TCF Staff Directory

The Citadel Foundation Staff

Dr. Jay Dowd — Chief Executive Officer
Frances Bramlett — Vice President, Director of Donor Relations
Mike Capaccio — Vice President, Athletic Development
Gary Hassen — Vice President, Chief Development Officer
Shannon Mease — Chief Financial Officer

The dedication and expertise of The Citadel Foundation’s fundraising team contribute significantly to the success and the long-term sustainability of the college. The brief bios below illustrate a few of the unique qualifications and experiences that each staff member brings to the TCF team in the service of The Citadel.

 Dowd, Jay New Headshot

Dr. Jay Dowd joined The Citadel Foundation as Chief Executive Officer in February 2013.  Jay has 20 years of experience in higher education fundraising, institutional advancement, and executive leadership. Prior to joining the Foundation team, he served as Francis Marion's vice president for development and as executive director at the Francis Marion University Education Foundation. As CEO of The Citadel Foundation and the college's chief advancement officer, Jay, in coordination with the president, Board of Visitors, and the TCF Board of Directors, is charged with developing and implementing a wide-reaching fundraising program for current and future funding needs of the college. In conjunction with the foundation staff, Jay works to ensure a coordinated approach to institutional advancement, supporting the college's strategic priorities.

Jay earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Winthrop University in 1989 and the Master of Education degree from the University of South Carolina in 1993. In 2015, he earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree in educational administration with a cognate in public administration from USC.

Arant, Jessica

Jessica Arant, Finance and Development Coordinator, joined The Citadel Foundation in January 2014.  Prior to joining TCF, Jessica worked in various administrative and human resources roles for two defense contractors in Charlotte, North Carolina.  A native of Columbia, South Carolina, she attended the College of Charleston where she received a B.A. in History.  

Bramlett, Frances

Frances W. Bramlett, Vice President, Director of Donor Relations, joined The Citadel Foundation in September, 2008. A South Carolina native and a College of Charleston graduate, her professional life has been primarily in the hospitality industry, first in Birmingham, Alabama, then in Charleston, where she has lived since 1995. She was General Manager and Partner with Maverick Southern Kitchens at Slightly North of Broad, then Operating Partner with Palmetto Food Group dba Just Fresh. She is a member CASE, the College of Charleston Alumni Assn Board, and the Association of Donor Relations Professionals, and is a former mentor for the YWCA’s Working Opportunities for Women program. She has been a guest lecturer on “Outstanding Customer Service” at The Citadel School of Business Administration, at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She is married to Russell Wallace and the mother of two grown children. She has three first cousins and two nephews who are Citadel graduates.

Capaccio, Mike

Mike Capaccio, Vice President, Athletic Development, joined the team in 2012 and is primarily responsible for securing major gifts for The Citadel's athletics programs. Previously, he worked in a similar capacity at Brunswick Community College in N.C., where he served as vice president for institutional advancement and CEO of the college’s foundation.

Davis, Libby

Libby Davis, Director of Prospect Management and Research, joined The Citadel Foundation in February 2009. A native of Virginia Beach, she attended Ithaca College in upstate New York, where she majored in marketing with a minor in music. Before moving to Charleston in September 2008, Libby lived in New York City, honing her research skills while working for the managing attorney at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Frierson, Russell

Russell Frierson, Citadel Class of 2004 serves as the Development Officer for Athletics, joined the team in April 2014.  A native of Easley, SC, he received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from The Citadel.  His primary responsibilities are to identify potential benefactors to support the athletic program and execute strategic planning initiatives for the overall development for Citadel Athletics.

Hassen, Gary

Gary Hassen joined The Citadel Foundation in February 2012 as Vice President and Chief Development Officer.  He has 24 years of higher education fundraising experience and most recently served as Senior Development Officer/Director of Major Gifts at Furman University from 2006 – 2012.Previously, he served as Director of Development for the University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management. While there, he also served in a number of other capacities including corporate relations and regional campaigns.  In addition to many years of fundraising experience, Gary brings extensive knowledge of the landscape of public and private higher education fundraising in South Carolina.  Gary is a 1979 graduate of USC with a B.S. in Business Administration and played football for the Gamecocks.

 Hightower, Jennifer

Jennifer Hightower
, Assistant Dean for Development for the Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics, joined The Citadel Foundation in July 2013.  Prior to joining TCF, Jennifer spent the past 7 years working for United States Senator Jim DeMint.  A native of Bamberg, South Carolina, Jennifer received a B.S. from Clemson University and an MBA from The Citadel.  She is also a 2013 graduate of Leadership Charleston.  She resides in Mount Pleasant with her husband, Russ.

 Houck, Bobby

Bobby Houck, Assistant Dean for Development for the School of Science & Mathematics, A native of Florence, Bobby came to TCF in August of 2015 after serving as the Director of Development at Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School in Darlington, SC. He graduated from Davidson College with a B.A. in English in 1987 and spent several years in secondary education, first as a middle school English teacher and coach at Charlotte Latin School in North Carolina (1989-92) and then as Alumni-Parent Director at his high school alma mater Woodberry Forest School in Virginia (1993-96). He finished his M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Virginia in 1996. Bobby continues to perform as the lead singer of his band the Blue Dogs which has been based in Charleston for over 25 years. Bobby is married to the former Shannon Stevenson from Great Falls, SC, and they have two girls, Charlotte, 6, and Ann Wallace, 4. 

 Hurtt, Katie

Katie Hurtt, Development Assistant, joined The Citadel Foundation in November 2015. A graduate of Loyola University Maryland and Baltimore native, Katie recently relocated to Charleston with her family. Previously, she worked in an all-girls, independent day school setting in the college counseling department, as a class dean, as assistant to the dean of faculty and worked with young alumnae. 

Hvizdos, Debbie

Debbie Hvizdos joined The Citadel Foundation in October 2012 as Assistant to the Vice President, Chief Development Officer.  She is a graduate of Dyke College (Cleveland, OH) and brings with her a strong administrative and legal background.  She has held various management positions primarily focused on sales and finance, human resources, risk management, and executive-level corporate administration. She is also a graduate of the Dale Carnegie Leadership Training for Managers Program and the AMA Certification in Management Program.

Debbie is an active community member participating in numerous community and charitable events.

Kasyan, Ryan

Ryan Kasyan, Marketing Communications Manager, joined The Citadel Foundation in February 2011.  As Marketing Communications Manager, Ryan is responsible for developing creative pieces for the foundation, including print material and video solicitations.  He aids the Director of Communications in keeping the foundation's website up to date.  Prior to working at The Citadel Foundation, he did a year of service with the AmeriCorps VISTA program, marketing for Community First Fund, a nonprofit located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Ryan is a 2009 graduate of Elizabethtown College.

 Kearny, Alex

Alexandra Kearney
, Assistant Director of Annual Giving, joined The Citadel Foundation in October 2016. Prior to joining the TCF team, Alexandra was in Student Affairs at Fordham University in New York City. Alexandra received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and her Master's in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University. In her spare time, Alexandra enjoys traveling abroad, cooking, and college football. She resides outside of Charleston with her husband, Matt, an active duty Navy officer, and their daughter, Peyton.

Kelley, Julie

Julie Kelley, Development Associate, joined The Citadel Foundation in February 2014. Prior to joining the Foundation, Julie was Associate Director of Alumni Communications  at Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA and Registrar at Indian Mountain School in Lakeville, CT.   A native of Colorado Springs, CO having grown up on and around the Air Force Academy, Julie is excited to be back in the military environment .

 Kresken, Jonathan

Jonathan Kresken, Assistant Vice President of Legacy Giving joined the Citadel Foundation on September 1, 2014.  Prior to joining the Foundation he served 4 years as a Captain in the US Army Judge Advocate Generals Corp as a trial attorney.  He then returned to his hometown,  Myrtle Beach, SC where he practiced law for 16 years doing litigation, advising non-profits on legal and ethical issues, real estate, probate and estate planning.   He also served 8 years as the Executive Director of the Waccamaw Community Foundation serving both Horry and Georgetown counties in SC where he worked with Donors and the Board to increase philanthropy in the Community.  Jonathan is working with the Foundation to continue to implement and develop a strong Planned Giving Program. Jonathan is a 1987 graduate of The Citadel (Alpha Company) and a 1990 graduate of the University of Richmond School of Law.  He is married to Catherine Kresken and they have two children Jon Morgan and Albert.  

Lechner, Lauri 

Lauri Lechner joined The Citadel Foundation as Stewardship Manager in August 2007. Her primary responsibility is to continue to build strong relationships between The Citadel and the donors who financially support the school’s mission. A Pennsylvania native, Lauri moved to Charleston after graduating from Clarion University with a degree in Secondary Education. Lauri brings to the TCF team more than 14 years of experience in the nonprofit world, most recently working in the development field with Historic Charleston Foundation.

Lipscomb, Leigh

Leigh Batten Lipscomb, Director of Grants, joined the Foundation team in July of 2008. Her areas of responsibility include identifying, researching, and writing grants for all Citadel programs and projects.  Leigh brings a wealth of nonprofit fundraising experience to TCF, having previously served as a Development Assistant for the Historic Charleston Foundation and as Director of Development for the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. A Charleston native, Leigh lives in Mount Pleasant with her husband and two children.

Manning, Patrick

Patrick Manning, Database Administrator, joined the Foundation in November 2016.  He brings 15 years of experience in database administration and management of information systems.  Prior to joining TCF, he was the Assistant Director of Database and Reporting for the College of Charleston, where he worked for nearly 8 years.  Originally from Chicago, IL, Patrick moved to Charleston in 1991 to attend the College of Charleston, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Psychology in 1996.  He lives in Charleston with his wife, Mary Margaret, and son, Oliver.  Go Cubs!

Manuel, Blythe

Blythe Manuel, Gift Processing Manager, is a 2004 Towson University graduate with a degree in International Studies. She moved to Charleston in October 2006 to join The Citadel Foundation after working for two years in a similar capacity at the United States Naval Academy Foundation/Alumni Association in Annapolis, Maryland.

 Martinko, Jayne

Jayne MartinkoAssistant Dean for Development for Engineering. 
Prior to joining The Citadel Foundation in 2016, Jayne served as the Executive Director for the American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin, leading a team devoted exclusively to the business and professional interests of the Consulting Engineering industry. Jayne lives in Charleston with her husband, Keith, and their English Bulldog, Hodor.   Jayne’s free time consists of meddling in the lives of her adult children, Erin and Nathan, both still residing in Madison, Wisconsin. This spring, she looks forward to becoming a member of the Edisto Loggerhead turtle patrol.

Mease, Shannon

Shannon Mease, Chief Financial Officer

Murray, Christopher

Christopher Murray, '07, serves as a Development Officer working with Class Reunion Campaigns. After graduating from The Citadel, Chris worked as an intern in the office of Senator Lindsey Graham. Chris is also currently serving as an Infantry Officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard. Prior to joining the Foundation, Chris worked as an Admissions Officer at The Citadel. He is a native of Rock Hill, SC, and a Life Member of The Citadel Alumni Association.

Paul, Rhonda

Rhonda Paul, Data Entry Specialist, Donor Relations Administrator, has been with the Foundation since 1998.  She started in development as Assistant to the Director of Planned Giving, but moved to Donor Relations in November of 2013.  Rhonda is a native of Charleston but, grew up out west in Phoenix, Arizona.  However, she missed the coast and moved back to Charleston in 1990.  Rhonda is a graduate of Southern Wesleyan University with a degree in Business Management.     

 Propst, Riviere

Riviere Propst, Annual Giving Development Officer, joined The Citadel Foundation in May 2015.  In her role, she interacts with alumni and friends of The Citadel to educate them on the top priorities of the college.  Prior to joining The Citadel Foundation, Riviere served as the Development and Alumni Coordinator in the Department of Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina.  Currently, she serves as VP of Programming for the Association of Fundraising Professionals SC Lowcountry Chapter.  Riviere is a native of Greenville, SC, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Presbyterian College in 2010.

 Ramsey, Megan1

Megan Ramsey, Director of Accounting and Business Operations, joined The Citadel Foundation in February 2015. Her general responsibilities include overseeing the provision of the operational standards pertaining to the employees of The Citadel Foundation; and assist the Chief Financial Officer in the development, monitoring, and management of accounting processes. Megan has prior nonprofit experience from her time spent as the Finance Manager at Habitat for Humanity of Berkeley County. She holds an MBA with an emphasis in Accountancy from Grand Canyon University and a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona. Megan has lived in the Charleston area since 2009 with her husband, a C-17 and United Airlines pilot, and two sons. Being an Air Force family, Megan and her family have also lived in Hawaii, Texas, and Arizona, where she grew up. After years of moving around, she is excited to finally call Charleston her permanent home.  

Rex, Josephine

Josephine Rex, Assistant Director of Class Reunion Campaigns, joined The Citadel Foundation in March 2014.  She works with alumni to coordinate and execute successful Class Reunion Campaigns while helping to fund the top priorities of The Citadel.  A native of Columbus, Ohio, Josephine attended The College of Charleston earning degrees in Political Science and Psychology.  She completed two years of service through the AmeriCorps VISTA program, working in a local elementary school, and prior to joining TCF's team she worked for Sea Island Habitat for Humanity. 

 Santos, Ashley

Ashley Santos serves as Senior Principal Gifts Officer/Campaign Manager. Prior to joining The Citadel Foundation’s team, she was an executive director for the Chicago division of CCS, an international fundraising firm headquartered in NYC. As a consultant for CCS, Ashley served a broad range of development planning needs for nonprofit clients throughout the country. Ashley provided leadership for major gift, annual, planned, grateful patient, corporate and foundation, and special events fundraising for healthcare, religious, and higher education constituents.  Ashley earned her B.S. from the University of Alabama, her J.D. from Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, and is licensed to practice law in Alabama, Tennessee and the federal courts.  She is married to David, a native of Charleston and attorney practicing in commercial real estate and probate matters, and they have two children, Vivian and Jack.

Pennington, Ashley

Ashley Shinta, Special Events Coordinator, joined the Citadel in March 2012.  Prior to working at TCF, she worked for Defender Services, Inc., at its corporate office in Columbia , S.C. A South Carolina native, Ashley graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

Sonta, Jarret

Jarret Sonta, Executive Director of Communications, joined the TCF team in September 2003. Before crossing the threshold of Lesesne Gate, the New Jersey native cut his teeth in the field of nonprofit development communications with several Charleston arts and cultural organizations, most notably Spoleto Festival USA. Lured to the South under the spell of Faulkner's fiction, Jarret studied English literature at Yale University as an undergrad, returning for a Master's in the field before attempting to make his way in the real world. In addition to his full-time duties at the Foundation, Jarret works evenings as a writing tutor in The Citadel's Academic Support Center and serves as staff advisor for El Cid Toastdawgs, the cadet Toastmasters club. Formerly a leadership program integrator for Papa Company, he is currently proud to serve as the academic advisor for Mike Company.

Stephenson, Rob

Rob Stephenson, Director of Major Gifts and Assistant Dean for the School of Business Administration, joined The Citadel Foundation in January of 2008. He previously held the roles of Director of Annual Giving and Assistant Director of Annual Giving for TCF. A South Carolina native and graduate of Clemson University, Rob gained valuable fundraising experience at his alma mater, where he spent four years with the university’s athletic fundraising organization as the Assistant Executive Director of the IPTAY Scholarship Fund. With TCF, Rob oversees the major gift team and works closely with the Dean of the School of Business Administration to secure financial support for the strategic initiatives of the school. In his spare time, Rob enjoys playing golf, reading, spending time with family and friends, and is an avid sports fan. He is married to Erin Cooke Stephenson, and they have one daughter, McRae.

Ukuku, Lisa

Lisa Ukuku, Director of Research, joined The Citadel Foundation in October 2011. A native of Beaufort, SC, she attended Voorhees College and earned a B.S. in Organizational Management and later attended Webster University, earning a M.A. in Computer Resources/Information Management. Before joining The Citadel, she worked as Research Coordinator at the College of Charleston for seven years and previously worked in development at both Trident Technical College and Clemson University.

 Vereen, Veronica

Veronica Vereen, Assistant Dean for Development for the Zucker Family School of Education,  joined The Citadel Foundation in June of 2012. At The Citadel Foundation Veronica is responsible for visiting alumni to educate them on the top priorities of The Citadel.  Veronica is a native of Charleston, SC, having graduated from St. Andrews Parish High School.  She received a BS in 2004 from Winthrop University and an MBA in May 2012 from Charleston Southern University.   Veronica brings to the college more than seven years of fundraising experience in the nonprofit sector.  Currently, she serves as VP of Professional Development for the Association of Fundraising Professionals SC Lowcountry Chapter as well as a Steering Committee member of the newly formed African American Leadership Council (AALC).   

Weingarten, Amanda

Amanda Weingarten, Assistant Dean of Development, joined The Citadel in October 2012. As Assistant Dean for Development of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, she works closely with the dean, faculty and advisory board to build and grow academic programs in Security Studies, History, English, Political Science, Fine Arts, Modern Languages, Criminal Justice, and Psychology. Amanda has over a decade’s experience in development for colleges and universities, K-12, and the performing arts. Raised by American parents in London, England, she speaks a few languages and has a B.A. in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Yaeger, Bill

Bill Yaeger, '83, Senior Director of Legacy Giving, joined The Citadel Foundation in 2005. After graduating from The Citadel, he served on submarines in the U.S. Navy and then worked in financial services and as a project manager before joining the Foundation.  Bill holds the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification, is a member of CASE, Association of Fundraising Professionals, and Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP) and he serves on the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Planned Giving Council, The Citadel Alumni Association, and The Charleston Wesley Foundation.   He is also an active member of the Charleston and Citadel Exchange Clubs, Hibben United Methodist Church, and is a Life Member of The Citadel Alumni Association.  Bill lives in Mt. Pleasant with his wife Linda, his son Jordan, Citadel Class of ’17, and his daughter Megan.