Best Practices

15 Alumni Relations Leaders You Should Follow on LinkedIn

15 Alumni Relations Leaders You Should Follow on LinkedIn




January 18, 2021

Last modified: 

January 18, 2021

As we dive into 2021, alumni relations teams across institutions are gearing up to upgrade their programming for the year ahead.  

However, the stakes for this year are high – alumni relations professionals cannot rely on a set of strategies that have worked for them in the past. Thanks to the new normal they find themselves in, institutions need to come up with an alternate plan of action that will help them succeed. 

With the industry constantly evolving during these testing times, we understand the need for you to be on top of the latest trends and best practices. As you navigate this new normal, we bring to you top industry experts on LinkedIn who can help you find new strategies and get closer to your alumni engagement goals. These top 15 Alumni Relations leaders are helping revolutionize the alumni relations landscape with their valuable insights and thought leadership. 

Alumni engagement fundraising

Without further ado, here are our top 15 Alumni Relations Leaders to follow in 2021, in no particular order

1) Jay Le Roux Dillon, Ed.D. 

Dr. Jay Dillon has over 17 years of experience in alumni advancement in higher education. He is a skilled alumni strategist with expertise in alumni relations management, fundraising, and donor engagement. He has collaborated with renowned advancement professionals for multiple podcasts that are available on his website.  

Jay founded the Alumni Identity Fundraising Consultants in March 2018, a consultancy that helps educational institutions accelerate philanthropy and improve fundraising outcomes. He is presently serving as the Executive Director of Alumni Relations at The University of California, Berkeley.    

Here are some of our favorite picks from Jay’s library of resources on LinkedIn:

1. Is Fundraising more Science or Art? The results are in. 

2. Donor Demographics are the Enemy of Equity.

Follow Jay on LinkedIn to get the latest updates on alumni relations and fundraising best practices.

2) Ryan Catherwood

Ryan Catherwood is currently the Assistant Vice President for Alumni and Career Services at The Longwood University in Virginia. He has hosted numerous podcasts on alumni management and advancement. His podcast series, Advancement Legends, features 36 episodes specifically aimed at alumni engagement and fundraising professionals in educational advancement. 

Ryan was the former host of Advancement Live, a part of Higher Ed Live (a network of professional development web shows and podcasts) which aired over 30 live episodes covering topics like digital engagement, reunions, and donor relations.

Ryan also specializes in digital marketing, public relations, content management, and community building, in addition to alumni relations management.

Some of Ryan’s resources on LinkedIn you might enjoy reading:

1. For alumni and donor engagement pros, asking questions is the answer

2. What's next for alumni and donor engagement post COVID-19 crisis?

To read more of Ryan’s articles, follow him on LinkedIn.

3) Don Philabaum

If you are looking for ideas to improve the impact of career services at your institution, then Don Philabaum is someone you should definitely follow on LinkedIn.

Don is the President and CEO of Talentmarks, a company that specializes in career and professional development programming for students, grads, and alumni. He has vast experience helping students find their career paths after graduation.

Don has authored six wonderful books. We highly recommend ‘Change It!: Create A Career Centered College Culture’ for colleges focused on becoming more career-centric.

Some of our favorite resources by Don:

1. What Should Your Alma Mater Focus On? Friend Raising or Career Raising?

2. What Do Alumni REALLY Want From Their Alma Mater?

To read more of his resources, follow Don on LinkedIn.

4) Mark W. Jones, J.D.

Mark W. Jones, who is currently the Principal and Founder of Flywheel Strategies, has nearly three decades of experience working in frontline fundraising and communication for higher education. He has worked at various leadership levels across different institutions, including serving as Chief Advancement Officer at four leading liberal arts institutions.

Mark’s experienced insights, teaching, and writing have cemented him as a thought leader in the philanthropic advancement field. He has abundant experience working with institutions in unlocking their philanthropic potential through strategic training plans. While working as the leader of Flywheel Strategies, Mark has helped over 20 schools and non-profit organizations with his consultation, facilitation, and coaching services.

Mark regularly writes resources on fundraising strategies, alumni engagement, and talent development. He is also the owner of the Higher Education Advancement Professionals (HEAP) group on LinkedIn.

A few recommendations from Mark’s resource library on LinkedIn:

1. Time + Training = The Two Keys to Sustained Fundraising Success

2. A Checklist: 11 Ways to Train and Develop Your Staff from Day 1

To view more of his resources on philanthropic strategies, alumni engagement, and fundraising, follow Mark on LinkedIn.

5) Maria L Gallo

Maria is the Founder & Principal of KITE - Keep In Touch Education, a consultancy that is at the forefront of research and thought leadership in alumni relations, trends, and engagement. 

With over 20 years of experience working in various leadership roles in higher education and advancement, Maria brings expert insights and unique perspectives to the table through her resources. Besides having an active research portfolio, Maria also has several peer-reviewed academic journal publications in alumni relationships and philanthropy.

Through her publications, Maria expresses her strong belief in the power alumni networks possess. She also featured in a TEDx Talk in 2018 where she spoke about how one can make the most out of alumni networks. 

Here are some of our recommendations from Maria’s LinkedIn library:

1. Orchestrating Alumni Serendipity: Masterminding Alumni Relations of the Future

2. Why do we need to engage global alumni more than ever? 3 key takeaways from the CASE Working With Volunteers Keynote

Follow Maria on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on all her resources.

6) Jon Horowitz

Jon Horowitz has more than 15 years of experience in alumni and constituent relations, communications, and fundraising. He currently works as the Director of Market Research & Impact Insights for Advancement at Dartmouth College. He also hosts Advancement Live, a part of the Higher Ed Live network.

Jon is driven by the belief that the marriage of engagement analytics with a contextual understanding of constituent experiences and interests can yield powerfully dynamic intelligence about alumni and donors which, in turn, can drive advancement strategy that can profoundly transform their sentiment and involvement.

Before working as a director at Dartmouth College, he headed his consulting firm that focused on digital strategies for higher education advancement and engagement. He has previously also been acquainted with Princeton University and Rutgers University in implementing digital alumni engagement strategies.

Our top picks from Jon’s resources:

1. The Best Habits for Successful Digital Alumni Engagement

2. The Best Habits for Successful Digital Alumni Engagement, Part 2

3. The Best Habits for Successful Digital Alumni Engagement, Part 3

Follow Jon on LinkedIn to find additional resources on alumni advancement and digital engagement

7) Duane Wiles

Duane, who currently serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Affairs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has 22 years of experience working in leadership roles in various institutions across the country. One of his numerous accomplishments include being named by Legacy Magazine Miami as one of South Florida’s 50 most powerful, influential black professionals.

Duane is an active board member of the Council of Alumni Association Executives (CAAE), and the organizations led by Wiles have received more than 10 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) awards of excellence. He has also made contributions to resources on CASE

Besides his experience in the industry, Duane was also a former football player for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Here are some of the resources we loved from Duane’s LinkedIn library:

1. The evolution of virtual volunteering

2. Alumni chapters get creative throughout the pandemic

To get the latest updates on Duane’s resources, follow him on LinkedIn.

8) Jason Lewis

If you are looking for expert tips and guidance on how to effectively raise funds for your campaign, then Jason Lewis is someone you should watch out for. 

Jason is the founder of Responsive Fundraising, a management consultancy that helps non-profit leaders find meaningful and sustainable ways of raising funds for their campaigns. His book titled ‘The War For Fundraising Talent: And How Small Shops Can Win’, is an amazing resource for small organizations aiming to fundraise better.

Jason hosts The Fundraising Talent Podcast, a 100-episode series that deals with  the latest trends in fundraising

Here are some of our top picks from Jason’s resources:

1. The Decisions Our Donors Are Making, Part 1

2. The Decisions Our Donors Are Making, Part 2

To view more of Jason’s resources on fundraising for non-profit organizations, follow him on LinkedIn

9) Lyndsey Crum

Lyndsey, who has over 15 years of experience in university advancement, currently serves as the AVP for Alumni Relations at her alma mater. She has also served as an advancement leader at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado. 

She has worked in raising philanthropic support for educational advancement and also drove public relations and marketing efforts to boost the relevance and impact of higher education.

One of Lyndsey’s driving force is to work towards building a global network of alumni volunteers, donors, advocates, and friends to raise the bar for educational success and career outcomes of current and future students. 

Our top picks from what Lyndsey has shared on LinkedIn:

1. Dear Generous Donor

2. Making the Most of LinkedIn

Follow Lyndsey on LinkedIn for more resources on alumni relations.

10) Andrew Shaindlin

Andrew is a non-profit leader with over 3 decades of international experience in alumni engagement, communications, and fundraising. 

Currently the Vice President for Alumni Relations at Brown University, he specializes in strategies for community-driven organizations and coaches education professionals on career success.

He is also a frequent international speaker and author on topics related to global non-profit strategies.

Our recommendations from Andrew’s library of resources that you might like:

1. Alumni Relations in the COVID Era

2. Democratizing Alumni Relations: The Shifting Balance in Engagement

Follow Andrew on LinkedIn to get the latest updates on alumni engagement and fundraising.

11) Kathleen Loehr

Kathleen, who is currently the Principal at Kathleen Loehr LLC, has more than 35 years of experience working with university and nonprofit leaders as an advisor. Using her knowledge and expertise, she works with leaders who want to create a sustainable model of fundraising for non-profit organizations.

What makes Kathleen stand out as a leader is her impact on modern philanthropy, which puts the focus on women and their growing contributions. Her book, titled Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy, provides a detailed analysis of how women have taken the center stage in fundraising and also provides actionable insights for fundraising leaders to follow.

Kathleen’s women-centric philanthropy expertise comes from her experience in working with universities and nonprofit organizations to more deeply engage women donors.

What stood out for us among Kathleen’s resources:

1. As Women Surge in Leadership and Philanthropy, Are They Among Your Top Fundraising Priorities?

2. A Broader Definition of Philanthropy by Women

Follow Kathleen on LinkedIn to better understand the role women play in modern-day philanthropy.

12) Christopher Vlahos 

Christopher Vlahos is the Principal & Owner of Chris Vlahos Alumni Engagement Consulting LLC, a consultancy that helps institutions become more effective at alumni engagement. He is the author of multiple blogs and articles, most notably his work on the link between alumni engagement and fundraising.

Christopher’s experience and work are characterized by his emphasis on ‘purposeful alumni engagement’ - a metrics-based concept for institutional advancement that utilizes insight, strategy, and experience.

Heis a founding member of the Council for Alumni Membership & Marketing Professionals (CAMMP), a network of 450+ individuals committed to the needs of membership and marketing programs in alumni relations. Besides being an integral part of CAMMP, he has also maintained a long affiliation with the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Some of Christopher’s resources on LinkedIn you might like:

1. The 12 Characteristics of a High Performing Alumni Relations Office

2. Alumni Engagement Strategic Planning: A Necessary Normal

Follow Christopher on LinkedIn to find interesting resources on alumni engagement and advancement.

13) Lynne Wester

Lynne Wester is a well-known personality in the field of donor engagement and alumni relations. She is the Principal and Founder of Donor Relations Guru, a consultancy that helps non-profit organizations unlock their true potential for fundraising and donor retention. She strongly believes that donor relations hold the key to exceptional fundraising results. 

Lynne has helped top institutions in the country with alumni relations and management for over 16 years. She has authored numerous resources that help non-profit organizations and institutions improve their donor retention and engagement. 

Here are some must-read resources from Lynne’s extensive library:

1. Why You Need a Fund Audit

2. What you can do for your donors and others in Times of Crisis: COVID-19 Edition

Follow Lynne on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date about relevant resources on donor engagement and experience

14) Louis Diez

Louis Diez, who is currently the Executive Director of Annual Giving at Muhlenberg College, has 8+ years of experience working as a fundraising professional for various educational institutions. He is also the Principal of MarktLab, a non-profit management organization.

Louis is an expert at annual fund development, digital fundraising, and engagement strategies. He runs the Donor Participation Project, a group of fundraising professionals who take an active interest in the national decline in donor participation. 

Some of the resources Louis has written that we recommend:

1. Helpful articles for alumni relation professionals

2. How fundraising should be approached

Learn more about the Donor Participation Project and Louis’ work on alumni fundraising, connect with him on LinkedIn

15) A Philanda Moore

A. Philanda (A.P.) Moore has served as the Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement at the University of Oregon for nearly 3 years. In his role, he serves as the point of contact for minority, special interest, and professional alumni constituency groups in the university. 

Recently, A.P. served as a panelist in a webinar that featured noteworthy leaders from the industry. The panel, titled ‘Alumni Relations & Diverse Populations - Reframing Engagement Towards Equity & Inclusion’, was a platform for him and other leaders to discuss how social science research has impacted the engagement of diverse graduates, and how advancement can be more inclusive. 

Our top picks from A.P.’s resources shared on LinkedIn:

1. Can colleges be saved in the COVID era?

2. The Coming disruption to colleges

Follow A.P. on LinkedIn to view all of his latest shares.

That about wraps up our list of the top alumni relations leaders you should follow on LinkedIn. 

We are immensely grateful for the overwhelming response that we received for this article. A special shout-out to all the advancement leaders for all the inspiration and support:

Institutions will need to bring their A-game to stay on top of their goals for alumni engagement and advancement in 2021. We hope the resources shared by these experts can bring you greater success this year and beyond!

About the Author ✒️

Kalyan Varma | CEO & Co-Founder of Almabase

Kalyan focuses on helping universities build lifelong relationships with their alumni by driving participation. He hosts the Almabase Spotlight Podcast, which showcases inspiring stories from Alumni Relations and Fundraising professionals. Kalyan has also delivered sessions at CASE and Blackbaud conferences.

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