The Wisconsin Alumni Association is offering University of Wisconsin-Madison grads the opportunity to learn about volunteer management, effective communications and leadership skills at the Alumni Volunteer Leadership Conference this fall.
"Badger alumni are an incredibly strong network, and having the chance to spend time together is very special."
Mariah Terhaar ’09, President, Bay Area Badgers
Kicking off Homecoming Weekend, the conference will feature group discussions and presentations by alumni experts such as Forward under 40 Award honoree Casey Rotter ’05, founder of UNICEF's Next Generation at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
One way in which many alumni stay connected to the university is through their local WAA chapters. Mariah Terhaar ’09, president of the Bay Area Badgers chapter in San Francisco, says she looks forward to connecting with alumni leaders from across the country this fall.
“I attended the conference last year, and it was incredibly valuable to make connections with other chapter leaders,” Terhaar says. “To be able to absorb all this information to take back to our team in California is useful as well as energizing. And afterward, we’re always geared up with new excitement and tools to use for continuing to connect alumni in the Bay Area back to the university.”
Terhaar served in AmeriCorps for two years in Washington and Alaska before moving to San Francisco. She says she immediately reached out to the local chapter in the hopes of growing a new Badger network.
“It’s in large part due to that network that the Bay Area felt like home so quickly,” she says. “It’s been a privilege to work with such great alumni who are just as passionate about UW-Madison as the day they graduated.”
Another way for alumni to give back to their alma mater is through sharing memories, as well as pride in today’s UW-Madison, with prospective students.
Jessica Gracon of the UW-Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment says the university’s alumni admissions volunteer program can have significant impact on the tough decisions families make when deciding where to attend college.
“Volunteers are excited to speak with students and parents about the positive experiences they had at UW-Madison, and how the UW made them successful in their current stage in life,” Gracon explains. “While we have facts and figures, alumni can share first-hand how they grew on campus, as well as what students can look forward to.”
Gracon hopes to show conference attendees how alumni can contribute to the well-being of the university through enrollment and admissions efforts, and provide techniques to train alumni in engaging with families.
“It’s a fun environment to be in,” Gracon says. “Whether speaking with prospective students one on one at a college fair, or presenting as part of panel, it’s a great way to get involved and engage with their alma mater, and support local students, too.”
“We remain a very competitive institution and are proud to attract very talented, well-rounded students,” she adds. “Alumni take pride in the strength of UW-Madison’s academics.”
While the focus of the conference is enhancing volunteer management, the additional emphases on leadership skills, more effective communication techniques and how to run more efficient meetings will valuable professional development lessons for anyone in the workforce.