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National Alumni Board provides rewarding opportunities

June 13, 2013
Jill Johnson with a group of Drake students at the 2013 Don Adams Leadership Institute.

Johnson with a group of Drake students at the 2013 Don Adams Leadership Institute.

Busy: A word that defines the lives of many Americans—especially Drake grads, who tend to have the reputation of being successful professionals and leaders in their communities. Staying connected and being an active alumnus sounds challenging, but it’s far more rewarding than you might imagine.

Jill Johnson, BN’82, GR’83, secretary of the National Alumni Association Board of Directors, hasn’t always been as connected with the University as she is today. She lost touch after graduation, focusing on her career and new life in the Twin Cities area. She reconnected more than five years ago when asked to serve as a member of the National Alumni Board.

“When I joined the National Alumni Board, I was flooded with memories of experiences that truly helped shape who I am today,” says Johnson. “I was the only person from my hometown that went to Drake, so it has been wonderful to connect with other people who share the Drake experience. When I say G.K., they know what I mean. When we talk about the library, they remember, they know. It doesn’t matter whether you were at Drake in 1960 or 2010; there is a commonality that is very transcendent of age.”

The National Alumni Board helps facilitate alumni understanding of University goals and priorities and provides a vehicle for consulting alumni on significant issues. The Board’s purpose is threefold: to provide alumni-to-alumni connections, alumni-to-Drake connections, and alumni-to-student connections.

Johnson says getting involved at the regional level is a great place to start. Staff and regional volunteers are looking for alumni to help with upcoming events like Drake Me Out to the Ball Game and DU Good Day. For more information, contact Ashley Nichols at 515-271-1947 or ashley.nichols@drake.edu.

Part of Johnson’s role on the Board is to research and identify potential new members. This spring, under the direction of Johnson and her selection committee, the National Alumni Board elected seven new members:
• David Beall, BN’81, president of the Bizability Group
• Kevin Bell, LW’11, assistant county attorney for Polk County, Iowa
• Martha Capps, JO’78, account supervisor for Hanley Wood Marketing
• Roxanne Conlin, LA’64, GR’66, GR’79, attorney, Roxanne Conlin & Associates, PC
• Chad Hoseth, AS’94, director of international initiatives and managing director of the Confucius Center, Colorado State University
• Chris McDonnell, JO’05, principal at McDonnell Wealth Management
• Dr. Brian Palmer, AS’96, senior associate consultant and associate professor, Mayo Clinic

“These individuals are representatives of all 69,000 alumni we have worldwide,” says Blake Campbell, director of alumni relations. “Serving on the Board will provide them an opportunity to speak on behalf of alumni and further strengthen the alumni experience.”

Johnson and her committee look for representation from all generations, colleges, and geographic locations. They also consider what skill set is needed on the Board. New members are often identified because of their current involvement in regional alumni groups or because of their involvement as an undergraduate leader.

“We look for individuals who have a real interest in supporting the university,” says Johnson. “This group all shares a passion for Drake. We bleed blue!”

Members of the National Alumni Board are committed to advancing the alumni experience and work hard to do so. Their time commitment is significant in comparison to other volunteer roles, but Johnson says it is well worth it.

“Serving on the National Alumni Board has been such a rich experience for me,” says Johnson. “If someone is interested in reconnecting, they shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a staff member in Alumni Relations.”