WGU Advancement Team
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 School of Education 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 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.
Anthony (Tony) Padgett
Regional Director, Midwest
Tony is a native Chicagoan. His career has been in non-profit fundraising for most of his professional life spanning over 30 years. He has worked in the fields of higher education, human care services, and healthcare.
Prior to coming to WGU, he was the Senior Director of Philanthropy for LuMind IDSC, a nonprofit Down syndrome research organization with a focus on preventing early onset of Alzheimer’s in people with Down syndrome. Tony holds an M.Sc. from New England College in Nonprofit Leadership, a B.A. from Augustana College in Public Administration, and is a Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CFRE) from CFRE International. Tony and his wife Lagenia have 3 children and 3 grandchildren. Having a grandchild with an intellectual disability can be a challenge but his family has the privilege to experience first-hand the joy and happiness his grandchild has brought to his family. They cannot imagine their world without him.
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!
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.
Events, Philanthropy Cord Program
Pam manages events and the Philanthropy Cord program for WGU Advancement. Pam brings more than 10+ years experience in medical and higher education .
Pam has served in a variety of roles at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, University of WI La Crosse, Gundersen Health System, and Indiana University School of Medicine. She also has experience working in college entertainment booking, as well as conference planning with the U.S. Army Medical Department. Pam received her master’s degree in Organizational Development and Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University and her bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University. She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and loves the Browns. She currently resides in Indianapolis with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.
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.
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 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.
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.