Pre-Conference Sessions

Expand your learning at Connect West 2019 by attending one of three pre-conference sessions. Whether you are a newcomer to advancement or a veteran seeking insight on today's important topics, these workshops offer hands-on activities and in-depth discussions.

All Pre-Conference Session will be held Wednesday, February 20 from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Newcomers to Advancement


Just arrived in advancement? Here's your opportunity to grasp the professional landscape, distinguish yourself in your new role, and identify ways to grow and excel.

This workshop is intended to benefit those new to the advancement profession, or within the first couple years of their role. Those attending will establish a network of colleagues who are also new to advancement and serving in similar areas. Together, they will learn how each of their roles contribute to and depend upon other advancement functions to succeed. Attendees will also have the opportunity to interact with a panel of esteemed leaders in the profession to obtain advice for building their careers.

Kevin CorbettKevin Corbett, Executive Director of Learning and Performance, University Advancement, University of Southern California

Kevin Corbett is a talent development professional, with a focus on nonprofit fundraising. For the last 10 years, he has worked in higher education advancement.

In his current role as Director of Learning and Performance at the University of Southern California, Kevin oversees all advancement professional development and training initiatives. He served in a similar role at The George Washington University. Prior to that, he served in various fundraising capacities at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Foundation for the National Archives and The Kennedy Center. Kevin holds a BA in Music from Palm Beach Atlantic University and an MBA from The George Washington University. He is currently pursuing an EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership at USC. He also serves on the board of Kid City Hope Place, a small nonprofit that supports college access, persistence and completion among first-generation college students or college-bound students living in the surrounding neighborhoods of downtown Los Angeles. When Kevin's not at his desk, he's eating Chipotle with friends, exercising, or volunteering. His guilty pleasures include people-watching, Belgian-style beers, and afternoon naps.

Katrina Onderdonk, Director of Talent Management, California Institute of Technology

Katrina Onderdonk is the Director of Talent Management for Development and Institute Relations at the California Institute of Technology where she specializes in executive search, employee engagement, individual coaching and team building. Onderdonk has over 15 years of executive search and leadership experience in both corporate and non-profits settings. Prior to joining Caltech, she was a Search Consultant with S. Benjamins & Company, and began her career at Banc of America Securities and Gap Inc. Onderdonk holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and is very active in the Los Angeles community, having served on boards of several non-profits.

Leadership Academy


Are you currently in a leadership role or aspiring to be a leader in your organization? Join this interactive session to complete a leadership assessment and coaching program designed for the leadership challenges facing Advancement professionals. Participants will complete a 360-degree assessment tool that has been validated for advancement leaders and translate their feedback data into an action plan for enhancing strengths, reducing your blind spots, and addressing development opportunities. Approximately four weeks prior to the session, you will be asked to complete a self-assessment survey and nominate coworkers and colleagues to participate in the leadership assessment on your behalf.

Kevin S. Groves, Ph.D., President, Groves Consulting Group, & Associate Professor of Management, Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business

Kevin S. Groves, Ph.D. is President of Groves Consulting Group, LLC, and Associate Professor of Management at the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business. The consultancy supports organizations across industries with leadership and organization development solutions, including 360-degree assessment, leadership development program design and facilitation, succession planning, executive team development, and training. At the Graziadio School, Dr. Groves teaches MBA and DBA courses in executive leadership, organization design, and organization development and change. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Groves worked as a management consultant in the Strategy & Organization practice at Towers Perrin (now Willis Towers Watson).

Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D.Deputy Managing Partner, Witt/Kieffer
Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D., is senior partner and deputy managing partner for Witt/Kieffer's Education Practice. Based in Irvine, California, he conducts nationwide searches for C-suite and leadership executives within education, healthcare and the non-profit sector. Zach works with clients across the U.S. Prior to joining Witt/Kieffer, Zach served as UC Riverside's interim chief development officer/associate vice chancellor and executive vice president for the UC Riverside Foundation. He is the co-author of Making the Case for Leadership: Profiles of Chief Advancement Officers in Higher Education, and has published articles in the Journal of Leadership and Organization Studies, the International Journal of Educational Advancement, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Make Your Next Presentation TED Worthy


Join renowned digital strategist Adam Napolitan, Director of Web Communications at UC Davis, for this engaging and highly sought-after session that will take your presentation skills to another level, exciting and inspiring your audience in ways you never imagined!
This session will focus on three key areas: presentation development, storytelling and delivery. You will learn how to master your story and make progress towards becoming a truly dynamic speaker. Bring your laptop or tablet with your latest presentation or one that you are currently working on to apply some of the skills you will learn in the session.

Adam Napolitan, Director of Web Communications, University of California, Davis

Adam Napolitan specializes in digital communications strategy for large and complex environments. Adam is the Director of Web Communications at UC Davis. Adam develops strategies and policies while providing consultation to leadership, communicators, IT staff and administrators throughout the university. Adam is a sought after public speaker and coaches keynote presenters from esteemed researchers and public figures to executive leaders. With a background in technology, marketing, behavioral analysis, and communications, Adam has become a revered consultant to nonprofits and institutions.

Campaign Masterclass

Does your campaign plan include a roadmap to navigate through a potential change in the institution's leadership or vision? Join this panel of chief fundraisers and institutional leaders to learn directly the role and effective engagement of a President in a campaign, but also how to best plan for and strategies to navigate a current or future transition. Topics include partnering with interim leaders, shifts in decision-making and vision in a campaign-focused fundraising environment, and more. No matter the stage or size of your campaign, this high-impact session will leave you with strategies to position your institution for success!

Presenters to be announced.