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Apra Talks 

Communication can be hard. Words are important.

Wednesday, July 28 I 10:00 a.m.  11:00 a.m. CDT

Apra Talks began in the style of TED Talks, with industry specialists sharing their expert opinions. As we discovered a difference in outlooks during these talks, this conference session was shifted into Apra Debates. In both sharing professional judgment and debating the merits of something we believe in, there’s still one common theme we continue to see: communication can be hard and words are important. This year’s Apra Talks will seek to inform and spark conversation on three topic areas where our words sometimes get in the way. Watch the full session, with closed captions, by clicking the video below. Download a copy of the full session transcript


Topic 1: Updating Problematic Terminology

Updating problematic terminology helps cultivate a more welcoming and inclusive work environment. The language we use shapes how we view our donors, our missions and ourselves.

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Presented by: Suzi Elzie-Tuttle, Senior Prospect Analyst, University of California, Berkeley

Suzi Elzie-Tuttle is a senior prospect analyst at the University of California, Berkeley. In this role, she offers full prospect development collaboration to the Division of Math and Physical Sciences, the Biological Sciences Division, and the Graduate School of Education. Suzi also serves on the Apra DEI Committee and the Apra Connections Committee, covering Leadership and Professional Development with a DEI lens. An experienced educator, librarian, writer, and podcaster, Suzi has taught, written, and consulted on a wide range of topics from books to relationships to communication.

Topic 2: Establishing Common Definitions

Establishing common definitions and terminology improves our ability to benchmark and share ideas that can advance our industry. Shared global terminology that is collaborative and standardized helps us all to work together, track our progress, compare results, and create sustainable processes that will move our industry and our organizations forward. 

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Presented by: Cara Giacomini, Chief Research and Data Officer, Council for Advancement and Support of Education

Cara Giacomini is the chief research and data officer for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. In this role, she leads CASE’s AMAtlas initiative—a primary resource and service provider for data, benchmarking, analytics, and original research to the educational advancement community worldwide, launched by CASE in 2018.

Prior to her current role, Cara spent 20 years at the University of Washington, most recently as the director of advancement analytics. In university advancement, she was instrumental in building a strong data culture where she improved donor outcomes at all levels and pioneered efforts to build infrastructure and expertise in digital analytics. Cara also served as a senior research scientist in the information technology department, studying the adoption of educational technologies and the effectiveness of IT services. She is passionate about putting data into action—empowering CASE’s members to utilize AMAtlas resources to answer their most pressing questions and address their evolving needs.

Topic 3: Positioning and Branding

Positioning and branding encourage the behaviors you seek and help you get the results you desire. 

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Presented by: Paul Wiklanski, Senior Associate Director of Prospect Development, University of Michigan

Paul Wiklanski is the senior associate director of prospect development at the University of Michigan and is a visionary thought-leader who encourages change management with executive teams and organizations. A problem-solver who leverages analytics, creativity, and experience to develop actionable and compelling strategic insight. A leader who delivers results and empowers the success of his team.