Featured Speakers

The 2015 State Funds Annual Conference features a strong lineup of speakers addressing this year's theme, “New Perspectives for a New Era.”

Paul Chewning, senior associate at Trek Advancement, has served higher education for nearly 40 years. Prior to joining Trek Advancement, he was president of the Appalachian College Association (ACA), a consortium of 36 private colleges and universities. Prior to ACA, Chewning served as president of the West Virginia Independent Colleges & Universities. Earlier, he spent nearly 15 years as vice president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He also served as alumni director and lacrosse coach at Bethany College (WV), director of individual and corporate giving at Drake University, and held development positions at the West Virginia University Foundation and at Pennsylvania State University. Chewning graduated magna cum laude from Bethany College (WV) with a BA in history, and he earned an MA in American studies from the University of Minnesota and an EdD from Drake University. He has been active in a number of nonprofit organizations throughout his career, serving in leadership positions and as an active volunteer.

Paul Conn has served as president of Lee University since 1986. A graduate of Lee University, he holds MA and PhD degrees in psychology from Emory University and subsequently spent three years at Harvard University as a postdoctoral visiting scholar. Prior to becoming president, Conn served on the Lee College psychology faculty for 15 years, was chair of the department of behavioral sciences, and won the college’s highest award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1984, Conn was appointed vice president for institutional advancement at Lee University and served in the position for two years before becoming president. During his 29 years as president, the university has seen significant growth: Enrollment has increased from 1,214 to over 4,900, the size of the budget has quadrupled, fundraising has increased dramatically, and the campus has been substantially rebuilt and enlarged. Conn also has enjoyed a second career as a freelance writer. Four of his books have been listed on the New York Times bestseller list, and his book, The Possible Dream, was the seventh bestselling nonfiction book of 1977, according to Publishers Weekly. Conn served as a member of the CIC Board of Directors from 2007 to 2010.

Roger Estrada, director of endowments and foundations, TIAA-CREF Financial Services, joined with TIAA-CREF in 2007. His responsibilities include assisting foundation and endowment clientele and establishing new institutional asset management accounts. Prior to joining TIAA-CREF, Estrada served as a senior investment manager and financial advisor at Charles Schwab & Co. and at American Express.


Kenneth Garren is currently serving in his 14th year as president of Lynchburg College. He is in his 48th year in academia, having previously served as a faculty member, associate dean, chief academic officer, and vice president for academic affairs at Roanoke College. Prior to his academic career, he served for five years with the U.S. Space Program as an aerospace engineer, working on the Apollo and Gemini projects at the NASA Langley Research Center. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Roanoke College, his master’s degree from the College of William and Mary, and his doctoral degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Among his numerous regional and national affiliations in higher education, he has been particularly active in CIC and its State Funds Members, including leadership positions with the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and CIC’s State Funds Advisory Council.

Susan Hart, founder and president of Hart Public Relations & Communications, has nearly 30 years of professional public relations experience. A director of the national PRConsultants Group and accredited by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Hart is the recipient of multiple awards for her work and leadership, and she is one of only 300 professionals in the world who has been elected to the PRSA’s College of Fellows for her industry achievements and distinctive service. Clients have ranged from national service providers and retailers to entrepreneurial start-ups and nonprofits. Hart is passionate about helping others succeed. Her firm’s in-depth methodology begins with research on the root causes of marketing issues facing the organization and leads to the development of a unique and creative course of action for communications strategies, working with management to assure the implementation of plans with accountability for all stakeholders.

Rand Park is a senior lecturer at Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Prior to his faculty appointment at the Carlson School, he was the vice president of development for the Minnesota Private College Fund. He previously held positions in corporate relations and fundraising at Hamline University and the University of Minnesota and, over the past 17 years, he has taught ethics courses at both institutions. Park has presented on the topic of corporate philanthropy and higher education at national conferences, and he led executive training on ethical decision making for a number of professional offices and groups, including the Office of the Legislative Auditor for the State of Minnesota, the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, and the Hennepin County Bar Association. He earned a BA and MA from the University of Georgia and a JD from the Hamline University School of Law. Park is currently pursuing a PhD in the department of organizational leadership and policy development at the University of Minnesota, where his research is focused on corporate philanthropy in relation to higher education.

Frank Romeo serves as vice president of the UPS Foundation and is responsible for the operations and management of its global philanthropic and corporate relations programs. He has more than 40 years of experience with UPS, including 11 years in UPS’s international operations and seven years as head of UPS’s global Employee Relations Group. Joining us this day to discuss the UPS Foundation’s long partnership with the State Funds in advancing the Foundation’s commitment to expanding college access and success for first-generation students, Romeo is particularly proud that CIC’s UPS Scholarship Program has helped make a private college education possible for over 19,000 students from underserved populations.

Andrea Simon, principal and founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants, has more than 20 years of experience as a senior officer of health care institutions, financial services, and nonprofits. Simon’s expertise lies in helping corporations, higher educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations develop their purpose and brand positioning, redesign their organization’s culture, and improve their financial performance, using innovative and effective product development and marketing methodologies. Simon is a trained practitioner in Blue Ocean Strategy and has helped numerous companies discover new “blue oceans,” successfully opening up new markets with them. She has won numerous Addy and Aster awards for her marketing and advertising campaigns. Simon is a well-published author with articles in Forbes, Business Week, and various publications and online blogs.