Leaders of new alumni association conclude listening tour

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Peak Sen Chua, a member of the GW Alumni Association's executive board, said the board members brainstormed priorities at their first meeting last Friday.

Leaders of GW’s new alumni association will incorporate feedback from a listening tour completed earlier this month to guide the group’s operations moving forward.

Members of the GW Alumni Association’s executive committee held three one-hour listening sessions in August and September and administered a survey to members to gather feedback from graduates and shape the organization’s goals for the coming year. The leaders said alumni participation in the sessions and survey revealed that alumni are most interested in opportunities to network with others and to support students in whatever capacity they can.

GWAA President Richard Jones said more than 350 alumni gave feedback through the listening sessions or the survey. Members of the executive committee, which consists of 14 alumni who will serve for a maximum of four years, participated in each session.

“We really just wanted to hear from alumni to get a better sense of what alumni expect from an alumni association – what they want and what things they’ve learned from the past about what the Alumni Association can do for them,” Jones said.

The organization, which debuted in May, features a leadership council composed of executive committee members and representatives from each of the University’s Chartered Alumni Networks – more than 80 existing alumni groups organized by region or around shared interests.

Jones said members on the listening tour collected feedback from alumni living abroad as well, in countries like Georgia and Singapore. GWAA’s leaders may conduct a “broader” survey in 2020 to continue gathering input, he said.

He said the group’s leaders used the feedback to guide their strategic planning session last Friday at the start of Colonials Weekend. Executive committee members are still digesting the information from the listening session but will be moving forward with “concrete next steps” soon, he said.

“We are synthesizing all of that information, all of the suggestions and ideas and individual group recommendations for things we should do coming out the gate,” Jones said. “How we should do it – we’re looking at all of that.”

The listening tour’s conclusion follows a decision from leaders of GW’s independent alumni association to disband their organization and disburse their endowment to GW-affiliated groups. The independent alumni association parted ways from the University last September after disagreements over a planned merger with the Office of Alumni Relations caused at least seven board members to resign and pushed members to oust the group’s president.

Peak Sen Chua,  a member of GWAA’s executive committee and former Student Association president, said the group’s leaders discussed outreach and “improved communication” as two of their top goals for the coming year.

“The executive committee met for the first time this past Friday, familiarizing ourselves with each other, discussing our experiences at GW, and working with [the Division of Development and Alumni Relations] on brainstorming some of our priorities,” Chua said.

Amanda Fugazy and John Sirek, members of GWAA’s executive committee, declined to comment, deferring to Jones. Ten members of the executive committee did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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