Mary Almanza (B.A.M. ’04, B.B.A. ’06)
Assistant Director of Advancement Services
Mary has been with St. Mary’s University since 1986, and has worked in Development since 1989. She joined Advancement Services in 1998. Mary maintains the tracking system for all gift activity to the University, verifies gift postings, and prepares donor acknowledgments, as well as the annual honor roll of donors.
Mary sends out monthly pledge reminders and maintains permanent gift records and files. She also supervises student staff and coordinates the daily operations of the office.
Nikisha J. Baker
Director of Development for Science, Engineering and Technology
Nikisha’s focus is on cultivating relationships with alumni and other constituents to advance the University’s mission.
Nikisha comes to St. Mary’s from TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas, where she worked with parents, alumni and other friends of the school in annual giving and special event fundraising. She hopes to build on this experience as she engages constituents and promotes funding opportunities that support the School of Science, Engineering and Technology’s strategic initiatives. Nikisha also represents the Office of University Advancement in the Houston area.
She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Public Relations from the University of Florida and her Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of Central Florida. She serves as the Diversity Committee chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals San Antonio and as a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
Director of Foundations and Corporate Relations
Melanie’s role is to support St. Mary’s through engaging local and national foundations and corporations to build their interest in investing in the University’s students and mission. She works University-wide to partner programs and projects to foundations and corporations committed to helping shape ethical leaders and positive community impacts.
Melanie joined St. Mary’s in January 2014. She previously worked in business development for a small-business government contractor. Currently, she is also an Adjunct History Professor at San Antonio College. She has contributed several pieces to a local, independent blog about San Antonio. Melanie enjoys writing about Texas legislation, philanthropy, and history.
Melanie attended the University of Texas at San Antonio where she earned her B.A. and M.A. in U.S. History. She is an annual volunteer for the San Antonio Regional History Day as a judge for the student competition. Melanie also participates in the Education Committee of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Will Elliott (B.A. ’93)
Director of Prospect Management
Will assists development officers and University leadership in making St. Mary’s advancement efforts more efficient and effective. In addition to identifying potential donors, he is responsible for coordinating a campus-wide prospect management process. He also assists University leadership in identifying campus-related funding opportunities and developing strategies to fulfill those opportunities.
He assumed his current role in August 2010 after four years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where he was prospect research manager. Will previously was coordinator of prospect research at St. Mary’s from 1999 to 2006. A member of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement, he was president of the APRA-Southwest Chapter from 2007 to 2010.
Guadalupe Garza (M.A. ’11)
Director of Development for Humanities and Social Sciences
Guadalupe is responsible for building long-lasting relationships with alumni and constituents with the goal of advancing the mission of the University. Guadalupe serves the School of Humanities and Social Sciences by promoting funding opportunities to alumni and other constituents in San Antonio and represents the University’s Development Office in the areas of the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and El Paso.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2009, and a master’s degree in International Relations with honors at St. Mary’s University in 2011. Guadalupe is a professional member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and Association of Fundraising Professionals. She also serves on the board at the Westside Family YMCA of San Antonio and is a year-round volunteer coach for Girls on the Run of Bexar County.
Jenee Gonzales (B.A. ’97, J.D. ’03)
Director of Annual Giving
Jenee is responsible the Annual Fund campaign, manages the University’s United Way Employee Campaign, and oversees student and employee giving to the University.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts in public justice with a concentration in legal studies at St. Mary’s. Jenee was a member of Beta Sigma Phi International Sorority and was inducted into the Order of Omega. She went on to earn her Doctor of Jurisprudence from the School of Law. After graduation, she served on State Senator Leticia Van de Putte’s legislative staff for six years, including serving as committee director for the Texas Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations.
Jenee is a member of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She serves on the steering committee of the Alex Briseno Leadership Development Program of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Jenee is also an inaugural member of the SA2020 Ambassadors Program. In 2013, she was presented the St. Mary’s University Alice Wright Franzke Feminist Award.
Director of Development
Cari serves as a liaison to the Greehey School of Business by promoting funding opportunities to alumni and other constituents.
She comes to the University with years of experience in relationship building and marketing and a passion for Catholic Higher Education. Originally from Michigan, Cari received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Photojournalism from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and her Master’s of Science in Sport Management and MBA from Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla.. Both schools are based in the Dominican tradition and fostered Cari’s commitment to faith, service, and scholarship.
Cari is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She enjoys raising awareness and funds for organizations she is passionate in creative ways, like Polar Bear Plunges and athletic challenges. Her favorite charitable organizations are the MS Society and Boys & Girls Club. In her free time, Cari is an avid traveler and SCUBA diver.
Executive Director of Advancement Services
Ronan joined St. Mary’s University as the Prospect Research Coordinator in 1996 and became the Director of Advancement Services in 1998. His prior work experience includes 10 years as a real estate appraiser, followed by management roles in financial reporting and reconciliation, compliance, and due diligence for secondary market investors.
As Director of Advancement Services, Ronan is responsible for the management of donor and alumni records, processing, receipting and reporting of gifts to the University, pledge billing and reconciliation, maintaining financial records and preparing gift income reports. He also manages the prospect research process and donor prospect tracking system. Ronan currently serves as the Chairman of the Database Standards Committee and was the University Advancement team leader for the recent conversion of the enterprise resource system.
Leticia S. Ramirez
Assistant Director of Stewardship
Letty joined University Advancement in 2003. She brings to St. Mary’s many years of administrative support experience working in a university setting. Letty is currently the Assistant Director of Stewardship. She primarily coordinates the Presidential Stewardship Events, University Stewardship Events and manages the President’s Ambassadors program.
Georgina Benitez Schmahl (B.B.A. ’90)
Executive Director of Development
Georgina came to the Office of University Advancement from Community Health Systems where she worked as the Director of Marketing for Weatherford Regional Medical Center in Weatherford, Texas. Her marketing experience and background in identifying and cultivating relationships has prepared her for her role as a development officer. She works closely with the deans as well as faculty and staff to promote funding opportunities to alumni and other constituents. She assists the development team in raising funds for scholarships, programs, and capital improvements based on the funding priorities of the University.
Georgina earned a bachelors degree in business administration in marketing at St. Mary’s. She was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and the Student Government Association. In 2005, she was named Woman of the Year by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.
Matt Schultz (M.B.A. ’00)
Director of Advancement Services
Matt has been employed at St. Mary’s since 1993. Prior to joining the Advancement Services staff in 2006, he was the business and telecommunications manager for St. Mary’s Physical Plant.
Matt supports the University’s advancement efforts by identifying and researching prospective donors. He utilizes print, electronic and Internet-based resources to assess a prospect’s philanthropic interests, giving capacity, affinity and readiness. Matt also prepares prospect biographical profiles and updates alumni, donor and prospect records.
Teri Villa (B.A. ’11)
Assistant Director of Development
Teri joined the Office of Development in 1997. She provides administrative support to the Director of Development Programs and Operations and the development officers. Teri is responsible for the development budget and all personnel leave management. She also assists with the faculty and staff St. Mary’s Fund campaign, special activities and stewardship events.