Breakout Sessions


All sessions will be held at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center.

Download the Breakout Sessions At-A-Glance (PDF)

Need CFRE Points? Earn up to 5.25 points at System Seminar. Seventeen sessions were approved for credit towards the CFRE credential. Please check the session titles below to see which sessions qualified.

Sunday, Dec. 4  || Monday, Dec. 5

Sunday, December 4

1 – 2 p.m.

Newcomer's Program (Boot Camp)

This information-packed session is designed for development, marketing, communication and advancement professionals who have been hired or promoted in the past 18 months. Positioned at the beginning of System Seminar 2016, Boot Camp is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the mission and impact of one of the nation's largest public university systems. You'll learn about the culture and processes of the UT System, become familiar with terminology and discover valuable resources available to you. You'll also have the chance to meet colleagues from UT institutions, develop a professional support group and receive career advice.

2:15 – 3:30 p.m.

Boot Camp Breakouts by Field

Development/Advancement and Marketing/Communication experts will continue the conversation and share specific information and greater detail on practices and resources directly related to your specialty.

1 – 3:30 p.m.

Advancement Services Working Group

This session is limited to members of the UT System Advancement Services Working Group. 

3:45 – 5 p.m.

Breakout #1 — Concurrent Sessions (CFRE Points)

Hope is not a strategy: Realizing Your Portfolio’s True Potential (1.25)

Wendy M. Anderson. Executive Director of Major Gifts, UT Austin
Karl Miller. Senior Associate, Bentz Whaley Flessner

Building and managing a strategic portfolio is not easy in today’s fundraising environment. This session will teach you how to allocate and manage your portfolio with a strategic focus that moves donors through the donor cycle and keeps your portfolio optimized for fundraising success. Regardless of the size of your program or your current portfolio, you will come away with new strategies for your top prospects and have a path for superior ROI.

Compelling Appeals and Meaningful Thank You Notes (1.25)

Ed Sevilla, Senior Vice President, Grenzebach Glier and Associates (GG+A)

Words matter! This session goes to the heart of the matter and is designed to improve your appeals and polish your stewardship messages. Come and learn from one of the best in the industry. Ed Sevilla heads the Strategic Communications practice for GG+A and is a CASE Circle of Excellence Gold Award in the “Annual Giving” category. 

D.A.M. Cheap

Mehran Poursmaeili, Associate Director of Creative Services, UT System

The way people are consuming content is radically changing. Content with relevant images—both print and digital—get more readership, views, retweets, and shares, which means your visual strategy is vital for communication and influence. This session will provide tools, tips and tricks for finding an engaging image, modifying it and using it legally—without breaking the bank or creating liabilities.

Communication Strategies for Development and External Relations Team Members (1.25)

Lauri Lumm,Senior Facilitator, Advancement Resources

Explore the four fundamental personality traits and how each impacts our communication styles and preferences. This session will also focus on generational differences and how to tailor interoffice communication to support and enhance overall development and external relationship efforts. Advancement Resources is an industry leader in research-based professional education with more than 15 years of expertise in medical, academic, and nonprofit philanthropy.

Legislative Session Overview and Effective Legislative Communications

Barry McBee, Vice Chancellor and Chief Government Relations Officer, UT System 

The 85th Texas Legislative Session is just around the corner. Get prepared by participating in a preview of the session, including a discussion of the key players and hot issues in the legislative process, an overview of the budget outlook for the state and higher education, and a summary of the legislative priorities for the UT System, its institutions and all of Texas higher education. McBee, who previously served as chief of staff for Gov. Rick Perry and as chairman of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, will also discuss effective communications to help guide you through the next legislative session.

The UT System Office of Governmental Relations serves as the primary liaison between the UT System Administration, the Board of Regents and the Texas Legislature on a wide range of budget and policy issues that affect higher education and health care in Texas and UT System's institutions.


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Monday, December 5

7:30 – 8:45 a.m.

Breakfast and Roundtable Discussions

Start your Monday morning off right with optional roundtable discussions during breakfast. This is your opportunity to connect with colleagues to discuss important topics in a more intimate, casual setting. Topics and facilitators are listed here.

9 – 9:30 a.m.

Welcome Remarks and General Session

Randa Safady, Vice Chancellor for External Relations, UT System

9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

Breakout #2 - Concurrent Sessions (CFRE Points)

The Strategic Alumni Relations Enterprise (1.0)

Jeff Martin, Senior Consultant, Education Advisory Board 
Jana Kennelly, A
ssistant Vice President for Alumni Relations, UT San Antonio

The alumni relations field has changed profoundly in recent years. Alumni populations are growing, donor counts are dropping, and alumni are increasingly unresponsive to their alma mater’s traditional engagement efforts. As a result, the question of how to engage alumni is challenging advancement leaders across higher education. New digital communication channels lead many alumni to circumvent their alma mater to connect with their former classmates, but even engaged alumni are dissatisfied by the underwhelming array of happy hours and social events that alumni relations professionals offer. Learn how innovative institutions are adapting to this changing environment by: 

  • Taking strides to meet the engagement needs of today’s alumni while fostering a seamless transition between engagement and giving;
  • Facilitating high-impact engagement through digital programming and targeted volunteer opportunities; and
  • Hardwiring organizational processes so that alumni relations and development professionals communicate, collaborate, and, in some cases, consolidate their operations.

Let’s Get Digital, Digital: More Moves for Your Annual Giving Dance Card (1.0)

Adrian Matthys, Director of Annual Giving, UT Austin 
Josh Robertson, 
Vice President of Product Strategy, Ruffalo Noel Levitz  

It's time for everyone to get digital, but that doesn't mean digital is the holy grail of fundraising channels. This session will wade through the hype surrounding digital and share field-proven data driven strategies to help amplify your fundraising success, including:

  • Types of digital fundraising (spoiler alert: it's more than crowdfunding and giving day)
  • The digital donor persona
  • Incorporating digital programs into an already congested annual giving plan
  • Building sustainable growth through digital strategy

Pitch Perfect: The Art of Successful Pitching

Jodi Fleisig,Senior Vice President, Media Relations, Porter Novelli

Journalists are stretched more now than ever before. They appreciate a great story, but they don’t want to be “pitched to,” so media relations pros need to do their homework. Fleisig, a former CNN senior executive producer, will give tips for thinking and acting like a reporter: Know your angle, make sure it breaks news, ties to the news of the day or a news trend, pitch it cleanly without a lot of hype and get to the bottom line fast. And most importantly, don’t waste their time. This way, journalists will respect you, and if this story isn’t for them, they’ll answer your phone call the next time.

Changing Demographics

Steve Murdock, Director, Hobby Center for the Study of Texas; Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor, Department of Sociology, Rice University

Texas is the fastest growing and the second largest state in the nation. Its population increased from 20.9 million in 2000 to 27.5 million in 2015 and is projected to have more than 55 million by 2050. Texas, which became a majority-minority state in 2010, is among the most diverse states in the nation and is projected to become increasingly diverse in the coming decades.

This population shift in racial and ethnic composition presents a number of challenges for Texas, especially in K-12 and higher education. Lower levels of education are related to lower incomes and fewer socioeconomic resources for individuals and families, which then affects the government and other entities that depend on the overall wealth of the state and nation. Murdock, the former director of the U.S. Census Bureau and former state demographer of Texas, will discuss how important it is for actions to be taken to ensure that all Texans have the skills and education they need to be competitive; otherwise Texas is likely to be poorer and less competitive in the future.

Networking Survival Skills: What You Say Without Saying a Word (1.0)

Diane Gottsman, National Etiquette Expert, The Protocol School of Texas

As higher education professionals, we routinely find ourselves in situations where we must communicate effectively and put our best foot forward. Are you certain you are sending the right message? Understanding the intricacies of business etiquette is what thoughtful organizations and major corporations consider an essential survival skill. Effective networking takes effort and practice. People like doing business with people they trust, and a good communicator knows how to put others at ease. A nationally recognized etiquette expert and popular media resource, Gottsman will provide her best tips, tidbits and tricks from some of her many workshop offerings. As a former fundraiser, Gottsman can relate to the myriad of situations and circumstances advancement professionals encounter. Her immensely popular session will include topics such as: The Proper Introduction, A Handshake that Matters, Tips for Remembering Names, Body Language Basics, Technology Courtesy, Balancing Food & Drink Dilemmas, How to Exit a Conversation, Attire Do’s & Don’ts and more!

11 a.m. – Noon

Breakout #3 - Concurrent Sessions (CFRE Points)

Exceeding Expectations for Major Donor Recognition (1.0)

Betsy B. Clardy, CFRE, Vice President & Chief Development Officer, UTMB Galveston
Maria A. Tabaracci, Executive Director, Program Development & Campaign Manager, UTMB Galveston
Kelly L. Panfilli, MBA, Director, Constituent Relations & Special Projects, UTMB Galveston

Everyone loves a little (or big!) spotlight now and then. Implementing a strong recognition and stewardship strategy, UTMB was able to meet—and exceed—donor expectations and strengthen donor retention rates. Join UTMB’s stellar development team as they share the donor recognition strategy for UTMB’s historic $450 million Working Wonders Campaign.

Goals and Metrics that Make a Difference (1.0)

Jeff Martin,Senior Consultant, Education Advisory Board

Considering the emphasis today on large-dollar and mega gifts, there's little margin for error when it comes to MGO performance. But without consistent and reliable metrics, MGOs will be unable to evaluate how their performance is progressing. In order to instill accountability and motivate MGOs, metrics need to play a key role in evaluating performance and determining rewards or consequences. And for metrics to truly carry weight, advancement teams need to immerse themselves in data and analytics, making them a part of their daily routines and decision-making processes. Learn how organizations are making the most of their metrics to both measure and incentivize performance.

Data and Reports that Matter (1.0)

Krishna M. Kelley, Director, Prospect Coordination and Research, UT Arlington
Amy Kling,Director of Advancement Services Technology, UT Arlington

Your database is one of your organization’s most valuable resources, but are you getting the most out of your data? Effective reporting enables you to understand giving trends, identify better prospects and be more efficient with your fundraising initiatives. Through stories and examples from personal experience, UT Arlington’s Krishna Kelley and Amy Kling will cover what to look for within your data and how well-designed reports can impact all aspects of your development operation. This session will include a Q&A on national trends in reporting, segmentation and data visualization.

Using Digital Analytics to Make Decisions (1.0)

Michael Reina, Director of Digital Engagement, UT System

Digital analytics have come a long way from simply measuring page views and number of likes on a Facebook post. From analyzing engagement rates to utilizing heat mapping software, there are a number of low-cost and easy-to-execute tools and approaches to measure success. This session will showcase tips and techniques that can help your organization better leverage the power of digital analytics and make informed decisions about marketing and communications strategy. Leave this session with some takeaways that will make you an analytics expert.

Creating a Culture of Communication & Collaboration (1.0)

Lynne Waters, Vice President, University Communications, UT Arlington
Laura Harvey, Director, Internal Communications, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
Beverley Golden, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications, UT Tyler
Mary Havard, Associate Vice President, Marketing and Communications, UTMB Galveston
Cathy Brandewie (Moderator), Director of Internal Communications, UT System

Chancellor McRaven has stated that an organization’s success depends on collaboration and communication to build a “team of teams.” Communicating with and involving System employees is critical to developing a team culture focused on a shared mission, common goals, and mutual trust and respect. This panel discussion will highlight internal communication programs already in place at several institutions, provide tips you can implement within your organization, and consider how all can work together to enhance communications and collaboration System-wide.

12:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Chancellor’s Awards Luncheon

Awards recognizing outstanding achievements in fundraising, marketing, communications and media relations will be presented. Please visit the Chancellor’s Excellence Awards page to learn more.

2 – 3 p.m.

Breakout #4 - Concurrent Sessions (CFRE Points)

Major Gift Strategies for the Development Newcomer (1.0)   

Kelly Scrivner Cronin, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, UT Rio Grande Valley

What are those important strategic steps in securing transformational gifts? How well are you listening to your donors? How can academic partners make a difference? Learn from real case studies. This session is for the new and seasoned fundraising professionals.

Getting the Most Out of Raiser’s Edge (1.0)                            

Jim Ballou, Principal Solutions Architect, Blackbaud
David Martin, Senior Account Manager, Higher Education, Blackbaud  

Join seasoned Blackbaud professionals as they highlight the capabilities of Raiser’s Edge and NXT software and provide you with solutions for streamlining and simplifying processes and creating greater efficiencies.

Principles in Design Thinking

Stacey Chang, Executive Director and Founding member, Design Institute for Health, UT Austin

Design and design thinking are now a part of everyday business practices, recognized as creative approaches to solving complex problems. More specifically, design thinking is a formal method for practical, creative resolution of problems and creation of solutions, with the intent of an improved future result – starting with a goal (a better future situation) instead of solving a specific problem.  Stacey Chang, founding director of the Design Institute for Health at UT Austin, and former managing director at the global design firm IDEO, will share the basic tenets of design thinking.  Applicable across industries, Chang will discuss both theory and practice, and case studies from his two decades of experience at IDEO. 

UT System Branding Update

Teri Lucie Thompson, Associate Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications and Chief Marketing Officer, UT System
Nancy Ryan, Senior Vice President, Account Leadership, GSD&M

We operate in an environment of unprecedented change in academia, health care and research. And brands have come a long way from the time when it was first thought the word “brand” was just another word for logo. Although reinforced by names and marks, brands are now recognized as a company’s or institution’s identity and a measure of trust earned with stakeholders. It is now widely appreciated that a brand is one of the most important assets an organization owns, because they create distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders and ultimately generate economic value

This session will provide an update on the UT System branding initiative with a focus on the market research executed to date and next steps.

Space Matters: Your Experimental Meetings Laboratory – Part 1 (1.0)

Jeff Hurt, Executive Vice President, Education and Engagement, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting

This is not your father’s traditional conference education session. It’s an experimental meetings laboratory. You’ll rotate through four participatory exercises with your peers discussing space grammar: actions, attitudes, places and properties. Discover how to put them all together to create a unique meeting experience. Explore how to shift from a logistics focus to one of designing innovative and engaging experiences. Walk away inspired to bring these buzzwords to life at your next event.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe firsthand how design can be a barrier or facilitator to the attendee experience.
  • Identify ways to move from education sessions that are expert-centric to participant-centric.
  • Practice two behaviors that will help you become more innovative.

3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

Breakout #5 - Concurrent Sessions (CFRE Points)

Corporate and Foundation Giving: Trends and Strategies (1.0)

Aaron Conley, Senior Vice President, Grenzebach Glier and Associates (GG+A)

For many institutions, corporations and foundations account for more than one-third of all giving, but securing support from these sources can be complex. How does your institution make itself relevant to these donors? Attend this session to learn more about best practices and strategies to engage these philanthropic partners.  

Getting to First Base: Insights into Marketing Your Gift Planning Program (1.0)

Marcia Inger Navrátil, Director of Gift Planning Services, UT System

Do you know the best ways to engage your donors and educate them about planned giving opportunities? As budgets tighten, do you wonder how to choose the most effective marketing tools that will provide the most bang for your buck? This presentation will explore a variety of marketing options for institutions both large and small and will discuss marketing of specific planned giving vehicles and assets.

The Power of the Op-ed

Daniel Oppenheimer, Senior Communications Lead for Population Health, UT System
Jeremi Suri, Professor; Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, UT Austin

Competition for earned media has never been greater, with fewer dedicated beat reporters and diminishing resources for journalists to dig deeply into issues that matter to higher education and health care. But with that challenge comes the opportunity to control the narrative, garner public support and explain complex issues. Op-eds can play a vital role in attracting media attention for key initiatives on your campus. Hear why soliciting and submitting op-eds from your institution’s thought leaders is more important than ever, and how they can be used strategically to promote your institution. You’ll also learn how to write an effective op-ed and how to successfully pitch it to local and national publications.

Suri is the author of numerous books and is a prolific generator of opinion pieces which have been published in The New York Times, Salon, The Daily Beast, and more. Oppenheimer began his career as a journalist and authored the book “Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century.” Oppenheimer’s articles and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic and others.

A Seat at the Table (1.0)

Juliet García, Senior Advisor to the Chancellor, UT System

Do you influence your institution’s direction? Contribute to the discussion about students, research, donors, challenges, and strategy? Do leaders seek your opinion? Are you included in informal networks that provide access to influential leaders and decision-makers? If you can answer yes to these questions, congratulations on your career success. You have earned a “seat at the table.” If your answer is no, what can you do to change that? How do you earn and keep your seat? This session will provide insights on how your actions and personal style can help you gain access and influence at a senior level. 

Space Matters: Your Experimental Meetings Laboratory – Part 2 

Jeff Hurt, Executive Vice President, Education and Engagement, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting

See session description under Breakout #4.

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