Sessions & Presenters

Alumni Leaders’ Summit


Maximizing Alumni Volunteer Power                   

Sarah Indewey, Artsci’01, CVRM, CVA, Associate Director, Alumni & Volunteer Relations, Alumni Relations & Annual Giving, Office of Advancement; and Maryanne Wainman, Alumni Officer, Volunteer Relations, Queen’s University

What value do alumni volunteers bring to the organization and how can we maximize their potential to advance our schools? This session will explore the connection between volunteerism and philanthropy and how we can best align organizational resources to support our volunteers. In this session you will learn about:

  • Volunteer Relations theory and its practical application in educational institutions
  • How the philosophy of volunteerism suits the education context
  • Tools, templates, resources, and examples you can transfer to your own shop
  • Resources needed for successful alumni-volunteer stewardship  

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Leveraging Athletics to Increase Alumni Engagement

Mark Savenkoff, Director of Alumni and Donor Relations; and Jennifer Brenning, Director of Recreation & Athletics, Carleton University

Mary Jessie MacLellan, Director, Alumni Affairs; and Leo MacPherson, Director of Athletics & Recreation, St. Francis Xavier University

University sport has the ability to increase school spirit, build alumni pride and peak donor interest. Learn how Carleton University & St.Francis Xavier have leveraged their varsity athletic program to achieve both mass and targeted engagement.

Participants in this session will learn about:

  1. How to leverage varsity games to engage your most prominent alumni and steward your most generous donors.
  2. How to build on the affinity of varsity alumni to their former teammates and coaches.
  3. How to use community partnerships to achieve your objectives.

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Alumni Governance – Strengthening Alumni Boards and the Alumni Voice at Your Institution

Jeff Todd, CCAE President; Executive Director, alumniUBC, University of British Columbia

In this interactive session, Jeff Todd will lead a conversation to explore best practices in alumni governance, including how to ensure there is a strong, influential and effective alumni voice reflected within your institution.

The session will include a review of various governance models, roles for and focus of alumni governing bodies, best governance and operational practices, and how to get the most from key alumni volunteers.

Participants will be asked to provide their own examples of best practices and also articulate issues being faced at their institutions around alumni governance.

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Presenter Profiles

Jennifer Brenning,Director of Recreation & Athletics, Carleton University

Jennifer Brenning worked for 11 years at Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) in various capacities, including Director International Programs organizing Canada’s participation in 7 World University Games; Director, Research & Development; and acting Chief Executive Officer.  Following her work at CIS, Jennifer was the Assistant Director, Programs at the University of Ottawa for 7 years, responsible for the varsity programs, intramurals and recreation prior to being recruited to Carleton University. In July 2008, Jennifer was named the fourth Director of Recreation & Athletics at Carleton University.

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Rick Davis,Vice President for Alumni Relations, Northeastern University

Rick Davis, Vice President for Alumni Relations, joined Northeastern University in May 2015 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was Director of Enrichment Programs for the university’s General Alumni Association for more than two decades. At North Carolina, Davis led initiatives and developed programs that significantly bolstered the outreach and impact of programs for alumni. He built a student membership program to an all-time high membership base and developed a robust, multifaceted outreach program in which faculty connected with and brought their classrooms to alumni across the country and around the world.

Prior to the University of North Carolina, Davis worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, where he held multiple positions and managed several teams. He received the President’s Service Award and Outstanding Employee Award, the highest non-monetary recognition bestowed upon the organization’s employees. He has also held various marketing support positions at IBM. Davis received his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of North Carolina and his master’s degree from Duke University.

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Sarah Indewey, Manager, Artsci’01, CVRM, CVA, Associate Director, Alumni & Volunteer Relations, Alumni Relations & Annual Giving, Office of Advancement, Queen’s University

As a Queen’s undergraduate alumna and a current Masters of Public Administration student, Sarah is a committed member of the Queen's Alumni Relations & Annual Giving senior leadership team.

In addition to contributing to overall alumni relations strategy and organizational capacity, Sarah’s focus is on developing and implementing guidelines and practices that enhance the experience of volunteering for Queen’s and raise awareness of the value of volunteer contributions to the life and work of the university.

As a Certified Volunteer Resource Manager (CVRM), and internationally Certified Volunteer Administrator (CVA), Sarah has a long history of engaging volunteers with Queen’s to collaboratively work towards contributions to support university priorities.

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Mary Jessie MacLellan, Director of Alumni Affairs, St. Francis Xavier University

Mary Jessie MacLellan came to St. Francis Xavier University as a student and never left. Graduating with a BSA in 1987, Mary Jessie worked at the University Library for 19 years prior to joining the University Advancement team in 2007. As Director of Alumni Affairs she reports to the Vice-President of Advancement and is responsible for fostering the connection between the university and its over 40,000 alumni.

A mother of two sons, both StFX students, Mary Jessie returned to school part-time in 2016, pursing a Masters in Education. Back in the classroom, she is throughly enjoying being a StFX student once again.

Active in the local community, Mary Jessie has volunteered with a number of youth organizations such 4-H, minor hockey and minor soccer as well as a variety of community organizations.

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Leo MacPherson, Director of Athletics & Recreation at St. Francis Xavier University

Antigonish native and StFX alumnus Leo MacPherson has been the Director of Athletics & Recreation at St. Francis Xavier University since 2005. Prior to joining StFX, MacPherson had a successful 16-year business career with Bell Aliant and Moore Corporation. A former basketball player under “Coach K”, Leo graduated with a BBA degree from StFX and has an MBA from Lansbridge University.


Leo is the guiding leader to coaches, staff and StFX student-athletes in their pursuit of excellence in varsity athletics, academics, leadership and citizenship. He was President of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS)from 2011-13. He served on the CIS (now U Sports) Board of Directors from 2007-14, and again as of 2016. He also holds the position of President, Atlantic University Sport (AUS).

Leo was the driving force behind rebranding initiatives within the AUS and CIS He has led rebranding initiatives in the AUS and CIS and pioneered the BecAUSe We Care program across the AUS conference.

In 2012, Leo led the establishment of the StFX Leadership Academy for student-athletes, the first academy of its kind in Canada.

Prior to his Athletic Director role at StFX, Leo volunteered as the chair of the Fr. Kehoe Dinner & Auction along with being a former chair of the Irving Oil Golden Ball Classic. In 2005, he was recognized as the inaugural recipient of the Halifax StFX Alumni Association’s Young Alumnus Award. In 2006 he was selected as the keynote speaker at the 2006 StFX X-Ring Ceremony.

Leo and his wife Heather have two daughters, both StFX graduates.

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Mark Savenkoff, Director of Alumni & Donor Relations, Carleton University

Mark Savenkoff has over 12 years of leadership experience in post-secondary education, including roles in advancement and student affairs at the University of Saskatchewan and Carleton University. In 2009, Mark was named as the Director of Alumni & Donor Relations at Carleton University.

Working with a team of 18, his portfolio includes management of alumni engagement, the Carleton University Alumni Association and donor stewardship. Mark also oversees community engagement, including the university’s 75th anniversary events committee, which will host over 150 initiatives in 2017.

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Maryanne Wainman, Volunteer Relations, Queen’s University

In her current position as Alumni Officer, Volunteer Relations at Queen’s University, Maryanne is responsible for building deeper alumni engagement through the execution of volunteer engagement strategies. Her role involves conducting best-practice research on volunteer behaviour and cohort trends, implementing projects to ensure consistency and professional standards within volunteer programming, providing tools, resources and support to colleagues who work with volunteers, evaluating program performance and making recommendations to enhance volunteer satisfaction and effectiveness.

As part of her duties as Alumni Officer, Volunteer Relations, Maryanne manages the Queen’s Volunteer Opportunities Directory; the annual Queen’s Alumni Volunteer Summit; and also acts as Volunteer Coordinator for Homecoming, Queen’s signature reunion event. In this role, Maryanne is responsible for recruiting, orienting, and recognizing over 200 student and staff volunteers annually.

Maryanne is a Certified Volunteer Resource Manager through PAVRO, and holds her international Certification in Volunteer Administration.

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