Key Decision Makers

Key Decision Makers (KDM) is an annual program at the CASE District I Conference that is presented exclusively to the lead development officer at every institution in District I. These individuals are key members of the senior management team and report directly to the president, chancellor, or head of school.

Respected thought leaders from within and outside our industry will address best practices for the conception and implementation of innovative initiatives to support institutional goals while achieving measurable objectives that result in increased levels of philanthropic support, diversified funding streams and broad institutional exposure and public awareness.

Key Decision Makers Networking Lunch  12:00pm to 1:00pm

Using Customer Experience to Deepen Alumni and Donor Relations
Presented by Megan Burns

We’re pickier than ever about who we do business with. Our experiences with a company (and the stories we hear) color every decision we make about where and how to spend money. In this session, analyst Megan Burns will share how successful companies make sure every customer interaction tips the scales in their favor. Because financial decisions are anything but rational, she’ll focus on how to see beyond the mechanics of an interaction to the subjective experience, how customers feel about what happened, and what it means for the future. She’ll close with suggestions for applying industry best practices to alumni/donor relationships and take questions from the audience.

Megan Burns is a well-known thought leader in the customer experience field. For more than 17 years she’s helped groups re-humanize the way they interact with customers, employees, suppliers, and the community at large.

In her decade as a VP principal analyst at Forrester Research, Megan authored more than 100 reports on experience management, empathy, culture change, and the role of emotion in experiences. Quoted in media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and New York Times, she has advised leaders in industries as diverse as financial services, healthcare, retail, and non-profit, including twenty firms in the Fortune 50. Before Forrester, Megan helped AT&T usher in the digital age as a systems engineer for some of the first websites used to sell and service telecom online.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and a Master’s degree in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, both Summa Cum Laude. And because technology must serve people, Megan combined her technical studies with work in psychology, management, and history.

Leveraging the Power of Emotional Intelligence to Build Stronger Connections
Presented by Jennifer Shirkani

Someone with high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) demonstrates a sensibility – he or she can influence others more effectively, can manage change well, solves problems calmly, uses humor to build rapport, and remains optimistic even in the face of adversity. Emotionally intelligent organizations engage employees, faculty, students and alumni to build strong relationships and drive loyalty. This presentation provides details on the characteristics of EQ, allows attendees to take a brief self-assessment, and provides statistics on EQ’s connection to organizational effectiveness and better results. Join us for this session and learn ways to leverage the power of EQ to improve self-management skills, communicate with colleagues, direct reports and constituents more effectively, and understand how to thoughtfully frame the message for the audience to build strong personal connections.

Jen Shirkani is a nationally recognized expert on emotional intelligence and a featured speaker at national and state conferences, universities, government agencies, and at business organizations around the world. She is the author of Ego vs EQ, a leader’s guide to leveraging the power of emotional intelligence. She has spent over 25-years working with organizations from the Fortune 50 ($40B) to family-owned entities as a business consultant and executive coach. In addition to emotional intelligence, she frequently speaks and writes about workplace challenges, including interviewing and selection, employee engagement and motivation, generational differences, and coachability. Jen has been a frequent guest of several national radio programs, and has been featured in Bloomberg/Businessweek, Leadership Excellence magazine, Investors Daily, Business Insider, Publishers Weekly, Fast Company, and Upstart Business Journal.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and has devoted herself to improving leadership effectiveness and on making common sense more common.

The KDM program will take place at the Westin Copley Place in Boston on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 25.

To receive a registration link, please contact Lindsey Mayo, Key Decision Makers Liaison at  or call CASE Member Services at (202) 328-2273, between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm ET, Monday through Friday.