2023 State Councils Annual Conference 4/30/2023 4/30/2023 4/30/20235/2/20235/2/20235/2/2023 Virginia Beach, VA

About the Conference

The Council of Independent Colleges’ 2023 State Councils Annual Conference will explore how State Councils can learn about effective fundraising strategies including attracting new donors, managing relationships with current donors, and an overview on tapping into corporate philanthropy. Participants will also have the opportunity to hear strategies and approaches related to effective communications and marketing to make the case for state associations and showcase the work of member institutions effectively. The three-day program will take place April 30–May 2, at the Delta Hotels Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The Annual Conference will provide state executives, fundraising officers, communications staff, and operations staff with face-to-face networking opportunities to share best practices with colleagues, in addition to informative fundraising and communications sessions. Participants will also have the opportunity to think innovatively and collaboratively about State Council work and its impact on independent higher education.

Preliminary Schedule

​Sunday, April 30

4:30–5:15 p.m.

Welcome, Opening Remarks, and Presentation of Award


Sherita C. Ashmon, Director of State Councils and Networks Support
Marjorie Hass, President, CIC
Treva Haugaard, Executive Director, Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation


Presenter: Matthew Shank, President, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges
Remarks: Michael C. Maxey, President Emeritus, Roanoke College

5:15–7:00 p.m.

Welcome Reception and Dinner

7:00–8:00 p.m.

Networking Mixer

Monday, May 1

7:30–8:45 a.m.

Breakfast Discussions

These highly interactive discussions will give participants the opportunity to meet peers who share similar professional interests and to benefit from informal collegial exchange.

8:45–9:00 a.m.

Opening Remarks

9:00–9:30 a.m.

State Councils Round Robins

State Council Executives will give an update about new developments and achievements happening in their organizations and within their states.

9:30–10:45 a.m.

Higher Ed Marketing Truths

In this interactive session, Ryan Morabito will be sharing excerpts from his most popular LinkedIn posts as well as some of the latest marketing trends. Attendees can expect to learn about the power and importance of executive visibility and personal branding, developing a marketing action plan (MAP), and how to best measure your marketing impact.
Ryan Morabito, Senior Advisor, 5° Branding

10:45–11:00 a.m.


11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Marketing Action Plan Development

In this follow-up session, attendees will learn how to develop a marketing action plan and how to best measure your marketing impact.
Ryan Morabito, Senior Advisor, 5° Branding

12:15–1:30 p.m.


1:45–3:00 p.m.

Building a Best Practice Advancement Board

Chad J. Jolly, Partner, Gonser Gerber LLP

3:00–3:30 p.m.


3:30–4:15 p.m.

Taking Corporate Board Partnerships to the Next Level Panel Discussion

4:15–5:15 p.m.

State Councils Round Robins

State Council Executives will give an update about new developments and achievements happening in their organizations and within their states.

5:30–7:15 p.m.

Reception and Dinner

7:15–8:00 p.m.

Networking Mixer

Tuesday, May 2

7:30–8:15 a.m.

Breakfast Discussions

These highly interactive discussions will give participants the opportunity to meet peers who share similar professional interests and to benefit from informal collegial exchange.

8:15-9:00 a.m.

Data Discussion

This facilitated session will be an opportunity for participants to share their current uses for data and various reporting practices.
Matt Trainum, Vice President for Networks and Strategic Partnership

9:00–10:15 a.m.
Amaka Nsonwu-Farmer, Director, Multiple Employer Plans, TIAA

10:15–10:45 a.m.


11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Closing Speaker

L. Jay Lemons, President, Academic Search

12:15 p.m.

Closing and Networking Lunch

Featured Speakers

​Ryan Morabito

Senior Advisor, 5° Branding
Ryan Morabito is a brand marketing expert with over two decades of higher education experience. He's partnered with more than 125 colleges and universities in the development and implementation of long- and short-term branding and marketing initiatives. His clients have included New York University, Marquette University, and Old Dominion University.

Morabito is an intentional and creative thinker and a proven leader at delivering high quality market research initiatives, optimizing brand awareness, and developing strategic models that focus operational efforts and drive results. He excels at conceptualizing, developing, and launching integrated marketing programs and bringing them to fruition on time and within budget. Morabito is a well-respected colleague and collaborator with a strong ability to view organizational concerns strategically, lead cross-functional teams, develop partnerships, and communicate effectively.

Chad J. Jolly

Partner, Gonser Gerber LLP
Chad Jolly joined Gonser Gerber with a significant record of success in institutional advancement and nearly two decades of higher education experience.  He provides advancement consulting services including comprehensive advancement counsel; campaign counsel; campaign readiness studies; program audits; board development and training; and strategic planning to colleges, universities, schools, healthcare organizations, secondary schools, and other non-profits nationally.

Prior to joining the firm, Jolly served as vice president for institutional advancement for William Jewell College (MO) where he led a highly successful advancement program and was responsible for development, alumni relations, public relations and marketing.  At Jewell, he led two successful comprehensive campaigns that transformed the campus, doubled annual operating support, increased the percentage of alumni giving, and better positioned Jewell as a national liberal arts college.  Prior to institutional advancement, Jolly served as dean of enrollment management where he led a very successful admission and financial aid program that resulted in enrollment growth and a more desirable enrollment profile. He was selected for and participated in the Executive Leadership Academy through the Council of Independent Colleges in 2011.

Chad earned a bachelor’s degree in history through William Jewell College’s distinctive Oxbridge Program. He also earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from Saint Louis University and a PhD in urban leadership and policy studies in education with a co-discipline in sociology from the University of Missouri Kansas City.

Amaka Nsonwu-Farmer

Director, Multiple Employer Plans, TIAA
Amaka Nsonwu-Farmer is a Greensboro, North Carolina native and works as a director with the multiple employer team for TIAA. In her role, she works to create new Multiple Employer Plans with state associations. This allows schools to experience lower plan costs, increases administrative duties, and enhances financial education for plan participants.

Nsonwu-Farmer has worked in various roles at TIAA over her tenure, including serving as a relationship manager for many independent schools. In that role, she would regularly travel to different higher ed and K-12 campuses around the southeast working to help with streamlining plan design, creating efficiencies, and promoting positive macro change for plan participants. Previously, she worked for Vanguard, most recently as a high-net-worth consultant.

L. Jay Lemons

President, Academic Search
L. Jay Lemons became president of Academic Search in 2017, after serving for 25 years as a college president in both public and private higher education. A recognized leader in the academy, Lemons has been particularly devoted to supporting leadership talent by working with new college presidents on the faculty of the new presidents programs of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and through the professional development programs for aspiring leaders of the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI). This passion for working with new and emerging leaders and the opportunity to help them build teams and their institutions was what led him to accept the presidency of Academic Search.

Lemons was president of Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, from 2001 through 2017, and prior to that served as chancellor of the University of Virginia’s (UVA) College at Wise, UVA’s public liberal arts college in southwestern Virginia. Both institutions experienced highly generative periods of growth and development under his leadership. He understands colleges and universities and the leadership needed to propel institutions into the future.

Earlier in his career, Lemons served in a variety of roles at the University of Virginia, Texas A&M University, the University of Nebraska, and Nebraska Wesleyan University—thus deepening his knowledge of the complex array of positions and leadership talent needed for institutions to be successful in a rapidly changing world.

Registration Information

​To strengthen each team’s professional expertise and encourage broad attendance, CIC will offer a discounted registration fee for state executives and an additional discounted registration for the second registrants. Third registrants are able to attend at no cost. These discounts are made possible thanks to generous support from the conference sponsors: Academic Search, TIAA, and Credo.

First Registrant: $375
Second Registrant: $260
Third Registrant: $0

Register Now


Business casual clothing is appropriate throughout the conference.


Refunds will be made in full (less a $50 processing fee) for cancellations received more than ten business days prior to the conference for which participants have registered. Requests received fewer than five business days prior to the start of the conference are ineligible for a refund. Please send cancellation requests, in writing, to the attention of Alana Cassidy by email to acassidy@cic.edu. Registrations are transferable within state council organizations.

Hotel and Travel


​Delta Hotels Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites

2800 Shore Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 481-9000

 Hotel Information

The 2023 CIC State Councils Annual Conference will be held at the Delta Hotels Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites, conveniently located on the shores of the quieter Chesapeake Bay side of Virginia Beach, Virginia. The 4-star business-friendly hotel opened in the fall of 2020 and offers amenities such as a 24-hour Business Center, valet and onsite self-parking, a restaurant, and a cafe. It is Virginia Beach’s only beachfront hotel, and it is one of the only locations in the area where you can watch both the sunrise and sunset over a private beach.

The hotel’s signature restaurant is The Tin Cup + Oyster Bar. This coastal eatery features American cuisine, seafood, and local oysters on the menu. The bar boasts a casual indoor environment and an outdoor patio area called Dune Deck that faces the Bay. The hotel’s cafe, Cafe 2800, is a full-service shop that provides grab-’n-go items like sandwiches and donuts, specialty drinks, and Starbucks coffee.  

The hotel is a 15-minute drive from the city’s boardwalk area and local attractions.

Hotel Reservations Deadline for CIC Rate:
March 22, 2023

Room Rate:
$149 single/double per night

Reservations may be booked online using CIC's hotel reservation link.
Hotel reservation inquiries also may be addressed directly to the hotel at (757) 481-9000. Please reference CIC State Councils Annual Conference 2023 when making reservations by phone. Reservations made after March 22 cannot be guaranteed at the group rate and will be accommodated on a space-available basis.

Check-in time is 4:00 p.m.
Check-out time is 11:00 a.m.



Norfolk International Airport (ORF) is approximately ten minutes from the Delta Hotels Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites. Major airlines such as Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, and United service the airport and offer approximately 100 nonstop flights to major destinations across the country.

Onsite car rental desks are located in the Arrivals Terminal on Level 1. Rental pickup is located on Level G–Garage A and rental car return on Level 2–Garage A. Cab and ride-share fares from the airport may range between $20 and $30. The pickup location for cabs, Uber, and Lyft is located outside Door 5 in the Arrivals Terminal.


Amtrak service is available to Virginia Beach, VA. The closest train station is the Norfolk, Virginia (NFK) station. Amtrak-chartered motorcoach buses are available to bring you from the Norfolk, Virginia train station to the Virginia Beach, Virginia–Hampton Road transit bus stop. The bus stop is located approximately 16 minutes from the conference hotel.


The hotel offers daily onsite self-parking and valet options at $20 plus tax per vehicle, per night. Electric charging stations for electric cars are available.

For additional information on parking, please call the Delta Hotels Virginia Beach Bayfront Suites at (757) 481-9000.




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Health and Safety

​CIC is committed to the health and safety of workshop participants. Please review the current CIC Health and Safety Guidelines and Requirements before registering for the conference.