Plug In to Data Science Speakers

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Keynote Speaker: Brian Xu

Brian Xu is a data scientist at LinkedIn working to turn LinkedIn’s Economic Graph data of more than 645+ million members into insights and stories that help create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. Brian produces LinkedIn’s official monthly Workforce Report, which shares hiring, migration and skill gaps insights and is covered by prominent media outlets in conversations on the labor market and economy. Brian has also worked on numerous projects with partners like the World Bank seeking to make LinkedIn data available to help policymakers around the world understand their workforces and make decisions. For more information on the LinkedIn Economic Graph, please visit 

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Barron Cato

Barron Cato is the Assistant Director of Fundraising and Engagement Data Science at the University of Washington and has worked in the fundraising industry in various roles for over 20 years, with 15 years focused on prospect research and data analytics. Barron has served on the Northwest Development Officers Association Board (NDOA), the Apra Data Analytics Symposium Committee, Apra Awards Committee (as chair), and currently serves on the Board of Apra International. He has presented on prospect research and analytics at NDOA, UW fundraising certificate courses, Apra-NW, and Apra International. Barron received the Apra Margret Furhy Award in 2014.

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James Cheng

James Cheng currently holds the position of Senior Associate Director for Prospect Identification and Analytics under Prospect Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund’s Division of Philanthropy. Other than fundraising, he has made intellectual and professional forays into cell and development biology, high school teaching, academic research in education, as well as healthcare market research. While finishing up a doctorate degree in applied statistics in education at Boston College, James' interest in philanthropy was piqued when he took on the role of Prospect Data Mining and Modeling Specialist at MIT. After spending time in the corporate world as a healthcare market researcher, James left the Dark Side and returned to the Light of fundraising data science, first at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as Associate Director and then at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as Development Data Analytics Specialist and Senior Data Scientist.

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Louis Diez

Louis Diez serves as Executive Director of Annual Giving with Muhlenberg College.

Previously, he was Director of the Annual Fund and Development Business Operations at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Associate Director of Development at Johns Hopkins SAIS. In this last role, he led annual giving efforts and worked closely with the Latin-American Studies Program to fund major priorities. Prior to Hopkins, he was the annual fund director at a liberal arts college in Tennessee.

Of varied interests, Louis holds an MBA from CUNEF, a PhD in business administration from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (both in Spain), and an MM in Music Performance from the University of Tennessee. Louis writes about philanthropy on his blog at

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Jay Dillon

Dr. Jay Le Roux Dillon is a social scientist and Founder of Alumni Identity Fundraising Consultants. His research and consulting practice helps institutions identify ideal alumni donors through the lens of social psychology and data science (try it at Jay was previously Director of Alumni Engagement at the University of San Francisco and Executive Director of Alumni Strategic Initiatives at UCLA. Dr. Dillon is dedicated to improving philanthropy in order to bring social justice and equity to education. He holds a doctorate in organization and leadership from USF and a master’s and bachelor’s degree in music from UCLA.

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Jessica Schrider LaBorde

Jessica Schrider LaBorde is the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Advancement Services for the University of California, Davis. Jessica and her team develop and provide advancement services solutions with the front-line fundraiser in mind. With nearly 25 years of experience in corporate sales, political and nonprofit fundraising, and philanthropy operations, Jessica is passionate about improving both internal and external processes to drive a leaner, more efficient business while supporting the UC Davis philanthropic goals and priorities.

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Michael London

Michael London is currently the Sr. Director of Prospect Research, Prospect Management, Systems, and Analytics at the Cleveland Clinic Philanthropy Institute. He manages a unique and multi-functional team composed of six prospect managers, prospect researchers, systems, and analytics professionals. This integrated team works on varied projects that focus on process innovation, data modeling, lead generation, portfolio management, donor analytics, metrics reporting, prospect reporting, and financial reporting. Prior to working at Cleveland Clinic Michael spent three years as a fraud investigator for Sears Holdings Corporation where he managed fraud detection for all locations across the enterprise. During that time, he created and implemented dozens of fraud reports and algorithms that detected hundreds of cases and millions of dollars in fraud per year. Michael has spoken at numerous conferences including: The Tableau conference, APRA-NY, University of Michigan, Apra International, and AAMC. Michael lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two young sons.

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Rachelle Martino

Rachelle is a skilled practitioner in the world of applied behavioral science. Years of experience in consulting and industry has left a deep appreciation and passion for the challenges and opportunities that await those who seek to employ behavioral science in the business setting. Rachelle works with clients to build their internal experimentation capabilities or establish better ways to measure desired signals within the inevitable noise of daily operations. She enjoys seeing ideas brought to life through application and real-world pressure testing. Prior to BehavioralSight, Rachelle worked for Outcome Health, leading the effort to utilize experimentation as a tool to measure and improve patient behavior change and align with value-based care incentives. She also consulted for TGG Group and before that, Deloitte’s Strategy and Operations practice.

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Alexander Oftelie

Alexander W. Oftelie is a managing associate of BWF Insight. He oversees all analytics engagements, workshops and training, and product implementation. His specific areas of expertise include predictive modeling, business impact analysis, survey design and sampling methodology, analytics training, and analytics implementation.

Prior to working as a managing associate at BWF, Alex worked as a non-profit subject matter expert for IBM, and Advanced Analytics Consultant for Gallup. He is a recognized leader, speaker, and trainer for CASE, AHP, and Apra and holds a bachelor of arts from St. Olaf College and a masters of public affairs from the University of Minnesota.

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Michael Reed

Michael Reed is a Prospect Analyst for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation’s prospect development department. Michael leverages the analytical power of tools such as R and SQL to inform strategy and assist in the identification and solicitation of the hospital’s top donors. He builds reports, dashboards and predictive models to identify and explain patterns in donor behavior, and acts as liaison to top fundraising consulting firms like Bentz Whaley Flessner. 

Michael holds a bachelor's in economics from The George Washington University in his hometown, Washington, DC. He currently resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he enjoys playing pick-up basketball, live music and spending quality time with family.

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Zachary Robson

Zach has previously worked on data analysis projects for The University of Iowa Center for Advancement and The University of Chicago Alumni Relations and Development. Currently, Zach is a Data Analyst Associate for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University focusing on data analysis and reporting. In addition, Zach works closely with the annual giving team to measure and help further optimize their results while designing more effective, customized outreach.

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James Rogol

James Rogol joined the University of Virginia’s Central Advancement Business Intelligence group in 2018. In partnership with the University’s multitude of schools, units and foundations, he tackles data science problems to better inform strategic decision making. A “Double Hoo,” he holds a bachelor of arts in Russian literature and language and a master of science in data science from UVA.

Prior to joining the philanthropic sector, James worked as a videographer, video coordinator and performance analyst for teams at the University of California, University of Virginia and the United States Soccer Federation. A veteran of national and regional broadcasts of athletic events, he continues to freelance for the ACC Network.

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Patrick Sanchez

Patrick Sanchez is the Director of Constituent Intelligence at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, an innovative leader in technology throughout Higher Education and the Midwest. He has extensive experience with systems management, data integration and new technology exploration. His leadership has continued to produce revolutionary results for the university and last year was voted Employee of the Year.

Patrick holds a master of science in software systems from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota with a strong focus on software design and development as well as a master of science in physics at Ecole Supérieure de Chimie Physique Electronique de Lyon in France.

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Meredith Shapiro

Meredith Shapiro is a data analyst working at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. Prior to WFAA, she worked as a biostatistician at Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Covance Laboratories. She holds a bachelor's in statistics from UW-Madison and a master of applied statistics (MApStat) from Louisiana State University.

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Nicholas Teff

Nick Teff is a Senior Data Scientist with the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). Bringing analytics experience from academics and finance, he has been helping to build a brand-new data analytics department at the UICA. The team has been embedded in all aspects of advancement from reshaping development officer performance metrics and portfolios for development to developing engagement scores and segmentation for alumni and friend engagement. Nick’s focus has been using data to measure individual engagement with all parts of the University of Iowa in order to reach new and interesting prospects.

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Jacob Tolbert

With almost 10 years of experience in higher ed development, managing data and doing the sort of analytics that prospect researchers and development officers need to be successful, Jacob Tolbert brings an analytical approach to make sure colleagues have the information and tools they need. Whether building models, helping engagement staff identify alumni in a new city or focusing development officers on particular prospects, Jake finds ways to put data to work.

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Jena Zangs

Jena Zangs is the Director of Institutional Data, Analytics and Reporting at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, a rising visionary in the field of Data Science and Higher Education. With her strong background in business and technology, Jena brings a unique perspective to problem-solving with data that is breaking through traditional higher education practices. Her passion around data strategy, technology and empowering constituents who are “All for the Common Good” [the St. Thomas mission] drives her to be an industry leader.

Jena holds a master's of science in data science from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota with a strong focus on Big Data and Machine Learning.

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Jing Zhou

Jing Zhou has been working as a data scientist at the University of Southern California since 2016. Currently, she is focusing on making modern fundraising more efficient with advanced data science techniques. As the first data scientist at USC Advancement, she has built numerous data science products to accelerate fundraising. She has applied supervised machine learning and deep learning techniques to predict prospects’ giving likelihood, capacity and timing. Her predictive outcome has replaced the previous giving scores from outside vendors and widely adopted by fundraisers. She has also applied natural language processing techniques to extract important information from various unstructured text data. Prior to joining USC, she was in a startup focusing on developing big-data processing software. Jing earned her doctoral degree from the University of Michigan on Earth Science. Her doctoral research focused on understanding global warming dynamics through modeling and observational data. Her main data science tools are R, Python, SQL, MATLAB, Tableau and Cognos.