The ASU Foundation for a New American University is responsible for all aspects of fundraising at Arizona State University. The foundation is organized into the several key areas listed below.
R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr. is the chief executive officer of the ASU Foundation for A New American University.
Prior to joining the foundation in November 2011, he served as ASU’s senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development and director of the Global Institute of Sustainability, responsible for ASU’s growing annual $350 million research portfolio, which placed ASU among the top 20 research institutions in the country without a medical school.
Before joining ASU, Shangraw was the founder and CEO of Project Performance Corporation, a research and technology consulting firm specializing in environmental, energy and information management issues. He has a Bachelor of Arts (magna cum laude) in political science and a certificate in environmental studies from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania; a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University; and a doctorate from the Maxwell School with a specialization in technology and information policy and organization design.
In just two years as the foundation CEO, Shangraw has directed a team of more than 100 fundraising professionals that has generated nearly $300 million in new gifts and commitments in support of ASU. In addition, the foundation has been awarded the premier four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the country’s largest and most respected evaluators of nonprofit organizations.
Shangraw currently holds a professor of practice appointment with ASU’s School of Public Affairs within the College of Public Programs and the School of Sustainability.
Daniel P. Saftig was appointed chief development officer by foundation CEO R.F. “Rick” Shangraw Jr. in September 2013.
A fundraising professional with a 30-year track record of success, Saftig previously held executive leadership positions at the Minnesota Medical Foundation at the University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University and most recently at the Iowa State University Foundation where he served for nine years as president and CEO. During that time, he led a team that secured more than $1 billion in new gifts and commitments and doubled the university’s endowment between 2003–12. Immediately prior to joining the ASU Foundation, Saftig served as a consultant to more than a dozen major universities.
Saftig directs the ASU Foundation development, affinity and annual giving efforts, and oversees major university fundraising initiatives. His focus on such initiatives is familiar territory — he introduced “Campaign Iowa State” upon his arrival in Ames with a goal of generating $800 million that was launched in 2007. The campaign raised $867 million in gifts and commitments, realizing more philanthropic support than in the previous 25 years and raising 30 percent more than two previous campaigns combined.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse where he received his B.S. with a double major in mass communications and political science, Saftig earned his master’s in nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco.
Augustine V. Cheng assumed his post as senior vice president and managing director of enterprises at the ASU Foundation in November 2011. He also serves as CEO, managing director and chief legal officer of Arizona Science and Technology Enterprises LLC (AzTE), a position he has held since 2007.
Cheng joined AzTE, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ASU Foundation that operates as the exclusive technology transfer arm for ASU, after 13 years at Columbia University, where he was chief counsel of the Patent & Licensing Group in the office of the general counsel.
In his role with AzTE, Cheng has guided the intellectual property management and tech transfer organization to a top-10 ranking among all institutions with more than $300 million in research in inputs (invention disclosures) and outputs (licensing agreements and startups) per $10 million in research expenditures.
Cheng received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 1984 and worked as a research executive at Young & Rubicam, Inc., a marketing communications firm. He attended law school at Fordham University School of Law, where he graduated in 1989 and served as an associate editor of the Fordham Law Review. After law school, Cheng worked as a federal appeals law clerk and as a litigation associate in the law firms of Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Schulte Roth & Zabel. Currently a member of the national roster of arbitrators for the American Arbitration Association, he holds the highest peer review rating (“AV”) for lawyers from Martindale-Hubbell.
M. Randall Levin joined the ASU Foundation for A New American University in 2013 as senior vice president and managing director of assets.
In his position, Levin will utilize his commercial real estate experience as a developer, architect and real estate broker in determining strategic positioning, implementation of land and vertical developments, trade partnering, and real estate disposition and/or repositioning for new and future real estate assets.
Previously, Levin was the vice president of commercial development for SunCor Development Company where he oversaw design, finance, construction, leasing and marketing for nearly three million square feet of office, retail and industrial properties plus entitlements for another three million square feet. The Business Journal recognized his Hayden Ferry Lakeside/Marina Heights project on Tempe Town Lake as the "Development of the Decade."
A frequent speaker and recognized industry expert, AZRE Magazine (June 2011) mentioned Levin on its list of the "Most Influential People in Arizona Commercial Real Estate in the Past 100 Years".
Levin obtained a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Arizona, and holds both an architect license and a real estate broker’s license in the state of Arizona.
Gretchen E. Buhlig joined the foundation in January 2012 as vice president for leadership giving. Previously, she served A.T. Still University in Mesa (Ariz.) for nearly six years as associate vice president of institutional advancement.
In her executive role at the foundation, Buhlig works closely with CEO Rick Shangraw and ASU President Michael Crow in the identification, cultivation and stewardship of major university donors. She develops and implements to successfully match donor interests with ASU priorities; develops funding proposals; and negotiates and structures complex gifts, matching these philanthropists’ interests with the programs and ideas that advance ASU’s vision of a New American University while also allowing them to be part of the solution to the great challenges society faces.
While at A.T. Still, Buhlig helped build and manage collegiate development and alumni relations programs for the university's Arizona campus and its three schools — Arizona School of Health Science, Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, and the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona.
Her appointment in 2012 marked a return to ASU and the foundation. Buhlig, who earned a bachelor's degree in English from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., and a master's in nonprofit management and leadership from Walden University in Baltimore, served in leadership positions with the foundation from 1995 through 2005, including associate vice president of presidential programs, assistant vice president and director of Women & Philanthropy, and director of the ASU President's Club.
Kathie Cuomo is vice president and managing director of development for the ASU Foundation. She leads the university’s development program, including oversight of college and program-based development officers and specialists in estate and gift planning. The development team builds and enhances strategic partnerships with philanthropic investors in order to advance ASU.
Cuomo brings more than 30 years of higher education development experience to ASU. Prior to joining the foundation in 2007, she was director of development and assistant dean for the University of Wyoming College of Business. In this position, she oversaw the college’s comprehensive development program and was a key member of the team secured $53 million to build a new business building. While at Wyoming, she held a variety of leadership positions, including director of corporate and foundation giving, director of annual giving, and founding assistant director of the William D. Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources.
Prior to moving to Wyoming, Cuomo was associate director of development at Santa Clara University. She started her development career at Caltech where, as associate director of annual giving, she recruited, trained and managed more than 1,000 alumni and student volunteers. Her past consultancies with universities and nonprofit organizations have focused on campaign feasibility studies, prospect identification and assessment, development officer training, proposal writing workshops and case statement development.
Cuomo earned a bachelor's degree with honors from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs where she was recognized as a Regents Scholar.
Virginia “Ginny” E. DeSanto joined the ASU Foundation in 2005 as assistant controller before being appointed controller and later vice president of finance, CFO and treasurer, bringing more than decade of experience in bookkeeping, auditing and financial leadership.
At the foundation, DeSanto is responsible for the organization’s financial operations, including reporting, treasury operations, debt management, risk management, planning and budgeting, payroll and benefits, gift reporting, building operations, and oversight of six subsidiary organizations. Under her leadership, the financial office successfully supports the cultivation and development activities of the ASU Foundation and the university by providing a wide range of financial services. She and her team of professionals collaborate closely with units across the foundation and university to provide the infrastructure that enables others to achieve their financial goals and objectives.
Prior to joining the foundation, DeSanto was a senior auditor at Gainter Bandler Reed PLC following service in the same role for CBIZ Miller Wagner.
DeSanto graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration from ASU (summa cum laude) and majored in business information systems at Northern Kentucky University where she earned her associate’s degree. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants, and National Committee for Institutionally Related Foundations.
Joshua M. Friedman joined the foundation in January 2012 as vice president for strategic philanthropy from National Public Radio (NPR) where he served as the broadcast giant's senior director of individual giving.
Friedman works closely with foundation CEO Rick Shangraw and ASU President Michael Crow in the identification, cultivation and stewardship of major university donors, matching these philanthropists’ interests with the programs and ideas that advance ASU’s vision of a New American University.
Prior to joining NPR, Josh was director of development at Johns Hopkins University's Berman Institute of Bioethics, one of the largest of its kind and home for collaborative scholarship and teaching of ethics in clinical practice, public health and biomedical science. He has also been director of development for the Nobel Prize-winning Physicians for Human Rights and a fundraising director within the Partners HealthCare hospital network, which includes Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's Hospitals.
Friedman earned his bachelor's degree in history from Johns Hopkins University.
Kristin Donaldson Irwin was appointed to her current role with the ASU Foundation in June 2012. In the four years prior she served the foundation as vice president of organizational development and as chief of staff.
As vice president for strategic initiatives and outreach, Donaldson Irwin brings a range of experience in strategic and tactical management, expertise in working with ASU's internal and external communities and constituencies, and the ability to advance the foundation’s most important initiatives.
Her affiliation with ASU dates to 2005 when she was appointed director of external relations for global management and leadership at the university’s West campus. Prior to joining the foundation, she served as vice president of economic development and business relations at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, as well as deputy director for U.S. Congressman Matt Salmon.
Donaldson Irwin is a second-generation ASU alumna who has been recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal and Arizona Women’s Magazine for her leadership abilities and accomplishments.
Melissa Kwilosz came to ASU to be an assistant development officer at the university’s Polytechnic campus in 2007. The following year she joined the ASU Foundation as director of annual giving, a post she held until becoming assistant vice president of operations and services in 2010. Her expertise in data analytics and reporting resulted in her appointment to the vice president position in 2012.
In her role Kwilosz provides leadership, strategic planning, management and direction to the foundation’s Research and Prospect Management; Gift Administration and Database Management, and Information Resources Management departments. Under her direction, the operations and services staff strategizes around the analysis, management, and deployment of data acquired through utilization of the foundation’s constituent relationship management system, and ensures the division’s resources and departments are fully aligned with the foundation’s mission and priorities in order to dramatically increase philanthropic investment in the university.
Kwilosz holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Tulane University.
Marcel Valenta was appointed outside general counsel to the ASU Foundation for A New American University in September 2013. Valenta is an attorney in the Phoenix office of Bryan Cave LLP, a leading business and litigation firm with global reach.
At Bryan Cave, Valenta advises entrepreneurs, private equity sponsors and businesses of diverse industries ranging in size from small, privately held enterprises to Fortune 50 companies in their full range of corporate transactional needs. Valenta specializes in mergers and acquisition and has represented buyers and sellers in private and public deals totaling multiple billions of dollars in value.
Valenta brings a strong background in the IT industry and a deep understanding of the competitive landscape in enterprise hardware, enterprise software and consumer electronics to the foundation, including experience gained as counsel to Hewlett Packard's Industry Standard Servers and Software business unit.
Fluent in German, Valenta’s responsibilities to the foundation will include the management of legal matters related to the foundation and its board of directors; advising senior management on legal issues; the review and negotiation of contracts related to all aspects of the foundation’s operations in special events, sponsorships and business enterprises; and compliance with state and federal regulations governing 501(c)(3) organizations.
Valenta received his JD and Master of Laws from Northwestern University. He studied law at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Universitá degli Studi di Firenze and obtained his Erstes Juristisches Staatsexamen in Germany prior to coming to the U.S. He is admitted to practice in Arizona, California and Illinois.
John Skinner joined the ASU Foundation as chief of staff in 2011. Prior to joining the foundation, he was an assistant vice president, chief of staff and director of communications for ASU's Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.
Skinner has worked as an associate for Booz Allen Hamilton and also served 20 years in the military in a wide variety of positions, including his service as the aide-de-camp to a four-star general and director of communications for multiple Air Force organizations.
He earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Northern Arizona University where he was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. He also holds a master's degree in international relations from Troy State University and masters' degrees from the Air Command & Staff College and Air War College.