Profile: Chris Marshall

This month we’re highlighting Chris Marshall, Founder and CEO of CMAC, a full-service advancement consulting firm focused on the education sector. See a list of services they help with here.

Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.


1. What do you do in one sentence?

I help colleges and universities connect, engage, and involve their alumni in meaningful ways with their institution, with students, and with other alumni.

2. What peer has had the biggest impact on your career? How? 

Howard Wolf at Stanford University.  I’ve learned so much from my 20+ year friendship with Howard. Stanford has one of the best alumni engagement programs in the country and they are still constantly innovating and experimenting. His willingness to share best practices, provide advice and guidance, and offer his wisdom (and wit!) have been foundational in my growth as an alumni engagement professional.

3. The biggest professional challenge you’ve overcome? 

Starting my own business has been completely exhilarating and – at the same time – absolutely terrifying. But I would not change a single thing.

4. What excites you about the future of engagement?

Through various forces outside of our control – pandemic, budget constraints, changing demographics of student populations, etc – the alumni engagement industry is evolving rapidly. Traditional programs such as class-based Reunions or regional chapter programs are no longer viable on their own. Alumni want to see value for their engagement and they want to get behind causes that have meaning in the world we live in today. A good AE program should facilitate that!

To deliver on this, the old “one size fits all” approach simply does not work. Segmented, targeted, and customized delivery of messaging and experiences for our alumni is the shift we are seeing. We need to think more Amazon in how we deliver engagement. Make it easy, make it relevant, and make it valuable and they will come!

5. What three things to take on a deserted island and why? 

Beyond the standard: my wife, my kids, and loved ones response – I’d go with:

1) A vast library of books that would take me a lifetime to read – To keep my brain occupied
2) Portillo’s hot dogs (with all the fixings) – I love a good Chicago style hot dog!
3) Goggles – so I could swim!