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Speaker Bios-2020

Keynote Speakers


Rod Grabowski

Rodney Grabowski, Vice President for University Advancement
University at Buffalo

Rodney Grabowski, MBA, CFRE University at Buffalo Vice President for University Advancement has been serving in this role since 2017 and is a skilled executive offering more than 30 years of fundraising, leadership and management experience. Since joining UB he is responsible for assessing, organizing and energizing the internal and external constituencies with the launch of the $650 Million Boldly Buffalo Campaign in April 2018.

Prior to UB, Rod was the president of the University of Cincinnati Foundation, responsible for concluding the Proudly Cincinnati Campaign, surpassing its goal and reaching $1.09 Billion. He reorganized the senior leadership team including the recruitment of seven vice presidents, surpassed fundraising goals each year, developed a new funding model for the organization, completed a review and alignment of Foundation governance, improved relations with internal and external stakeholders, integrated the UC Health Foundation and UC Alumni Association, and was in the quiet phase for launch of the next comprehensive campaign ($1.5 Billion goal) and oversaw an implementation to Blackbaud’s CRM, Internet Solutions and Financial Edge Systems.

Before UC, Rod was at the University of South Florida (USF) where he served as senior associate vice president for university advancement and campaign director. Among his accomplishments, Rod was responsible for the branding and successful completion of the USF Unstoppable Campaign ($600 million goal), the largest fundraising and outreach effort in the University’s history, as well as an annual giving program in excess of $85 million.

Prior to his tenure at USF, Rod held key development positions at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University and Alfred University in New York. In addition to his more than 28 years of fundraising leadership and management experience, Rod brings a strong understanding of higher education’s unique development, alumni engagement, communications and campaign management landscape.

Rodmon KingDr. Rodmon C. King, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
SUNY Oswego

Dr. King has served on numerous national and regional faculty recruitment and retention boards; developed diversity initiatives and programming in Academic Affairs, Admissions and Student Affairs; facilitated college and community dialogues on leadership, race and social justice; and assumed countless committee service responsibilities. Prior to SUNY Oswego, he served as associate vice president for Academic Affairs and Diversity Initiatives at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where he oversaw the development and assessment of institutional and academic policies, programs and protocols, especially those pertaining to equity, diversity and inclusion. Before this, he was a faculty member at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, where he spent the better part of a decade as a full-time instructor and assistant professor in the department of Philosophy. He has also served as an adjunct instructor for both of his alma maters — the University of Rochester and Roberts Wesleyan College, where he earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in Philosophy, and a bachelor’s degree in Religion and Philosophy, respectively.

Rod holds a Master of Business Administration in International Business from the University of North Florida and Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and holds memberships from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Concurrent Session Speakers (listed alphabetically)

Matthew Burns

Matthew Burns, Associate Director of Alumni Relations
Fordham University

Matthew Burns is Associate Director of Alumni Relations for Young Alumni and Student Engagement at Fordham University (and a 2013 alumnus). In this position, he manages event planning, communication, and volunteer management for undergraduate alumni who have graduated in the past 10 years. He also manages the Young Alumni Committee (Fordham’s advisory board for this constituency) and coordinates the annual Fordham Mentoring Program, now in its 16th year.


Lisa EnglishLisa English, Associate Vice President for Advancement Services
Rutgers University

Lisa has worked in higher education since 1998, primarily in the fields of alumni engagement and advancement for the Rutgers University Foundation and Rutgers University Alumni Association. In November 2018, she took on the new role of Associate Vice President for Advancement Services for the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) development team. As chief operating officer for this advancement unit, her team includes annual giving, alumni engagement, communications, and grateful patient development, plus strategic engagement of leadership and campaign boards. Her team works collaboratively with the eight schools of New Jersey’s academic health center and its institutes, and she serves on the Vice President’s senior team. Lisa is also the Chair-Elect of the CASE District II board and has led its Strategic Planning Committee. She was a member of the CASE SIAR (summer institute on alumni relations) faculty for the past 3 years, and has presented on various alumni and advancement related topics at CASE II, CASE V, NASPA, NACRO and SUNY CUAD. She is also an adjunct instructor in the leadership minor at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

Melissa Fry

Melissa Fry, Senior Associate Director, Development Communications/Donor Relations
University at Albany

Melissa joined the University at Albany’s Division for Advancement in 2007. In her current role as the Sr. Associate Director of Development Communications, she manages the development webpages, designs email and print communications and works closely with the Annual Fund and Donor Relations to develop strategies for digital giving and stewardship of UAlbany donors.

Doug Gruse

Doug Gruse, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
Russell Sage College

Doug Gruse is senior director of marketing and communications at Russell Sage College in Troy and Albany. Formerly the director of marketing and communications at SUNY Adirondack, Gruse has a background in marketing, journalism and publishing. Although he is a founding member of Generation X, he has mad love for Gen Z and their digital ways.


Kelly Campbell


Jennifer Kelly Campbell, Associate Vice President of Alumni and Government Relations
SUNY College of Optometry

Associate Vice President for Alumni and Government Relations at SUNY College of Optometry since 2016. Director of Alumni Relations, New York Institute of Technology from 2012-2016. Former career services professional: Assistant Professor of Student Personnel Services, SUNY Nassau Community College, 2006-2012 and Associate Director of Career Network Center, 1999-2006, New York Institute of Technology. Specializes in establishing professional development communities, storytelling and relationship building. Member of CASE and SUNYCUAD. M.S., New York Institute of Technology; Post graduate certificates in Career Counseling.

Greg Kie

Greg Kie, Senior Media Relations Manager
SUNY Canton

Greg is a member of the award-winning SUNY Canton Public Relations team. He is the primary college photographer and media relations manager who won the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service in 2019. He volunteered as the “League of Legends” coach in the esports program when he saw the exceptional public relations and student engagement value. Prior to working at SUNY Canton, Greg was a correspondent reporter for the Daily Courier Observer. He’s a proud SUNY Plattsburgh alumnus with a Bachelor’s of Arts and Sciences: Studio Arts concentration. In addition to “League of Legends,” Greg plays “Diablo,” “Plants vs. Zombies,” “Fable” and watched his wife conquer “Alice” without cheat codes.

Taras Kufel

Taras Kufel, Manager of Digital Engagement
SUNY System Administration

Taras Kufel has nearly 17 years of experience working in communications, multimedia design and web development/management. He is currently the Manager of Digital Engagement at The State University of New York.

In his position, Taras oversees digital content, communications and engagement at SUNY System Administration. He works closely with SUNY’s press, enrollment and external affairs teams to coordinate the central branding, messaging and content on the web and social media. His work focuses on web development, the creation of material and messaging for SUNY’s social media networks, online marketing, and the development of multimedia audio and video projects that enhance strategic communications. He also works with content curators to ensure digital accessibility, Search Engine Optimization and a modern approach to messaging. In addition to his role with system administration, Taras also collaborates with each of the 64 SUNY colleges and universities to bring system messaging together. He also currently serves on the SUNYCUAD board of directors.

Prior to his work at SUNY, Taras spent four years as webmaster at Protective Industrial Products and five years as art director at National Trade Publications/NTP Media, a division of Ebsco Industries. He holds a B.S in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communications from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Taras currently lives with his wife and twin children in Guilderland, N.Y.

Taylor Lynch

Taylor Lynch, Assistant Director, Alumni Engagement
SUNY Cortland

After graduating from SUNY Cortland in May 2017 with a B.A. in Communications, Taylor was lucky enough to be offered her first job the following fall with Alumni Engagement at her alma mater. Funny enough, Alumni Engagement was the first of many internships when she was a student discovering her passion.


Natasha McFadden

Natasha McFadden, Associate Director, The Cortland Fund
SUNY Cortland

After graduating from The College at Brockport in 2013, Natasha began her work in development. After working with several nonprofit organizations in the Ithaca and Cortland areas, Natasha joined the SUNY Cortland Institutional Advancement team in 2016 as the Assistant Director of The Cortland Fund, and was promoted to Associate Director in February 2018. She received her Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management in 2019 from The College at Brockport.


Felicity Meu

Felicity Meu, Director, Partner Success, GiveCampus, Inc.
Inaugural Director of Next Generation Giving, Stanford University

Felicity spent 9 years with Stanford’s Office of Development. As Stanford’s inaugural Director of Next Generation Giving, she worked closely with individual donors and volunteers but also helped craft the University’s vision for engaging its next great generation of philanthropists. Leaning into the needs of young donors, Felicity spent time consulting for Stanford’s Effective Philanthropy Lab, working on projects dedicated to taking a deep dive into better understanding the needs of millennial donors. She currently serves as Director of Partner Success for GiveCampus where she continues to work toward her goal of helping more people be more generous more strategically.

Kevin Morgenstein

Kevin Morgenstein Fuerst, Executive Director of Annual Giving
University of Vermont

Kevin has been in charge of Annual Giving at the University of Vermont for six years. Prior to that, he was at Middlebury College. He is a graduate of Colgate University and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.


Matthew Mroz

Matthew Mroz, Director of Enterprise Technology Transfer
The Research Foundation for SUNY

Matthew Mroz leads the development, implementation, and management of enterprise-wide technology, business solutions, and programs that advance and facilitate the marketability of SUNY innovation and the protection of SUNY intellectual property. As part of this comprehensive commercialization and economic development portfolio, Matthew manages system-wide initiatives that support faculty to fund and develop innovation and assists SUNY affiliated companies to effectively operationalize their business. Examples include SUNY’s Technology Accelerator Fund, a proof-of-concept technology development investment fund, and SUNY Insure, a program that offers low-cost insurance to SUNY affiliated companies. Matthew oversees and provides direct commercialization transaction support to SUNY’s 24 centralized campuses which includes drafting, negotiating and managing agreements that span matters related to confidentiality, material transfer, options, licensing, industry-sponsored research, post-agreement management, royalty receivables and disbursements to inventors. Prior to his current role at the RF, Matthew worked in the RF’s Office of General Counsel, Technology Transfer Office, and the University at Albany Office of Innovation Development and Commercialization. Matthew has been a part of the RF and SUNY community for over a decade and is a graduate of Stony Brook University, Albany Law School, and the University at Albany.

Michael Pietkiewicz

Mike Pietkiewicz, Executive Director, ECC Foundation

Michael J. Pietkiewicz is the Executive Vice President for Advancement & Efficiencies at SUNY Erie Community College and acts as Executive Director of the SUNY Erie CC Foundation. Mike is part of the executive leadership team of the college and serves as lead fundraiser overseeing alumni relations, planned giving, scholarships and major gifts. He has served in this capacity for three years.

Prior to this, Mike was Executive Vice President for Operations at SUNY Erie, where he managed facilities, human resources and security. His higher education career began at the University at Buffalo (UB) in 1999 in various government and community relations roles. His last three years were as Assistance Vice President for Government and Community Relations in the Office of the President.Prior to UB, Mike worked for U.S. Congressman Jack Quinn (N.Y.) for seven years, including serving as Senior Legislative Assistant for five years in Washington, D.C.

Mike has a B.A. in Political Science and History from Canisius College and earned his M.B.A. at UB. He’s an active member of Western New York’s community, currently serving as Vice Chair of the Amherst (N.Y.) Chamber of Commerce Board. He is also a board member for Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Fame Running Back Thurman Thomas’ Family Foundation. Mike, his wife, Susan, and their children, Jackson and Willa, make their home in the city of Buffalo.

Nicholas Querques

Nicholas Querques, Director of New Ventures
The Research Foundation for SUNY

The RF is the largest comprehensive university-connected research foundation in the country, administering $1.6 billion in research expenditures annually throughout 64 campuses. Nick leads an extensive portfolio of initiatives focused on promoting innovation and commercialization across the enterprise, helping SUNY companies start strong and grow healthy, and building partnerships with investors and development partners to get more SUNY technology into the market.

Prior to RF, Nick was Program Manager for Technology to Market at NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. In this role, Nick was directly responsible for a $130 million portfolio of innovation, technology development, and investment initiatives targeted to entrepreneurs, innovators, and early-stage companies in the energy space. Prior to NYSERDA, Nick was Assistant Vice President for Clean Energy Programs at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. In 2010, he co-founded MICROrganic Technologies, a biotechnology startup that is commercializing microbial fuel cell technologies for wastewater treatment applications.

Nick holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Management, magna cum laude, and an M.B.A. in Information Technology and Nanotechnology from the University at Albany.

Dawn Rigney

Dawn Rigney, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
SUNY College of Optometry

SUNY College of Optometry Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of Optometric Center of New York (OCNY) since May 2018. Served Pace University, most recently, as Assistant Vice President, from 2009-2017 in development and alumni relations leadership roles. Held gift officer, annual giving and development positions at New York Medical College, Fordham Law School and the American Red Cross. MPH, New York Medical College, Certificate, Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, Harvard University. A strategic leader, a facilitator of vibrant relationships between people’s passions and impactful missions moving organizations through moments of transition, growth, and rebuilding. Recognized for building productive partnerships with stakeholders at every level and developing results oriented strategies. Member of CASE and SUNYCUAD.

Emanuel Saladino

Emanuel Saladino, Senior Web & Graphic Designer
Stony Brook University

Emanuel is a graphic designer with 15 plus years’ of experience in digital/web and print design within the corporate, advertising, and email marketing industries. He currently works as the Senior Web & Graphic Designer at Stony Brook University Advancement.


Travis Smith

Travis Smith, Director of Public Relations
SUNY Canton

Travis leads the award-winning SUNY Canton Public Relations Team. In addition to his administrative duties, he also serves as the college’s web designer. He’s won several SUNY CUAD awards, an Excellence in College Service award, and most recently helped the college pick up a CASE award for responsively-designed annual report. He helped design the SUNY Canton Esports arena, which has become the crown jewel of the campus. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History and Master of Science in Education, Education Technology from SUNY Potsdam. Travis plays “Legend of Zelda,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Madden,” “NBA 2K” and “Mario Cart.”

Chrissie, Christy and Peter

University at Albany Office of University Events
Christy Doyle, Chrissie Binney, Peter Evans

Comprising a creative, dedicated and close-knit team, UAlbany’s Office of University Events is responsible for producing institutional events including academic ceremonies such as Commencement and Convocation; a wide variety of development/donor events such as the annual black tie fundraising dinner, scholarship dinner, and donor-endowed lectures; university-wide events such as Speaker Series; and other signature or milestone events such as inaugurations, grand openings, press events and more. Christy Doyle (director) and Peter Evans (associate director) joined the team in 2001, and Chrissie Binney (associate director) joined in 2013. With a combined 50 years of event planning experience at UAlbany, they share a passion for quality and strive to exceed expectations, even in the face of challenges such as a global pandemic.

Kimberly Verhoff

Kimberly Verhoff, Senior Associate Director of Donor Relations

Kim Verhoff is the Sr. Associate Director for Donor Relations at the University at Albany. Kim has worked at UAlbany for 18 years and has held various positions within UAlbany’s Advancement Division. Kim’s current focus is with The University at Albany Foundation’s fund management, donor stewardship and student scholarship support. Kim and her husband are both proud alumni of UAlbany and enjoy supporting the UAlbany Great Danes! Kim and her family live in Albany, New York.


Karyn Wendrow

Karyn Wendrow, Digital and Social Media Manager
SUNY Delhi

Karyn oversees all official social media accounts for the college, manages digital content, and partners with many other departments on campus to assist with communication strategy and advertising. Prior to her time at SUNY Delhi, Karyn worked in undergraduate admissions and alumni engagement at SUNY Oneonta.