Aaron Conley is a Senior Vice President and leads the firm’s Teaching and Coaching practice area. He earned a doctorate in higher education and philanthropic studies from Indiana University (IU) and has nearly 25 years of fund raising and management experience. He is also a part-time faculty member at The Fund Raising School at IU’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, where he teaches courses on principles and techniques of fund raising, major gifts, and campaigns.
Throughout his career, Aaron has applied his academic training to all aspects of advancement, including annual and major gifts, alumni relations and volunteer management, communications, and corporate and foundation relations. He has contributed to the profession through several peer-reviewed publications, including a chapter on campaigns in the fourth edition of Achieving Excellence in Fundraising (Wiley, 2016).
His experience includes leadership roles at research universities around the nation. Most recently, he was Vice Chancellor for Advancement at the University of Colorado, overseeing the alumni association and all fund raising for academic programs, athletics, parent giving, and student programs.
Aaron also served as Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas), planning and leading that institution’s first-ever comprehensive campaign. This five-year, $200 million effort ended in December 2014 with more than $270 million raised. The increase in giving generated by this campaign was recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) with two national Circle of Excellence Awards for Overall Improvement in Educational Fundraising (2012 and 2015). The endowment grew from $195 million to $382 million and record gifts were received, including a $30 million naming of the business school and its honors program; $15 million for the naming of a new alumni center; and a $17 million naming of a new research institute in art history.
Before UT Dallas, Aaron was Executive Director for Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, serving during the $2 billion campaign, Building Our Future Together. This campaign included the December 2007 naming of the Swanson School in recognition of a donor’s campaign support of $41.3 million. Aaron and his team also raised more than $10 million for building renovation and expansion, implemented new national alumni engagement events, and introduced new print and digital communications vehicles. Aaron has also served as Assistant Dean for Development in the College of Business at Florida State University and Major Gifts Officer in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.
Aaron is a longtime member of CASE and is on the board of directors for the Indiana State University (ISU) Foundation. He earned an M.A. at ISU and a B.S. from the University of Evansville. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and earned a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from The Fund Raising School.