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October 17–18, 2018    Chicago, IL

Conference energy without conference drudgery. Explore how a culture of listening, service, and trust-building accelerates student success, marketing and communications, alumni engagement, and advancement.



Higher education is facing a crisis of trust. When members of your community feel heard, invested in, and served by your institution, they’ll trust you, volunteer, and donate. Without their trust, our institutions can't survive. The stakes couldn’t be higher: Democracy and the next generation’s economic mobility depend on higher education's ability to get this right.

At ListenUp EDU, we will ditch the typical conference agenda of prosaic presentations and sleepy panels to chart the path ahead for higher ed together. Join us to explore how adopting a culture of listening, service, and trust-building can accelerate student success outcomes, alumni engagement, marketing and communications, and advancement.

You will:

  • Learn listening and service strategies for creating lasting change at your institution
  • Help build a movement to solve higher ed's most daunting problems
  • Form lasting working relationships with the best of the best in higher ed

Learn more about why we chose this conference format here.



We are still completing ListenUp's slate of speakers. Here are those whom we have confirmed so far.

 Khristina Gonzalez

Khristina Gonzalez, Ph.D

Associate Dean of the College and Director of Programs for Access and Inclusion

Princeton University

 Tim Jones

Tim Jones

Chief Communications & Integrated Marketing Officer

Beloit College

 Briand LeDuc

Brian LeDuc

Chief Experience Officer, Mssn

Board Member, Roger Williams University Alumni Association


Karyn McCoy

Assistant Vice President, Career Center

DePaul University


Melissa Beckwith

Vice President, Strategy & Innovation

Butler University

 Linda Pantale

Linda Pantale

Associate Director, Career Development

University of Chicago

 Jennifer Brandel

Jennifer Brandel

Co-founder & CEO


 Martin Sickafoose

Martin Sickafoose

Vice President, Alumni Digital Strategy

Purdue Alumni Association

 Chris Dellarocas

Chris Dellarocas

Associate Provost for Digital Learning and Innovation & Richard C. Shipley Professor of Management

Boston University

Devon Moore

Assistant Dean of Students in the College & Director, Center for College Student Success

The University of Chicago

 Ashley Budd

Ashley Budd

Director of Digital Marketing, 
Alumni Affairs & Development

Cornell University

 Bill Campbell

Bill Campbell

Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Chatham University

 Amma Marfo

Amma Marfo

Writer, Consultant, Coach

Fun Enterprises


Kourtney Cockrell

Director of Student Enrichment Services

Northwestern University


Selected Attendees

"To take my abilities to the next level in higher education listening, I need a conference that allows me to be an active learner and contributor in exploring opportunities and challenges through its multiple layers—tools, workflow, and culture. Everything about ListenUp EDU from the speakers, format and, location, looks to help me do just that."

Matt Duncan
Academic Digital Engagement Strategist
University of Colorado Boulder


"I’m drawn to the focus of ListenUp EDU on listening as a way to better understand an audience and meet their needs. Working with university alumni—they’re a diverse group—and I look forward to learning strategies to engage them in the best ways possible."

Adam Sylvain
Assistant Director, Career Development
Alumni Relations & Development | The University of Chicago



Wednesday, October 17

On Wednesday, we’ll present inspiring talks on why strategic listening is at the cutting edge of the most successful programs and practices inside and outside of higher ed.

4 - 5:30: Registration
5:30 - 7:30: Evening program:

  • Welcome from Liz Gross, Mara Zepeda, and Chelsea Haring

  • Jennifer Brandel, Hearken

  • Carlo Salerno, CampusLogic

  • Daniel Flores, Northwestern University alumnus

7:30 - 9: Dinner

Thursday, October 18

On Thursday, we’ll break out into small, interactive working groups. Together, these working groups will constitute a community of likeminded professionals committed to systemic change. For the first time in a conference setting, you will have the freedom to exchange ideas and plot a route forward for the industry.

8 - 9: Breakfast

9 - 9:50: Session I: The Art of Listening

  • Chris Dellarocas: Listening to students and alumni in order to nurture relationships that will ensure they remain connected to the university for life

10 - 10:50: Session II: Data-informed Listening

  • Tim Jones & Liz Gross: Listening to public online conversations to assess and inform brand perception

  • Martin Sickafoose

11 - 11:50: Session III:  Case Studies: The cost of not listening, and the benefits of doing it well

  • Melissa Beckwith

  • Karyn McCoy

  • Linda Pantale

12 - 1:15:  Lunch

1:30 - 2:30:  Session IV: Listening in Practice

  • Ashley Budd: Using social listening to identify, cultivate, and steward donors

  • Jay Dillon & Brian LeDuc

2:40 - 3:30: Session V: Listening & leadership

  • Bill Campbell

  • Amma Marfo

3:40 - 4:40  Session VI: Next Steps

  • Kourtney Cockrell, Khristina Gonzalez, Devon Moore

4:40 - 5:00 Wrap up



Here's who is organizing the conference and choosing speakers.


Carlo Salerno, Ph.D

Vice President of Research



Liz Gross, Ph.D


Campus Sonar


Jay Le Roux Dillon, Ed.D

Higher Education Alumni Identity Consultant

Former Alumni Executive at UCLA and USF


Mara Zepeda

Co-founder & CEO



Jason Simon

Vice President



Chelsea Haring




What to Expect

What: One and a half days of sessions, breakout discussions, and networking.
Dress code: Casual dress for windy fall weather.
Who is it for?: We invite innovators at all levels in marketing and communications, enrollment management, career services, student services, alumni affairs, and advancement to attend.


You'll Learn To...


Ask your community what they need by creating a simple, scalable, and straightforward needs assessments


Listen deeply to community needs, prioritize them within institutional workflows, and respond appropriately


Serve the community with agile and cost-effective programs and services, from staff trainings to lightweight software solutions


Discover the unique needs of first-generation and low income students and alumni


Identify and measure successful community outcomes and giving opportunities


Share and amplify success stories into authentic marketing campaigns that drive retention, donations, and innovation


Align marketing and engagement activities with your organization’s goals, objectives, and bottom line


Avoid enrollment melt and identify best-fit students


Where to Stay


The Alise Chicago

Night of 10/17 with option to add additional nights.
Use code 181017SWIT by 9/17 for $100 off a King Deluxe room.
Book online or by phone: 866.866.7977.


Central Loop Hotel

Use the code SB1017 by 9/17 for ~$50 off a standard room. Attendees must use this link, email, or call 203.905.2100 during business hours for the rate.


La Quinta Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown

Call our Group Reservations Department at 1.866.527.1498 and refer to the Listen Up group discount for $70 off a single/double room. All reservations must be in place no later than 5pm on September 20, 2018.


For the price-conscious and hip, Airbnb has a number of options in and around the West Loop, whether you're looking to have a place to yourself or willing to stay in a private room.


Contact Us

Email us at with questions or comments about the conference. We welcome your input and speaker recommendations.