As a local and national KU volunteer, Camille Bribiesca Nyberg is known for her warmth, dedication and hospitality—qualities that earned her a 2017 Dick Wintermote Volunteer of the Year Award. As her hometown Wichita Network alumni gather this week for the 15th annual Jayhawk Roundup, Alumni Association president Heath Peterson will honor Nyberg, c’96, g’98, who has contributed countless hours to the Roundup and, with her husband, Glenn, ’79, chaired the event in 2014 and 2015.
Nyberg’s guidance was critical for Danielle Lafferty Hoover, c’07, when she joined the Association staff in 2015 as assistant director of Wichita programs. “Camille was instrumental when I first began my role,” says Hoover, who is now director of donor relations and Wichita programs. “She spent a lot of time helping me get to know the other volunteers and network board members. Anyone who knows Camille would agree that she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.”
As a new KU graduate, Nyberg left her home state to live in Dallas, where she quickly became involved in the local network, helping to host alumni and athletic events and Jayhawk Generations picnics for new freshmen and their families. Her fellow alumni nominated her to serve on the Association’s National Board of Directors, which she joined in 2009. Nyberg led the Association as national chair from 2014-’15, shortly after she moved back to her hometown. Back in Wichita, she attended numerous activities in addition to the Roundup, and she hosted events for alumni mentors and Wichita North High School students through the Helpful Alumni Working for KU (HAWK) Mentor Program with KU’s Office of Admissions.
Peterson, d’04, g’09, credits Nyberg for strengthening the Wichita Network: “Camille has invested considerable time in our events. Thanks to her efforts, KU has a much more visible and active presence in the largest city in Kansas.”
Nyberg was one of three alumni in 2017 to receive the annual award named for Dick Wintermote, j’51, who served as the Association’s executive director from 1963 to 1983 and helped establish the strong Jayhawk tradition of volunteering to help alumni and current students as well as prospective Jayhawks. The other winners were Kate Feller McSwain, b’12, who leads the Dallas Network, and Brandon Petz, b’06, g’07, who leads the Lawrence Network.
About the Award
This annual award recognizes network volunteers who demonstrate extraordinary leadership to their network and the KU Alumni Association during a one-year period (July 1-June 30). An internal staff committee within the KU Alumni Association consisting of those who work closest with volunteers meets each year to decide on award winners.
In recognition of their service to Wichita-area alumni, Jerry and Lucy Burtnett will be presented with the Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award, affectionately known as the “Millie” award, at Jayhawk Roundup on April 13.
Jerry, p’69, and Lucy have helped organize the Jayhawk Roundup since 2006, and they hosted the event in 2011 and 2012. KU Alumni Association president Heath Peterson thanked the Burtnetts for giving “a tremendous amount of sweat equity to Jayhawk Roundup, both serving on the volunteer committee and later as chairs of the event.”
Danielle Hoover, director of donor relations and Wichita programs, echoed Peterson’s praise, stating the Burtnetts “are some of the hardest working volunteers I have ever worked with. They’ve spent many, many hours helping set up, decorate and clean up the Murfin Stables for Jayhawk Roundup.”
“We got involved because of our local KU contacts and wanted to help,” said Jerry. “Working with our KU friends was very enjoyable and we continue to help with Roundup.”
The Burtnetts, who are Life Members of the KU Alumni Association, now split their time between Wichita and Florida.
The Burtnetts as “event chairs” at the 2011 Halloween-themed Jayhawk Roundup
About the award
The Mildred Clodfelter Alumni Award was created in 1987 to thank alumni and friends for sustained volunteer service to the University at the local level. The award honors Mildred Clodfelter, b’41, who worked for the University for 47 years, including 42 at the Alumni Association.
With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Jayhawk fans came out in full force. More than 70 watch parties around the country brought Jayhawks together in bars and restaurants from Ann Arbor to Washington, D.C. The game lived up to the hype, with KU defeating Duke in an instant classic. Check out some photos of just a few of the watch parties!
The Richmond ’Hawks wave the wheat at Carolina Ale House.
The Boise Jayhawks had a record turnout, with 35+ fans gathering to see the big game.
The Charlotte Jayhawks were deep in enemy territory, but that didn’t stop them from Rock Chalking it up after a big win over the home state’s Blue Devils!
Washington, D.C. fans fill Mackey’s for big games, but an Elite Eight game calls for a full Jayhawk takeover.
The Tampa Jayhawk Alumni Network is ready for the Final Four.
Seattle Jayhawks celebrate KU being Final Four bound!
The San Antonio Jayhawks were hopeful for a KU win, and now they get to welcome Jayhawks from everywhere to their city.
Keep an eye out for information on pep rallies and other festivities in San Antonio, as well as watch parties in a network near you! Visit our ’Hawks ’n Hoops postseason hub for more details.
After 19 different events in 16 different cities, the first KU Cares Month of Service brought Jayhawks closer to the communities they call home.
The KU Alumni Association set out to have participants in the Month of Service share the spirit of Thanksgiving by giving back, both in their networks and in the KU community.
A portion of all membership dues collected during the month of November was earmarked for the Wounded Warrior scholarship fund. Thanks to the generosity of those who joined, renewed, or donated, more than $5,500 will be given to the scholarship fund that helps qualified veterans and their family pursue their education at KU.
Continuing on the theme of an earlier post, we wanted to highlight some of the events where Jayhawks made a difference.
Wichita: Ronald McDonald House
Members of the Wichita Jayhawk Network came together to help those staying in the Ronald McDonald house. Volunteers brought, prepared and served dinner to the families with children in nearby hospitals.
Milwaukee: Fill the Freezer
Local KU alumni joined forces with the United Way to fight hunger at the first annual “Fill the Freezer” event. Network leader Jay Craig, b’85 g’87, brought area Jayhawk volunteers together with local chefs to prepare frozen meals for those in transitional housing and family support programs.
Phoenix: St. Vincent De Paul’s Watkins Kitchen
More than 15 Jayhawks gave their Saturday morning to prepare meals for the homeless at St. Vincent De Paul’s Watkins Kitchen. Phoenix Network Leader Chris Colyer, b’04 l’09, thanked everyone for representing KU and showing compassion for their community.
San Antonio: Haven for Hope
Area alumni put on their Jayhawk gear, along with aprons and gloves, and served food to those in need in downtown San Antonio. Network leader Morgan Bertram, d’02, thanked those who helped feed 383 at Haven for Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless find a new beginning.
While the KU Cares Month of Service is over, Jayhawks can get together to give time and talents to their communities anytime! Visit the KU Cares page for more information, and reach out to your local network leaders. View our Flickr album of these events and more from the KU Cares Month of Service:
While many University of Kansas alumni head to local game watch parties to feel like they’re back home in Lawrence, one family came to see if Lawrence was home.
Curtis Rach of Orange County, California, says he always pushed his kids to explore things outside of their home state. So when his son Davis was choosing a college, he had narrowed it down to two choices: follow his twin brother to Auburn, or strike out on his own at KU. To help him make the decision, Curtis took Davis to a local watch party for KU’s tournament game against Purdue last season.
Rach reached out to Ramy Rahman, b’09, Orange County Network leader, beforehand and told him about his plans. When he arrived at the watch party with Davis, they both were more than impressed with the hospitality.
“When people at the event heard he was thinking about KU, they all came up, introduced themselves, and told us stories about their experience at KU,” Rach said.
Both alumni and current students on spring break took time to meet Davis and his father. “What helped with the decision for him was how warm and inviting everyone was, and that they were so passionate about KU,” Rach explained.
The camaraderie and excitement of KU watch parties may have surprised the Rach family, but Danny Woods, assistant director of legacy and alumni programs, knows it well.
“The goal of watch parties is to provide a venue in which alumni can gather and feel like they’re back on campus for a big game,” Woods said. “When you graduate you’re still yearning for that experience. ”
He added that watch parties are like the “front porch” of KU alumni events. “They are often the first alumni gathering that people attend, and it opens the door for them to attend other events in their area.”
Davis carried through on his promise and is now a freshman at KU.
Interested in finding a watch party near you? Visit our website for a list of watch sites by state, and check out the online calendar for official watch parties organized by alumni networks.
As the KU Cares Month of Service continues, the pictures and stories from the events are rolling in. We’re sharing a few from the first events to show how Jayhawks are making a difference in their communities. Visit the KU Cares Month of Service homepage to learn how you can participate in giving back to those in need.
Portland: Friends of Trees
The Portland Jayhawks joined forces with other volunteers on a misty Saturday afternoon to plant more than 200 trees in southeast Portland. Network volunteer Meg Viezbicke, c’97, organized the event and praised Friends of Trees for helping ensure the Jayhawks could be involved. Friends of Trees, a local nonprofit, aims to to inspire community stewardship of the area’s urban forest by planting and caring for trees in both neighborhoods and green spaces.
Seattle: Food Lifeline
Network volunteer Deanna Marks, b’16 e’16, brought together 10 Seattle Jayhawks who donned aprons and hairnets over their KU gear and packed 1,420 meals for their community at Food Lifeline, a nonprofit that provides meals to residents of Western Washington. Food Lifeline is a member of Feeding America, a nationwide network of over 200 food banks.
Tampa Bay: Feeding America
The Tampa Bay ’Hawks also partnered with Feeding America by collecting over 100 pounds of food. Network leader Chris Longino, b’06, thanked those who brought donations to their watch site for football and basketball watch parties. “I am always impressed with the generosity and goodwill of the Jayhawk Nation,” Longino said. “Hopefully, we can plan many future opportunities for our KU group to give back to our adopted Tampa Bay community.”
San Diego: Sunset Cliffs beach cleanup
San Diego Jayhawks spent a Saturday morning by the ocean, but instead of lounging in the sun they opted to beautify the beach. Network volunteer Stephanie Shehi, b’86, partnered with the San Diego Coastkeeper organization, which helps keep Sunset Cliffs Park clean and beautiful for the community. The network picked up 20 pounds of trash, enjoyed stunning views, and heard lots of “Rock Chalks” from bystanders.
The easiest way to participate in the KU Cares Month of Service is to join or renew your Alumni Association membership. During the month of November, a portion of all dues will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Scholarship Fund. Join, renew, or upgrade your membership to participate in this initiative!
With volunteers all across America, it takes a lot for one in KU’s backyard to stand out. Brandon Petz does that and more for local alumni as the Lawrence Network leader. The KU Alumni Association is proud to name Petz, b’06 g’07, a Dick Wintermote Network Volunteer of the Year Award recipient. The annual award recognizes volunteers who brought extraordinary leadership to their network.
“I am so honored to be named a Wintermote Award recipient. All the years volunteering for various networks has been so much fun and I cherish being a part of the KU Alumni Association and all it stands for,” Petz said.
Uniting local alumni
Petz’s work to bring together a group of alumni that already feels connected to the University due to their proximity to campus has impressed many inside the Alumni Association.
“Brandon Petz has gone above and beyond to revamp the Lawrence Network in the shape of the new alumni network strategy,” said Nick Kallail, assistant vice president of alumni and network programs. “He has recruited a team that have provided diverse events and continues to move forward engaging alums to make KU better. This is no easy task in Lawrence, where opportunities to connect with KU are so plentiful.”
Fellow Lawrence network volunteer Tom Larkin, a’09, echoed Kallail’s comments, noting Petz’s enthusiasm for KU “that clearly started before he became president of our Lawrence network. He’s extremely organized and focused, and has a knack for getting everybody energized about the current mission or task at hand. His leadership and positive disposition makes him a joy the be around and a true asset to the Association.”
Petz, a Cimarron, Kansas, native, lives in Lawrence with his wife, Bonnie, and his daughter, Eleanor. Petz is chief financial officer of Grandstand Glassware and Apparel, a local custom screenprinting company that specializes in glassware and apparel.
About the award
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.
With the Houston floods receding, local Jayhawks are mobilizing to get to work.
The Houston Jayhawks Facebook group has been active with posts from Houston residents asking for help, with even more posts by locals asking how they can help. With their positive energy and willingness to get their hands dirty, Jayhawks assisted the family of Allyn Risley, e’72, 2016 Fred Ellsworth medallion recipient. Risley’s step-daughter, Erica Frost, sustained serious flooding at her house. Frost’s sister, Natalie Morgan, j’06, reached out to the Facebook group from her home in Kansas City.
Morgan’s request for help for her sister was met with multiple Houston-area Jayhawks joining friends and family of Frost for a day of hard work removing damaged flooring and drywall. The altruism of the group of alumni impressed Frost, who even overheard a friend say “the Houston Jayhawks must have some sort of emergency whistle that they sound, because they all showed up and jumped right in!”
Watch party for a cause
Megan Gile, c’11, organized the annual watch party for the first KU football game, but knew she had to add something to give back to their community.
“We decided to host our annual football kickoff watch party to add a piece of normalcy to Houston,” Gile said. “It’s an event we host every year and even with the hurricane and terrible flooding across Texas and Houston, it’s important to stay united and give everyone something to look forward too. We added the donation drive as way for Houston Jayhawks to give back to Houstonians. Beyond donating their time, donating items for shelters is a great way for Houston Jayhawks to give back.”
The Houston Jayhawks set up a donations box at their alumni bar and asked attendees to fill the box with new socks and underwear.
“The watch party and donation drive was incredibly successful,” Gile said. “We had Jayhawks drive in from all across Houston to attend. More profoundly, regulars at Coaches Pub, our alumni bar in Houston, left the bar and returned with donation items once they found out what we were doing. Houstonians, Jayhawk or not, are really banding together to help each other during this time of need.”
When asked about the strong turnout and even stronger support for the people of Houston, Megan pointed to their alma mater.
“I think it’s about helping our own and how our bond as Kansas alumni is different. Being in a state so far from home for most of us, as most of us are not Texas natives, we really stick together and are proud to be Jayhawks. We are proud to be Kansas alumni and proud to be Houstonians, helping anyway we can. Come hell or high water, we will get through this.”
In order to better serve the students of the University of Kansas, the KU Alumni Association’s student program is evolving from the Student Alumni Association to the Student Alumni Network.
Replacing the term “association” with “network” highlights a renewed focus on connecting KU students with the vast network of KU alumni around the world. In addition to the name change, Student Alumni Network memberships are now free for all KU degree-seeking students due to support from KU Endowment.
With the networks of over 28,000 students and 300,000 alumni around the world available, the Student Alumni Network will help students develop their own professional networks for career advice and opportunities long before they leave the Hill.
“As the largest student group and the premiere networking organization on the KU campus, the rebrand of the Student Alumni Association is a precursor to a much more robust plan to launch new programs to foster high-level career connections across industries,” Heath Peterson, KU Alumni Association President, said. “The effort will include a dynamic KU alumni mentoring platform, programs featuring industry leaders across the country, new internship pipelines and job connections, enhanced career data, and new partnerships across the KU enterprise.”
In addition to these new and upcoming initiatives, traditional Student Alumni Network events such as Home Football Fridays and Finals Dinners will be offered to all students, and the Student Alumni Leadership Board will continue to serve as the student representatives of the KU Alumni Association.
To activate a student membership, simply complete the online activation form, download the KU Alumni mobile app and register, or attend any of the numerous SAN events throughout the year.
The pair of KU Alumni Association program staffers are looking at potential growth cities as part of their goal of unique and diverse programming across the nation. Their itinerary included visits to Atlanta, Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Phoenix, and New York City.
Kallail, d’04, l’07, and Woods, j’13, hosted a meeting at each stop to connect existing network leaders with new area volunteers. They introduced their plan for successful networks to the group, and then let the local alumni plan amongst themselves.
“We really want to empower all of the network leaders,” Woods said. “These leaders know their network way better than we ever could. We just want to give them the tools to build a successful network and let them run with it. This will ultimately help the network sustain and grow for years to come.”
One of the main goals of the network visits was to promote planning events in all of the five event buckets such as Rock Chalk Connect, which provides networking opportunities, and Rock Chalk Cultivate, which gives alumni the opportunity to learn a new skill—often from other Jayhawks.
“For our network moving forward, I would like to see the meeting’s enthusiasm to continue,” Brandon Snook, New York City network leader, said. “I want us to fully embrace the new event branding, which I love…especially KU Cares. It will be a great way for us to give back to the community, and strengthen our bonds in the process. I hope the new branding will be a springboard for our network board, and that everyone involved won’t be hesitant in popping out fresh new ideas for programming.”
Kallail and Woods also introduced a new structure for network leadership. Instead of traditional roles such as president, vice president, and treasurer, networks will have leaders who manage event buckets. “I like the concept of having a group with individuals focused on different areas of outreach for the Alumni Association,” Scott Lundgren, Portland network leader, said.
After the planning meeting, other local Jayhawks joined for a happy hour. Both Snook and fellow New York City network leader Kellie Johnson were pleased with their meeting. “We assembled a nice variety of people who seem enthusiastic to lead,” Snook said.
Wherever they went, Kallail and Woods were excited to see the networks’ turnout. Johnson has a theory why.
“I think KU alumni attend the events to keep that special connection alive. I’ve met several people from other schools who have noted that KU alumni are the most loyal they have ever met. One told me he doesn’t get involved with his alumni because he left nothing there – and when I asked him to clarify – he said it was clear all of us had left our hearts in Lawrence.”