Topics ranged from elections and finances to what alumni want to get out of the Ford Scholar Alumni Association during the annual FSAA General Meeting on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Stoel Rives law firm office in the Standard Insurance Center in Portland, Ore.
President Mary Chuinard opened the meeting by reading the FSAA mission statement and saying that one of our biggest challenges is to keep all alumni engaged and to foster the family that The Ford Family Foundation set up for us, reminding attendees that all alumni are automatically members of the FSAA once they graduate from college.
Five members attended the meeting remotely by using the new Jambox technology. Board Member at Large Toni Kelich was absent.
Other attendees included Kirsten Yamada, Class of 2005; Marshall Curry, Class of 2009; former board member Eric Collins, Class of 1995; Scholarship Office Staff Assistant Shauna Harper, Class of 2007; and Ford Scholar Alumni News Editor Holly Scholz, Class of 1998.
Vice President Logan Smith noted that board elections are underway, adding that elections occur every spring, and members serve two years. “It has been challenging to get members to run,” Smith said. “You don’t need a degree in organizational management!”
Member at Large Leana Dickerson posed these questions in regard to our organization: What do you want to get out of your experience with the alumni association? What would you like to see? What do you expect from the board?
Curry, who admitted to being the youngest alumnus in attendance, said he wants to get to know other alumni and network with others.
A great deal of discussion followed about how to network. The Foundation offers a directory on MyFordInfo.org that contains contact information of all scholarship recipients. It was agreed that it would be more helpful if the password-protected site were more user-friendly and updated to include items such as being interested in mentoring and how to contact members in your area and those with similar careers. The Scholarship Office and the FSAA need to further discuss the feasibility and site capability for the proposed upgrade.
As a board member, Collins conducted a survey and concluded that alumni were not interested in going to events but wanted to network. “Scholars are untapped resources,” he said, adding that he recently graduated from law school and likes the idea of networking with other lawyers.
Dickerson and Member at Large Chris Schulze provided an update on the Mentoring Committee. The goal is for alumni to offer career, graduate school or internship mentoring to other Ford Scholars.
“We might want to change the name of the Mentoring Committee to something like ‘Connections,’” he said.
Networking reminds alumni of the summer conferences, so the idea of putting on another alumni conference surfaced. Schulze acknowledged that planning a conference is not only expensive, but is a huge time commitment for the board. An alumni conference will not be held in the near future, but many liked the idea of an informal gathering.
Chuinard summarized the networking discussion by stating the following goals:
1. Connect with other alumni.
2. Build connections by holding events throughout the year.
3. Look at our alma maters and connect in those communities specifically.
4. Have a consistent annual meeting to continue the tradition of the annual conference.
After a pizza lunch, Member at Large Rob Teel reported on the January MLK Day of Service events that only a handful of alumni attended. Everyone seemed to agree that alumni should be encouraged to find volunteer opportunities within their own communities. The FSAA Events Committee will continue to use volunteer organizations such as Hands On Greater Portland and SOLV to join work parties.
Finances were last on the agenda. Due to other obligations, Ryan Hildebrand no longer serves as FSAA treasurer. Member at Large Toni Kelich was voted in as treasurer at the October 2013 board meeting. Chuinard gave the treasurer’s report in her place and applauded Kelich for her efforts. The FSAA has about $7,500 – all from donations – and is used for events and outreach to increase alumni participation.