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 worked closely with Nevada's elected Board of Regents, system campuses, many institutional presidents and their administrations comprising the Nevada System of Higher Educaton, 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.


Virginia "Ginny" DeSanto

Virginia "Ginny" DeSanto

Vice President, Finance, CFO, Secretary and Treasurer, ASU Foundation

Virginia "Ginny" DeSanto joined the ASU Foundation in 2005 as assistant controller before being appointed controller and later vice president of finance, CFO, secretary and treasurer, bringing more than a decade of experience in financial reporting, auditing and financial leadership.

At the foundation, DeSanto is responsible for the organization’s financial operations, including reporting, treasury operations, debt management, risk management, planning and budgeting, payroll and benefits, gift reporting, building operations, and oversight of nine subsidiary organizations. Under her leadership, the financial office successfully supports the cultivation and development activities of the ASU Foundation and the university by providing a wide range of financial services. She and her team of professionals collaborate closely with units across the foundation and university to provide the infrastructure that enables others to achieve their financial goals and objectives.

Prior to joining the foundation, DeSanto was a senior auditor at Gainter Bandler Reed PLC following service in the same role for CBIZ Mayer Hoffman McCann.

DeSanto graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration from ASU (summa cum laude) and majored in business information systems at Northern Kentucky University where she earned her associate's degree. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants, and National Committee for Institutionally Related Foundations.


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


Gwen Grigsby

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.


Kyle Hoffman

Kyle D. Hoffman

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

Kyle D. Hoffman joined UC Merced on May 21, 2012 as vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations. As the campus’ chief fundraiser, Hoffman oversees all of UC Merced's fundraising efforts while also managing the development of the campus' young but growing alumni base. He also serves as vice president of the UC Merced Foundation.


As an effective and seasoned leader in development and alumni relations, he has extensive leadership experience in fundraising and institutional knowledge of the University of California system.

Hoffman spent the past 14 years as assistant vice chancellor for Alumni and Constituent Relations at UC Riverside, and he spent 14 years prior to that in various positions at UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara.

Hoffman received his bachelor's and master's degrees from UC Santa Barbara, where he worked for five years in the 1980s as director of Student Relations and director of the Alumni Vacation Center. In 1989, he became the executive director of the UC Riverside Alumni Association, and later was named assistant vice chancellor of Alumni and Constituent Relations. He also worked as the assistant personnel manager of the UC Santa Barbara Olympic Village during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.


Steve Juarez

Steve Juarez

Associate Vice President and Director of State Government Relations for the University of California

Steve Juarez is Associate Vice President and Director of State Government Relations for the University of California, where he is responsible for all State policy matters affecting the University. Prior to his appointment in 2008, Steve was a Vice President with JPMorgan in the firm’s Public Finance Division. He was formerly the Director of Financial Management for the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles and prior to that, Steve was the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Government & Community Relations at UCLA. He also has extensive experience in state and local finance and policy matters. Steve holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from UCLA and a Master's degree in Public Administration from USC.


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.


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.