Vice President of Marketing & Communications Ben McDade
Vice President of Marketing & Communications Ben McDade

Veteran Communicator and Fundraiser Appointed Development Director in Support of $40 Million Campaign

Aug 5, 2014
Brenau Staff

Robert Shippey moves into senior campaign director role while Jenny Dell duties expand to include more focus on financial support from the alumni base in the university’s historic initiative.

As it prepares for the launch of the public phase of its $40 million fundraising initiative, Brenau University has appointed Ben McDade of Suwanee, Georgia, as director of development programs.

Reporting to Vice President of External Relations Matt Thomas, McDade will oversee strategic development concerns and provide oversight for annual fund and foundation asks for Brenau. He will actively develop and implement a planned giving program for the university.

“We are very excited to welcome Ben to the Office of External Relations,” said Thomas. “As a seasoned development officer with higher education experience, Ben will fill an important role in assisting with our fundraising endeavors at a pivotal point in our efforts – the beginning of the public phase of our capital campaign.”

The university recently completed the quiet phase of the campaign. It is preparing to enter the public phase of the largest campaign in the university’s 136-year history – a $40 million effort to increase scholarship and fellowship support, expand health care and sciences education and develop multiple components of a women’s education initiative. Thomas also announced role changes for other members of the External Relations staff:

  • Executive Director of Alumni and Constituent Engagement Jenny Dell will assume additional responsibilities for cultivating donors from among the university’s 20,000 alumni from throughout the United States and in several countries around the world.
  • Robert Shippey, now Sr. Director of Development/Campaign Director, will expand his fundraising activities to have oversight over various aspects of the campaign efforts ranging from major gift requests to the oversight of the campaign committee structure.

Thomas said that the changes, including the addition of McDade, “will help us focus some real professional muscle” in the mission-critical campaign. “We have expanded responsibilities  at the director levels to ensure Brenau has the person-power necessary to meet the needs of the campaign. With this team in place, we have the professionals necessary to meet all challenges of the effort,” said Thomas.


McDade previously worked as executive vice president at Baptists Today News and Nurturing Faith, Inc., in Atlanta. He was responsible for creating and directing the organization’s development and marketing program including fundraising, training and organizing financial initiatives. Earlier he worked at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as vice president of advancement. He also owned a marketing communications counseling services firm, McDade & Associates, Inc., in Macon. At Mercer University he served as senior assistant vice president of university relations and marketing. At Smyth and Helwys Publishing in Macon, he was vice president of marketing and communications.

“It’s a privilege to join the Brenau community as we share the compelling and evolving Brenau story with alumni and friends,” said McDade. “I consider this opportunity to be a noble endeavor as I join a collection of professionals who help ensure we have the financial resources needed to sustain and grow the mission of the university as we prepare women and men to become strong and vibrant leaders in their communities and through their vocations.” The South Carolina native earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a Master of Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina. Additionally, he studied at the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University and participated in workshops at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Throughout his life, McDade has been an active church member.  He also managed a youth basketball league for three years and refereed youth soccer matches for the U.S. Soccer Federation. He is married to fourth-grade teacher Sheryl McDade. They have three children.


Robert Shippey
Senior Director of Development/Campaign Director Robert Shippey

A native of Warner Robins, Georgia, Shippey came to the Brenau team in May 2013 from Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia, where for the previous four years he was vice president for academic affairs and enrollment management. As Brenau’s campaign director he will work closely with Thomas and Brenau President Ed Schrader to direct and implement all aspects of the campaign.  He will be responsible for marketing, oversight of events and implementation of the campaign plan. That will involve generating and supervising collaborative activities of all members of the Brenau community, including members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students and volunteer leaders. The idea, Shippey said, “is to cast a wide net so that as many as possible will have an opportunity to contribute to the success of Brenau University.”


Executive Director of Alumni and Constituent Engagement Jenny Dell
Executive Director of Alumni and Constituent Engagement Jenny Dell

Dell came to Brenau University in Nov. 2011, bringing over ten years of professional experience in alumni relations, PR, and communications. A graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a minor in English, Dell served as president of the UGA alumni club of Knoxville, Tennessee. She was also the founding president and collegiate relations chair for the area’s alumnae chapter of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Dell is a past delegate to the Atlanta Alumnae Panhellenic Association and the current Panhellenic Advisor for the Delta Upsilon chapter of Gamma Phi Beta at UGA. The Buford, Georgia, resident also works with the Girls on the Run and WomenSource organizations. Her role in the campaign is critical, Thomas said, “not only in adding direct contributions to the amount we raise but also in setting an example for others to support Brenau.”