Officials target high-profile alumni for new advisory group

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Matt Manfra, the senior associate vice president for alumni relations and annual giving, said the administrative advising group will meet twice a year starting in the spring.

Select alumni will receive personal invitations this fall to advise top University leaders – including University President Thomas LeBlanc.

Officials are inviting a “small” group of “accomplished” alumni this fall to join a new advisory group, coined the “President’s Council.” The council, which will convene for the first time this spring, will meet twice a year with administrators to provide counsel “that will strengthen GW,” Matt Manfra, the senior associate vice president for alumni relations and annual giving, said.

“The President’s Council will play an active role in providing insights that move the university forward,” he said in an email.

The group’s meetings will consist of campus tours, networking events, presentations and discussion sessions. All members of the group are expected to represent and advertise GW personally and professionally, Manfra said.

Manfra declined to say how many alumni will serve on the council or why officials decided to form the group. He also declined to say how the GW Alumni Association, an independent group of alumni expected to merge with the University in coming months, will be involved in the council.

Officials are currently hiring an associate director to oversee the council, according to an online job description. Manfra declined to say when a director is expected to be hired.

The director will identify alumni who may be a good fit for the group, including current “industry leaders” or individuals who hold “C-suite” roles – including CEO, CFO and COO – in major companies. The director will develop training for members of the group – who will serve as “brand ambassadors” for GW – and organize the group’s twice-yearly meetings, according to the job description. The director will be responsible for ensuring all members donate funds to the University, according to the job description.

The director will also be responsible for helping members organize regional receptions and events for alumni after the council is established, the job description states.

The new group comes amid a renewed administrative focus on alumni relations. LeBlanc, the University president, identified alumni relations as one of his main priorities when he arrived on campus. GW has struggled in recent years with alumni engagement, with alumni giving consistently clocking in at about 9 percent – a relatively low number compared to peer institutions.

Manfra declined to say how the council will help the University in its pursuit of increased alumni engagement and a higher alumni giving rate.

LeBlanc launched several initiatives to help boost alumni engagement in his first year, including hiring a permanent vice president for development and alumni relations to oversee fundraising efforts and naming fundraising and alumni engagement as one of his five strategic initiatives.

LeBlanc also embarked on an alumni tour this spring, stopping at alumni receptions in major cities nationwide – including Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York – to showcase his agenda to alumni who may have fallen out of touch with the University.

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