Bryant Group Recruits AVP of Outreach and Innovation for Western Michigan University

June 14, 2023 – Following a national search, Dallas-based executive search and talent development firm Bryant Group has placed Michael Carlton as the first associate vice president of outreach and innovation for Western Michigan University (WMU). Sarah Hempen, vice president, led the assignment.

For more than 15 years, Mr. Carlton oversaw annual giving, alumni relations, special events, and donor relations for public universities and private non-profits. He most recently served as the director of annual giving and alumni engagement for the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University. Prior to that, Mr. Carlton was senior director of individual giving and stewardship at the Catholic Extension. “He has an immense passion for the ever-evolving integrated marketing and engagement spaces, giving him a diverse perspective on the fields of annual giving, alumni engagement, and communications,” Bryant Group said.

In his new role, Mr. Carlton will direct all aspects of Western Michigan University’s integrated alumni relations, communications, annual giving, and special events programs. He becomes part of the vice president’s senior leadership team and is responsible for working closely with the central advancement staff, university leadership, deans, faculty, athletics, and other university units in articulating and implementing policy, plans, goals and activities related to alumni relations, community engagement and annual giving.

“I am thrilled to be joining the team at Western Michigan University,” said Mr. Carlton. “Under the expert leadership of Kristen DeVries, vice president for university advancement, I look forward to reimagining how a university can best engage its alumni and donors. I am especially thankful to Sarah Hempen and the rest of the team at Bryant Group, without whom I would not have found such a perfect match for the next stage of my professional journey. It was a joy to work with them and I look forward to continued partnership once I assume my new role.”

Related: Bryant Group Assists Kansas Leadership Center with CEO Search

Founded in 1903, WMU offers about 250 academic programs to more than 19,000 students pursuing degrees through the doctoral level. Graduate coursework includes disciplines that range from geosciences and atomic and nuclear physics to medieval literature and blind rehabilitation. Of the 114 graduate offerings available, 35 lead to a doctoral degree. Classified as a “high research activity” university by the Carnegie Foundation, WMU is ranked in the top 11 percent of all universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The university received a $550 million gift in 2021, the largest gift ever given to a public university in the U.S.

Proven Recruiters

Bryant Group specializes in advancement, fundraising, and leadership for universities, hospitals, and other non-profits. Its services include recruiting, talent development, and leadership coaching. The organization’s higher education clients include Stanford University, Harvard University, Michigan State University, Baylor University, the University of New Mexico, and others. Its healthcare clients include UCLA Center for the Health Sciences, the Mayo Clinic in both Minnesota and Arizona, Henry Ford Health Systems, Betty Ford Center, to name just a few. Its other non-profit clients include the American Heart Association, March of Dimes in both California and New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, and more.

Bryant Group is led by president and CEO Sally Bryant. She joined the search firm in 2007 and brings 30 years of experience in advancement management, consulting and recruiting, as well as achievements from the corporate sales arena and success in other entrepreneurial activities.

Christopher P. Bryant, co-founder and advisor of the Bryant Group, is a leader in the recruitment of advancement, development, and fundraising professionals. In 1988, he helped start what the firm describes as the country’s first executive search firm to specialize exclusively in philanthropy recruitment. Bryant Group is the successor firm, established in 2002. Now under the leadership of Ms. Bryant, the woman-owned firm focuses on advancing great leadership through executive search, leadership coaching and interim leadership services. Bryant Group has impacted more than 10,000 leaders and served more than 275 organizations.

Ms. Bryant joined the search firm in 2007. She brings 30 years of experience in advancement management, consulting, and recruiting, as well as achievements from the corporate sales arena and success in other entrepreneurial activities.

Ms. Hempen has over 20 years of fundraising and advancement leadership experience, serving most recently as assistant vice president of development at the University of South Florida. Having served both public and private universities, she has developed and led Annual Giving teams that consistently exceeded goals and created new revenue channels focused on building a pipeline for major gifts.

Related: Bryant Group Seeks Two Key Development Leaders for Western Michigan University

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

Share This Article


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments