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Alumni Speakers 

Nikhil AdvaniNikhil Advani – 8 a.m. and Noon ceremonies

Dr. Nikhil Advani is Director for Climate, Communities and Wildlife for the World Wildlife Fund. Born and brought up in Kenya, he moved in 2000 to attend The University of Texas at Austin, where he went on to pursue his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D., both in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. His thesis focused on gaining a better mechanistic understanding of species response to climate change. In 2019, he was inducted into the Hall of Honor, for University of Texas at Austin College of Natural Sciences alumni and friends, having received the college’s emerging leader award. He also serves on the college advisory council.

After completing his Ph.D. in 2012, Nikhil worked for the Nature Conservancy in Texas for a year prior to joining World Wildlife Fund in 2013. Nikhil’s role at WWF is at the intersection of communities, wildlife and the varied threats they face, from climate change to the COVID-19 pandemic. His main projects include The African Nature-Based Tourism Platform which connect funders to communities most affected by the pandemic; Climate Crowd, which helps rural communities across the globe adapt to a changing climate; a Wildlife and Climate assessment series, which researches species vulnerability to climate change and develops management plans; and the Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund which funds innovative, on-the-ground projects for species globally.

Nikhil has significant experience working with partners all over the world, from government agencies to small rural communities, across many different cultures. Having visited over 50 countries and all 7 continents, he has a deep passion for the varied cultures, landscapes and wildlife that exist across the globe.  

Jill Cumnock Jill Cumnock - 3:30 p.m. ceremony

Jill Cumnock joined the Ronald McDonald House Charities family in December 2010 as the Chief Executive Officer of the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. Jill has worked in the nonprofit field her entire career. Prior to joining the team at RMHD, Jill was the Executive Director of Frisco Family Services. She has also worked for Bryan’s House as the Program Director, was a clinical therapist at Jewish Family Service and began her career as a Milieu Therapist at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.

Jill has a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relations from The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She is a graduate of Leadership Frisco and participated in the RMHC Executive Leadership Program through the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Jill is a member of the Frisco Sunrise Rotary, and she serves on the board for the Nonprofit CEO Council. Jill was the 2008 Frisco Style Magazine’s Person of the Year and has been honored as an Inspiring Woman of the Southwest by the National Council of Jewish Women.