Months after splitting from the University and rebranding, the independent alumni association is expanding across the Atlantic.
The Independent Alumni Association of George Washington will institute its first international chapter in London next month. The new arm will help the association expand its reach overseas and engage hundreds of alumni while setting the groundwork for dozens of future international branches, leaders said.
The group, formerly known as the GW Alumni Association, has sought to involve more international alumni in its efforts for about a year.
Ari Massefski, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Media and Public Affairs in 2015, volunteered to start the chapter because he wanted to stay connected with GW while he is enrolled in graduate school abroad. He said he wants to offer professional development and grant opportunities to alumni based in London.
“I want to help establish a long term footprint and keep the overseas alumni in London connected to GW and each other,” he said in an email.
Massefski said he and other alumni are utilizing social media and local contacts to build a list of alumni in the area. Although he plans to move back to the United States this summer, he said he wants to establish the new chapter and extend the alumni association’s reach before he departs.
Kathy Bikus, the operations director of the alumni association, said the new chapter will help expand the group’s network after it was cut off from the University in the fall. GW established its own alumni group in October after months of failed negotiations with the independent association to merge with the University’s alumni office.
Bikus said that because hundreds of alumni have shown interest in the London group, the organization will open additional chapters in other international cities where large groups of alumni live. The chapters will host events for alumni to meet and network, she said.
“Our goal is to get the GW folks out there and the graduate students out there as frequently as possible,” she said.
Bikus said the London chapter will establish an executive board and delegate committee assignments after the association draws up bylaws and creates a budget over the next month.
Martin Baum, the president of the independent alumni association, said the group will choose the location of its next chapter based on which alumni volunteer to lead the new groups.
“It’s a little bit of a mating game,” he said. “We don’t have the resources to parachute in and do the work for them.”
He said the new group will help the association promote its grants and professional development events to a wider audience, adding that alumni in the area can choose whether to associate with the University’s alumni group or the independent association.
“To me, there’s no real competition,” he said. “I don’t think our alumni are overwhelmed with support.”