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Part of Western Governors University

WGU Advancement team.

Annalisa Holcombe
President

As President, Annalisa is responsible for leading WGU Advancement’s purpose of building financial support to reinvigorate WGU’s promise of higher education for all by connecting individuals, corporations, and foundations to the university and its students. Holcombe brings more than 15 years of experience in higher education, fundraising, and community relations to WGU Advancement.

Prior to leading WGU Advancement, Holcombe served her alma mater, Westminster College in Salt Lake City, in a variety of roles. Most recently, she was Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer. In this role, she helped lead Westminster to its highest-grossing fundraising year in its history and was responsible for the creation of its community relations department.

Holcombe holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Westminster College and a juris doctorate from the University of Utah College of Law. She lives in Salt Lake City with her family and in her spare time enjoys mentoring and coaching teams and individuals in her community to build trust, achieve dreams, and cultivate joy.

Erica Adams
Regional Director, West

Erica is based in California and leads regional WGU Advancement efforts in the West.  She brings more than 20 years of non-profit experience leading advancement teams and major fundraising efforts and successfully raised millions of dollars for various non-profits. Most recently she served as Vice President of Mater Dei High School, the largest Catholic High School in the country for the past ten years.  She has successfully developed advancement and alumni programs in private education and the non-profit sector and is dedicated to advancing the organizational mission with sincerity and professional expertise. Erica loves spending time with her family and camping with her husband. She also loves watching her youngest son play football and is a proud military mom.


Kabi Catalano
Regional Director, Northwest

With nearly 20 years of non-profit experience, Kabi brings a strategic and collaborative approach to the WGU Advancement Team. She is responsible for individual, corporate and foundation fundraising within WGU’s nine state northwest region, including Alaska and Hawaii. Prior to WGU, Kabi most recently led a Salt Lake-based non-profit’s efforts to complete a $21 million capital campaign. She also obtained a Master of Science in Management and Leadership from WGU.


Christina Cole
Regional Director, Midwest

Christina is a collaborator and servant-leader with 20 years of experience working within non-profit organizations focused on education, leadership, professional development, diversity and inclusion, empowerment, and networking. She received her master's degree in Health Administration from Seton Hall University and was a member of their inaugural fully accredited online MHA Program. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Speech Communications. Christina loves music and performing arts, and lives in Chicago, Illinois with her daughter, Sydni. 


Jenn Cooper
Regional Director, Northeast

Jenn is based in Massachusetts and is responsible for working with WGU’s Northeast Regional Vice President to grow the base of support from alumni, foundations and corporations. Prior to WGU, Jenn had been a fundraiser for the sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 2012 and worked as a major gift officer at Westminster College in Salt Lake City for several years. Prior to fundraising, Jenn worked in the financial aid departments for both Boston University and MIT, whose donor funded scholarship programs inspired her transition into philanthropy.  


Erin Essak Kopp
Director of Engagement

Erin is responsible for developing and implementing a comprehensive communication and outreach strategy for WGU Advancement while also providing team leadership for WGU Advancement’s annual giving, marketing, communications, and events. She has more than 18 years of experience in higher education and nonprofit management with expertise and success in alumni and stakeholder engagement, strategic planning as well as program development and analysis. Prior to joining WGU, Erin held engagement, programming, and leadership roles at The Ohio State University, the University of Oregon, and Ohio University. Erin holds an undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her family and enjoys watching and playing sports, reading, hiking, and kayaking. 


Amy Fairchild
Executive Assistant to the President

Amy has been in higher education over 12 years and brings more than 30 years of experience as an office manager and executive assistant to WGU Advancement. The mission of equity and affordability for students in higher education was a driving factor in why she chose to come to WGU. To be part of the Advancement Team where they raise money to help so many was a perfect fit for her own dedication to philanthropy. 


Tim Franco
Prospect Research Analyst, Research and Data Strategy

Tim started his professional career in retail leadership before transitioning to the world of higher education. He spent over three years supporting the research needs of frontline fundraisers at the University of Arizona Alumni and Development Program. He thrives on being a force of positivity and always focuses on fostering strong and strategic partnerships wherever he is. He earned his BA in History from the University of Arizona. As a first generation college graduate, the mission of WGU to provide access to affordable education is particularly meaningful to him. Tim lives in Tucson, AZ. He enjoys taking trips to Disneyland, visiting breweries, watching movies, and playing trivia.


Liz Gilmore
Grants & Sponsored Programs Manager

Liz joins WGU Advancement from Washington University in St. Louis where she served as an Assistant Dean. She has over a decade of experience in higher education administration. Gilmore also served as an Academic Programs Coordinator for the Learning Center at Washington University in where she provided metacognition skill development for students, oversaw the matched academic mentoring program, and was the liaison with the TRIO program and Disability Resources Office to help facilitate programming to serve student populations of first generation, minimally resourced backgrounds and/or those with disabilities. In her role at WGU, she will target grants and sponsored programs to further the mission of WGU including increasing innovative programming that promotes opportunities founded in equity.


Adam Goduto
Director of Annual Giving

Adam joins the WGU Advancement team with nearly 20 years of annual giving, alumni relations, and operations experience in higher education. He has spent his career working at respected institutions of higher education in Illinois, California, Idaho, and Texas. He is excited to have the opportunity to assist WGU in its efforts to build and maintain a true culture of philanthropy amongst all of its constituents. Adam holds both a bachelor’s in History and a master’s in Recreation Administration from Illinois State University. He currently lives in the Chicago area near his family. He enjoys watching his favorite local sports teams compete and win.  


Linda Hansen
Senior Research and Data Strategy Manager

Linda joins WGU Advancement from the Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. Linda has over 10 years of experience working at local non-profits supporting fundraising efforts. While at the Eccles School, Linda provided insight through data analysis, donors screenings, and management of their Salesforce instance. Linda brings her expertise to WGU Advancement to stand up our database, create data governance policy, and research current and potential donors to the university.


Brandon Zollner
Executive Director of Development

Brandon is based in middle Tennessee and is responsible for leading the development team which includes regions, corporate and foundation relations, and stewardship. He has over 17 years of experience in higher education fundraising and program development. Prior to WGU, Brandon held fundraising and relationship development roles at Saint Louis University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Brandon holds an undergraduate degree and MBA from Saint Louis University, and is drawn toward WGU’s focus on quality, access, and affordability in education.


Susan Lewis
Fellow, American Council on Education

Dr. Susan Lewis is the 2021-22 American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow at WGU. She is focused on executive leadership, academics, and advancement. Dr. Lewis serves as vice provost of Abilene Christian University. She is known for leading strategic institutional change; leading development of high-impact programs designed to enhance student success and institutional reputation; and collaborating across divisions to allocate resources and create meaningful student experiences. As a first-generation college student, she experienced the transformational power of higher education, and she believes the future of higher education must be secured through active innovation, access, transparency, and strategic partnerships & philanthropy. Dr. Lewis is an award-winning, tenured faculty member; her academic research has been presented and published in peer-reviewed journals in the U.S., Europe, and Australia; and she has led study abroad programs in Germany and England. Susan and her husband, Michael, have two adult sons.

Heather Marsh
Regional Director, South

Heather has more than twenty years of experience serving the education and nonprofit sector and she is passionate about seeing people from all backgrounds reach their learning potential and realize the transformative power of education.  Most recently, Heather was the Senior Director of Development for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Executive Director for the Texas Higher Education Foundation.  In these dual roles, she oversaw the coordinated efforts to raise awareness and financial support for the state’s higher education plan. She holds an M.B.A. from the University of Dallas and a B.F.A. from Texas State University.  On weekends, Heather will be hiking with the family or driving her 1965 MGB around the backroads of Texas - always with a tool bag in the trunk!


Amanda Moline
Development Project Specialist

Amanda is based in Arizona and has spent over 10 years in education from teaching English abroad to most recently serving students in WGU’s Teachers College by placing them for their field experiences. She is passionate about using data and reporting to streamline processes and proactively problem solve with the ultimate end goal of ensuring students have the resources they need to achieve their dreams. Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages from Northern Arizona University and enjoys traveling, gaming, and playing with her dog.


Alia Moore
Research Analyst

Alia began her career in archives and libraries before making the jump to the advancement field and prospect research team at the University of Arizona. This background instilled not only the importance of education, but the necessity of equitable access to resources, which translates quite naturally from a library context to the mission of WGU. She received her master’s degree in Information Resources and Library Science from the University of Arizona and her bachelor’s degree in Art from Linfield University. Alia lives in her home town of Bend, OR. She has a lot of unusual hobbies including, cosplay, roller derby, and podcasting.


Gilbert Rojas
Senior Manager of Special Projects & Board Liaison

Gilbert has been with WGU since May of 2015.  He has held various roles including Business Analyst and Product Manager in Ed Tech supporting Marketing and Enrollment.  His most recent role was Chief of Staff supporting WGU President Scott Pulsipher since April of 2017.  Gilbert's WGU experience spans technology projects, business process improvement, student experience, external affairs, Board of Trustees engagement, external affairs, internal communications and organizational and legal re-designs.  Prior to WGU, Gilbert enjoyed a 20 year career in hospitality with Marriott International where he was responsible for the guest experience and  training across all brands, domestic and international for the Global Incentive and GiftCards product portfolio.  Gilbert is married to Jenny and has two boys, Tarek (16) and Oliver (13) and a furry son named Fernando (6).  In his spare time, he likes to golf, play/coach/watch soccer, snowboard and go fishing with his family.  He and Jenny are novice bee keepers and hope to soon share the rewards of the bees work!


Curtis Ryan
Director of Operations

Curtis is a Certified Public Accountant and has worked in higher education for 33 years. He worked for a national accounting firm (PWC) for 5 years and Westminster College for over 27 years, most recently as the VP of Finance & Administration. At WGU Advancement, Curtis provides strategic and tactical planning and direction by providing financial and budget oversight for administrative and financial operations. Curtis is a graduate of the University of Utah with a B.A. in accounting. He is active in local non-profit organizations and currently serves on the Board of the Utah Parent Center, a non-profit organization that supports parents who have children with disabilities. Along with his wife Faith, they have four children. Curtis likes to hike, run, bike, ski, fly fish and anything outdoors.


Morgan Smith
Grant Compliance Administrator

Morgan is based in Illinois and is responsible for providing guidance to grant managers on compliance with federal and state grants. Her passion lies in providing students with equitable and inclusive educational experiences by equipping grant managers with the appropriate tools, resources, and information to fulfill both the grant and the organization’s mission.  She obtained her B.A. in Corporate Communications, PR, and Advertising from Lindenwood University as well as her Master’s in Business Administration. In Morgan’s free time, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and indulging in self-care.


Doug Sweeney
Regional Director, Central

Doug is based in Ohio and leads WGU Advancement’s efforts to secure philanthropic support from individuals, corporations, and foundations across the Central Region. With more than 20 years of experience in raising funds for higher education and cultural and social service non-profits, Doug is passionate about helping connect donors with meaningful opportunities to change lives and enhance communities. This is exemplified by WGU’s commitment to accessibility for ambitious students and innovation in higher education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The Ohio State University, a master’s in sport management from West Virginia University, and has served in development roles at UNC Charlotte, Ohio State, and Ohio Dominican University. Doug’s free time is often spent enjoying various sports and outdoor activities with family, especially when his twin high schoolers are on the field or fairway.


Teresa Williams
Director of Sponsored Projects 

Teresa J. Williams, Ph.D., has over 25 years of experience as a college administrator, instructor, grants manager, and community organizer. She has created innovative programs to engage students and the community, designed assessment plans for nonprofit and higher education institutions, and facilitated discussions with corporate executives and college bound high school students. Dr Williams has previously held administrative positions in higher education as director of TRIO Student Support Services at Washington University in St. Louis, dean of Academic Support at Quincy University, associate dean in the School of Liberal Arts at Hampton University, associate dean of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Olivet College, and Dean of Lock Haven University’s Clearfield Campus. Dr. Williams received her Ph.D. in higher education administration and leadership from Saint Louis University after having completed her master's and bachelor's degrees at Webster University and Washington University in St. Louis respectively.


Kimberly Wolfe
Regional Director, Southeast

Kimberly is based in Tennessee and is responsible for working with WGU’s Southeast Region. Before her time at WGU, Kimberly served as the Director of Development for Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. She previously served as the Director of Fundraising and Collaborative Purchasing for 14 independent colleges affiliated with the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges. She has over ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector ranging in leadership roles as the Executive Director with organizations like NAMI Alabama and the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra. Kimberly is excited to be at WGU and believes in the importance of providing access to quality higher education. 


Megan Yuly
Data Specialist

Megan has about 4 years of experience in nonprofits providing direct service to customers as well as providing detailed reports on trends in the community. Megan has a passion for using data to solve problems and answer questions that will assist companies in providing better service to their community. Megan has a bachelor's degree in Psychology from University of Washington and plans to pursue a master's degree in Data Analytics later this year. She also enjoys yoga, hiking, and crafting.