Demetria Obilor is enjoying a career in news like many other graduates from KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism. As a traffic anchor for WFAAF in Dallas, Obilor, j’13, updates viewers on the morning traffic and potential delays.
Instead of ignoring the attack, Obilor chose to respond with a public message addressing those who body shame and the discussing the overwhelmingly positive response she received. The post went viral, with thousands—including Chance the Rapper— offering their support.
Kate Feller McSwain faced a big challenge taking over as network leader for one of the largest University of Kansas alumni groups. Her hard work bringing Dallas Jayhawks together will be honored with the Dick Wintermote Network Volunteer of the Year Award, to be presented at a wine-tasting event July 26. The annual award recognizes volunteers who provided extraordinary leadership to their network.
McSwain, b’12, a fourth-generation Jayhawk, has four years experience volunteering with the Alumni Association, including serving as network leader for the past year. Fellow Dallas Network volunteer John Jacobs praised her leadership, saying she “consistently looks to empower members to lead their projects but is willing to help out herself where and when she can.”
McSwain’s work in establishing more frequent network gatherings year-round, such as the Jayhawks & Java breakfast, has impressed Nick Kallail, assistant vice president of alumni & career programs.
“The Dallas Jayhawks Network has led the way on providing compelling and diverse events that connect Jayhawks from all walks of life,” Kallail says. “Kate has been a huge part of our network growth in Dallas and was able to amplify programming even more in her first year as Network Leader. We are fortunate to have many great Jayhawk volunteers across the nation, but Kate is truly a star of stars.”
McSwain works at Match Group, a Dallas-based company that owns several online dating websites and apps including Match.com, OkCupid, and Tinder.
The award is named for Dick Wintermote, c’51, who served as the executive director of the Association from 1963 to 1983. His legacy represents the importance of building a strong volunteer network, the need for a dues-paying membership program and establishing the KU Alumni Association as one of the premier associations of graduates in the country.
Many times, members of our alumni network find themselves engaging with one another in a way that promotes personal and professional engagement. Glen Collins, c’98 , wasted no time after leaving KU to start his career as a marketing professional.
Now the marketing director and partner for Switch in Dallas, Collins sees the value of his KU experience weaving into his everyday work. Switch offers strategy, branding and digital assistance for a variety of companies: American Heart Association, Coyote Grills, Country Club Plaza, Maggiano’s Little Italy and Vim + Vigor to name a few.
We caught up with Collins to find out more about how he came to be a partner at Switch.
Tell us a little bit about your experience as a student at KU: things you were involved in, your favorite professor, your favorite traditions.
My experience at KU can be summed up in one word: transformative. The relationships, education, culture, the Midwest, Lawrence, the fraternity, live music and the cult religion that is KU basketball. It ran through my veins, and still does.
Growing up in Dallas, I knew very little about KU. Fortunately, the fraternity I joined, FIJI, on-ramped me quite well. My favorite experiences included directing Rock Chalk Revue, working at a brand new store called Hobbs on Mass Street, enjoying live music at Liberty Hall and The Bottleneck. But it’s all the filler in between that was the greatest—making friends from all over the country, reading the University Daily Kansan before class, and having awesome exchanges with professors and teaching assistants. I loved every minute of it. I had too much fun my sophomore year, and my GPA slipped so much my parents made me come home for a semester to straighten up. It was the best thing for me. I worked to save up enough money to go back, and it made me appreciate just how great it was. I never took KU for granted after that, and while I didn’t make the Dean’s List, my grades were significantly better until I graduated.
How did you meet your business partner, and how did that lead to your company?
I met my business partner, Kimi Dallman, through a friend I met at KU. That friend was Matt Dallman c’01, a great guy who was a few years younger than me in my fraternity. Matt and I originally bumped into one another at a KU Alumni Association watch party, then soon after that at an alumni happy hour. We were catching up on life and business, and he suggested that I connect with his wife, who was in a similar career as mine.
At the time, my company was a marketing consultancy supporting small to medium-sized businesses. Kimi’s company, originally Switch Creative, was a design firm focused on branding and web. A week or two later we all had lunch, and Kimi and I immediately connected and discovered the means to support each other’s businesses. We worked together for six or eight months on a number of successful projects before we started talking about merging our shops. A few months later, we merged and have grown more and more ever since. At the time of our merger, Switch had five total employees. Currently we have sixteen employees and have merged with another interactive development shop, Good Work, to grow our service offering even more.
We have had a blast running Switch, and KU is central to core of our business — both consciously and subconsciously. We’ve hosted multiple March Madness watch parties at the office, with the bell cow being Switch Sixteen (a pre-party/pep rally) that preceded KU’s sweet sixteen game in Dallas in 2013.
How do you stay connected to KU as an alumnus living in Dallas?
Fortunately I have several very close friends that I met at KU that live in the DFW area. The KU bond is real, and we often seek each other out. My best friend married a Jayhawk. One of my other best friends is on the alumni board and is very plugged in to the alumni events (watchers, happy hours, coffees). I attend as much as I can. Honestly, I would have to try to not brush up against KU friends past and present these days. And I like it that way. A lot.
What advice do you have for current KU students and graduates?
Never take it for granted. KU is a special place with a heartbeat all it’s own. It’s authentic and pure, and the relationships you develop there reflect that purity and authenticity.
For existing students: Enjoy all aspects of KU and Lawrence: slugging to class in the cold; the pageantry of game days; Day on the Hill; and the live music of Lawrence. Get a job if you can — I worked in restaurants, as an intramural referee and in a retail store. Those relationships are so meaningful to me as I was transforming from student to graduate and professional.
For graduates: Lean on the KU network. The trust tree is strong, and the reception is always warm and comfortable. Jayhawks look after Jayhawks — they really do. Seek out the community. You’re gonna watch KU hoops somewhere, so you might as well go to a watch party and do the Rock Chalk chant with strangers. Eventually some of those strangers will become relationships that are more than basketball buddies.
Tell us a little bit about the recent Dallas Network breakfast and what alumni can expect when they attend a KU event.
The Dallas Network breakfast is great. It’s very intimate and casual. You can expect to meet Jayhawks from a variety of different places, ages and careers. Often one or two Jayhawks are singled out to share their story, and specifically their business background. It’s a great time on a relational and business networking level. It will invariably lead to spin-off meetings, lunches, etc. Don’t miss it.
Jayhawks in the Dallas Network assembled Oct. 23 at the Omni Hotel for the first installment of Jayhawks on Business (JOBS), a new series that highlights the strong partnership between the Alumni Association and the School of Business.
JOBS events will feature Dean Neeli Bendapudi and local Jayhawks who can share career stories, professional advice and their perspectives on the current business landscape. In Dallas, Dean Neeli hosted a discussion with Forrest Hoglund, e’56, arguably one of the most loyal Jayhawk volunteers in recent memory. Following his graduation from the School of Engineering, Hoglund began a distinguished career in the energy industry, including many years in top management with Exxon, Texas Oil and Gas and EOG Resources. He now serves as the chairman of SeaOne Maritime Corporation, and he is a leading philanthropist through several nonprofit organizations, including his own Hoglund Foundation. For KU, Hoglund and his wife, Sally Roney Hoglund, c’56, led the successful KU First fundraising campaign for KU Endowment from 2001 to 2005. They each have received the Fred Ellsworth Medallion for their extraordinary service to KU.
During the JOBS discussion, Hoglund shared tales of his journey from the KU baseball team to the military and eventually to Texas, where he had a front-row seat for some of the wildest times in the history of America’s energy industry. He also welcomed questions from the crowd.
“Seeing his passion for his current projects was inspiring and served as a great reminder of the phenomenal Jayhawk Nation we are a part of, ” said Nick Kallail, d’04, l’07, Dallas network board member.
The event also was a prime opportunity to showcase renderings of the future home of the KU School of Business—currently under construction—as well as provide attendees an opportunity to network with fellow Jayhawks.
“It was great to hear directly from a fellow KU alumnus on what it took for him to get from the classrooms in Lawrence to operating wildly successful businesses and philanthropic foundations,” said Aaron Brinkman, j’98, a member of the Alumni Association’s national Board of Directors. “I was also left feeling proud and confident in the future of the School of Business, knowing that someone with the passion, energy and experience of Dean Neeli is at the helm of the school.”
Be on the lookout for future editions of Jayhawks on Business in other U.S. cities!
Last Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks hosted more than 60 members and guests of the KU Alumni Association’s Dallas Chapter, including seven new members, for a home game against the Phoenix Suns. The evening kicked off with exclusive courtside access to the shootaround, where Jayhawk fans watched our own Marcus and Markieff Morris go through their pregame routines. The twins smiled and waved to Rock Chalk cheers from the alumni crowd as they prepared for the important late-season matchup.
After the shootaround, a happy hour was held in the American Airlines Center restaurant and bar Pira. The Jayhawk faithful enjoyed a VIP patio area on a pleasant spring evening, with drinks and appetizers provided by the Alumni Association. Finally, it was game time—and the action did not disappoint as the Mavericks came back from an early deficit to clinch a playoff spot, 101-98, in a tense, down-to-the-wire finish. For basketball-loving Jayhawks, it was a great game and overall experience at the American Airlines Center! KU Night with the Mavericks will be a highly anticipated event on the alumni calendar in years to come.
Our ‘Hawk Days of Summer tour this summer includes a partnership with our friends at the KU Libraries. The library provides so much more than just a place to check out a book or study; they offer a lot of educational programming that appeals to Jayhawks and helps enhance our own programs.
The first joint event this summer is An Evening with Naismith: Artifacts of a KU Legend. KU basketball fans will enjoy the opportunity to view and hold artifacts from KU’s University Archives that relate to the life and legacy of James Naismith, KU’s first basketball coach and inventor of the game.
Alumni in Denver, Houston and Dallas are invited to join us for hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and an evening of KU camaraderie. The cost for each event is $15; current or incoming students can attend at no cost. We encourage you to bring potential Jayhawks to these events!
Also coming up: events that focus on KU Libraries’ rich jazz collection, including one of the largest sound archives west of the Mississippi. Stay tuned for more details about these events in Chicago, Omaha and St. Louis!
Kansas Athletics and the KU Alumni Association have partnered to bring KU football to Jayhawks across the midwest this spring! If you’re a football fan, don’t miss this opportunity to meet Coach Weis.
You might remember that last spring we hosted several events around the state of Kansas that featured the newly-hired head coach. This year, we’re expanding the events to include a number of cities outside of Kansas.
All Jayhawk alumni, fans and friends are invited to attend the events, which include free receptions, luncheons and happy hours in several cities. Sheahon Zenger, director of athletics, will also be in attendance, along with Kansas Athletics and KU Alumni Association staff members.
Here’s a list of the events, with a link to purchase tickets if there’s a cost involved:
Denver: Thurs., May 2, at Stoney’s Full Steam Tavern (free)
Topeka: Wed., May 22, at Ramada Inn Downtown Convention Center (free)
Commemorative KU football items will be available, and you’ll also have the chance to win autographed merchandise and football tickets. And, if you’re a KU Alumni Association member, be sure to show your membership card to receive a free members-only gift!
Don’t have your membership card handy? We’ve made it easy for you– our emails now include your membership status printed at the bottom, so you can show a recent email to our staff to get your gift. Not a member? Click here to join.
Click here to read about the KU football team’s spring game, held on Saturday, Apr. 13.
Can you tell the KU Alumni Association is overjoyed to be in Arlington for the Sweet 16?!
Staff members Danny Lewis, Caitlin Wise, Jacey Krehbiel, Kelsey Hill and Brad Eland worked hard to set up for today’s pregame party and pep rally at the Arlington Convention Center, and photographer Dan Storey was there to capture their excitement when the hard part was over.
Yesterday, Caitlin, Jacey and Kelsey talked to fans during the KU basketball team’s open practice to find out why they love being a Jayhawk. Watch our short video below!
What makes being a Jayhawk special for you? Email your stories and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org!
It’s nothing new for Kansas basketball players to make news in March. And while the current team resumes its place in the headlines when the Jayhawks face Michigan Friday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, twins Marcus and Markieff Morris took a turn in the spotlight Wednesday with a profile in the New York Times.
In other NBA Jayhawks news, former KU star guard Kirk Hinrich and his Chicago Bulls play the Dallas Mavericks Saturday afternoon in Dallas’ American Airlines Center. Fans and alumni in town for the NCAA Tournament might scramble for tickets, but a reunion for Hinrich and the Jayhawks appears unlikely: Should KU advance past Michigan, the Jayhawks will be practicing at Cowboys Stadium, then conducting media interviews, when the Bulls and Mavericks start their 1 p.m. game. –Chris Lazzarino
If you’re headed to Arlington this weekend for the South Regional games of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, we’ve got a few suggestions for you. Katie Cowan, s’06, shares some recommendations for dining, nightlife and other fun things to do in the metro area when you need a quick break from basketball. Katie is currently an administrative assistant to Coach Larry Brown and Southern Methodist University men’s basketball and previously spent five years working for Kansas Athletics.
If you’re looking for fine steak, seafood and wine, try Nick and Sam’s, one of Coach Brown’s favorite steakhouses. But if pizza’s more your style, don’t miss the amazing pies at Cane Rosso— their website claims they’re on a mission to bring authentic neapolitan pizza to Dallas.
A trip to the Lone Star State isn’t complete without a Tex-Mex meal, and Katie recommends the brisket quesadillas at Manny’s Uptown. Sushi lovers will appreciate the upscale Japanese restaurant Naan Sushi, and EatZi’s Market and Bakery has something for everyone, whether you want made-to-order food prepared in front of you or ready-to-go prepackaged meals, breads and pastries.
Folks who love a good mid-morning meal have a lot of great options. Katie recommends The Grape for its incredible cheeseburger– it may not sound like traditional brunch fare, but it was named Best Cheeseburger in Texas by Texas Monthly and is only served on Sunday and Monday.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area has lots of late-night options. The Ginger Man, a Texas tradition since 1985 that claims over 100 specialty beers on tap and in bottles, has locations in Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano. If you’re a fan of old-school arcade games and skeeball, don’t miss Barcadia Bar & Grill. (They also boast a life-size Jenga game and giant Connect 4!)
Renfield’s Corner is an Irish pub with a rooftop deck and beer garden; the Katy Trail Ice House claims to have the best patio in Dallas and a 50-foot long bar that has 50 beers on tap. Also, be sure to check out the official KU Alumni Association watch party sites: McKinney Avenue Tavern, affectionately referred to as “The Mat” and a well-known KU-friendly bar; Park Tavern, the newest Jayhawk watch site; Buffalo Joe’s, a neighborhood sports bar with huge TV’s; and Humperdink’s in Arlington, which is five minutes away from Cowboys Stadium.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a permanent exhibit that chronicles the life and death of President Kennedy. Current exhibits include John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation on the sixth floor and two large photomosaics of President and Mrs. Kennedy on the seventh floor.
If you’re bringing the kids, or if you just like to play games, check out Top Golf, a golf entertainment complex with golf games, 54 holes of miniature golf and batting cages.