Carlson Zink named CEO

LEADER: UND’s Alumni Association and Foundation announced it’s new head.

Tuesday afternoon in UND’s new Gorecki Alumni Center the UND Alumni Association and Foundation announced its first female CEO, DeAnna Carlson Zink, who will take over the position April 1.

Carlson Zink, a 25-year employee of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, has served the organization as the Chief Development Officer and Associate Vice President since 2005.

“It is my pleasure to be selected as the new Executive Vice President and CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation,” Carlson Zink said in a UND AA&F press release. “I believe the organization and UND foundation and our 115,000 alumni are the margin of difference for this great University.”

Carlson Zink will be following in the footsteps of Tim O’Keefe, who has served as the organization’s CEO for 11 years today. O’Keefe said he assumed the position 11 years ago in a “moment of pride mixed with fear” but says Carlson Zink is the “right person at the right time.”

“DeAnna has been a key leader in the success of the North Dakota Spirit Campaign,” O’Keefe said in the press release. “I have so much confidence in her ability to lead this organization because I’ve experienced her passion and drive every day of the 11 years we have worked together.”

O’Keefe and other former AA&F CEOs passed a ceremonial baton to the organization’s sixth leader off to the side of the stage, exchanging hugs before Carlson Zink addressed the group for the first time since being announced.

“Tim has not only raised the bar for our organization, but for philanthropy in our state and within higher education,” Carlson Zink said in the press release. “I am excited to build on this strong foundation and to continue to elevate our organization to a position of sustainable excellence for the benefit of the University of North Dakota.”

During the hunt to fill the organization’s position of CEO, the transition committee visited with over 75 stakeholders from across the state and around the nation.

Chair of the transition committee Kris Compton said they found “overwhelming support” for Carlson Zink during the process of vetting her application.

“We interviewed dozens of people; university partners, alumni, co-workers and references and they all had nothing but praise for [Carlson Zink’s] leadership skills, her passion for UND and her fundraising expertise,” Compton said in the same press release. “It became a slam-dunk.”

UND President Robert Kelley seconded Compton’s sentiments.

“The university relies very very closely [on the Alumni Association and Foundation] for continued success,” Kelley said. “[And] it was very very clear that the best leadership was right here.”

Carrie Sandstrom is the editor-in-chief of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].