Posted on Mar 20, 2017 in Alumni News and News
Staff members on a mission
When Nick Kallail and Danny Woods joined the Alumni Association as staff members in August 2016, their mission was simple: Grow the Association’s 59 national networks and connect more alumni with KU. Less than a year into their new roles, the two Jayhawks have found a distinct way to accomplish that.
Kallail, d’04, l’07, assistant vice president of alumni and career programs, and Woods, j’12, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs, developed a new volunteer support strategy that makes it easier for Jayhawks to volunteer their time and service and participate in alumni events across the country.
“We took everything that was already in place and put a brand on it,” says Woods.
That meant funneling popular alumni events like watch parties, networking breakfasts and community service projects into clear, concise categories, or “buckets.” They are:
- Crimson & Blue Views, which unite alumni and friends to watch televised KU games;
- Hawk Happenings, which gather Jayhawks to enjoy live sports and entertainment events;
- Rock Chalk Cultivate, which gives alumni the opportunity to learn a new skill—often from other Jayhawks;
- KU Cares, which rally Jayhawks to give their time and service to a community cause; and
- Rock Chalk Connect, which provides networking opportunities for alumni.
A few of the more memorable events Kallail and Woods have organized in the past year include a KU vs. Iowa State men’s basketball watch party for 180 Jayhawks at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle and a toy drive in Tampa, Florida, that raised more than $2,000 in gifts for foster families.
New roles for volunteers
The two also created new designations for alumni volunteers who serve their networks. Instead of assigning traditional titles like president, vice president, treasurer and secretary, Kallail and Woods developed roles based on the volunteers’ primary responsibilities in their respective Jayhawk communities, including social media and event coordinators and admissions and legislative liaisons.
“We wanted to empower more people within the network,” says Woods.
Communication is key
Each alumni network maintains its own Facebook page to promote local events and share photos and updates. Network leaders also share a private Facebook page, which Kallail notes is a great way for networks to learn what other Jayhawks are doing across the country and discuss best practices for alumni engagement.
“I look at our network leaders as a family,” Kallail says. “They need to know each other and see what others are doing.”
Preparing future leaders
Also important to Kallail and Woods is preparing current KU students to become active alumni when they leave the Hill. The two meet regularly with the Student Alumni Leadership Board and other student groups in KU Admissions, Endowment and Athletics. They also are planning an event to introduce students to the Lawrence alumni network.
As evidenced by the enthusiastic turnouts and strong alumni response to events in the past few months, Kallail and Woods are confident they’re on the right track.
“This isn’t a new plan,” Kallail says. “The house was already built; we’re just tricking it out.”