Sessions & Presenters

Karen Bertrand, Vice-Principal (Advancement), Queen’s University

Karen Bertrand became Vice-Principal (Advancement) at Queen’s University in July 2018. Her path to this position began as a first year undergraduate student when she worked as a student caller in the Queen's call centre.  Karen graduated in 1994 with an honours degree from Queen’s and returned to her native Guelph to begin an 11-year career at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.

During her tenure at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Karen was responsible for opening a public office to serve Wellington and Dufferin County, tripling the amount of fundraising revenue from community-based fundraising programs and events, and building one of the largest teams of local leadership volunteers across Ontario at that time.  During her final year with the Foundation, she also managed the fundraising staff and volunteer teams for the Brampton/Peel office of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Karen joined the University of Guelph in 2006, working in progressively senior positions. Karen assumed the role of Assistant Vice-President, Major Gift Advancement in May, 2012 overseeing the major gift fundraising, stewardship and donor relations, and prospect management teams. Oversight of the financial services team was added to Karen’s portfolio in 2013, and she became Associate Vice-President in 2014. Beginning in 2012, Karen led the team that successfully raised $200M in the BetterPlanet Project campaign that ended in 2014. University of Guelph sustained year over year growth in fundraising results in ten out of twelve years between 2005 and 2017, and the value of new major gifts confirmed annually tripled between 2005 and 2015.

As Vice-Principal at Queen’s University, Karen is now responsible for overseeing all fundraising and development activities, alumni relations, and advancement services for Queen’s.

Alexis von Busekist, Principal Director, INSEAD

Alexis von Busekist is Principal Director at INSEAD As member of the Advancement management team he leads the school’s Principal Giving practice (>1m€). This currently involves 7 Development Directors across 3 continents.

He joined INSEAD (France) for External Relations in 2001. 17 years, 1st wife, 3 children and x kilos later, he has 0 regrets. His initial assignment comprised development and alumni relations with a geographical focus: Germany and Austria first, then Switzerland (2003), the Nordics (2005), Europe (2010) and, since 2013, the world. His responsibility included ‘corporate’ and ‘individual’ prospects until 2005; since then: individual donors.

From 2013 to 2016, and under the leadership of Joanne Shoveller (Waterloo), Alexis drove the reorganization of the Development department to execute the new fundraising strategy. He has led solicitation teams to successfully closing gifts totaling 90m€. This includes the five largest gifts to INSEAD ever as well as the first ever 8 digit gifts. Of those 80m€ were raised in endowed funds, 62m€ since 2013 (start of Campaign ‘A force for Good’)

Before joining INSEAD Alexis worked 4 years for an international consultancy firm, specialized in total working capital optimization for large multinationals. He studied laws in Germany (Heidelberg, Bonn) and passed his two state exams (master; bar). After graduating from college, he served 2 years in the German Army (Bundeswehr), retiring as Junior Officer (2Lt). Alexis, born in 1967, has sisters in Houston (US) and Montreal (CAN) and, like them, dual german/ french nationality.


Rick Davis, Vice President for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, Northeastern University

Rick Davis, joined Northeastern University in May, 2015. Rick serves as lead strategist that has reimagined alumni relations with an integrated advancement objective to cement robust global network nodes of connectivity positioned throughout key strategic areas around the world. Since 2015, close to 20 global communities have been either refurbished or recreated to match Northeastern’s growing global footprint. A diverse offering of online engagement activities and tools has also been constructed that account for more than 50% of the active engagement from the more than 250,000 alumni. A newly created career strategist service curriculum along with curated faculty outreach from all 9 colleges have also been imported into Northeastern’s alumni relations toolkit of services and experiences. 

Rick comes to Northeastern from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was the director of enrichment programs for the university’s General Alumni Association for more than two decades.

Rick has been an active facilitator and presenter for CASE, CASE América Latina as well as CCAE. Rick received CASE’s Crystal Apple teaching award in 2015 acknowledging top seminar rankings over 10 or more unique educational programs.

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. 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.

David Palmer, Vice President, Advancement, University of Toronto

Since 2007, David has served as Vice‐President, Advancement for the University of Toronto, Canada’s largest research‐intensive university, with 88,000 students on three campuses, 21,000 faculty and staff, and 562,000 alumni in more than 180 countries. David has led the planning and execution of the University’s ambitious Boundless Campaign, publicly launched in November 2011 with an original goal of $2 billion, which was increased in December 2016 to $2.4 billion. Boundless is the largest campaign in Canadian university history—an ambitious and necessary undertaking to help prepare the next generation of global citizens and to address today’s defining global challenges.

From 1999 to 2007, David served as President of the Royal Ontario Museum Board of Governors (originally the ROM Foundation) where he led Renaissance ROM—a transformational campaign that re‐defined the Museum’s financial resource base, its public brand, and its position as a major international cultural destination. Recognizing the Museum’s mandate that encompasses both world civilizations and natural history, he made a priority of reaching out to Canada’s Japanese, South Asian, Chinese, Ukrainian, Italian, Greek and other communities locally and nationally. The Renaissance ROM Campaign, unique in Canada for its inclusiveness, generated an enormous sense of pride and engagement among these diverse communities, exemplified by a landmark gift from Michael Lee‐Chin to name the Museum’s new building.

David Palmer is a Senior Fellow of Massey College, an executive committee member of the National Council of Foundation Executives, and a director of the Earth Rangers Foundation. He earned his Master of Fine Arts in musicology from Princeton University and began his career as a Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at The University of Western Ontario, his undergraduate alma mater. After his first foray into development and marketing at Orchestra London, David would return to Western to lead a ground‐breaking campaign for the University of Western Ontario’s School of Business Administration. These efforts resulted in it being renamed the Richard Ivey School of Business, ushering in a new era in professional faculty fundraising in Canada.

In recognition of his strategic and principled approach, and for helping redefine the fundraising potential for several charitable sectors in Canada, David was recognized in 2011 with the Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In 2016 he was recognized with the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education.

Leigh Kalin, Executive Director Development & Campaign, Queen’s University

Advancement professional with 25 years of fundraising experience at some of Canada’s top institutions. Equally adept at strategy, direct donor engagement and negotiation, and planning.

A Queen’s graduate and member of Queen’s Office of Advancement executive team, Leigh played a leadership role in the university’s successful Initiative Campaign. Leigh was a key strategist and major gift fundraiser (leading the central development team) directly contributing to the $640M Queen’s Initiative Campaign. Leigh played an instrumental role in securing and stewarding its largest transformational campaign gifts and currently leads capital fundraising initiatives ranging from $10M to $40M.

Leigh has extensive experience and insight into the best practices of philanthropy and leading trends affecting advancement having spent six years at the University of Toronto during the $1B Great Minds Campaign — the largest campaign in Canadian history at that time — and subsequently serving as a major gifts officer at Upper Canada College.

In her current role Leigh is responsible for campaign planning, strategy and execution. Leigh provides leadership related to the strategic operations for the Department of Development, manages central Development staff, as well as overseeing the strategic direction of Advancement Athletics & Recreation, and the Stewardship and Benefactor Relations Units.

Her portfolio provides high-level expertise and direction in the development and implementation of fundraising strategies designed to maximize long-term support for the University. Leigh is also responsible for oversight and direction of prospect management, clearance and coordination as well as the development of performance metrics for fundraising staff.

She holds a BAH, Political Science, Queen’s University, 1992.

Jeffrey S. Todd Interim Vice President, Development and Alumni Engagement (beginning April 14, 2018) Executive Director, alumni UBC, and Associate Vice President, Alumni University of British Columbia

Jeff Todd joined UBC in September 2010 to build the capacity of alumni UBC and lead efforts to establish a strong, sustainable and growing culture of alumni engagement and to build a robust, strategic partnership between the alumni association and university. He served as co-director of UBC’s highly successful start an evolution alumni engagement and fundraising campaign, which concluded in September 2015. This dual-goal campaign was unique in Canada and exceeded expectations by raising $1.624 billion and engaging 130,005 alumni (more than doubling the annual rate of engagement since its launch). One of the campaign’s greatest legacies is the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre—an iconic, vibrant, and welcoming home for alumni, students and visitors that enjoys a prime location at the heart of UBC’s Vancouver campus.

Since arriving at UBC, Jeff has worked in collaboration with the professional team and board of directors to establish a new best-practice governance structure; introduce the alumni UBC brand; develop an alumni engagement value proposition and framework; and create and execute the comprehensive Alumni, Forever UBC strategic plan.

Prior to joining UBC, Jeff was executive director of the Oregon State University Alumni Association and director of Alumni Relations (2004-10). In this dual role, he served as chief alumni relations officer for the university while providing leadership and executive management for the alumni association, an independent not-for-profit corporation that promotes the university through services and programming for more than 150,000 alumni and friends. He also served on the university cabinet. From 2002 to 2004, Jeff was executive vice president at the University of Arizona Alumni Association, and from 1985 to 2001 he was director of Alumni Relations at his alma mater, the College of Wooster. During his final years at Wooster, Jeff had the additional responsibility of managing the annual fund. Currently Jeff serves as President of the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) and as a board member and secretary of the Council of Alumni Association Executives (CAAE). Jeff has served on the international board of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the CASE Alumni Relations Commission. He is a frequent speaker at CASE conferences. In 2008, he received a Crystal Apple Teaching Award.

Tim Wowk, Associate Director of the Prospect Research, Queen's University

As Associate Director of the Prospect Research at Queen's University, Tim oversees the prospect identification and tracking components that support of the Office of Advancem ent and the broader university. In this capacity, Tim and his team have successfully supported two comprehensive capital campaigns – the “Campaign for Queen’s” and the “Spirit of Initiative” - that have collectively raised over $1B million dollars for capital projects and student aid initiatives.

In 2011 Tim was awarded the CASE “Circle of Excellence” Gold Medal for his work in data visualization and relationship mapping and this continues to be an area of professional interest. He has an established record of community and professional involvement and has spoken (and written) on fund raising at a number of forums including CASE, CCAE, APRA and Advancing Philanthropy.

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