2014 Presenters

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The speakers for the Summit are widely recognized as leaders in their fields.


Robert E. Dickens

Robert E. Dickens

Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno

Robert E. Dickens, associate professor of Political Science and emeritus director of Governmental Relations at the University of Nevada, Reno, has served as the university's federal and state relations specialist for more than 30 years. In that capacity, he has worked closely with Nevada's elected Board of Regents, system campuses and many institutional presidents and administrations serving in the University of Nevada system, one of the most rapidly growing higher education systems in the United States.

Dickens earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Nevada. In 1999, Dickens attended and graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Institute for Management and Leadership in Education. His external relations experience ranges from federal and state authorizations and appropriations to matters dealing with the NCAA, economic development, research stimulation, medical research and education, as well as veteran student affairs. He teaches American Government, including American politics and public policy, legislative process and Nevada politics. His publications and conference activities range from public land and water policy to nuclear waste disposal and the civic engagement of university research specialists in the policy-making process.

Dickens has been involved with the Summit since 1986.



The Honorable James E. Geringer

The Honorable James E. Geringer

Associate Vice President for University Communications and Chairman of the Board, Association of Governing Boards

  • Chairman, Board of Directors, Western Governors University
  • Director, Policy & Public Sector, ESRI
  • Governor of Wyoming, 1995-2003



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Gwen W. Grigsby

Associate Vice President for Governmental Relations, University of Texas, Austin

Gwen Grigsby has served The University of Texas at Austin as associate vice president for governmental relations since 1998. She previously served in governmental relations for the University of Texas (UT) System. She began her career in state government in 1986 working for Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby on public education and higher education issues.

Grigsby has been active in other UT projects, including coordinating the Task Force on the University of Texas System/Public School Collaborations, chairing the Selection Advisory Committee for the Director of the University Interscholastic League, chairing the UT Tower Special Tour Guidelines Committee and serving on the UT System Committee on the Advancement of Women, the UT, Austin Year of the Child Steering Committee and the UT Elementary Charter School Management Board.

Grigsby holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Texas Tech University and a master's in public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT, Austin.



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Jeff Hess

Jeff Hess, Marketing Professor, California Polytechnic State University

Jeff Hess is a pioneer in the science of consumer brand relationships. The models and measures he has developed are used extensively in industry and his foundational consumer trust measure (Hess 1995) is commonly cited in the academic marketing literature by those currently researching consumer-brand relationships. His work is published in trade and peer reviewed academic publications, and he continues to advance relationship science by formalizing the Consumer Investment Model.

He has consulted with more than 100 companies in a 20-year research career including Microsoft, McDonald's, Sony and a wide variety of automotive and telecommunications firms. At least two large marketing research firms are currently using Hess' consumer relationship model as their primary brand loyalty platform.

Hess received his Ph.D. in Marketing Research Methodology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He earned his MBA in Marketing from Pepperdine University and a BA in Radio, TV and Film from Biola University. He currently teaches a variety of marketing and marketing research classes, specializing in training students to apply data analytic techniques toward answering strategic marketing questions – using real world data and methods.



Kyle Hoffman

Kyle D. Hoffman

Vice Chancellor, Development & Alumni Relations, University of California, Merced

Kyle D. Hoffman joined University of California, Merced in May 2012 as vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations. Hoffman oversees all of UC Merced's fundraising efforts, as well as managing the development of the campus' young but growing alumni base. He also serves as vice president of the UC Merced Foundation.

Hoffman's extensive leadership experience in fundraising and his institutional knowledge of the University of California system have grown from the 14 years he served as assistant vice chancellor for Alumni and Constituent Relations at UC, Riverside and the 14 years experience in various positions at UC, Riverside and UC, Santa Barbara.

He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from UC, Santa Barbara, where he served as director of Student Relations and director of the Alumni Vacation Center in the '80s. He became executive director of the UC Riverside Alumni Association in 1989 and later was named assistant vice chancellor of Alumni and Constituent Relations. He also served as assistant personnel manager for the UC Santa Barbara Olympic Village during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

A first-generation college graduate himself, Hoffman was drawn to UC, Merced in part because of its critical role in improving college-going rates and the regional economy of the traditionally underserved San Joaquin Valley, and by the chance to continue a professional career that has been dedicated to advancing the UC system.



Robert J. Nava

Robert J. Nava

Vice President for University Advancement, San Francisco State University

President, San Francisco State Foundation

Robert Nava is vice president for university advancement at San Francisco State University and president of the SF State Foundation. Prior to joining the University, Nava held various senior leadership positions at the University of California, Riverside and served as the university’s lobbyist in Sacramento and Washington D.C. During much of his 19 year UC, Riverside career. Nava served as the associate vice president for institutional advancement at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) from 2005 to 2010, during which time he organized the University’s centennial campaign which raised almost half of its $200 million goal in a down economy before its public launch in September 2010.

He earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice from UTEP in 1979 and a J.D. from Western State University College of Law in Orange County, California. Nava is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CRFE) and was a member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Institute for Management and Leadership in Education. He also was an education fellow with the Institute on Educational Leadership, Washington, D.C. Nava is married to Catherine Aguilera-Nava and the couple have three children and one grandchild.



Deborah Read

Deborah Read

Vice President for University Advancement, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Chief Executive Officer, Cal Poly Foundation

Principal Analyst, Eduventures

Deborah Read, vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Cal Poly Foundation, brought nearly three decades of experience in higher education fundraising when she joined Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (SLO) on January 1, 2012. Previously she had served as vice president for university advancement at the University of Dayton in Ohio since 2007. At Dayton, she served as the institution’s chief development officer where she designed, implemented and oversaw its $360 million capital campaign.

Before joining Dayton, Read served as vice president for university development at University at Albany, State University of New York from 2005 to 2007; as vice president for advancement at Northern Kentucky University from 2000 to 2005; and as vice president for advancement at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania from 1997 to 2000. In addition, she held several fundraising positions at the University of Maryland. Her depth and breadth of experience was a key factor in her appointment at Cal Poly, SLO.

Read is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics and has done graduate study in business and in education, policy, planning and administration.



Alicia Reed

Alicia Reed

Principal Analyst, Eduventures

Alicia Reed is a Principal Analyst and Consultant specializing in development and fundraising. A passionate advocate for development excellence, she supports advancement leaders across the country in making data-driven decisions that lead to higher gift officer productivity, increased ROI, and successful campaign outcomes. Working closely with development leaders, deans, presidents, board members, and other key stakeholders, Reed provides tools, training and a roadmap for transformation to clients seeking to optimize their operations for fundraising success.

Reed has worked in the development field for more than 15 years as a practitioner, advisor and consultant. Her fundraising experience includes annual giving, major gifts, principal gifts, stewardship, board management, alumni engagement and student and parent fundraising. Her development consulting and research expertise include her creation of Eduventures’ innovative solutions and foundational work in gift officer productivity, campaign message testing, managing returns on investments, raising mega-gifts and dean’s fundraising.

Prior to joining Eduventures, Reed held roles as director of Parent Fundraising and Programs at the University of Pennsylvania and director of Alumni Programs and Annual Giving at Northeastern University. She most recently served as the director of Partnerships at New Profit, where she worked with principal gift donors to support the country’s most promising social innovations, expanding her development consulting work to the non-profit sector. She frequently presents at development industry conferences and has been a faculty award winner for her CASE conference presentations.

Reed's love of data analysis started in the psychology labs at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she graduated summa cum laude and worked with professors on clinical studies in ADHD while earning her B.A. in psychology and writing an honors thesis in social psychology.



Brian J. Sharpes

Brian J. Sharpes

Senior Vice President Investments, UBS Institutional Investing

Brian Sharpes has specialized in non-profit organizations and serving his clients’ investing needs since 1994. During that time, he has built a solid reputation and an expanding client base that has led to national recognition and more than $2.5 billion under management.

Sharpes earned the Certified Investment Management Analyst designation under the joint auspices of the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania and the Investment Management Consultants Association. He also earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation in 2010. As part of his continuing professional development, he is working for his master's degree in Nonprofit Management from the University of San Francisco.

His areas of expertise include working with both public and private foundations, as well as working with high net worth families. Sharpes has also been a speaker at national and regional conferences on topics such as portfolio design and implementation, building consensus on an investment committee, fiduciary education/liability, industry ethics, developing socially responsible investment strategies, and impact investing.

In addition to his professional activities, Sharpes serves on the board of trustees for the Seven Hills School, is an instrument-rated private pilot and an avid skier. He lives in Walnut Creek with his wife Michelle and their two children.



Jason Simon

Jason Simon

Vice President/Partner, SimpsonScarborough

Former Executive Director for Marketing Communications, University of California Office of the President

Jason Simon joined SimpsonScarborough as a partner and vice president in February 2014. He has more than 15 years of experience leading marketing efforts in higher education and was named the 2013 American Marketing Association (AMA) Higher Education Marketer of the Year. Simon’s areas of specialty include brand strategy, positioning and bringing the campaign to life.

Simon is an expert in the increasing role and importance of marketing in higher education and has a keen understanding of the unique institutional dynamics of the industry, having served as executive director of marketing communications for the University of California system and in a similar position at North Carolina State University. In both roles he used his expertise to launch ground-up efforts to build a case for marketing, assembled and guided successful internal teams, established brand and positioning strategies, conducted market research, and launched integrated communications that included digital, social media and advertising campaigns, which typically supported enrollment, fundraising and broader institutional challenges.

Simon began as a sports writer and editor, then became associate director of media relations for the North Carolina State University athletics department, where he also served as public relations lead for the men’s basketball team. He later gained industry and agency experience as a brand strategist for corporate clients such as Red Hat, IBM and Sony Ericsson. Simon and his teams have earned accolades and honors from AMA, CASE, UCDA and other professional organizations and publications. He regularly speaks on branding, social media and marketing strategy for national and international organizations, including CASE, AASCU, Academic Impressions and PRSA. He has also penned articles or been featured in CASE Currents, Marketing News, The New York Times, NPR and other media outlets.

Currently a co-chair of the AMA's Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education, Simon earned his B.A. in communication from North Carolina State University.