WACUBO 2024 General Session Speakers


Sunday April 28 | 3:00 PM 

Kara Freeman, NACUBO President

Kara D. Freeman is president and chief executive officer of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO),a nonprofit professional organization representing chief administrative and financial officers at more than 1,700 U.S. colleges and universities. A strategic leader with more than three decades of experience in both for-profit and non-profit management, she joined NACUBO in 2023 after serving as chief operating officer of the American Council on Education (ACE). Kara earned a bachelor’s degree in information systems from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and an MBA from The George Washington University. She also holds a Certified Association Executive credential from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)

Listen to a recent Podcast with Kara Freeman

Sunday Special: A Conversation with NACUBO President Kara D. Freeman

NACUBO’s strategic goals focus on supporting higher education business officers so that they can undertake necessary transformations, serve as strategic leaders, and rely on the association to be an indispensable national advocate. In this session, Kara will share findings from NACUBO’s latest research, discuss the challenges reshaping the higher education sector and confronting business officers and their teams, and discuss the skills necessary to thrive as a 21st-century business officer.

  • Understand key trends from NACUBO’s latest research 
  • Identify the role business officers have in responding to current higher education challenges 
  • Recognize the resources available to elevate the impact of college and university business offices

Monday April 29 | 3:45 PM

Dr. Tia Brown McNair

Dr. Tia Brown McNair is the Vice President of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, DC. She oversees both funded projects and AAC&U’s continuing programs on equity, inclusive excellence, high-impact practices (HIPs), and student success. McNair directs AAC&U’s Summer Institutes on HIPs and Student Success, and TRHT Campus Centers. She serves as the project director for several AAC&U initiatives, including the development of a TRHT-focused campus climate toolkit. She is the co-author of From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education (January 2020) and Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success (July 2016 and August 2022 Second edition). McNair is the editor of Strengthening Campus Communities Through the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Framework that will be published by Routledge in June 2024. In May 2023, McNair received an honorary degree from Franklin Pierce University for her national work to dismantle a false belief in a hierarchy of human value and for her efforts to advance racial equity to support the success of all students. NASPA, the Association of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, named McNair the 2024 recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Higher Education Award.


Tuesday | April 30 | 3:45 PM

Michelle Deutchman

Michelle N. Deutchman is the inaugural Executive Director of the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. Formed by the UC Office of the President, the Center explores how the fundamental democratic and academic principles of free speech and civic engagement should enrich the discovery and transmission of knowledge in America’s colleges and universities. In this role, Deutchman oversees a multidisciplinary national fellowship program and works across all 10 UC campuses to study and shape national discourse about free speech. Before joining the Center, Deutchman served as the Western States Civil Rights Counsel and National Campus Counsel for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a non-profit organization that has been a leader in combating bigotry, prejudice, and anti-Semitism for over a century. As National Campus Counsel, Ms. Deutchman focused on emerging trends and challenges pertaining to free expression at colleges and universities. She trained campus stakeholders – including administrators and law enforcement – on how to safeguard free speech at universities while simultaneously maintaining a safe and inclusive campus climate. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Southern California Law Center and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.


Tuesday | April 30 | 4:35 PM

Master Sergeant Cedric King

Master Sergeant Cedric King entered the United States Army in 1995. During his 20-year career, Master Sergeant King proved himself to be an exemplary soldier graduating from several distinguishing schools in the Army, including but not limited to the United States Army Jumpmaster Course, United States Army Pathfinder course, Air Assault course, and The United States Army Ranger Course. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit.  

On July 25, 2012, during his second tour in Afghanistan, Cedric was severely injured by an Improvised Explosive Device. The explosion caused internal injuries, permanent damage to his right arm and hand, and the amputation of both of his legs. Cedric now refers to that moment as his finest hour. 

While recovering from his injuries Cedric found time to complete his bachelor's degree and begin to cultivate his speaking voice. Since becoming an amputee, Cedric has shared his story of perseverance and endurance with audiences such as the US Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy at West Point, and professional sports teams of the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Fortune 500 companies from Home Depot to Facebook. In February of 2019, his story was published in print when he released his book called, “The Making Point”. In his book he shares mindsets, philosophies, and stories that include how 21 months after losing both of his legs, Cedric completed the 2014 Boston Marathon. He has been featured on Networks such as CBS, NBC, ABC, HBO, and the NFL Network. He has gone on to compete in a number of physically taxing events including a 70.3 mile half Ironman Triathlon, He is a two New York City Marathon Finisher, a five-time Boston Marathon finisher, numerous half marathons, and a three-time 48.6 mile Disney Marathon series finisher. 


General Session: Grant Thornton

“State of Higher Education in 2024” will cover the key market and organizational trends that higher education institutions are facing due to market, societal, and economic shifts, as well as changing stakeholder needs, and leading ways that institutions are addressing or taking advantage of the market trends. HE leaders are facing numerous headwinds, many exacerbated by the pandemic, and navigating the impacts of those factors by applying leading practices and strategic creativity. Leading institutions are increasingly centering their strategy development and strategic planning efforts toward the creation of clear and compelling growth agendas and aligning the operations of the institution accordingly. Depending on the institution, growth can be found in a variety of areas: mission impact, financial performance, organizational size and scale, organizational efficiency and effectiveness, programmatic expansion, geographic footprint, etc

  • Analyze industry trends and forces that are affecting institutions of all sizes
  • Describe leading practices associated with addressing industry trends
  • Cite techniques for aligning institutional stakeholders around an organizational strategy

Leslie Brunelli, Washington State University, Executive Vice President for Finance & Administration Chief Financial Officer: Leslie Brunelli is the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer at Washington State University. In this role, Leslie manages the financial and physical assets of the WSU system, including all aspects of the university’s financial and capital planning, information technology services, human resources, compliance and risk management, and real estate portfolio. With more than 25 years in higher education financial leadership, Leslie previously served as the Senior Vice Chancellor and Treasurer at the University of Denver, where she directed the university’s financial activities and generated policy and management practices to support the campus strategic vision. Leslie guided the campus financial response related to the pandemic and revamped financial reporting to provide greater clarity and transparency around university processes. She served as the chair of the University of Denver Retirement Plan Fiduciary Delegation Committee and was a board member of the Colorado Alliance for Research Libraries. Prior to her appointment at DU, Leslie served the University of South Carolina system in several positions with progressively increasing responsibility leaving that campus as the Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer. She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in business administration from the University of South Carolina.

Deb Wallace

Matt Unterman