Best Practices

12 Black Alumni Leaders Making an Impact

12 Black Alumni Leaders Making an Impact




March 17, 2021

Last modified: 

March 17, 2021

In honor of Black History Month, we spent time researching some incredible leaders from the Black community, who have made an indelible impact in the world of Alumni Relations and Development. We wanted to do something special by creating a podium to showcase the remarkable achievements of some of these powerful leaders.

But this was no easy feat - while conducting our research online, we discovered so many amazing leaders whose achievements are a shining beacon to professionals in the industry. In our endeavor, we also reached out to our network to see if they have any recommendations on whom we can showcase. We were truly grateful to everyone who reached out to us.

After weeks of brainstorming and thorough research, it is entirely possible that a few great leaders who don’t have an online presence might have skipped our purview. If you feel like this is the case, we would love to hear your recommendations.

Before we dive in, we would like to say that this article is by no means a ranking or a tier list of any sorts. Instead, this is our attempt at shining the spotlight on some amazing leaders that we have had the opportunity to interact with and/or learn from.

Advancement playbook

With that being said, here are 12 alumni leaders from the Black community that are making an impact in alumni relations and advancement.

Montique Cotton Kelly

Connect with "Mo" on LinkedIn

Montique Cotton Kelly, or “Mo”, as she is referred to by her colleagues, friends, and family, has over 24 years of experience in university advancement. With her exceptional leadership and relationship-building skills, she has cemented her name in the industry as one of the all-time greats.

Mo currently serves as VP of Alumni Relations, Marketing and Communications and Annual Giving at UConn Foundation, but that’s not all she is known for. She is also an active member of the Council for Alumni Association Executives (CAAE) and currently sits on the Council for Advancement & Support of Education (CASE) District 1 Board. Mo wishes to make UConn an inclusive organization, and hopes that someday, they become one of the best institutions in the country.

Bishop Alexander

Connect with Bishop on LinkedIn

Bishop Alexander currently serves as the Director of Alumni Relations at the University of North Alabama (UNA), which also happens to be his alma mater. His role involves facilitating positive communication and building meaningful relationships among the university’s 60,000-plus constituents. Prior to his role at the University, Bishop was a Congressional aide for the United States House of Representatives.

Bishop has two noteworthy awards under his wing: the University Fraternity/Sorority Advisor of the Year (which was awarded to him in 2015 by UNA), and the UNA Promising Alumni Award (which was awarded to him in 2008 when he was a student). Recently, Bishop also featured as a speaker for Unity programs at both the Fulton and Tupelo campuses, in honor of Black History Month.

Yolanda F. Johnson

Connect with Yolanda on LinkedIn

Follow Yolanda on Twitter

Yolanda is an experienced fundraising and special events consultant, who has over two decades of experience working in the non-profit sector. She currently serves as the President at YFJ Consulting, an LLC that provides non-profit organizations expertise in fundraising, special events and philanthropic counsel. She is also the founder of Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy (WOC), a membership organization that champions women of color in fundraising, philanthropy, and other related fields. Additionally, Yolanda also founded the Allies in Action Membership Network, which helps support and train allies in the fight for racial equity.

Having raised millions of dollars for various nonprofit organizations, one of her crowing achievements include being the first African-American president-elect in the 40-year history of Women in Development, NY (one of the NY Metro Area's premier professional fundraising organizations). Yolanda is also an active lyric Soprano. She has performed at various operas and concerts, both at a national as well as an international level.

Ralph Amos

Connect with Ralph on LinkedIn

Ralph Amos, who currently serves as the AVP of Alumni Relations, as well as the Executive Director at Caltech Alumni Association, has over 25 years of experience specializing in alumni and donor engagement. As part of his role at Caltech, Ralph works towards fostering relationships with Caltech's 24,000-plus living alumni, scattered across the world.

Ralph has been a member of CASE's Committee on Opportunity and Equity and Commission on Alumni Relations. He is also a recipient of CASE's Crystal Apple Award for Teaching Excellence. Additionally, Ralph serves as a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship Advisory Board.

Birgit Smith Burton

Connect with Birgit on LinkedIn

Throughout her 30-year long career with the United Negro College Fund and Georgia Institute of Technology, Birgit Smith Burton has helped raise more than $500 million, making her a renowned leader in the fundraising profession. Currently the Executive Director of Foundation Relations at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Birgit led her team in raising $309 million toward the institute's most recent and successful $1.8 billion capital campaign. Birgit has penned numerous articles on diversity in the fundraising profession, and has also co-authored the book The Philanthropic Covenant with Black America.

Birgit serves on the boards of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the A.E. Lowe Grice Scholarship Fund, and Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless. She is also the founding chair of the African American Development Officers (AADO) network, which for 17 years, has supported diversity in the fundraising profession.

Correan Barker

Connect with Correan on LinkedIn

Correan, who is currently the Associate Director of Events, Alumni, and Donor Relations at The Evergreen State College, is an experienced nonprofit and Institutional Advancement professional who specializes in special events, alumni relations, and donor communications. Recently, he successfully led his Advancement division in growing support for their annual scholarship fundraiser by more than $150,000 over the last three years, and unified all Advancement events under a singular program. Correan is also a musician, and has earned a BM in classical clarinet performance from the University of Houston.

Correan has a unique approach to Evergreen’s programming, and we can’t wait to cover some of his amazing ideas in the future editions of Almabase Spotlights, so stay tuned!

Timothy Minor

Connect with Tim on LinkedIn

Having worked in institutional advancement with various institutions for the last 26 years, Tim Minor currently serves as the Vice President for University Advancement at the University of North Carolina. Tim is in charge of administrative direction and support for external funding within the UNC multi-campus university, which includes all 17 of North Carolina's public institutions. While working with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he played an integral part in the University’s $500 million Bicentennial Campaign and the university’s largest campaign, the $2.3 billion Carolina First Campaign.

Tim serves on the board for the Chatham County Education Foundation. He has also served as a member of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History Board at the UNC Chapel Hill for several years.

LaDaniel Gatling II

Connect with LaDaniel on LinkedIn

LaDaniel, who has over 20 years of experience in institutional advancement, currently serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Bennett College, a private historically black liberal arts college for women in Greensboro, North Carolina. His areas of expertise include financial advising, philanthropic management, and fundraising. Prior to his role at Bennett College, LaDaniel was the Director of Development for constituent programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During his time there, he played an integral part in developing effective strategies to increase major donor activity and grow the prospect base to support a $4.25 billion comprehensive campaign.

One of LaDaniel’s recent achievements include being featured as a part of the CASE’s 2020 District III Faculty Stars.

Scott Francis

Connect with Scott on LinkedIn

Scott Francis currently serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor and President at the East Carolina University Alumni Association. With over 20 years of experience working with various educational institutions, Scott’s current role involves serving the interests of nearly 170,000 constituents of the University. He leads the association’s dedicated staff and volunteers, and provides direction on the association’s many programs and their component parts. He is committed to developing and executing programs and initiatives that transform the experience of constituents.

In his previous role at the University of Florida Alumni Association, he served as the Director of Gator Clubs and Affiliate Groups. During his tenure there, he was responsible for the support, training, direction, and stewardship of 95 Gator Clubs and six affiliate groups, representing over 422,000 alumni.

Karen E. Osborne

Connect with Karen on LinkedIn

Follow Karen on Twitter

With over 42 years of professional experience, Karen E. Osborne is an experienced frontline fundraiser, staff and board trainer, speaker, and consultant for nonprofits. She is the Co-Founder of and Senior Strategist at The Osborne Group, a full service management, consulting and training firm for non-profit organizations. She is a strong believer in the power of philanthropy and nonprofits. Karen was the recipient of the Crystal Apple for Outstanding Teaching and Public Speaking by CASE. She was also awarded the Ashmore Award for Outstanding Service to the Profession in 2014 by CASE.

Besides being an eminent leader in the nonprofit space, Karen is also a published author. Her debut novel, Getting It Right, was published in 2017. She is currently working on her next novel, Tangled Lies, which will hit bookshelves later this year.

Shalonda Martin

Connect with Shalonda on LinkedIn

Shalonda Martin is the Senior Director of Data Integrity at the University of Southern California. She has over 18 years of professional experience, and her specialties include organizational development, data integrity, leadership, and DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion). Additionally, she is the founder of Shalonda Martin Coaching and Consulting, where she provides career and executive leadership coaching and consulting services.

Shalonda serves as a member of the programming committee for the Association for Advancement Services Professionals (AASP). She is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion, and creating work environments that embrace an anti-racist culture.

Garvin Maffett

Connect with Garvin on LinkedIn

Dr. Garvin Maffett, who is currently an independent consultant, has over 18 years of experience working with various educational institutions in the field of higher education philanthropy and advancement. While he was serving as Vice President for Institutional Advancement and College Relations at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Dr. Maffett directed and implemented strategies that helped the college surpass its campaign goal of $125 million. As the Associate Director of Leadership and Major Gifts at Yale University, he oversaw the development program and planning of the University’s comprehensive $1.5 billion campaign.

Dr. Maffett is the Founder of CFRE International Network on LinkedIn, which is the most active professional platform of Certified Fund Raising Executives online with 6,298 members from 20 countries.


That wraps up our article that highlights some incredible leaders and their achievements. These leaders have been a significant and continuous source of inspiration for us at Almabase. It was a pleasure to learn about the stories of so many professionals in our industry - even those that we were unable to feature here.

Though we tried to be as comprehensive as possible with our research, it is still possible for us to have omitted someone who deserves to be featured here. If you think we left someone out, feel free to let us know - we strive to showcase the work of as many deserving people as possible.

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