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The Development Debrief

The Development Debrief

By Kathryn Van Sickle
Podcast by Kathryn Van Sickle *The views on this podcast are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.
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56. Jen Risher: Let's Talk About Wealth

The Development Debrief

56. Jen Risher: Let's Talk About Wealth

The Development Debrief

97. Thom Lockerby: Independent School miniseries
Join us tomorrow—May 26th at 3pm ET for a webinar on the future of Major Gifts. Here is there registration link: Welcome to the final episode of our Independent School miniseries. We wrap up with some big questions such as, how does culture inform the strategy? And how do leadership transitions impact teams? Especially during the pandemic. This week's guest, Thomas P. Lockerby is the Secretary of the Academy at Phillips Andover. He leads the alumni engagement, development, and communications initiatives for the school.  Thom has spent his entire career working in and consulting with charities, focusing on major and planned gift fund raising as well as organizational leadership. Prior to joining Andover, Thom was the Vice President for Development at Boston College and directed its $1.5 billion comprehensive campaign. Previously, Thom served as Director of Gift Planning at Dartmouth College, Relationship Manager at Kaspick & Company, Vice President at PG Calc Incorporated, and Director of Development Relations at Harvard Business School. Thom serves on the Board of William James College, an independent graduate school of psychology based in Newton, MA. He is also a former Board Chair of Polaris, a leading organization fighting to eradicate human trafficking in the United States and abroad; a former Board Chair of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning; and past President of the Planned Giving Group of New England. Thom is a graduate of Harvard College.
May 25, 2022
96. Jennifer Kaplan Burns: Independent School miniseries
This week, we hear from Jennifer Kaplan Burns, Assistant Head of School, Advancement and External Affairs at Solebury School in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Jenn provides our first parent perspective within the world of independent school fundraising. She tells us about the history of Solebury and about her current campaign which is breaking historic records! Prior to her current position at Solebury, Jenn was the Director of Advancement at Wilmington Montessori School. She also spent nine years as the Director of Philanthropy at the Nature Conservancy.  Jenn is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross. She is also a dedicated CASE volunteer having served as the committee co-chair for CASE District II for five years. This is episode 3 of a four-episode miniseries in partnership with CASE. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement professionals who share the goal of championing education to transform lives and society. Now let’s get started. Please connect with the debrief on instagram @devdebrief. I would love to hear from you. Next week will be our final episode spotlights at Independent School Advancement leader. See you then!
May 18, 2022
95. Harold Brown: Independent School miniseries
This week, Harold Brown, Director of Advancement at Cranbrook Schools, talks to us about the multiple elite institutions he has served and what he has learned along the way. Harold previously served as the Director of Development at Salisbury School, a boys college preparatory boarding school for 325 students in Salisbury, CT. Before joining Salisbury, Harold served for 25 years in various roles in the Office of Institutional Advancement at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. As Executive Director of Alumni Relations and International Gifts, Harold led a program serving more than 21,000 alumni and 5,000 parents, strengthening ties to the school and one another. Before dedicating his career to the world of education, Harold was in the financial sector, where he held various positions including Vice President at Connecticut Bank and Trusts, and the Bank of New England, both in Hartford, CT. This is episode 2 of a four-episode mini-series in partnership with CASE. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement professionals who share the goal of championing education to transform lives and society.  Follow and learn more on instagram @devdebrief 
May 11, 2022
94. Emily Stone: Independent School miniseries
Hello listeners! I am thrilled to announce a four-episode mini-series in partnership with CASE. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the global nonprofit association dedicated to educational advancement professionals—in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, and advancement services—who share the goal of championing education to transform lives and society. The next four episodes will feature Independent school advancement leaders. I couldn’t be more excited to kick off with Emily Stone, Director of Development at the Spence School. Emily works at an all-girls independent school just blocks from the one where I work. I have known her for a while through our alma mater’s alumni network. You will hear Emily talk about how important those networks are and her career trajectory. She has worked in alumnae relations, and can keenly analyze the differences between working with alums and parents. Emily is high energy and filled with good ideas. Follow us on instagram @devdebrief or connect on LinkedIn for more information. 
May 04, 2022
93. Colin Stewart: Work Smarter, Not Harder
This week I talk with Colin Stewart, the former EVP, Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy, and current member of the advisory board at Arjuna Solutions. I learned several new terms from Colin such as the "non-profit starvation cycle", and donor’s "giving elasticity". Arjuna inspires non-profits to work smarter not harder. Colin talks about the algorithm Arjuna uses to determine annual giving asks for large databases and how to look at donors as long term supporters from the annual giving lens.  Arjuna Solutions uses behavioral economic modeling and AI services to help leading nonprofits lift their direct response fundraising by an average of 12%. Arjuna’s simple-to-adopt services improve giving over a donor’s lifetime without the nonprofit having to change fundraising practices or staffing. To learn more about how you can sustainably increase your nonprofit’s fundraising, please visit Next week will mark the beginning of a 4-week mini series in collaboration with CASE. We will hear from four leaders in the Independent school space. Follow us @devdebrief (instagram) or on LinkedIn to learn more about what is to come! 
April 27, 2022
92. Margaret Kaufmann, Jonah Nigh, Alex Tapnio: Be a Pathmaker, not a Gatekeeper
The Final episode of our Impact and Innovation season is extra long. It may be because I’m just not ready to end these amazing conversations we’ve been having over the past 8 weeks. The good news is, we will have a Webinar next week on March 29th at 11am (ET) to recap these episodes and dig even deeper.  You can learn more via this registration link: This week's conversation is with several leaders within the New School Office of Development and Alumni Engagement. This conversation grapples with some hard questions and focus on three main themes; hiring diverse applicants, handling micro aggressions on the front line, and building affinity groups and cohort fundraising. Jonah Nigh, Meg Kaufmann, and Alex Tapnio are incredibly inspiring as they talk about their work advancing the New School with a diverse team and brilliant set of perspectives. Connect on instagram @devdebrief
March 23, 2022
91. Rob Scott: The Force Multiplier
Rob Scott and I talk about his role at MIT that evolved out of an idea. Rob actually wrote the job description for his role and has been able to live out his vision. Rob gives great advice on working with senior leaders and explains how he has executed his ideas and goals. Robert D. Scott, senior advisor to the Chancellor for Academic Advancement at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is a career fundraising professional, advancement leader, and veteran of four multi-billion-dollar campaigns. He has held various leadership positions in resource development at MIT during the past twenty years, and before coming to MIT Scott served New York University as a development professional for five years. He entered the fundraising field in 1989 at Cornell University, his alma mater.  Over the course of his thirty-year career, Scott has held national and international volunteer leadership roles within the professional advancement community. If you want to continue this conversation, please join me and James Barnard of BWF to talk about this innovation series with a larger group of professionals. We will be hosting a webinar on March 29th at 11am ET. Please reach out if you would like more information or have questions you would like us to address. Next week is our final episode of the season. See you then!
March 16, 2022
90. Ashutosh Nandeshwar: Artificial Intelligence For Good
Dr. Ashutosh Nandeshwar is the Assistant Vice President, Relationship Management and Data Sciences at the University of Southern California. He also is a Data Scientist. Consultant. Speaker. And Process Innovation leader. We talk about Ashu’s recommendations for portfolio management as expectations have changed since the pandemic. We discuss the pros and cons of activity comparison amongst gift officers as well as how Ashu thinks AI can advance our industry. This is a wonderful conversation about data from the research perspective. Author of Tableau Data Visualization Cookbook, Ashutosh R. Nandeshwar is one of the few analytics professionals in the higher education industry who have developed analytical solutions for all stages of the student life cycle (from recruitment to giving). He enjoys speaking and ranting about data professionals' chase of "interesting" things (example: He received PhD/MS from West Virginia University and BEng from Nagpur University all in industrial engineering. Learn more about Ashu's work here:
March 09, 2022
89. Karl Clauss: Leading Alma Mater and Campaign Momentum
This week we revisit the on-going conversation about working for one’s alma mater and building momentum for campaigns. Karl Clauss, the Vice President for Advancement at Colgate University and I talked about what it has been like for him to return and lead the Development team at his alma mater, and the exciting new plans they have for their upcoming campaign. Karl is currently partnering with President Casey, Colgate faculty, and board leadership to engage alumni and parents and secure the resources that will make their newest campaign- The Third-Century Plan a reality. As of this week, we have surpassed 50,000 downloads on this podcast. Thank you for listening, sharing, and contributing to this vital community. Thank you as well for celebrating with us on social media. If you don’t already follow, you can find a page on LinkedIn called The Development Debrief and our Instagram page is @devdebrief.
March 02, 2022
88. Jason Briggs: Making specialist knowledge more accessible
Jason Briggs and I have a wonderful conversation this week about everything from Tibetan Buddhism to entrepreneurship. He tells us how he decided to make specialist knowledge more accessible through Pyro Talks. Jason Briggs is Co-Founder of PyroTalks CIC, as well as Consulting Partner for BWF Europe. and Fellow for Halpin Partnership. Previously, Jason was Director of Development at Cavendish Cancer Care, leading on all income channels. Whilst Jason was at The University of Sheffield he headed up their fundraising research & insight function, raising the value of their prospect pool value from £4.2m to £62.5m, and sat on the senate’s academic Research Ethics Committee. He also worked as a Consultant at Graham-Pelton specializing on campaign planning.
February 23, 2022
87. Leti McNeill Light: Ideating Partnership
This week, Leti Light takes the mic. She continues the conversation we had last week with Matt Hutter about strategic initiatives and principal gifts. The conversation moves from east coast to west coast as we go from Durham North Carolina to Berkeley, California. Leti emphasizes that giving at the highest levels is not about the dollars but about the idea itself. She also reminds us that partnership is critical at all levels of this kind of work. Leti is the President and co-founder of SIGAP—Strategic Initiatives Group for Advancement Professionals. Leti Light is a leader in higher education fundraising for transformational philanthropic partnerships, often in the form of cross-cutting, multidisciplinary initiatives. As Executive Director, Principal Gifts & Strategic Initiatives at UC Berkeley, Leti and her team partner with a wide range of academic and program leaders and work with the world’s leading philanthropists to achieve their vision through partnerships with the university designed to make Berkeley’s highest aspirations possible. Over the last 20 years, Leti has led philanthropic development efforts at Cornell University, UCLA, and now UC Berkeley. Follow us on instagram @devdebrief Today's episode is sponsored by BWF. 
February 16, 2022
86. Matt Hutter: Creating Sustained Culture Change
This week, we hear from Matt Hutter, Assistant Vice President of Development for Duke Science and Technology at Duke University. He is a strategic initiatives fundraiser who is an expert in raising money for the sciences. Roles like his are primarily found in large research universities and drive large scale giving. We talk about how these kinds of gifts make ripples not just through their dollars, but the culture change they create. Matt breaks down strategic initiatives and transformational gifts for us in a very approachable way. Please connect on instagram @devdebrief 
February 09, 2022
85. Sue Cunningham: CASE as a strategic partner and professional home
BWF is the proud sponsor of Season 6, Innovation and Impact. I have the absolute pleasure of speaking with Sue Cunningham, the CEO of CASE. Sue’s long relationship with CASE as well as her international experience really set her apart as a leader and visionary. We talk about her career to date, and then drill into CASE’s most recent strategic plan. Sue tells us how she facilitates joining the dots globally, expresses pride in her staff, and talks to us about the six key areas CASE will be focusing on as they recalibrate the organization into the next 5 years. CASE is truly a community of volunteers and leaders aiming to evolve and grow the profession. Sue says it herself in the episode that she would love to hear from you and add you to the growing community that is CASE. We will be ending this season with a Webinar on March 29th. Mark your calendars to join us and keep the conversation going! More on that soon, but in the meantime, please connect on social and have a great week!  Instagram: @devdebrief  LinkedIn: The Development Debrief 
February 02, 2022
84. Stephanie Posen: Recruiting and Training Front Line Fundraisers
I can’t believe this episode will wrap up two years of the Development Debrief! I talk with Stephanie Posen about how she has recruited, trained, and grown a team of front line officers doing leadership gift work. She has worked with her team to build a great culture of work in a remote environment. Stephanie Posen is the Director of Leadership Giving at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Stephanie manages the mid-level giving program which includes donors and prospects giving $1,000- $250,000. The Leadership Giving team serves as a pipeline for the rest of the department- both for revenue and donors, as well as developing talent and strong gift officers. Stephanie's professional career has been focused on Education and Academic Medicine with prior experience working at New York University (NYU) and Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM). In previous roles, Stephanie has worked in International Major Gifts, Leadership Annual Giving and Campaign Events. Stephanie holds a Master of Business Administration from NYU's Stern School Business and a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University in History and French Literature. I will be taking a break in January before returning with more episodes in February. Please share this podcast with your networks and follow us on social media @devdebrief and on Linkedin. Thank you for listening to the last episode of 2021. Warm wishes for 2022 and the great work I know we will all do! 
December 30, 2021
(BONUS EPISODE) Exciting Opportunities at my Alma Mater!
I talk with Dave Kayiatos, Assistant Director Leadership Giving (and fellow alum of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut) who received both a BA and an MA in history at Trinity, in 2002 and 2006 respectively. We discuss the value of working at your alma mater and how exciting it is to be working at Trinity today! This conversation prompts me to share some great opportunities at Trinity. Trinity is moving toward the public phase of a $500 million dollar comprehensive campaign, and they are growing the advancement team. Frontline fundraisers – this is an opportunity to join a strong, collaborative team. Trinity is also looking for an inaugural director of digital media, as well as other communications positions. If annual giving is where you shine, some great leadership roles are available there, too.  If you are thinking about your next move and want to have great impact, Trinity may be the place for you. To learn more, reach out to Vice President Michael Casey at 
December 23, 2021
83. Daren Batke: I Just Am
Several months ago, a listener of the Debrief reached out and asked if I would please feature today's guest-- Daren Batke. She said, "Daren leans into his individuality and uniqueness more than anyone. He shares of himself first, before asking that of others. He sets the example that you don't need to be a blank slate or adopt a flat, robotic affect to be deeply donor-centric." So it feels fitting that at the end of the year, I ask Daren to reflect on his career journey and personal leadership style.  Daren Batke is the Chief Advancement Officer for the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He has nearly 20 years of experience as an administrator of higher education, having served in leadership roles in advancement and external relations at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. He began his career in advancement at the University of Michigan's Law School. He received his bachelor of arts degree with distinction from the College of Wooster in Ohio, and completed graduate study at the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan, where he hopes to complete his doctoral work focusing on the intersectionality of philanthropy and pro social behaviors at colleges and universities. In 2017, Batke was a fellow at the Institutes for Higher Education at Harvard University. He volunteers for a number of not for profit organizations across Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan, and serves as an advisor for a small investment management group.
December 23, 2021
82. Rich Berlin: Could DREAM be in your future?
Today I interview Rich Berlin, Co-CEO of DREAM. I ask him about his origin story at the organization, leadership structure, board management, and his views on fundraising. There are lots of things that make DREAM stand out in New York City and an impactful place to work. This episode is special because DREAM is currently searching for their next Chief Advancement Officer.  Originally founded in 1991 as Harlem RBI, DREAM has grown to annually serve more than 2,000 youth across East Harlem and the South Bronx through a network of PreK-12, extended-day, extended-year DREAM Charter Schools and community sports-based youth development programs. DREAM’s Grow the Whole Child model embodies a commitment to rigorous academics, social-emotional learning, deep family and community engagement, and health and wellness, creating lifelong learners who are equipped to fulfill their vision of success in and out of the classroom. The Chief Advancement Officer will develop and lead DREAM's experienced seven-person Advancement team to drive an ambitious fundraising strategy, raising over $20 million annually and spearheading a $50 million capital campaign that will lead DREAM into its next phase of growth. DREAM’s unique position within the education and nonprofit spaces—combined with   its best-in-class Board and donor base—make this an incredibly exciting opportunity for someone with a strong track record of impact as DREAM continues to deepen its roots in New York City. To learn more about DREAM, and to apply, visit You can also refer someone you know for a $1,000 reward!
December 16, 2021
81. Sarah Krasin: New Leadership and Building Culture
This week I talk with Sarah Krasin (Executive Vice President at CCS fundraising) about her career journey. She made a big move right before the pandemic and found herself in a new city across the country, leading a team of people many of whom she had never met in person. Sarah describes fundraising as a “contact sport” and she explains how she was able to make contact virtually. She tells us how she built culture and lead a new team in the past two years of incredible change. Since joining CCS in 2012, Sarah’s client engagements have spanned all major non-profit sectors and included campaign planning studies, major gift program development, interim development management, and capital campaign management. She has specific expertise in designing and managing national, comprehensive major gift campaigns, particularly for institutions with nascent or start-up programs.
December 09, 2021
80. CeCe Aparo: Email hacks for effective (not efficient) donor outreach
In this week’s episode is reconnect with a college classmate who is doing exciting work in the world of sales. CeCe Aparo shares some great hacks with us as we think about emailing and communications with our constituencies. Later in the episode, she puts on her donor and trustee hat and lets us know what excites her on the receiving end of development strategy. CeCe has dedicated her career to building, optimizing, and training top sales organizations across the United States. Starting her career in sales and marketing, CeCe quickly identified the benchmarks for success in a winning sales program. CeCe spent five years in venture capital where she was responsible for working with portfolio companies post-investment on their sales and go-to-market strategy. CeCe is Vice President of Corporate Training at HOFFMAN, working with corporate clients around the world to master our technique and increase pipeline and revenue. With a strong understanding of the sales process and a passion for the art and science of sales, CeCe delivers training that is tactical, engaging, and meaningful. CeCe attended Trinity College in Hartford and is on the board of trustees at Providence Country Day school. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband in two daughters. Click here to learn more about Hoffman:
December 02, 2021
79. Mary Jane Bray: It Starts With Thank You!
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is enjoying family and good food. This Thanksgiving, are you looking to up your stewardship game? We learn from today's guest that sometimes it really is a simple as picking up the phone. I am reporting to you from Ithaca, New York today. I am spending the holiday with my family upstate. I want to feature some great work being done in this region. Mary Jane Bray who is the Major Gift Officer for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier is with us, to share some stewardship strategies she has found effective. MJ’s food bank acquired 7800 new donors in 2020. 22% of their new donors gave again. 35% of that group has given more than one gift.  MJ tells us how she thanked those individuals and built relationships with them over the phone. I also asked her how persistent she was with her  calls and how she works to have donors at all levels feel appreciated. MJ has some great answers!  Thank you for joining us today. I am grateful for our debrief community. If you have effective stewardship strategies, share them with us! You can connect on LinkedIn or instagram @devdebrief.  Enjoy the holiday and if you are liking these episodes please rate and review the show!
November 25, 2021
78. Colin Donovan Wyatt: The Business of Becoming
Colin Donovan Wyatt is the Director of Development at Santa Barbara Middle School. This week, I talk with Colin about the “other duties as assigned” that independent school professionals often find themselves doing. However, it’s not just duties—as we engage with our schools outside of development, we are able to be better at the work of storytelling and making a case for support for our institutions. I also think engaging deeply with your institution will serve you well regardless of which sector you are currently in.  Colin and I also talk about the DEIJ (J is for justice) work at Santa Barbara Middle School and we brainstorm about ways we can continue to evolve our field into a more inclusive environment while still raising major gifts. To be fair, we don’t solve any of these quandaries—but hopefully it can guide some new thinking. We are all in the business of becoming whether it is as individuals, teams, or institutions. I hope this episode helps you think about how to continue to grow intentionally and strategically.  Please connect on instagram @devdebrief 
November 18, 2021
77. Jim Husson: Understanding Yourself and Your Institution
Welcome to Season 5!  I am so happy to be at this point, almost two years into the Debrief. I continue to be amazed by this community and the bonds that are forming within our network.  I am honored to be featuring Jim Husson (Senior Vice President for University Advancement at Boston College), in this episode. Jim and I thought it would be fun to talk about identity as an opener for this season. I’ve just made a career transition and Jim has made several throughout his career. We talk about how and when to make a move, but more importantly why understanding your institution really matters. Listen on to learn more… Follow us @debrief on instagram. 
November 11, 2021
76. Part 5: Returning to a Sense of Place Mini Series
Today is our final episode of the Returning to a Sense of Place Mini Series. While we will continue to discuss the topic of working from the office and home in its various forms, our study with BWF and our guests has come to a close. Since July, we have been asking the questions about what is working and what isn't. Today, Josh Birkholz and I wrap up what we have learned over the past several months and what we want to move forward. This is not just the end of the series, but it's also the end of Season 4. I will be taking some time to continue to acclimate in my new role and begin working on a dynamic Season 5. I have already secured some very strong and exciting guests and can't wait to share what is in store later this fall. Until then, good luck-- and have a great week! **Special thank you to BWF, Willie Jude II, Allison Baker, Josh Birkholz, Kelley Morris, and Karim Kafray for their contributions to this project.  Please connect on instagram @devdebrief for updates on the new season and more information on guests, book recommendations, future episodes and more! 
October 07, 2021
75. Major Gifts Guide
A few months ago, I was asked to put together a presentation of lessons learned on the podcast as well as major giving best practices. I decided to record the presentation shortly after giving it so that I could share it with all of you. This episode is a rare one-- there is no guest speaker. I am not reading from a script but rather recounting my presentation and thought process.  I took six episodes throughout the podcast's history, to use as guideposts while talking about important pillars of major gifts fundraising. You'll notice, there is no one size fits all. This episode contains my general ethos to major giving and my hope is that it will help you think in new ways about your work. **Thank you to the wonderful guests I quote in this episode and to Texas A&M for inspiring the dialogue.  Please connect with me on linkedin and on instagram @devdebrief.
September 30, 2021
74. Josh Schaier: Hebrew Free Lending
This week we learn from Josh Schaier about JELF (Jewish Educational Loan Fund). JELF helps Jewish students earn their degrees through interest-free loans. Josh talks about moving to JELF from higher ed and ways he has grown the team through data organization, story-telling, and educating recipients about their loans. Josh says, “We have history we are reflecting backwards to look forward.” Josh Schaier is JELF’s Chief Development Officer. Prior to working at JELF, Josh worked in University Development and Alumni Relations at New York University and with the fundraising team of the 92nd Street Y. Before beginning a career in nonprofit fundraising, Josh worked as a legal assistant at some of New York’s top law firms. Josh received his MPA, Nonprofit Management from NYU Wagner in 2015 and his BA, History from Binghamton University in 2006. Connect @devdebrief
September 23, 2021
73. Sara Sargent: Don't Assume Anything
Don’t Assume Anything. Our guest, Sara Sargent says this term at one point in the conversation, but I wanted to highlight it by using it as the title. I speak with Sara, a bright activist and scholar…who also happens to be a child of wealth…5 generations of it.  Sara (Resource Mobilization Director at United for a Fair Economy) speaks candidly about how she manages her inherited wealth and how she gives it away. Sara talks us through her relationship to her money, how is has cumulated, and her plans for the future. Connect with us on instagram @devdebrief 
September 16, 2021
72. Part 4: Returning to a Sense of Place Mini Series
In Part 4, we hear more from Karim Kafray and Kelley Morris. They will share some stories about donor work they have done both in person and remotely. Plans continue to change as we look into the fall but I am hoping this episode encourages you to stay positive during a time where so much is unknown.  This episode is sponsored by BWF. BWF is a full-service philanthropic consulting services firm. BWF serves large- and medium-sized nonprofits in the areas of campaign management, high-net-worth fundraising, organizational consulting, data science, digital marketing, and technology. Clients include universities, health systems, arts & culture organizations, and NGOs throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and the Pacific Rim. As a truly comprehensive fundraising consulting firm, BWF has a team of consultants with expertise in every facet of philanthropy. For more information please visit Please connect with us @devdebrief
September 09, 2021
71. Kris Putnam- Walkerly: Delusion Altruism
Kris Putnam-Walkerly wrote the book, Delusion Altruism as a way to help funders make better decisions about their philanthropy. I talk with her about how fundraisers can learn from her book and the donor experience through her writing and teaching.  For over 20 years, top global philanthropies, ultra-high net worth donors, celebrity activists, foundations, wealth advisors, and Fortune 500 companies have sought Kris Putnam-Walkerly’s philanthropic advisory services to dramatically increase the clarity, speed, impact and joy of their giving. As a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author, she’s helped hundreds of foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.  Kris also contributes expert philanthropic commentary to the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Forbes, Variety, Thrive Global, Worth Magazine, and other media. She was recently featured on NPR’s Marketplace Morning Report, and she co-edited The Foundation Review’s themed journal on philanthropy consulting. Kris is the author of her second book, Delusional Altruism: Why Philanthropists Fail to Achieve Change and What They Can Do To Transform Giving (Wiley 2020). Follow us on instagram @devdebrief 
September 02, 2021
70. Dee Robinson: On T.R.U.E Leadership
This week I talk with Dee Robinson about coaching, her training course T.R.U.E leadership, and her personal opinions on diversity and potential. Dee says, “We’ve got to expand the field of qualified leaders in order to get more women.” Dee is passionate and experienced on her views of leadership within our field. Dr. Deborah “Dee” Robinson has developed The T.R.U.E.™ Leadership Path Project to provide training in becoming a T.R.U.E. Leader ( An online program and network of women leaders, it is designed to meet the need for focused training, specifically for women, to support their success in becoming strategic and ethical leaders. T.R.U.E.™. Leaders create values-based cultures, to support innovative and creative work, attract, and retain diverse and high performing talent, which results in increased revenues, and employee retention and satisfaction. Please connect on Instagram @devdebrief or on linkedin. I would love to hear from you!
August 26, 2021
69. Part 3: Returning to a Sense of Place Mini Series
Today we hear more from Willie Jude (Vice Chancellor for Advancement at University of Wisconsin-Parkside) and Allison Baker (Senior Director of Development, Women's & Children's Health at Johns Hopkins Medicine). Now that we know them a bit better from Part 2 which aired on July 22nd, we will hear about their plans and personal outlook for FY22.  This episode is sponsored by BWF. BWF is a full-service philanthropic consulting services firm. BWF serves large- and medium-sized nonprofits in the areas of campaign management, high-net-worth fundraising, organizational consulting, data science, digital marketing, and technology. Clients include universities, health systems, arts & culture organizations, and NGOs throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and the Pacific Rim. As a truly comprehensive fundraising consulting firm, BWF has a team of consultants with expertise in every facet of philanthropy. For more information please visit Please follow @devdebrief! 
August 19, 2021
68. Sam Duplessis: MGO to Manager
Today we talk with Sam Duplessis about his career change from MGO at the Wharton School to Director of Advancement at the Pennsylvania libraries (both positions within the University of Pennsylvania). He discusses the differences he both expected and didn’t between being an individual contributor and leader of a team. We also have the treat of learning more about the libraries at Penn and the reputational risk that comes with working alongside such treasures. Sam is the Director of Advancement at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, which has over 400 full time staff who manage 14 departmental librairies. His team includes two gift officers, a development communications person, a data/research person, and a development assistant. His team manages four boards and raises approximately $10m a year in cash, pledges, and gifts of materials such as books, manuscripts, and photographs- all with no natural constituency! Whereas most schools and centers at Penn have alumni, the Libraries has no graduates and counts on campus partners to identify prospects who are interested in their funding priorities and engagement opportunities. Prior to this role, Sam was a Major Gift Officer at the Wharton School, covering alumni living in the southeast and Texas. Sam also worked as an MGO at Bryn Mawr College and spent five years in the admissions office at the University of Chicago. Learn more @devdebrief
August 12, 2021
67. Rebecca Clendenen: Growing Healthy Annual Giving Societies
Our conversation today is dedicated to annual fund work. Rebecca Clendenen (Assistant Director of Annual Giving at DePaul University) talks to us about balancing an inclusive environment within the annual fund while using societies as a tool. Rebecca believes that every alum should feel comfortable giving to their annual fund at whatever level is best for them. She is also a strong proponent for making a career working in the annual fund.  Rebecca has more than 10 years of experience in leadership annual giving and non-profit management. She is currently a PhD candidate with an academic focus on local civil society organizations and engagement, including interest groups, social movements, and non-profits. Please connect on instagram @devdebrief 
August 05, 2021
66. Ben Feller: Be Known for Who You Are
Do you want to hone your development writing skills or think more about reputation? Are you tasked with communications in your role and want to be more effective? This episode is for you. I ask our guest, Ben Feller about brevity in communications, how his experience in the White House has changed his view, and how development is critically intertwined with communications. Ben is a Partner at Mercury, where he leads media strategy. An award-winning writer, Ben offers strategic counsel on communications after a 20-year journalism career in which he distinguished himself as one of the finest reporters in the nation. Ben specializes in crafting powerful messaging for corporations, universities, foundations and leaders, and in managing complex, fast-moving challenges. He has a rich understanding of how the news media works and how to shape a communications strategy that delivers real results. Prior to joining Mercury, Ben served as the chief White House correspondent for The Associated Press, a premier role in which he led presidential coverage for the largest news organization in the world. He offers expertise on the media, politics, writing and public engagement, and a deep reputation for accuracy and integrity across the political spectrum. Ben has particular experience in the fields of education, health care, the economy, national politics, voter attitudes and civic affairs. Ben’s full-time career began in 1993 as a reporter for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa. He also wrote for the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. and The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Fla. A native of State College, Pennsylvania, Ben graduated from Penn State in 1992 with a degree in journalism. He lives in New York City. Connect with us @devdebrief 
July 29, 2021
65. Part 2: Returning to a Sense of Place Mini Series
Hello! Thank you for tuning in to our very first miniseries. Today you will be hearing Part 2. If you haven’t already, please see Part 1 which aired on July 8th, a few weeks ago. Today’s episode features four dynamic professionals in different parts of the country and holding different positions of leadership. In today’s episode the questions will center around who these professionals are, and what they’ve done to date to cope with the pandemic and remote work. We will hear from the following four people in the following order: Willie Jude II, Vice Chancellor at The University of Wisconsin–Parkside; Allison Baker, Senior Director of Development, Women's & Children's Health at Johns Hopkins Medicine; Kelley Morris, Vice President of Individual Giving at Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation; Karim Kafray, Executive Gift Officer at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Each person will speak for about 15 min. I ask them a similar line of questions, but in their answers you will get a good sense of how different work places operate and how perspectives are differ depending on the role. Please connect with us and send in questions for our speakers as we will be hearing from them again. Let’s get started! instagram @devdebrief  email: 
July 22, 2021
64. Michele Ripka: New to the Field
Do you remember what it was like to begin your career? This week, I interview Michele Ripka about her desire to join the fundraising field and we learn about what she is looking for in a career and how she views our work. This episode is a fresh take on the field. Michele reminds us about the importance of mentorship and working together.  Michele Ripka is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan (U-M), where she earned her Masters degree in Business Management from the Ross School of Business, and Bachelors degree in Violin Performance, while studying Performing Arts Management and Entrepreneurship at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD). Please connect with our community on instagram @devdebrief 
July 15, 2021
63. Part 1: Returning to a Sense of Place Mini Series
Hello everyone! I am thrilled to share with you a project that has been in the works for sometime. I am pairing up with BWF consulting to do my first ever sponsored program. "Finding a Sense of Place" the miniseries, will be a several month study, looking at the complexities around returning to the office--- or not. Our professionals featured are all over the country, representing different levels of leadership and different sectors within the industry. We explore lots of questions around people’s experiences over the last year, and their plans for this upcoming one. We talk about logistics, preferences, and how plans to return or not play into future goals. This week, we will start with a conversation between me and Josh Birkholz, the CEO of BWF Consulting. We will Learn more about Josh and his opinions on workplace dynamics as well as ask some of the questions we will be entertaining with Karim Kafray (MD Anderson), Allison Baker (Johns Hopkins Medicine), Kelley Morris (Phoenix Children's Hospital Foundation), and Jude Willis (University of Wisconsin Parkside). This episode is sponsored by BWF. BWF is a full-service philanthropic consulting services firm. BWF serves large- and medium-sized nonprofits in the areas of campaign management, high-net-worth fundraising, organizational consulting, data science, digital marketing, and technology. Clients include universities, health systems, arts & culture organizations, and NGOs throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and the Pacific Rim. As a truly comprehensive fundraising consulting firm, BWF has a team of consultants with expertise in every facet of philanthropy. For more information please visit Please connect with us @devdebrief 
July 08, 2021
62. Elizabeth Abel: Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! Happy 4th of July! I am so excited about what this season has in store for the Debrief.  On this episode, Elizabeth shares her perspective on how to prepare for your new year from the greatest place of strength. This is important as we navigate another big year of changes personally and professionally. We talk empathy and ambition, revisiting your case for support and building a comprehensive fundraising plan. Elizabeth Abel is a thought leader in philanthropy and seasoned expert in fundraising. She has designed, advised, and directed development initiatives and capital campaigns that have collectively raised more than $250 million, positively impacting tens of thousands of lives. Elizabeth is a Corporate Vice President at CCS Fundraising, a leading fundraising consulting firm to nonprofit organizations worldwide. Tune in to learn more on our instagram live July 13th at 5pm! You can learn more on instagram @devdebrief 
July 01, 2021
61. Lisa Greer: Do We Need A Philanthropy Revolution?
Hello friends! Today I share with you the Final episode of season 3. Although this is the last episode for a little while, there are still two more ways for you to engage with the Debrief before Season 4. Tomorrow, at 5pm eastern, I will go live on Instagram @devdebrief with Lisa Greer to talk about her book and answer any questions you have from this episode. If you can’t join us there, I highly recommend you sign up via Eventbrite for our first ever zoom event on May 20th. Lisa Zola Greer is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, convener, and the author of the bestseller "Philanthropy Revolution". Over the last decade, the Greer home in Beverly Hills has been home to nearly 200 charitable salons and events connecting nonprofits with donors and the community. Email me your questions for Lisa on the live here: Join our instagram live via handle: @devdebrief Join our community event on May 20th here:
May 13, 2021
60. Jill Lasman: The Future of Executive Search
Jill Lasman, Senior Executive Vice President at Lois Lindauer, and I talk about executive search. We toggle back and forth between the perspective of the firm, and the candidate. Jill shares her expertise on how she is placing people, what areas have become even more important in the search process, and how things have changed since the pandemic. Certain skills are now more valuable than ever before, and so listening to this episode will help anyone who is looking to make a change or start interviewing for the first time since the pandemic. Jill Lasman is a key force in setting the Lindauer standard for executive search. A well-known and respected national search executive, Jill has placed senior leaders and their teams in many major education, healthcare and science, arts and culture, advocacy and mission-driven institutions since joining the firm in 1998. Register for our event here:
May 06, 2021
59. Ryan Hart: The Gift Multiplier
This week, I spoke with my colleague Ryan Hart about conversational gift planning. Ryan has coined the term “the four gift frames” and walks us through each of them and how they can help us identify bigger, mutually beneficial gifts between our donors and institutions. Ryan explains to us that we don’t need to know the in and outs of complicated gifts to be able to identify them with our donors. Ryan also highlights the critical aspect of collaborating with colleagues- this is a crucial ingredient with the type of work we are talking about. Ryan Hart is Executive Director of Gift Planning at Columbia University where he oversees strategic university-wide efforts to raise funds for the $5 billion Columbia Commitment Campaign through planned gifts. Connect on instagram @devdebrief
April 29, 2021
58. Joan O'Neill: Virtual Campaign Launch and Principal Gifts
This week, the debrief begins to talk about returning to work and the outlook on FY22 with Joan O’Nell, Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development at Yale University. We recorded this episode one month ago, on the one year anniversary of working in a remotely. Joan tells us about Yale’s planning for their first ever virtual campaign launch for the fall. She also tells us about two big gifts that were closed during the virtual environment. She weighs what is easier and harder with a virtual practice. Prior to her appointment as vice president for alumni affairs and development in July 2012, Ms. O’Neill spent eight years as associate vice president for development leading the major gifts, parent giving, planned giving, annual giving, and reunion giving programs, which together contributed $1.2 billion of the Yale Tomorrow campaign's total. Ms. O’Neill held earlier positions as area director at the Yale School of Medicine, as director of special projects and assistant to the vice president for development, as director of leadership and major gifts, and as a director in principal gifts for Yale’s previous capital campaign, which concluded in 1997. She first joined Yale in 1987 as a major gift officer. Ms. O’Neill received a B.A. in psychology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Please connect on instagram @devdebrief or check out our website at 
April 22, 2021
57. David Smith: Cancel the Gala for Good?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continues to remain at the forefront of our minds. Violence and hate permeate the news far too often.This week’s episode is a beacon of hope for how we can make change in our communities. Development holds power and is just as relevant to DEI as any other arm of our schools and institutions.  This week, David Smith, Director of Development at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, talks to us about his work in the context of a career in independent schools. David examines Saint Ann’s history and how it informs their work today. David has had the opportunity to execute some bold changes with his program. He tells us about cancelling Saint Anne’s gala, removing the donor roll, and reframing the idea of scholarship. David is contrarian in many ways, but he backs up his strategies with results. This episode is very thought provoking! Please connect on instagram @devdebrief 
April 15, 2021
56. Jen Risher: Let's Talk About Wealth
Jennifer came into significant wealth in her early 30's. Over the years, her wealth has grown to a number she never could have imagined. She chose to write her memoir to share her story, and encourage others to talk about wealth. Her story is disarming, honest, and a delight to read. As a fundraiser, I was enlightened by her honest recount of giving big gifts for the first time, and her own identity shift as a wealthy woman. Jennifer Risher was born in Seattle, Washington, grew up in Oregon, and graduated from Connecticut College. She joined Microsoft in 1991 where she worked as a recruiter and then as a product manager. She and her husband, David, have two daughters and live in San Francisco, where David is CEO of Worldreader, a nonprofit he cofounded with a mission to create a world where everyone is a reader. In May 2020, Jennifer and David launched #HalfMyDAF to inspire more charitable giving. We Need to Talk is Jennifer’s first book. insta @devdebrief
April 08, 2021
55. Mike Eicher and Justin Fincher: Leadership Starts with You
Leadership can be so elusive and hard to quantify. This week we drill down on what makes a leader and how you can sharpen your own leadership skills. Guests Mike Eicher, (Senior Vice President for Advancement and President of The Ohio State University Foundation) and Justin Fincher Ph.D., (Vice President for Advancement, Strategy and Administration) tell us it needs to start with your own relationship with your self.  Justin and Mike have a mentor mentee relationship. They work together at The Ohio State University. Listen as they talk about their work together and how it has grown and evolved through their launch of the Advancement Leadership Lab. If you would like to support the podcast, you can do so by clicking the support button here: Please check out my new site: Connect on instagram: @devdebrief 
April 01, 2021
54. Elizabeth Angeles: Celebrating Advocacy and Education
My friend Elizabeth and I met volunteering together at the YWCA of New York City. I was immediately drawn in by Elizabeth’s passion for service and smart thoughtful contributions to our strategic planning. In this episode, Elizabeth answers the question for us, what is an emergency? We talk about advocacy, education, being in touch with those you serve, and her participation as a founding board member of the Bold Charter School in the Bronx.  Elizabeth Angeles is currently the Senior Director of Advocacy at the United Way of New York City, a nonprofit organization that fights for the health, education and financial stability of every New Yorker. Prior to this work, in her role at the Clinton Foundation, Elizabeth developed new initiatives to support disaster recovery and long-term resilience in the Caribbean. She was previously a founding member of the Strategy and Program Development team at NYC Emergency Management. During her time with the agency, she developed partnerships with organizations that serve people with disabilities, designed programs to support community emergency planning, and implemented parts of the agency's first strategic plan. Elizabeth serves as a founding trustee at BOLD Charter School, a new elementary school in the Bronx. She is also currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service at New York University. Elizabeth holds a BA in economics and linguistics from Columbia University and an MPA from New York University. Challenge- how will you educate yourself this week?
March 25, 2021
53. Chris Clarke: Engineering and Campaign Strategy
This week I speak with William Christopher "Chris" Clarke, the Associate Vice President for Campaigns at Duke University. I ask Chris about his fundraising experience at engineering schools. Chris explains how engineering fundraising is unique and how it fits into the larger picture of a research University. Later, we talk about Chris’s professional training in singing and performance. All of Chris's experiences, have prepared him to execute his current role in campaign planning. Chris emphasizes that above all, there is an underlying core importance of curiosity in our profession.
March 18, 2021
52. Alison Traub and Chris Cox: A Comparative Discussion of UK vs. US Fundraising
The week I sit down with Alison Traub (Executive Director of Development and Alumni Relations at University of Cambridge) and Chris Cox (Vice Principal at The University of Edinburgh). Our guests talk candidly about the cultural differences between fundraising in the US vs. the UK. Alison and Chris are perfectly positioned to discuss this given their respective backgrounds. We talk structure, academics, growth over the past ten years, due diligence, admissions and more! Please connect on instagram @devdebrief or on our LinkedIn page if you want to learn more about the podcast.
March 11, 2021
51. Robert Khederian: Selling to the Carriage Trade
I had the absolute pleasure of spotlighting a great friend for this episode. I compare the similarities between working with high end donors and working in real estate. If you like New York City, real estate, or have an interest in social media, you will enjoy this episode. I am exploring an idea here- how do other industries relate to our development work? Robert is a real estate broker at Compass who is first in class. He talks to us about his field and then we learn about his Instagram handle and how he has developed a following.
March 04, 2021
50. Esther Choy: Interpreting First Generation Wealth
I am so lucky to have storytelling expert and communicator Esther Choy as our guest this week. She talks with us about her newest study called "Transforming Partnerships with Major Donors-- Aligning the key values of first generation wealth creators and fundraisers in the age of “Winner Takes All”" We talk about the dichotomy of abundance and deprivation among the privileged, the disproportionate amount of newly created wealth, desired ways to communicate and identify these donors, and 4 key pillars Esther created to better understand people who have created first generation wealth. Esther Choy is the President and Chief Story Facilitator at Leadership Story Lab, where she works with clients to help them communicate their own authentic stories. Esther is the author of the book "Let the Story Do the Work: The Art of Storytelling for Business Success" and her work can be seen regularly on,, and An alumna of Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University as well as Texas A&M, Esther holds both an MBA and an MS in Higher Education. Esther lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. Find the report here:
February 25, 2021
49. Braylon Edwards: Football and Philanthropy
How do athletes go from multi-million dollar contracts to making a difference? What happens in retirement for athlete’s whose identity has been focused on their sport? What motivates athletes to give and why is it unusual to see major giving in higher ed from pros? This week's guest, Braylon Edwards addresses these questions in an unscripted conversation about his philanthropy and leadership. Braylon was a wide receiver for the University of Michigan, which led to him being the third overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft. He retired from the NFL in 2014 and returned to Michigan to finish his degree. Since then he continues to be a sports commentator and published his first book, “Doing It My Way”, which chronicled his outspoken life as a Michigan Wolverine. Braylon’s philanthropy has focused on athletic scholarships at the University of Michigan and in Cleveland. Most recently, Braylon has become an advisor for nonprofits on mental health initiatives, and with the U of M Alumni Association, U of M African American Giving Initiative, and the U of M Depression Center.
February 18, 2021
48. Blake Davis: Networking with Natural Curiosity
Today’s guest Blake Davis (Assistant Vice President for Development at Southern Methodist University, located in Dallas, TX), started networking from a young age. He opens with telling the story of his early networking in college and then we move on to talking about navigating hierarchy through networking and get as granular as talking about effective cold emails for outreach. Blake tells us, ultimately, good networking looks like good portfolio management. Blake uses the word pure a few times as he talks about making connections- listen for his examples, they are powerful. Key takeaways: 1. Network internally 2. Create support groups 3. Network role play 4. Be YOU! Please connect on instagram @devdebrief or email me, I would love to hear from you!
February 11, 2021
47. Karen Isble: From Prospect Researcher to Vice President
I am so glad you are here! Please follow me on LinkedIn or Instagram @devdebrief. There, you can get updates on the podcast and learn more about our guests. I hope you will find me any enjoy this week’s podcast. Today’s episode features Karen Isble, the Vice President for Advancement at Kalamazoo College. We talk about her recent arrival to the role (last fall) and her journey getting there. Karen’s career has been steeped in an expertise in prospect management and operations and she talks about how the skills for that part of the work apply to leadership and an ever important full-picture strategy. Karen identifies inflection points in her career that were pivotal to her growth. Did you know Karen dreamed of being an Opera singer? She tells us how she pivoted from the performing arts into administration and then ultimately development.
February 04, 2021
46. John Toolan: How to Prepare for an Authentic Interview
Are you working up the courage to start interviewing or in the throes of a job search right now? Keep listening to hear John Toolan (Vice President of BRYANT GROUP executive search) give the inside scoop on preparing for a strong interview. He even suggests that if you aren’t looking you should still be practicing and thinking about your own professional narrative. Learn: Fatal mistakes to avoid The STAR technique Top 5 tips for online interviewing The Rule of 7 And how to be memorable as a candidate
January 28, 2021
45. Patty Hill Callahan: Pressing The Reset Button
Welcome to Season 3. Our first episode of the season is called "Pressing The Reset Button". A term that Patty Hill Callahan used when she told me she was taking time off from work and leaving her role as Vice President of Medical & Health Sciences Advancement at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The first ten minutes of this episode is reflecting on Patty’s career to date. It didn’t feel right to have Patty on and not ask her important questions about the work she has done in our field. The next twenty minutes are dedicated to the difficult decision she made to step away from her professional life and focus on her personal one. Patty talks about authentic leadership, personal growth and following her gut. She shows without telling that it doesn’t matter what people think of you if your decision was the right one for you and your family.
January 21, 2021
Season 3 Trailer: Tell Me Something Good
As I sit here in my studio apartment looking ahead to the next three months of winter I know it will be a slog. I am reading more books, and working more than ever on the Development Debrief. On the episode I share: 1. A poem called "2020" and talk about the projected vibes for Season 3. 2. An instagram live event that will be taking place tonight (1/14 at 8pm). You can find my collaboration with Shanna Hocking on my account @devdebrief. 3. How much I am looking forward to a positive and inspirational Season 3!
January 14, 2021
44. Anniversary Episode: What We Know After 2020
Fred Van Sickle (my Dad) and I sat down together to reflect on 2020. The first year of the Development Debrief was perhaps one of the most exciting, scary, and intense, in our field and our lives. My Dad, who works in development at Cornell University asks me questions about the podcast process and then I ask him what he has learned as a leader in the field. Thank you to the wonderful guests this year and the amazing debrief who community for being part of this podcast! Enjoy the holiday and don't worry- season 3 will be coming in late January. Please follow on instagram @devdebrief or get into touch via email
December 16, 2020
43. Jonah Nigh: Museum Musings
This week I speak with Jonah Nigh (Chief Development Officer, The Jewish Museum) about his transition to a leadership position right after the initial COVID hit. We compare and contrast his experience in higher ed with fundraising in the arts, the dangerous future of free content, the retention of members in the museum space, and using membership as pool for prospecting. Jonah does a great job talking us through his work and what makes his institution special.
December 09, 2020
42. Julie Lucas: Independent Schools Empower Students
This week we have our first episode focusing on Independent School fundraising. I have always been curious about this slice of the pie in our sector. What is it like managing parents and alums? How do these small communities work together? What is the culture like? I ask these questions of Julie Lucas, Chief Advancement Officer at Darlington School. Darlington School is a co-ed, independent boarding and day school in Rome, Ga., for students in pre-K through high school. Special thank you to Carson Raymond who recommended Julie as a guest!
December 02, 2020
41. Brent Grinna: Thanksgiving Special!
Happy Thanksgiving! Thank YOU for tuning into this podcast and supporting the Debrief. This week’s episode features Brent Grinna, Founder and CEO of Evertrue. The theme of our conversation is gratitude and we talk about it from several different angles. Brent shares his personal story of going to Brown on scholarship, how that bleeds into his origin story for his company Evertrue, and several other touching stories and ideas he has come across along the way. Check out his podcast: The episode we reference is here: **Correction: Brent is a proud Brown alum
November 25, 2020
40. Brian Chapman: The Value of Gifts
Today’s episode features a brilliant and creative mind. A colleague who is always thinking outside of the box and questioning the status quo. This week, I pick the brain of Brian Chapman (Deputy Vice President for Analytics and Business Strategy in the Office of Alumni and Development at Columbia University). The conversation is not specific to higher ed and can be applied to all roles in the field. Brian and I would meet on a semi regular basis (before we went remote) and I would ask him questions over coffee or lunch like I do today. A few examples we unpack today.... is a larger gift a better gift? How do we assign value to gift impact? How should fundraisers be evaluated? Why have we trained donors to follow certain patterns?
November 18, 2020
39. Nina Diefenbach and Whitney Donhauser: Broadening Audience with Closed Doors
This week’s episode is a true testament to the power of networking and relationships within the field. Suzanne Hilser-Wiles, a previous guest, recommended that I invite Nina McNeely Diefenbach (Senior Vice President and Deputy Director for Advancement, Barnes Foundation) and Whitney W. Donhauser (President and Ronay Menschel Director, Museum of the City of New York) to do an episode together about arts and culture. You can feel the friendship between Nina and Whitney as they share their views and experiences. The two worked together at the Met and you’ll notice the episode starts when we are getting acquainted. I couldn’t help but keep their admiration for one another within the episode. Nina and Whitney talk about their respective institution’s struggles and successes since March. They emphasize collaboration and the power of digital media.
November 11, 2020
38. Andy Zepp: Environmental Fundraising
This week we talk about land conversation. I to pick the brain of Andy Zepp, the Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Andy is has a calming force as he talks about his plans for the land trust and his perspective on fundraising. We highlight the differences and similarities between higher ed and cause based fundraising.
November 04, 2020
37. Howard Stevenson: Examine the Root
Veronica Martini (my boss at Columbia)invited Howard Stevenson (one of her mentor's) to speak at our team retreat this past summer. We have recorded the conversation as a live Debrief Episode. Howard talks about his experience as a donor and fundraiser as the Sarofim-Rock Baker Foundation Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. His main message is to talk about philanthropy as the solution to root problems through various institutions. Connect: Insta- @devdebrief email-
October 28, 2020
36. Suzanne Hilser-Wiles: Know Better, Do Better
Suzanne Hilser- Wiles, (President at GG + A) helps us understand diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges in our field from a consultant's expert perspective. She then shares her own challenges as a woman in a historically male-dominated field. She offers stories, data, and insight to back up her thoughtful ideas and viewpoints. Hopefully this conversation will help you think about some real changes you can make in your own organization. This one is a real treat! Connect with me- instagram: @devdebrief email:
October 21, 2020
35. George Development Group: High Impact Philanthropy
This week we hear from our very first married couple. Our guests, Meg and Phil George (co-founders of George Development Group) have built a full service consulting firm together and talk with us about their process and approach. Their core competency is the implementation of major gift programs and we have fun learning more about that and hearing their predictions for the next generation of philanthropy. Connect with me on IG: @devdebrief or email:
October 14, 2020
34. Kathi Warren: Commitment to Culture
Kathi Warren (Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at Rice University) and I talk accountability, approachability, and the importance of team culture. Kathi explains how her STEM background sets her apart and opens up about being one of the few African American leaders in the industry. Listen to learn more! Connect on @devdebrief or email me at
October 07, 2020
(BONUS EPISODE) Kathryn Van Sickle: Virtual Visits
On this special episode of the debrief I will share some of my personal experiences with virtual visits. I walk through how I am securing meetings and share how I prepare, execute, and close meetings virtually. We can do this if we support one another and embrace the change! Shoutout to my Columbia teammates who are my closest collaborators who helped inspire this episode! I am hoping this will start a conversation, please add your thoughts on @devdebrief or email
September 30, 2020
33. Matt Lachs: CFR and a Childhood Dream
Matt Lachs (Development Officer at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology) has realized a childhood dream. Being in development was something he always wanted and it hasn’t let him down yet. He oozes enthusiasm and as he talks about his career and the change philanthropy can make both within society and on the most personal levels. Matt talks about his experience in Corporate and Foundation Relations, especially within the context of Covid. He also talks about his experiences working at UPenn and why he loves development so much.
September 30, 2020
32. Tamara Rogers: Reflections on a Billion Dollar Career
Today I speak with Tamara Rogers, the former Vice President for Alumni affairs and development at Harvard University. In the first half of the conversation I asked her to talk about her career- candidly and with reflection from her first job to her last. In the second half, She shares her thoughts on management, mentorship, and campaigns. Tamara lead The Harvard Campaign whose public phase was 2013-2018, and with an announced goal of $6.5B, and it concluded at over $9.6B
September 23, 2020
31. Ben Porter: Unpacking Principal Gifts
When you hear principal gift- what do you think? I tend to think of named buildings, billionaires, and hushed conversations behind closed doors. Today, I was lucky to snag the brilliant and bold Ben Porter (Associate Dean of Advancement for Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management) to de-mystify principal gifts for this week’s podcast. Ben gives us the inside scoop on his book The Principal Gifts Checklist. We unpack principal gifts together from the definition to the inner workings of 8 and 9 figure gifts. We talk about problem solving, the similarities and differences with major gifts, and the universal imperative of trust. You can purchase his book here:
September 16, 2020
30. Brooke Schostak And Bonnie Taylor: The Future of Furlough
Fundraising in a field based on connections. We need to make connections with our donors and within our institutions. The same is true for the field. As fundraising professionals, how can we give back and help our colleagues who have been either laid off or furloughed during this uncertain time? How will we build and grow the talent pipeline for our field? Featured are Brooke Schostak and Bonnie Taylor who talk about their experiences looking for work and share ideas for ways we can help! Please share more ideas on instagram @devdebrief
September 09, 2020
Season 2 Trailer
This is the trailer for Season 2. The first official episode will be out on 9/9/2020. Join us for more conversations about development as our field continues to change and grow. Music by Susan Van Sickle.
September 02, 2020
Season 1 Recap: The Power of Change
After 28 weekly episodes, I am ending Season 1 and taking the rest of the summer to plan for Season 2. The last 7 months of this podcast have been a fabulous journey. I will share my experience recording and my key takeaways from the season. Enjoy the rest of the summer and I look forward to continuing our conversation about creative fundraising and finding joy in our work. As Oprah says, "the power of change is through perspective" and I know we will come across more things that make us think differently in Season 2. It is a privilege to share this field with you! Until next time and please be in touch! Insta: @devdebrief Email: LinkedIn: The Development Debrief
July 19, 2020
29. Dan Shephard: Tips for Preparing for FY21
Happy FY21! This year comes at us with a new set of challenges and opportunities. We are tasked with continuing to rethink our donor relationships and building new ones. At the beginning of this season, I interviewed consultant, Craig Smith. Craig is a business partner of today’s guest- Dan Shephard (Principal of The Shephard Group). The two work together on sharing and teaching The Four Decisions. In today’s episode, I will talk with Dan about his creation of The Four Decisions, and how we can use it for this fiscal year. We talk about how to get our of our own way with donor work, and suggest working with a one-sheet to organize your donor strategy. To be in touch please reach out at or @devdebrief
July 12, 2020
28. Abigail Smitka: The Graveyard Shift
Happy 4th of July! In honor of the holiday weekend, I have decided to feature Abigail Smitka (Regional Director, Major Gifts at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University)a close friend, confidant, and peer mentor. July is always an opportunity to get grounded and reconnect with our motivations and goals. Abbie has always helped me get grounded—starting with my very first development job, working the graveyard shift at reunion weekend. This episode is informal as we recount stories and share lessons learned. Our stories are organized into three overarching values we learned over a three year period. Our hope is that this episode will remind you of why you love your work and that it will draw you closer to the ones who have supported you the most.
July 05, 2020
27. Kevin Hallock: Higher Ed Econ 101
As an academic, Kevin Hallock (Dean and Professor of Strategy and Business Economics at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business) has the ability to make complicated concepts relatable to students. Today’s podcast allows us to be Kevin’s students as we hear him talk about the financial structure of higher ed, why tuition continues to rise, and he explains the uses for endowment. I plan to use some of his answers as responses in conversations with donors as they grapple with higher ed’s financial challenges. IF you're curious about why schools aren't using their endowment right now, or understanding why they are having financial challenges-- keep listening!
June 28, 2020
26. Thomas Moore And Britani Griffin: Progress and Hope for Black Development Officers
Today I talk with two of my peers in our field Thomas Moore, Director of Individual Giving at New York Road Runners and Britani Griffin, Associate Development Director at the Be The Match Foundation. They are rising stars, currently in leadership roles at their institutions. They share their optimism for the future and gratitude for the national conversation and acknowledgement across colors of racial injustice in our country. To learn more check out:
June 14, 2020
25. Birgit Smith Burton: Understanding Racism in Fundraising
By now, most if not all of us have gotten an email from our institutions and leadership denouncing the heinous crimes we have seen take place in our country against people of color. But the question is, now what? My conversation with Birgit Smith Burton, (Executive Director of Foundation Relations, Georgia Institute of Technology)only scratches the surface of an issue Birgit has been working on for decades. I want to start this episode with a disclaimer: Of course there is precedent of conversations with people of color in development, I am not a pioneer—but we all must embrace our personal role in making continuous, systemic, and long-lasting change in the face of racism. It is our responsibility to take the time to listen to what our black colleagues experience on a daily basis. This episode aims to explore the question of what is next, and to inspire our listeners to make their own plan for change. Birgit's recommended reading:
June 07, 2020
24. Dennis Barden: The Demand Will Increase
What changes will remain from Covid-19 for Higher Ed development? Dennis Barden (Senior Partner at WittKiefer) and I talk about his predictions regarding June 30th changes, permanent online shifts, and the ethical nature of making a move during quarantine. The good news is, Dennis says the demand for good fundraisers will only increase as we enter a new "Golden Age of Philanthropy"….listen to learn more! Dennis is a recognized thought leader in higher education search and contributes regularly to such publications as The Chronicle of Higher Education and CASE Currents.
May 31, 2020
(BONUS EPISODE) Michele Schiele: Brilliant Minds and Highly Successful People
Brilliant minds are fascinating and complex. One of the greatest gifts of our profession is the opportunity to work with highly successful donors and incredibly talented faculty and staff. I have always felt inspired by these individuals. However, working with them is not always easy. In this short bonus episode, Michele Schiele (Senior Associate Vice President for Development at Stanford University) shares her views and even has a name for these individuals. She calls them stallions. Listen further to know why she calls them that, and how best to work with them!
May 24, 2020
23. Michele Schiele: Complicated Projects and Institutional Change
Have you ever wondered how schools pull off large naming gifts or big institutional change? Michele Schiele (Senior Associate Vice President for Development, Stanford University)has been part of several historic development moments and challenging projects throughout her career. She shares with us what goes into this work and how best to lead it. Michele let’s us know that strong female mentors were key, and she has always kept a portfolio. Big scale institutional changes are Michele’s specialty. Afterwards, stay tuned for a special bonus episode with Michele!
May 24, 2020
22. Phil Wilkerson: Find Your Fuel
What is your purpose? How do you re-energize? In today’s episode, Phil Wilkerson, Industry Advisor at George Mason University, shares a bit about his own work, gives us some advice he gives his students, and then we get philosophical as he talks about the deeper meaning of life and what brings us all here. Phil practices what he preaches. He networked with me via LinkedIn and we connected virtually over the past few months. He reached out to talk about our podcasts and higher ed work during this remote time. This episode will leave you feeling strong and inspired!
May 17, 2020
21. Leslie Nelson-Bernier: A Mother's Mark
Welcome to our special Mother's Day Episode! Whether your mother is with you in person, virtually, or in your heart, we are all marked by our mothers in some way. This conversation helps me realize, our mother’s don’t only help us grow, we push them to grow and better themselves too. Our guest for this episode talks about her experience of being a mother as a grateful patient, as well juggling a powerful career with parenthood. Leslie Nelson-Berner (President of the UNC Health Foundation and Associate Dean for Development of the UNC School of Medicine) shares the inspiration she feels from her children to do good in people's lives through her development career. Leslie is passionate about her work and she exudes joy as she shares her story with us.
May 10, 2020
20. Tara Gans: A Donor Unscripted
This conversation is an interview, just like my other past episode have been. However, it can also serve as a template to think about your donor meetings moving forward. If you are interested in my thoughts on virtual visits, and take-a-ways from Tara’s comments as donor, keep listening after her remarks and I will share my reflections. Thank you for tuning in and for continuing to do such important work during this unprecedented time. Tara says it herself, our work is important and cannot stop now!
May 03, 2020
19. Fritz Schroeder: Longevity and Leadership
This conversation was recorded pre-covid and I have waited to share it because it didn’t feel as relevant when were all scrambling to transition to remote work several weeks ago. Now, I realize it’s more relevant than ever. Fritz Schroeder (VP for Development and Alumni Relations at Johns Hopkins University)and I start with an unscripted conversation about financial aid and the historic 1.8 Billion gift from Michael Bloomberg. Then, we talk about leadership, in all of it's forms.
April 26, 2020
18. Shanna Hocking: Let's Get Motivated
Talking with Shanna Hocking, Associate Vice President, Individual Giving at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, on this episode led to a major moment of clarity for me in my own work. We talk about the importance of a personal brand as a professional, and how we can grow and dream about the future while physically sheltering in place. Shortly after we stopped recording, I used her advice and brainstormed a short term and long term strategy for my regional portfolio. This was so motivating for me. My hope is that you will have a similar experience. Check out her website at and enter DEVDEBRIEF for a 10% discount!
April 19, 2020
17. Dan Peterson: Maximum Flexibility
Hindsight is such a bittersweet gift we have. How can we look back on our choices and learn from them? Did we do it right? Did we make a huge mistake? The nature of COVID-19 with it’s waves and regional timeline, gives us the opportunity to hear from a university leader who is 2-3 weeks ahead of those of us living on the east coast. Dan Peterson, Vice President for Development for University Advancement and President of the UW Foundation, shares what has worked and what his team has learned over the past 6-8 weeks of working remotely. Dan’s perspective gives me hope as he acknowledges the pain and loss, but is able to see the positive growth we can bring forward into the next fiscal year and beyond. Special thanks to Ben Renberg!
April 12, 2020
16. Michelle Vaeth: Play your Position
How do we handle crisis communications during COVID-19? You are about to hear the alumni relations perspective from Michelle Vaeth, Associate Vice President for Alumni Affairs at Cornell University. Drawing on her long previous Procter and Gamble experience, Michelle shares mantras that help her during crisis, defines the difference between regular communication and crisis communication, offers best practices and she reminds us to always do the right thing. She is dynamic and reassuring about the planning and strategy we CAN control for our external and internal outreach during COVID-19.
April 05, 2020
15. Martin Leifeld: Faith in Fundraising
You might be asking yourself, what does faith have to do with it? I am pushing the New York atheist envelope and daring to say that faith is a critical element of life right now as we grapple with the new realities of COVID-19. We are being stripped to the basics and forced to rethink what matters most. This episode is the Debrief’s version of Chicken Soup for the Soul. We talk about morning rituals to set you up for success, and Martin's book, "Five Minute's for Fundraising." My uplifting conversation with Martin might ask you to think about what matters to you and how that impacts everything from personal to professional.
March 29, 2020
14. Veronica Martini: Front Line Online
Today I have the pleasure of featuring my very own boss, Veronica Martini. Our discussions is focused around how our team is responding to COVID-19. To remind everyone, our team consists of central major gift officers and executive assistants who travel domestically and internationally. We are no longer able to do the primary work function that our team was designed to do. Our colleague Suzanne Atlshuler said in a recent call, “we aren’t trying to work harder, we are trying to work smarter.” This episode will explore just that as we share how the first week of working from home has been for us.
March 22, 2020
13. Jeff Richard: Timing is Everything
People say timing is everything. In this episode, We talk about timing and choosing the right job based on the team, and institution. Jeff Richard tells us that choosing where to commit your time as a fundraising professional is about more than just what you are passionate about. Where is the institution in it’s life phase? How can you make a difference within that context? I was expecting Jeff to tell us how different all of his roles have been. On the contrary, Jeff tells us just how similar they are. He suggests that more than the cause, the timing, and the team are the most important.
March 15, 2020
12. Ryan Davis: Surround yourself with Strength
When I started telling my closest friends and family I wanted to do a podcast, I got advice, support, and great leads. Michael Cantor, (whose opinion matters a lot to me) lit up and said, you HAVE To have Ryan Davis on the debrief!!! He knows Ryan as a donor and volunteer at his alma mater, The University of Michigan. He told me that Ryan can engage and make the most non-social person comfortable. She is disarming and makes connections easily. Now, talk about devlife powerhouse! She is forward thinking, ambitious, and agile. A mother of four, she relies on her upbringing as an athlete to get it all done. Ryan talks about her career transitions, her sense of responsibility to sit at the table as black woman in a predominantly white field, and her hunger for building sustainable donor pipelines for the future. This episode is dedicated to Julie, Michael, and their son, Robbie Cantor.
March 08, 2020
11. Rachael Gazdick: Scholarship in Action
This episode is the prequel to the moment when our students open their acceptance letters. In higher ed, that is where the journey begins. However, for me- this conversation puts a magnifying glass over the "what" and the "why" for raising financial aid dollars. We do not talk explicitly about development, but rather dig into stories that demonstrate the immense amount of work Rachael’s team at New York Edge does and the countless obstacles the students overcome before they even step foot on a college campus. Buckle up for a conversation about education equity, scholarship in action, and the incredible support New York Edge provides to help their students lead vibrant lives.
March 01, 2020
10. Chase Palmer: A Father's Focus
Do you wonder what it’s like to work remotely? What is your colleague who works from home actually doing? This episode is a conversation in three parts. First, I talk with Chase about how he started a remote role at Stanford and how he makes it work for him. As a father of four and professional with a heavy travel role, he talks about why he decided to work remotely and what the pros and cons are of his choice. Second, we talk about fundraising for a school within a large University and the pitch for funding within a wealthy institution. Last but perhaps most important, Chase talks about some complicated gifts he has worked on and he reminds us to not give up on prospects who might seem uninterested and he tells us why his “devlife” is rewarding.
February 23, 2020
9. John and Scott: Giving from the Heart
Welcome to our special Valentine’s Day episode. We are going to talk about hearts today. And no- I don’t mean the bruised and vulnerable hearts of those of us dating in New York City. I mean Babies Hearts. Our guests, John Minio and Scott Roskind are the co-chairs of the Babies Heart Fund. The Babies Heart Fund is devoted to supporting vital research initiatives that will allow all children suffering from heart disease to grow up to be heart-healthy, strong adults. Babies Heart Fund is pivotal to the innovative research being conducted by Columbia University Irving Medical Center physicians and surgeons to benefit pediatric cardiology patients across the globe.
February 16, 2020
8. Susan Feagin: She Opened The Door
The name of and spirit of today’s episode is inspired by a special initiative at Columbia University that is taking place today, February 9th 2020. She Opened the Door began at Columbia with a historic conference in New York City in 2018. This could not be a more perfect back drop for our interview with Susan Feagin. The woman, the myth, the legend is one of the first female IVY league VPs, an extraordinary leader in the field, and more personally, my father’s mentor. Susan has opened the door for all of us in the hundreds of ways she has lead our field.
February 09, 2020
7. Steve Poskanzer: The President Prepares
In this week’s episode, Steve Poskanzer, the President of Carleton College talks about his perspective on development and explains where their current campaign fits into his priorities. A true legal brain, he explains how this informs his preparation for making asks and I was surprised to learn of his strategy. Steve underscores the kindness of the Midwestern community, the value of a liberal arts degree and shares two pieces of advice he learned from his mentor Hugo Sonnenschein- the former President of University of Chicago.
February 02, 2020
6. Fred Van Sickle: If you don't ask, you don't get
Have you ever wanted to ask your Chief Development Officer what she thinks about the field, her own professional journey, or her biggest insecurities? From the bosses perspective, have you ever wanted to know what your direct report was really thinking? Have you wondered what motivates them and how they view their role in the organization? On this episode, my Dad and I ask each other these questions and we encourage you to do the same.
January 26, 2020
5. Dawn Nadeau: A Donor Unscripted
Dawn and I have an open and honest conversation about her work with the global donor community, Women Moving Millions, her own philanthropy, and how she would apply her seasoned marketing and sales tactics to managing a development portfolio. A graduate of Wellesley College, she has focused her business work on helping brands and companies spark innovation and develop new products and strategies to engage customers. From the Chairman's Office of Goldman Sachs to Kickstarter success, she understands the challenge of getting things done, regardless of scale.
January 19, 2020
4. Rhea Turteltaub: The Transparent Trustee
Rhea and I share the story of how we met and became mentor/mentee. We talk about the culture differences in east vs west coast fundraising, working for public vs. private institutions, as well as the importance of being transparent with your bosses and mentors. Rhea talks about how to grow within a large institution and the importance of putting your well-being first- in the service of producing you best work.
January 12, 2020
3. Craig Smith: Owning the Conversation
Craig and I talked about the program he co-founded called The Four Decisions and the Two-Part Conversation. Craig explains how we can own the conversation through deep listening and good questioning. Discovering “what you don’t know” about your donors is especially important as Craig underscores that 75-90% of people’s wealth is in their assets, not in their cash. More important than any of these skills though, is to be sincere and be yourself as you champion the institution you work for.
January 05, 2020
2. Chris Haight: Raising the bar for yourself
I spoke with Chris about his career progression from research analyst to Director of Development. He shared the importance of internal relationships and personal metrics as tools to raising his first million and rising through the ranks at Cornell's New York City office.
December 21, 2019
1. Introducing The Development Debrief with Kathryn Van Sickle
This is the introduction for the stories-based podcast that interviews donors, professionals, and thought leaders in the field of fundraising.
December 15, 2019