Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Meet the Staff

The mission of the alumni & development staff is to build connections between Millikin University and the widest possible audience of alumni, parents and friends. We are here to serve you!

Vice President's Team

Dave Brandon

Vice President for Alumni and Development

Even before joining the staff in August 1997, Dave Brandon had an interest in seeing Millikin succeed in its mission to deliver on the promise of education. His background as a television journalist provided him with the skills to share Millikin’s story, as well as listen to the stories of alumni whose lives were changed by Millikin. Dave enjoys reading, physical fitness, hunting and golf – as well as any activity that brings his family together!

Lynette Lambert

Executive Assistant

Lynette Ann Lambert has worked at Millikin since 2008 and enjoys working in the higher education environment. She feels she is helping the Decatur community by working at Millikin. Lynette actually started helping her mother in her office when she was very young and loves the office setting. She loves to knit and crochet and enjoys teaching others to knit and crochet.

Development Team

Amanda Landacre Podeschi ’02

Senior Director of Development

Amanda Landacre Podeschi has worked at the Alumni and Development Office since 2004; she graduated from Millikin University in 2002 and earned an M.A. in history from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2005. She works with all aspects of the Millikin Fund, including phonathons, mailings and communication efforts. In her spare time, she is an adjunct instructor for the history department and enjoys running, biking and traveling with her husband, RJ Podeschi ’02/MBA ’04, MU's assistant professor of information systems.

Dawn Sandone

Director of Major Gifts

Dawn Sandone, director of major gifts, has 15 years of progressive responsibility and successful leadership in higher education development. She and her staff look forward to helping Millikin’s alumni and friends find the joy of giving through helping the university deliver on the promise of education for today’s students. Dawn has worked at Florida Southern College, West Virginia University and previously spent more than 10 years in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. She enjoys spending time with family, friends and her 20-pound Sheltie, Sky.

Brandon Barney ’12

Director of Development

Brandon Barney is a December 2012 Millikin graduate with a degree in art. In his role, Brandon works with all aspects of the Millikin Fund for Student Scholarships. While a student, he played football, served as a tour guide and intern for the office of admission and served two years as a resident assistant. During his spare time, he enjoys doing CrossFit, playing volleyball, vacationing and spending time with family and friends (many of them MU alumni). Brandon is married to Kelsi Barney, a 2014 graduate.

Jake Tolbert

Director of Development - Data Services

Jake joined Millikin in December 2010 and oversees data management and analysis. Jake brings a degree in English and creative writing to his role in the office. He has spent over half his career on a university campus, and previously worked with a religious nonprofit at the University of Arkansas. He later did marketing work for the nation’s oldest manufacturer of police radar guns. Jake plays guitar, banjo, ukulele and hammered dulcimer.

Kim Mangan ’96

Associate Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations

Kim Holman Mangan, class of 1996, is associate director for corporate and foundation relations. She previously worked at Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) as public relations specialist. While at ADM, she managed the company’s global corporate giving program and facilitated company and employee involvement in local community events. In her role, Kim serves as the university’s grant writer and is the liaison with corporate and foundation donors, while also providing support for fundraising and development activities. She and her husband, Brian ’95, have a daughter and a son.

Ross Williams

Associate Director of Development/Annual Fund

Ross Williams joined our staff in September 2014 after graduating the previous May with a bachelor's degree in secondary education/history from Bradley University. In his role at MU, Ross runs each semester's phonathon campaign and will also be meeting with alumni and friends to encourage their support of the Millikin Fund. At Bradley, Ross worked as a student caller and completed an internship with the senior director of development for the College of Business. After graduation, he completed the Reuss Fellowship at the University of Illinois, which dealt with different aspects of advancement in several departments and colleges at UIUC. In his spare time, Ross enjoys traveling, playing soccer and spending time with family.

Dan Bolsen

Associate Director of Development

Dan Bolsen joined our staff in June 2015 and works with many areas of development, including the Big Blue Club and the College of Fine Arts Patrons Society. Dan earned a master’s degree in sport management at the University of Illinois, where he was also an athletic department graduate assistant. He earned bachelor’s degrees in communication and sport management from Eureka College, where he was a member of the Ronald W. Reagan Leadership Program and a football defensive lineman. A native of Lovington, Ill., Dan enjoys attending collegiate and professional sporting events and listening to country music.

MeLinda Potter ’01

Coordinator of Records

MeLinda Potter, a 2001 graduate, returned to her Blue and White roots to join the alumni and development team in July 2012. In her role, she oversees the electronic constituent database and hard copy files and also shares responsibility for gift receipting and tracking donations to Millikin’s "Transform MU" capital campaign. Outside of Millikin, MeLinda is an active Girl Scout Leader and enjoys spending time with her husband, Mark Potter ’99, and their two young daughters.

Donna Hyland ’05

Administrative Assistant

Donna Hyland, a 2005 graduate of Millikin’s PACE program, joined the Alumni and Development office in 2011. She is excited about being a part of the Millikin family and assisting with the efforts of the development team. Donna enjoys working on home improvement projects with husband, Dirk, as well as spending time with their two daughters and grandchildren. 

Alumni and Donor Engagement Team

Gina Bianchi ’93

Senior Director of Alumni and Donor Engagement

Gina Bianchi previously worked for 17 years at Illinois State University, most recently serving six years as director of alumni relations. Her other roles at ISU included assistant director of the athletics study center, athletic development coordinator, director of the annual fund and director of development for the division of student affairs. She feels that her past work experiences and her passion for Millikin make this position a perfect fit for her. She looks forward to building on the good work done by previous alumni relations director Jan Devore in fostering relationships between Millikin and its alumni and friends all over the world, and says she enjoys connecting and reconnecting alumni and friends to the university that she loves.

Lindsay Nolan

Associate Director of Donor Engagement

Lindsay Nolan came to Millikin from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she was undergraduate office coordinator for the department of biomedical engineering. She also worked in the athletic department at UAB as assistant manager for athletic operations and facilities. At UAB, Lindsay also had served as assistant ticket manager and marketing coordinator for women’s sports. She previously held similar positions at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Wisconsin and worked as a ticket rep for the Chicago Wolves hockey organization. A native of White Heath, Ill., she earned a bachelor's degree in leisure studies/emphasis in sport administration in 2000 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Alyse Knust

Associate Director of Alumni Engagement

Alyse Knust comes to Millikin from The University of Texas at Austin, where she served as assistant director of admissions for the department of theatre and dance. She had previously worked in admissions at Concordia University Texas, where she received her MBA in 2013. Alyse has held positions at several arts organizations including Texas Performing Arts, Santa Fe Opera and Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Alyse earned a bachelor's degree in theatre management from the University of Evansville (Ind.) and is happy to be back in the Midwest. Her husband, Kyle Knust, will begin teaching at Millikin in fall 2015 as an assistant professor of analytical chemistry.

Deb Lehman ’07

Administrative Assistant

Deb has worked at Millikin since 1997 and is a graduate of Millikin’s PACE program. Deb takes care of entering address, employment and other updates from alumni and friends and loves to learn about the interesting lives of MU alumni. Central Illinois has always been her home. She loves spending time with her family and traveling.

Kelsey Lavin ’16


Communications Team

Deb Kirchner

Senior Director of Communications

Deb has worked at Millikin since 1994 and has extensive experience in marketing, media relations, communications and customer service. She has oversight for numerous electronic and printed communications and publications, including Millikin Quarterly magazine and the alumni and friends website. She loves how the interesting alumni stories told by her team reflect how alumni thrive after their Millikin experiences. A Central Illinois native, she and her husband, Ken, have one daughter, a 2012 Millikin graduate.

Alida Duff Sullivan ’06

Associate Director of Communications

Alida Duff Sullivan, a 2006 Millikin graduate, joined the Alumni & Development team in 2012. She is proud to return to her alma mater, where she currently works with the communications team to create marketing and promotional materials, including Millikin Quarterly magazine. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with her parents, reading and playing music with her husband, Hugh Sullivan ’06.

Margaret Friend

Associate Editor

Margaret joined the team in 2010 as a part-time class notes editor for Millikin Quarterly magazine. She has contributed to Quarterly as a writer since 2004 and enjoys interacting with alumni. She and her husband, Bill Friend ’79, have a son, a granddaughter and a grandson. As a grandmother, her motto is "give them love, feed them sugar and send them home!"

Jenell Anderson Hironimus

Associate Editor

Jenell returned to Millikin as a part-time associate editor, a position she previously held full-time for five years. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to do all of her favorite things again: write, design and edit. Outside of Millikin, she keeps busy chasing after her young son, and spending the occasional downtime with her husband, Gary.

Ruby Porter ’16

Student Worker

Shanlee Bratten

Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL