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I have just joined a remarkable “dream” team—a team of AYA staff, alumni volunteers, and many university colleagues whose collective mission is to change lives. Together, they choose to devote their considerable energies and talents in ways where results are not measured in return on the dollar, but in how lives are changed. They do not serve stockholders, they serve stakeholders—you.
The AYA team works hard to reconnect you to our family—that “company of scholars,” that “society of friends”—we call Yale. My colleagues who work with Yale College classes enable the class leadership and other alumni volunteers to bring the “family” back to New Haven every five years. This spring more than 6,300 alumni and their guests came back to campus to remember and celebrate the classmates, teachers, and friends who touched their lives.
The AYA also works with the staff and volunteers of the graduate and professional schools, reuniting alumni and faculty in lively discourse and fellowship. The AYA club group supports the efforts of our volunteers in over 160 Yale clubs and associations worldwide—a network, dedicated to Yale and local communities, that provides student scholarships, internships, and numerous other community service opportunities.
The AYA education group creates experiences that remind you of the joy of learning that Yale instilled. They reconnect you to Yale’s faculty through educational programs—in travel, online, or at reunions and programs in New Haven.
Our lives are changed by the breadth and depth of information that ties us together. My IT colleagues develop and maintain the online resources and services that help keep you in touch with one another and inform your activities.
While managed by staff, our alumni activities are driven by volunteers. Roughly 400 alumni delegates—representatives of your classes, local clubs, graduate and professional school alumni associations, and many “at large” representatives—convene in New Haven each year to consider the challenges and opportunities facing Yale, to offer advice and counsel in generating interest, propelling new ideas, and instilling passion in our drive to serve Yale and the common good.
These delegate volunteers do not meet in New Haven by accident. The AYA staff works throughout the year to provide the programming and support to guide and motivate these volunteers, to change their lives so that they may in turn change yours. The volunteer delegates elect a Board of Governors, currently chaired by Susie Krentz '80, which works hard to engage the talents and focus the energies of our 135,000 alumni.
I have taken this opportunity to recognize your AYA staff because this summer I began my service to you as AYA executive director. I am thankful for their skill and dedication, and humbled by their desire to work on your behalf. Their work is often unheralded, yet their impact is far reaching.
The occasion of my appointment is the time to remember that the AYA is not—cannot be—the work of one person. We are a team of volunteers and professionals dedicated to changing lives through leadership, service, and education.
As the AYA transitions from the extraordinary leadership of Jeff Brenzel '75, my predecessor, and from previous board chair Ed Dennis '63, Susie Krentz and I will spend this next year in strategic planning, building on their momentum and developing a new vision. Alumni leaders are important as we elaborate this new vision. We need your ownership and your input in planning how it is that we will continue to change lives. While we will of course be making available the tools of the planning trade—surveys, focus groups, interviews, and the like—we always welcome your informal comments and concerns. Please feel free to e-mail or call me. We’re here to serve you.
I accepted this job largely because of my volunteer work for Yale over the past 20 years. In helping to create the Yale Alumni Chorus I discovered how alumni lives could be changed, how alumni who are reconnected can inspire greater service for Yale and its ideals. In no small measure I was inspired by the work of the AYA.
My life was changed. How can we change yours?
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