News from Alumni House

Ambassadors for Yale: a vision realized


Mark Dollhopf '77 is executive director of the Association of Yale Alumni.


You—alumni of all ages and affiliations—are making a difference.

For Yale, on behalf of Yale, in traditional classes and clubs, in not-so-traditional affinity groups, you are changing the face of alumni relations for the next generation.

This past year was the first year of changes implemented as a result of the AYA Strategic Plan, and the changes have been at once sweeping, inspiring, and engaging—a dramatic increase in new programs and staffing; scores, if not hundreds, of volunteers creating new alumni communities and taking action in new initiatives; and a renewed sense of energy and excitement about the possibilities for what you, as alumni, can do as ambassadors for Yale.

You can find our first-year "state of the union" letter at

The momentum is palpable. Nearly 5,000 alumni are now engaged as advisors or board members in a cornucopia of alumni organizations at Yale, whether they be the 187 Yale Clubs, more than 75 classes, the 14 graduate and professional schools, or the over 100 "shared interest groups" ranging from athletics to singing, from debate to politics, from real estate to entrepreneurship, from community service to service abroad.

There are emerging new alumni associations for Asian, Black, Latino, and Native American alumni, as well as alumni of the Political Union, the Debate Association, the Yale Five-Year BA Plan, a number of senior societies, and singing and performing groups too numerous to mention. Our new service initiatives this year include an international Yale Day of Service on May 16, a one-week "Peace Corps" mission to Monterrey, Mexico (March 7 to 15), and an alumni exchange program with the University of Tokyo in Japan (June 27 to July 12).

These new initiatives, indeed the strategic plan itself, are coming to life because of extraordinary volunteers—men and women who have demonstrated a passion for their willingness to give back, a penchant for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, and a commitment to selfless service to Yale. To commemorate these accomplishments, the staff and board of governors of the AYA at last November’s Assembly recognized the following alumni volunteers with the first AYA Ambassador for Yale Leadership Awards:

Kathy Edersheim '87 for pioneering—and "executive producing"—Yale’s first Global Alumni Leadership Exchange (GALE) to Australia and the Australian National University.

Ed Greenberg '59 for creating the successful new Yale Club of Lower Fairfield County—a phoenix that arose from the ashes of previous Yale Clubs.

Timothy Harkness '87 and Jordan Warshaw '87 for the inspiration of creating, and the perspiration of implementing, the first Feb Club Emeritus.

Mickey Dobbs '92 for his accomplishments at organizing, sustaining, and advancing the mission of Yale GALA, a pioneer among shared interest groups at Yale that celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Kathy, Ed, Tim, Jordan, and Mickey are but a few of the outstanding stories of alumni in action. There are other alumni currently writing their own stories, individually and collectively.

If you are reading this as one of the thousands of alumni who volunteer for Yale, congratulations. You are to be commended for your steadfast service and continuing innovation. If you are reading this as one who is not yet engaged in the life of this remarkable institution, there is no reason to wait. Volunteer opportunities abound through our new strategic plan. Jump in now. Be an ambassador for Yale.

At the founding of the AYA in 1971, the mission, or as it was then called, the "major objective," of the AYA was to "develop more meaningful participation by Yale alumni in her affairs.”

The mission is alive and well.

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