship-based fundraising to new heights.

Brent Grinna
, founder and CEO, Evertrue
Nick Linde, vice president of advancement, University of Nebraska Foundation

Engaging the Board as Strategic Partner to Advance DEI and Grow Philanthropy

This session will present a case study of the way the Evergreen State College Foundation Board of Directors has become a strategic partner to advance the institution’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and foster a broad-based culture of philanthropy to support student success. The board’s story demonstrates how board diversity; inclusive, community-based approaches to philanthropy; a focus on student success; a commitment to ethical storytelling; and an innovative campaign model enabled a highly resource-constrained college to build fundraising capacity and establish a foundation-led culture of philanthropy.

Betsy Donnelly
, chair, Board of Governors, Evergreen State College Foundation
Dolly England, governor, Evergreen State College Foundation
Abby Kelso, executive director, The Evergreen State College Foundation 

Navigating the Future: Succession Planning and Executive Transitions

Succession planning is a critical aspect of ensuring the continued success, sustainability, and impact of institutionally related foundations. As leadership transitions become more frequent and the landscape of higher education evolves, it is essential for foundations to have a well-defined roadmap for selecting, preparing, and transitioning their key leadership positions. This session is designed to equip board members, chief executives, advancement leadership, and other stakeholders with the knowledge, tools, and strategies needed to effectively manage leadership transitions and maintain the momentum of their foundations.

Deborah McAneny
, board chair, University of Vermont Foundation
Kimberly Templeton, principal, AGB Search
Kimera Way, CEO, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation; consultant, AGB

Strategic Asset Allocation: How Endowments and Foundations Thrive in Turbulent Markets

Now more than ever, developing an effective, long-term asset allocation strategy is critical for endowments and foundations. In addition to optimizing returns, a strategic approach to asset allocation can help institutions navigate periods of market volatility while remaining focused on their long-term goals. 

In this wide-ranging discussion, we’ll explore the ways in which thoughtful asset allocation can impact performance, risk, liquidity, spending, and more. How can asset allocation help endowments and foundations endure periods of market stress while remaining opportunistic? How have traditional approaches to asset allocation evolved in recent years? What does an appropriate policy look like in the current environment? Is it accurate to define “tactical” asset allocation as “short-term,” as is customarily thought? Our panel of experts will seek to answer these questions while touching on a variety of related topics, including: 

  • Challenges and opportunities presented by periods of high volatility 
  • The (changing) roles of specific asset classes within a long-term allocation 
  • Implications for and interplay with spending rate 
  • The role of capital market assumptions and modeling 
  • The proper balance of tactical and strategic goals 
  • Customization of asset allocation for mission-alignment 

James Bailey
, chair elect, Kent State University Foundation
Matthew McGanity, managing director, University of Illinois Foundation
Jeremy May, board chair, University of Colorado Foundation
Darren Myers, partner and director of research, Agility
Amita Schultes, partner, Agility

“Who's on First, What's on Second, I Don't Know Is on Third...”: The Dizzying Landscape of NIL Collectives and Conference Realignment

Just as we were getting used to the idea of name, image, and likeness (NIL) collectives, the IRS issued guidance suggesting that NIL collectives may not qualify for the tax-exempt status the agency previously granted. At the same time, 2023 was a pinnacle year for conference realignment in college football. This session will not provide simple answers to all your questions about the ongoing changes in collegiate athletics. It will provide an overview of the current turbulent landscape and serve as a forum for discussion of the ways foundations are navigating the changes and the ways they are working to manage risk and leverage the benefits of collegiate athletics.

Thomas Hyatt
, general counsel; specialist and senior fellow, AGB
Dianne Murphy, board chair, Tennessee Tech University Foundation
Greg Willems, president and CEO, Kansas State University Foundation

12:15 – 1:30 PM PT | Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 PM PT | Luncheon Plenary: Storytelling Master Class

Transforming Education Through Narrative and Technology

U.S. higher education has amazing stories to tell, but public confidence in higher education is at a historic low. This session will bring together two visionary university leaders with a celebrated Hollywood producer, screenwriter, and media executive for a conversation exploring the ways cinematic storytelling and emerging technologies can transform education and ways campus leaders can transform the narrative of higher ed.

Gretchen E. Buhlig
, chief executive officer, Arizona State University Foundation
Dr. Chris Howard, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Arizona State University
Walter Parkes, co-founder and CEO, Dreamscape Immersive

2:30 – 2:50 PM PT | Break

2:50 – 3:40 PM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 3

Keeping Fiduciary Responsibilities and Mission Front and Center amid Influences Impacting Governing Board Independence and Leadership

In the current environment, universities, colleges, and their related foundations must satisfy a wider range of important stakeholders than ever before—stakeholders that can often be at odds with each other. Each governing board must carefully consider the needs and objectives of its specific constituencies and determine how it and the institution can best meet those needs and objectives. However, a foundation governing board must also hold fast to key principles and values to remain true to its mission and serve both the current and future best interests of the institution. This session will bring together members of the AGB Board of Directors for a discussion about the influences buffeting public higher education and recommendations for maintaining mission focus in challenging times.

Ellen Chaffee, interim president and CEO, AGB
Ross Mugler, board of visitors, Old Dominion University
Katherine Sawyer, chief advancement officer, Oakton College; executive director, Oakton College Educational Foundation
Beverly Seay, trustee emirita, University of Central Florida

Bringing More Humanity to Fundraising with AI

Since ChatGPT burst onto the scene in late 2022, fundraisers everywhere—from presidents and foundation CEOs to frontline major gift officers—have been exploring whether and how they can—and should—use artificial intelligence (AI). This session will highlight how the College of William & Mary is approaching AI in support of three related goals:

  1. Enhancing donor relationships: William & Mary is applying AI to bring more humanity—not less—to its donor relationships.
  2. Retaining staff: Many worry that AI will eliminate jobs, but William & Mary is leveraging AI to enrich jobs and heighten job satisfaction by streamlining (or eliminating) the least-loved parts of fundraisers’ day-to-day responsibilities.
  3. Boosting results: William & Mary is using AI to increase the productivity and effectiveness of each individual fundraiser, from its leadership annual gift officers to its foundation CEO.

Matthew Lambert
, CEO, William & Mary Foundation
Kestrel Linder, co-founder and CEO, GiveCampus

Measuring and Managing Climate Risk in the Investment Portfolio

Understanding and managing risk is a fundamental fiduciary responsibility. Climate risk and a rapidly evolving energy economy will both have enormous impacts on investments. Institution and constituent commitments to sustainability are providing an additional incentive for foundations to understand the impacts of carbon and climate on their endowments. This session will provide practical guidance on how to understand and manage climate risk and carbon exposure in your endowment and examples of ways institutions are working to incorporate such insights into risk-return calculations and investment strategy.

Timothy Coffin
, director of sustainability, Breckinridge Capital Advisors
Daniel Ingram, partner, Aon
Jeff Mindlin, chief investment officer, ASU Enterprise Partners

Strategic Endowment Growth: Fueling Transformative Impact and Competitive Advantage

The public university endowment is more than a static funding source; it is a dynamic asset that can transform the university’s financial equation. In this session, we’ll share research on endowment best practices and how the most forward-thinking public universities use their endowments for far more than balancing budgets. With the right fundraising, investment principles, and spending policies, endowments can power academic growth, research excellence, and student opportunity. This session will dive into public university and foundation endowment portfolios and the implication of fundraising, spending policies, and strategic investments on the purchasing power of the endowment. We will explore ways to deepen understanding of the current and future role of the endowment, sharing metrics from Cambridge Associates’ peer research. We will consider the impact of strong stakeholder communication to help donors understand the impact of their gifts and university and foundation leadership’s commitment to excellent stewardship of those gifts. There’s a lot at stake for public college and university endowments, and governance can make all the difference. Join this session to learn what works and what doesn’t through case studies and shared experiences.

Tracy Filosa,
head of CA institute, Cambridge Associates
John Han, vice president for administration and CFO, University of Hawaii Foundation

Recalibrating Your Investment Management Model

Foundations can choose from a wide range of investment services. Fitting investment management services to the circumstances, resources, needs, and investment objectives of your foundation can help ensure that you are making the best use of your staff and investment committee. This session will explore the pros and cons of various investment management models, industry trends, and questions boards should be asking about their investment management model to optimize their investment operations and investment outcomes.

Sarah Wessling
, vice president and leader of enterprise risk, FEG

Michael Aluise
, SVP and advisor, FEG Investment Advisors
Jeff Wright, trustee, Ohio University Foundation

Reimagining the Advancement Business Model to Promote Healthy Pipeline Growth

External economic circumstances, declining enrollment, and rising costs are putting additional pressure on university budgets. Advancement leaders must make difficult choices about where to invest in order to achieve the best outcomes. However, many of those decisions are favoring short-term outcomes to the detriment of long-term donor pipeline building and future fundraising revenue.

During this session, we will discuss the important balancing act that advancement leaders must perform in order to continually feed a healthy donor pipeline. Topics will include high ROI acquisition strategies, changing dynamics in donor retention, methods for accelerating major gift pipelines, and alignment of roles and goals among your staff to drive toward common outcomes.

Greta Daniels, senior vice president, RNL
Rickey McCurry, president, University of Nevada Las Vegas Foundation

3:40 – 4:00 PM PT | Break

4:00 – 5:15 PM PT | Plenary: Economic Outlook-Endowments

The Global Economic Outlook: Insights and Implications for Endowment Management

While many have hopes for a soft landing, issues such as lingering inflation, continued tight monetary policy, and slower growth in China and elsewhere could still create challenges for investment committees in the year ahead. A volatile geopolitical landscape and a concentrated market focused on artificial intelligence will further complicate investment decisions. On campus, demographic and enrollment headwinds, changes in admissions practices, constrained budgets, and increased costs could put pressure on foundations to increase endowment spending at a time when donors may be hesitant to make major commitments. In this session, three leading investment strategists will share their perspectives on the global economy, then come together for a facilitated discussion and Q&A on the implications for boards and investment committees.

Sharcus Steen
, CIO, University System of Maryland Foundation

Brian Griggs
, managing director, portfolio strategist, Nuveen
Christopher Lvoff, Co-CIO, Strategic Investment Group
Katie Nixon, CIO, Northern Trust Wealth Management

5:15 – 7:00 PM PT | Cocktail Reception

With thanks to AGB Mission Sponsor Agility

Agility logo

Tuesday, January 30

7:30 AM – 12:30 PM PT | Registration Open

7:30 AM – 12:30 PM PT | AGB Experience Open

7:30 – 8:45 AM PT | Breakfast

Individuals participating in breakfast meetings are invited to serve themselves from the main breakfast buffets and take their plates to the designated meeting room.

7:30 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast Meetings: Roadmap for Success for New Foundation Board Chairs and Chairs Elect: Capstone Breakfast

Participants in Sunday afternoon’s workshop for board chairs, vice chairs, and chairs elect are invited to reconvene over breakfast on the last day of the Forum to tap the collective wisdom of the group regarding innovative approaches  to advance the top strategic priorities they may be addressing during their tenure as chairs.

7:30 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast Meetings: Board Professionals: We Are in This Together

We are your network, your peers, and your confidants; we will use this as an opportunity for BPs to:

  • Share “Ah ha!” moments from the conference.
  • Discuss strategies to have conversations about what you learned with your CEO, board chair, and colleagues in the office.
  • Learn how to keep the networking going. Who did you bond with? Bring your business cards!
  • How AGB can be of support to you and your board.
  • Share whatever you have on your mind.

Jessica Burns
, board administrator and executive to the CEO, West Virginia University Foundation
Jessica Spruill, liaison, East Carolina University Foundation

7:30 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast Meetings: Community College Staff and Board Members

Representatives of community colleges and community college foundations are invited to get together over breakfast for informal networking and to discuss issues of shared concern.

Lori M. Buckheister
, senior consultant, AGB
Katherine Sawyer, chief advancement officer, Oakton College; executive director, Oakton College Educational Foundation

7:45 – 8:30 AM PT | Breakfast Meetings: Town Hall on Top Strategic Issues

What are the most critical challenges colleges and universities will be facing in the years ahead? AGB staff will provide a preview of our Top Strategic Issues for Boards 2024-2025 and engage participants in a discussion about the implications of these issues for college and university foundations.

Doug Goldenberg-Hart
, associate vice president for content strategy and development, AGB
Mary A. Papazian, executive vice president, AGB
Cristin Toutsi Grigos, senior vice president and chief content and programs officer, AGB

8:45 – 9:50 AM PT | Plenary: The Business of Higher Ed—Jeffery Selingo

Predictions for the Future of Public Higher Ed

College and university foundations play a long game, cultivating relationships with young alumni with the hope of growing future decades of major donors and raising and managing endowment with an eye toward perpetuity. The landscape of public higher education, however, is changing at a rapid pace. Institutional business models, workforce needs, student demographics and expectations, and donor interests are evolving. At the same time, policymakers and the general public are questioning values and principles long held sacred by campus leaders.

Jeffrey Selingo, journalist and best-selling author on leadership, higher education, and the future of work, will share his perspective on the factors driving change today, predictions for ways that public higher education will evolve, and questions that foundation boards should be asking as they develop strategies to sustain and advance their institutions in the decades ahead.

9:50 – 10:10 AM PT | Break

10:10 – 11:00 AM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 4

Becoming a Strategic Real Estate Partner

This case study describes how a mid-sized foundation transformed its board and in turn transformed its partner university and the community it serves. Over a period of 15 years, the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire Foundation has evolved from a relatively passive foundation to a critical strategic partner of the university, adapting its board and focus to more effectively align with the strategic priorities of the institution, leverage public-private partnerships, and grow philanthropic investment in the campus and community. Its story illustrates the way that positioning the foundation as an entrepreneurial partner, laser-focused on campus priorities, can also help foster philanthropic investment in the university.

Steven Semingson
, director, Blugold Real Estate Foundation
Kimera Way, CEO, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation; executive director, Blugold Real Estate Foundation

Board Assessment for Impact

Board assessment is a foundational element of good governance. Effective assessments are learning experiences that enable boards to identify key areas of improvement, recalibrate board priorities, ensure board accountability, and demonstrate their commitment to serve the institution. This session will demonstrate the ways two foundations have used board assessments to create more thoughtful, inclusive, engaged, and diverse board cultures. Participants will be encouraged to share their approaches to board assessment and ways they have used assessment work to enhance board culture and elevate the impact of their board and foundation.

Margaret Ann Bollmeier
, President and CEO, Medical College of Virginia Foundation
Trishana Bowden, President, George Mason University Foundation

The Board Chair-Board Professional-CEO Triad

The partnership between the chief executive and the board chair is critical to effective board leadership and the success of the foundation. The engagement of the board professional, a third side to the triangle, can enhance the stability of the CEO-board chair relationship through transitions and elevate the impact of both board and staff leaders. This session will bring together a board professional, a CEO, and a chair for a discussion about the role of the board professional and offer ideas and recommendations to forge an effective leadership triad.

Jeannine Bennett
, board chair, Utah State University Foundation
Marshall Crawford, board past chair, Utah State University Foundation
Scott Olson, chief of staff and board secretary, Utah State University Foundation
Matt White, vice president for advancement and president, Utah State University Foundation

Digital Transformation: Strategies to Grow Foundation Capacity While Managing Risk

The Iowa State University Foundation, like many other foundations, has an ambitious strategic plan to grow fundraising over the decades ahead. To accomplish that plan, it is undertaking multiple transformational initiatives, leveraging a host of new operational and advancement technologies designed to maximize strategic data assets to reimagine business models and strategy. This session will explore some of the ways digital transformation is elevating the foundation’s performance and efficiency. In addition, participants will learn how the foundation is engaging volunteer leaders to assess opportunities and return on investment and manage the risks associated with rapidly evolving technologies.

Ted Oberlander
, member, board of directors, Iowa State University Foundation
Rosa Unal, vice president and chief information officer, Iowa State University Foundation

Trends in Philanthropy among Affluent Donors

What are the latest trends in philanthropy for colleges and universities? What attitudes do donors to higher education bring to their philanthropy, and how can institutions discern them? How are demographic trends reflected in philanthropic activity? Drawing on new data from the 2023 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy (conducted in partnership with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy), this session will:

  • Provide insights into the motivations of affluent donors in the United States
  • Illuminate affluent donors’ giving practices by generation, gender, sexual orientation, and racial/ethnic cohorts
  • Suggest ways in which advancement leaders can more effectively engage and appeal to specific groups of affluent donors

William Jarvis, managing director, philanthropic executive, Bank of America
Anna Maria Pruitt, managing editor, Giving USA; associate director of research, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Looking at the Investment Landscape through Red, White and Blue Colored Glasses?

Deglobalization has already begun to lead to a less connected world. Rising nationalism, global supply-chain disruption stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, and geopolitical tensions have caused many consumers to look for locally sourced goods and services. Investors, it seems, have been no different, increasingly questioning the benefit of investing outside of developed markets. While investors may have valid concerns about certain countries or industries within emerging markets, this does not undermine the case for holding a strategic allocation to emerging market equities. In this session, we will discuss how a global portfolio may benefit not only from risk diversification but also from investment opportunities.

John Lau, portfolio manager, SEI Investments
Paul Chai, associate vice president of Investment and CIO, Kansas State University Foundation
David Carney, senior vice president for finance and administration and CFO, University of Connecticut Foundation

11:00 – 11:20 AM PT | Break

11:20 AM – 12:10 PM PT | Concurrent Sessions Block 5

Maintaining a Positive Professional Workplace Culture

As the development and alumni relations professions continue to evolve, staff may bring very different expectations about what is “appropriate” to both the office and their engagements with constituents. The rapid shift to remote work meant newer employees may never have learned the cultural norms of their new workplaces. Heighted political polarization can make differences of opinion or perspective feel like unbridgeable moral divides. This session will provide guidance on helping staff maintain appropriate and productive relationships with constituents, provide them with best practices for handling difficult and precarious situations (including racial and gender bias, political opposition, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct), and otherwise bring their best selves to work.

Mauria Brough
, president, Advancement Resources
Alisa Robertson, president and chief advancement officer, University of Wisconsin Foundation
Matthew White, vice president for advancement and president, Utah State University Foundation

Optimizing Investment Management Fees and Spending Policy

Foundations are critical to many colleges and universities, providing the fundraising and endowment management that support the mission of educating the next generation of leaders in America. Often, the school relies heavily on the support provided annually from the endowment, making the consistency of that support paramount. However, research from the NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments shows that the majority of institutions are using old technology when it comes to calculating annual spending methodology and investment management fees. This session will feature a discussion of alternate approaches that may more effectively minimize the volatility and better optimize the consistency of the support flowing to the university and operations of the foundation itself.

Jason R. Ball
, CFO, Fort Hays State University
George Suttles, executive director, Commonfund Institute
Timothy Yates, president and CEO, Commonfund OCIO

The Next Era of Campaign Strategy: Four Must-Ask Questions for Future Success

With over 60 percent of presidents saying they hope to start or expand a fundraising campaign, the 2020s are shaping up to be the “decade of the campaign.” However, questions linger about the effectiveness of campaigns amid both donor and staff campaign fatigue. This session will focus on new models and innovations in campaign structure and strategy. We will investigate varied models for activating support and energizing the campus community around advancement. Specifically, we’ll discuss the question of dollar-goal impacts, the repetitive priorities that make donors and alumni lose interest in campaigns, and strategies to overcome campaign fatigue. The session will conclude with a high-level discussion about the future of the comprehensive campaign.

DeAnna Carlson Zink
, CEO, University of North Dakota Foundation
Jim Poolman, board chair, University of North Dakota Foundation
Fleming Puckett, senior director, EAB

Implications of the Backlash Against DEI for Foundations and Advancement Programs

The U.S. Supreme Court decision eliminating the use of affirmative action in college admissions can be seen as part of a broader reaction against efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). While the ruling doesn’t address scholarships, some attorneys general have already counseled colleges to stop using race as a factor in scholarships and employment decisions. At last count, anti-DEI legislation applicable to colleges and universities had been introduced in 40 states and passed in 14. This session will explore the implications of challenges to DEI initiatives for foundations, including how they are working with donors interested in supporting diversity and inclusion, how they are managing prior gifts that may now be at odds with state legislation, and how they are addressing the challenges they may encounter in their boardrooms and talent management programs.

Abi Cahak
, chief legal officer, University of Wisconsin Foundation
Jennifer Cerasa, vice president, general counsel, and board legal counsel, University of Illinois Foundation
Margaret Jarrell-Cole, consultant, AGB

Trends in Endowment Management and Strategy

This session will provide an overview of some of the top trends shaping higher education endowments and engage participants in a discussion of the ways these issues are informing their endowment government, management, and strategy. Potential issues to be explored include changes in:

  • Investment management structures
  • Allocation strategies and alternatives
  • Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing
  • Return expectations
  • Institution finances and needs

John Griswold
, senior consultant, AGB
Samantha Foster, managing director, Russell Investments
Floyd Simpson, director, PFM Asset Management

12:10 – 1:15 PM PT | Lunch for workshop registrants

This is a plated lunch and RSVP is required.

1:15 – 3:15 PM PT | Workshops

These interactive sessions will provide an opportunity to explore important topics and learn from industry experts as well as your peers from other foundations. Potential topics include strategic planning for foundations, artificial intelligence in advancement, assessing your endowment management program, conducting the OCIO RFP process, and real estate ventures and partnerships.

Engineering a Board for Impact

A diverse, engaged foundation board can be a force multiplier for a foundation, leveraging needed perspectives, experience, expertise, and relationships to advance the foundation’s mission. The wrong board can be an impediment. This workshop will provide an overview of the governance practices needed to engineer an engaged board aligned with an eye toward advancing the strategic priorities of the foundation and the institution. The session will provide guidance on developing a board composition matrix, ensuring board diversity, building a pipeline of board candidates, developing board orientation and education, and maintaining board engagement—in short, engaging the right people and providing them with the tools to lead and succeed.

Lynnette Heard
, senior fellow and senior consultant, AGB
Mike Goodwin, senior consultant, AGB

Foundation Strategy and Planning

“Strategic planning” may conjure images of a months-long process resulting in a massive plan full of tactics and goals that may or may not serve as a valuable guide for the work of board and staff leaders. While foundations may not need a comprehensive “strategic plan,” they definitely need a strategic compass: a roadmap to provide guidance and focus through the many twists and turns affecting higher ed today. This workshop will present streamlined approaches to developing foundation strategy and, more importantly, executing plans to enhance board governance, strengthen the performance of key foundation functions, and elevate the foundation’s ability to serve as a strategic mission partner to the institution.

Leonard Raley
, president and CEO, University Maryland System Foundation
Cynthia Roth, president and CEO, West Virginia University Foundation
George Watt, senior fellow and senior consultant, AGB
William Sheedy, board chair, West Virginia University Foundation

AI in Advancement: Practitioner Workshop

This workshop is intended as a forum for staff and board leaders of advancement programs that are or want to be embedding artificial intelligence (AI) into the day-to-day advancement activities of the foundation or institution. Facilitators will ask participants to share, then discuss, examples of how they are deploying AI to automate processes, solve long-standing problems, address emerging challenges, create efficiencies, aid in prospect identification and customization, and otherwise enhance the effectiveness and impact of advancement work.

Mark Koenig
, vice president for technology and chief innovation officer, Oregon State University Foundation

Foundation-Alumni Association Mergers and Integrations

Over the past decade, dozens of public college and university foundations and alumni associations have merged governance structures, integrated operations, or taken other steps to more closely align their work and more effectively engage and support alumni and grow alumni giving. This workshop will provide an opportunity to learn from leaders of foundations that have integrated in various ways with their alumni associations. Presenters will describe the contexts of the merger, the board and operational processes they undertook, the ways the change has impacted their boards and advancement work, and insights and recommendations for other foundations that are considering similar changes. If your foundation is considering integrating with your alumni association, this workshop will allow you to hear from leaders who have worked through the process and to pose questions to other organizations contemplating similar changes.

Niles Sorensen, consultant, AGB

Colin Hennessy
, vice president of alumni and donor engagement, University of Iowa Center for Advancement
Erin Lewis, chief operations officer, Auburn University Foundations
Kim O’Neill, president and CEO, Foundation for WWU and Alumni; Vice President for University Advancement, Western Washington University
Lynette Marshall, president and CEO, University of Iowa Center for Advancement
Eric Schoenstein, immediate past board chair, Oregon State University Foundation
Andrea Sturm, board chair, Western Washington University Foundation

3:15 PM PT | Conference Adjourns

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