WFAA Leadership

​​At WFAA, our people use their talents to lead in their communities and in their careers. Meet the experienced executives who lead our organization.

Michael M. Knetter

President and CEO

Mike joined the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association as president and chief executive officer in 2010 after eight years as dean of the Wisconsin School of Business. Prior to joining UW–Madison in 2002, he was associate dean and professor of international economics in the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. He also served as senior staff economist for the President's Council of Economic Advisors for former presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Locally, he chaired the capital campaign for The Road Home Dane County, a nonprofit that assists in finding housing and work solutions for homeless families in Dane County. At WFAA, Mike has led a variety of initiatives to support the advancement of UW–Madison, including the launch of a new CRM system, the $3.2 billion All Ways Forward campaign, and the merger of the UW Foundation with the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Mike completed his undergraduate studies in economics and mathematics at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and his PhD in economics at Stanford University.

Alisa Robertson

Senior Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer

Alisa Robertson oversees the University of Wisconsin’s $3.2 billion comprehensive campaign, which launched publicly in 2015. She leads the WFAA Advancement Team, which encompasses Alumni Relations and Engagement, Communications, Development, Information and Advancement Services, and Stewardship. Prior to joining the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, Robertson was the associate dean for external relations at the Wisconsin School of Business where she led the school’s marketing, alumni relations, and annual giving teams.

Brenda Phebus

Chief Human Resources Officer

Brenda joined the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association as chief human resources officer in 2018. She has previously held multiple HR leadership positions in organizations spanning telecommunications, financial services, and small businesses. At WFAA, Brenda oversees all human resources functions, including strategy and daily operations. Brenda received a bachelor's degree in psychology from UW–Madison and an MBA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She holds a Senior Professional Human Resources certification.

Geoff McCloskey

Chief Financial Officer

Geoff has served as chief financial officer at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association since 2015 after joining the organization in 2012 as controller. Prior to WFAA, he served as a project controller and asset manager with Wind Capital Group LLC, as vice president of shared services and finance transformation with CUNA Mutual Group, as finance director at the State Bar of Wisconsin, as controller at Ransomes Inc., and as a staff auditor at Price Waterhouse. At WFAA, Geoff oversees all finance, accounting, and treasury functions in addition to IT and facilities. He has been involved with numerous community organizations, and currently serves as a board member for Tellurian, Inc. Geoff is a CPA and received his bachelor of business administration in both accounting and finance from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Julie Van Cleave

Chief Investment Officer

Julie joined the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association in 2013 as chief investment officer. She came to the role after a combined 30 years as an equity portfolio manager with OppenheimerFunds, Deutsche Asset Management, and Mason Street Advisors (Northwestern Mutual Life), managing top-rated mutual funds and institutional funds. Julie is responsible for managing all aspects of the organization's investment operation and works closely with WFAA's Investment Committee. She received a BBA and an MBA in finance, investments, and banking from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and is an alumna of the well-recognized Applied Securities Analysis Program at UW–Madison. She holds the chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation.

Scott McKinney

Vice President of Development and Chief Legal Officer

Scott started at WFAA in 1998 as director of development, gift planning. Prior to this, he worked in undergraduate admissions at UW–Madison while attending UW Law School, and started with the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association shortly after graduating in 1998. At WFAA, Scott oversees legal affairs and works closely with the office of gift planning. He received a BA in legal studies and a BA in psychology from Macalester College, and a JD from University of Wisconsin Law School.

Frank Ace

Senior Managing Director, Information Technology

Frank joined the UW Foundation in 2013 as director of IT. He received his bachelor’s in computer sciences from UW–Madison in 1986 and has worked in the IT field for more than 30 years. From 1998 until 2013, he was the Chief Information Officer for the Wisconsin Department of Justice. At the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, he is responsible for IT infrastructure, systems, information security and privacy, applications services, and business continuity planning. 

Jim Kennedy

Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Jim joined the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association in 2014. He leads the marketing and communications division, where he oversees brand management, digital experience and engagement, alumni communications and publications, and annual giving programs. The team engages alumni and friends via digital, print, social, video, and experiential media that include award-winning alumni publications and media projects. Jim has previously held marketing leadership roles in organizations spanning apparel, consumer packaged goods, and medical industries. He holds BBA and MBA degrees.

Sarah Schutt

Chief Alumni Engagement Officer and Executive Director, Wisconsin Alumni Association

Sarah joined the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) in August 2001, initially as the director of alumni lifelong learning. Between April 2009 and December 2010, she worked at the UW’s Division of Continuing Studies before returning to WAA. Though she received her bachelor’s (in Japanese language and history) from the University of Iowa and her master’s (in counseling and student development) from Mankato State, she’s been part of the UW campus since 1994, when she worked in UW Housing as a residence life coordinator, and then in the School of Education. She became executive director of WAA in 2017. 

Anne Lucke

Chief Development Officer

Anne has been a member of the UW Foundation and Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) development team since 2000, when she joined as a development director for the College of Letters & Science. In her current role, she oversees the development division, which includes not only the fundraising staff for WFAA but also stewardship and planned giving. Anne earned her master’s degree in English literature at UW–Madison in 1988 and worked in marketing prior to coming to the Foundation.

Brad Jolin

Vice President and Managing Group Leader

Brad oversees the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association’s Medical Advancement Group, which includes the staff who identify philanthropic funds for the UW’s School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health. Brad joined the UW Foundation staff in 2005.

Marianne Siess

Vice President of Advancement Services

Marianne first joined the staff of the UW Foundation in 2008 as a member of the prospect research team. She took on her current position in 2019, overseeing the research and prospect management team as well as constituent data processing, records management, data solutions, advancement business solutions, and gift processing. These areas focus on managing core data and help the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association teams leverage information to work more effectively with constituents. She helped to lead the effort to adopt ABE CRM (Advancing Badger Engagement), the WFAA alumni and donor database. Marianne received a BA from Augustana College and a master’s in library and information studies from UW–Madison.