New Leaders in Development Reflect CoE's Core Values

Top-tier. Accomplished. Dedicated to the public interest.

Those are phrases UF alumni often use to describe the College of Education. They could just as easily apply to the new leaders in the college’s office of development and alumni affairs. Director Bob Henning and Associate Director Laforis Knowles both bring histories of public service to their new jobs at COE.



Bob Henning comes to UF from Santa Rosa, Calif., where he was a national charitable gift planning officer for Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities.

Henning got his first taste of fundraising shortly after graduation from George Williams College, while working as a program director for the YMCA in Elgin, Ill. He moved on to larger non-profits, including Goodwill Industries and the American Diabetes Association.

“Education is a major priority for our country and I’m honored to play a part in moving it forward,” he said.

Henning holds a master’s degree in educational administration and planning from Harvard University.

Laforis Knowles joined the development office last August in the new position of associate director. Knowles majored in public relations at UF, before becoming youth development director for the March of Dimes. Knowles was in charge of youth fundraisers in schools in an 11-county area and helped organize WalkAmerica, a fundraiser that draws thousands to Gainesville each year.

With a new capital campaign soon to begin, Knowles has been busy making and maintaining contacts with alumni and keeping them up-to-date on happenings at the college. She says she enjoys meeting education alumni in part because of their strong sense of duty to younger generations.

“I feel that education is the No. 1 issue facing our country,” she said. “The College of Education is on a mission to improve education in America, and I believe in that mission. I’ve got to have a job I believe in.”