Apra Talks

We’re All Data Scientists

Thursday, August 22 I 9:00am-10:30am PT

Apra Talks has long been one of the most versatile sessions at the conference. Over the years it has been delivered as TED-style talks, friendly debates, and panel discussions on important and timely topics. No matter the format, Apra Talks has always been about connecting with and learning from varying perspectives within our prospect development community.

This year, we’ve gathered speakers from around the industry to share how data science shows up in their work as prospect development professionals. More and more as an industry, we are being asked to incorporate data science into all aspects of our work, whether you are in a one-person shop, at a large organization with a dedicated analysis team, or fall somewhere in-between. Many of us may be looking for inspiration to take our own first steps into the data science world. In this panel, other professionals will share their (sometimes unexpected) journeys as data scientists and reflect on the ways — both large and small — that data science has become the foundation of the toolkit and value proposition that prospect development brings to our organizations.


Moderator: Rodger Devine

Rodger Devine, EdD, brings over 20 years of experience in enterprise information technology, business intelligence, organizational development and cross-functional leadership. Since joining Pomona College in 2021, Rodger provides strategic leadership for the Offices of Advancement Services, Annual Giving; Research, Relationship Management and Analytics; and Stewardship. Rodger previously served as Associate Dean of Strategy and Innovation for External Affairs at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and as Director of Information, Analytics and Annual Giving at the U-M Ross School of Business. 

Rodger completed his graduate studies in information science at the University of Michigan School of Information, where he was a member of the Michigan Data Sciences team and co-founder of the Student Organization for Data Analytics. Rodger completed his doctoral research in Organizational Change and Leadership at the University of Southern California with a focus on technology change, online learning and organizational development.

Rodger presents at conferences, chairs symposia, designs workshops, and volunteers in various leadership roles and mentorship capacities with non-profit organizations such as the Apra, AASP, and CASE, among others. Rodger looks forward to connecting with other lifelong learners and building diverse and inclusive communities of professional development, expertise, and knowledge sharing across higher education and beyond. 

Rodger Devine

Panelist 1: Rachael Dietrich Walker 

Rachael Dietrich Walker joined the prospect research team at Cornell University in July 2022 after four years as the Director of Prospect Development at Western Carolina University, where she was a shop of one doing a little bit of everything in prospect development, analytics, and database work. She was previously the Director of Prospect Development and Analytics at the UNC System Office, where she built a shared services program to provide prospect research support to the UNC system’s emerging campuses. She is a longtime member of the Apra Carolinas board and currently serves as its President. She is also serving on Apra International's Nominating Committee. She holds an MLIS from UNC-Greensboro and a BA from the University of Richmond. 


Panelist 2: Barron Cato

Barron Cato is director of data science analytics on the market research, analytics and insights (MRAI) team at the University of Washington (UW). He has worked in the fundraising industry in various roles for over 25 years with 20 years focused on prospect research and data science. Barron is past treasurer and board director of Apra International, has served on the Northwest Development Officers Association Board (NDOA), the Apra Data Science Now Committee, and chaired the Apra Awards Committee. He has presented on prospect research, analytics, and data science at NDOA, UW fundraising certificate courses, Apra-NW, and Apra International. Barron received the Apra Margret Furhy Award in 2014.


Panelist 3: Anne Pollock

Anne Pollock has over 20 years of direct experience in the public, private, and social sectors. She is passionate about the intersections of connection, delight, and insight, and their ability to connect people with philanthropy.

She serves as Managing Director of Prospect Development and Analytics at the University of New Mexico Foundation and is Cofounder of Giving Hive.

Previously, she spent nearly seven years at Macalester College in Minnesota, ending her tenure there as Director of Development Research and Prospect Strategy. Her work experience includes Project Research for MSR Design in Minneapolis, time as a trainer for ProQuest, and as a Reference Instruction Librarian at the Grand Marais Public Library

Anne holds a certificate in Business Analytics from Harvard Business School, a MLIS from St. Catherine University, a BA in Art History & English Literature from St. Olaf College and is editor of “Celebrating Birch: The Lore, Art, and Craft of an Ancient Tree,” (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2007).