2020 Strategic Direction
A Letter from the Strategic Planning Committee
The Association Board of Directors began the work of developing the next strategic direction for the Association in the fall of 2014. We looked at the facts about the membership and the programs. We provided an opportunity for Association staff and for volunteers serving in key functions on Association committees, councils, and task forces to share their opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of the organization’s work and the challenges and opportunities faced.
We based our work on three important characteristics of the Association—an organization that is historic, extremely diverse, and growing. The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College has rich historic roots, beginning with the Memorandum Society created by Mary Lyon in 1837 and officially becoming a nonprofit organization in 1923. The Association membership is, by every measure, diverse—and increasingly global—yet united by the shared experience, values, culture, and traditions of a Mount Holyoke College education. The Association membership is growing in number, with increased class sizes at the College and alumnae leading longer lives.
Our intent is to build on the wonderful traditions and incredible connection most alumnae feel for the College and for each other while expanding on—and offering innovation in— the ways we connect with alumnae in the twenty-first century and continuing to strengthen and solidify the Association’s partnership with the College.
We look forward to working with the staff, our College partners, our incredibly committed alumnae volunteers, and the entire Association membership to achieve the strategic goals described here.
—Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College Strategic Planning Committee
Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College Strategic Planning Committee
Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67, Chair, President, Alumnae Association
Julianne Trabucchi Puckett ’91, Vice President, Alumnae Association
Lyndy Dean Alexander ’80, Treasurer and Chair, Alumnae Association Finance Committee
Ashanta N. Evans-Blackwell ’95, Clerk, Alumnae Association
Shannon Dalton Giordano ’91, Chair, Alumnae Association Communications Committee
Nancy Bellows Perez ’76, Strategic Planning Consultant, Alumnae Association
Jane E. Zachary, Executive Director, Alumnae Association
In the fall of 2014, with the Association strategic plan 2010–2015 in its final year, the board embarked on a process to review accomplishments, understand the current state of the organization, and agree upon major strategic goals for the next five-year period. Our intent was to identify several strategic priorities, along with clear objectives, to set the direction for Association work over the next five years. We deliberately did not create detailed action plans five years out, understanding the critical need for flexibility in today’s world. This document describes the strategic framework we will use to establish priorities about the allocation of financial, staff, and volunteer resources as we strive to achieve our mission of connecting Mount Holyoke College alumnae with each other and with the College. Annual work plans for staff and volunteers will be set within this strategic framework.
The board of the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College engaged in a common approach to strategic planning for nonprofit organizations, starting with information gathering and assessment, moving to plan development, and ending in plan implementation. A subcommittee of the Association board was established to lead the work. An alumna volunteer with significant experience in business strategic planning joined the committee to facilitate and lead the process.
The information-gathering process began with reviewing facts about the current state of the Association membership and programming activities. We also engaged in an exercise, first with the board, clarifying members’ thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of the Association as well as the opportunities and threats it faces (a SWOT analysis).
We then gave fourteen groups, primarily of active volunteers and totaling more than one-hundred people, the opportunity to engage in a SWOT exercise as well, seeking to surface common themes and issues from those who work on the wide variety of activities of the Association. The groups included the ten Association committees, key young alumnae, Association staff, the European Alumnae Council, and informal group leaders attending the Asian Alumnae Symposium.
We also reviewed the Association mission and vision and clarified its purpose, working with the Association Communications Committee to strengthen wording.
As the work progressed, the Global Strategy Task Force was established to provide guidance and recommendations to ensure that the new strategic direction is inclusive of and relevant to the growing number of international alumnae.
The vision and mission statements and the SWOT discussions served as the context for the strategic planning committee as it then developed goals, objectives, and strategies for the Association’s work for the next five years. At various points in the process, we informally shared our thinking with others, including the group of Association past presidents. We continually asked the following key questions:
- How do we expand and evolve the ways we connect alumnae to each other and to the College?
- How do we tap into our alumnae network for critical College initiatives?
Finally, we developed a roadmap for key strategies across the next five years, demonstrating
our plan for a phased implementation of work.
Global Strategy Task Force
Katherine S. Hunter ’75, Chair, Director-at-large, Alumnae Association Board of Directors
Ann Blake ’85, Alumna Trustee, Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees, 2012–2017
Eleanor Chang ’78, Chairwoman, 2014 Asia Symposium Organizing Committee
Barbara Schmidt ’69, Chair, Mount Holyoke European Alumnae Council
Marion Ntiru ’02
Maya D’Costa, Director of Regional Engagement, Alumnae Association
Who We Are Today
The Association has deep, historic roots. Mary Lyon founded the forerunner to the Association— the Memorandum Society—in 1837. Its purpose was to focus on the permanence of the institution, the future well-being of its students, and group solidarity for alumnae. In 1923 the Association incorporated as a nonprofit, independent of the College and with its own board of directors. Unlike many other alumni associations, it remains so today, providing a strong independent voice in support of the College and protecting the legacy and vision of Mary Lyon. Our long history provides strong values, a shared culture, and meaningful traditions that resonate deeply with alumnae.
From the beginning Mount Holyoke alumnae have worked to sustain the College, financially and through their volunteerism. Each year more than two thousand alumnae volunteers work in a variety of roles with the Alumnae Association and various offices and academic departments of the College. Some examples of important roles include serving on committees, leading local clubs, leading class activities, and organizing and presenting at various events, conferences, and symposia.
Throughout the development of the strategic direction, our goal has been to represent the broad and diverse group of women who comprise more than 36,000 living alumnae. The alumnae population has grown from 15,000 in 1970 to 36,322 in 2015. This growth is the result of two significant factors: the College has expanded class sizes and alumnae are living longer.
In 2015, the alumnae membership is extraordinarily diverse on every measure.
BY GEOGRAPHY: Although almost 90 percent of all alums live in the US— specifically in the Northeast and north Middle-Atlantic states—alumnae are spread out across the US and the world. The population of alumnae living outside the US has tripled since 1975 (from 868 to 2,670).
BY AGE AND GENERATION: Alumnae range in age from 20 to 106.
BY RACE/ETHNICITY: The Alumnae Association has information about race and ethnicity for 81 percent of its membership. This information was self reported during the college application process and reflects the categories used at that time. In terms of race, just less than 60 percent indicated they were white, 6 percent Asian, and
4 percent black. In terms of ethnicity, just less than 3 percent of alumnae indicated that they were Hispanic/Latina.
BY PROFESSION: Mount Holyoke women work in all sectors.
Currently, the primary points of connection for alumnae with each other are by graduating class and by geographic club. The Association engages with alumnae in three core ways:
EVENTS AND PROGRAMS
– Reunion, classes, clubs, and special-interest groups
– Events worldwide and on campus
– Volunteer boards and committees
TARGETED, RELEVANT CONTENT
– Alumnae Quarterly (print): ~32,000 circulation
– Association website, email, video (digital): ~25,000 alumnae email addresses
– Social media (social): ~20,000 followers
PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
– Online Alumnae Directory
– Career Directory
Across the SWOT exercises, there was considerable consensus about the Association’s strengths, challenges, opportunities, and threats.
STRENGTHS: AlumnaearepassionateaboutandcommittedtotheCollegeandtheAlumnaeAssociation. Alumnae embody characteristics that are a direct result of their education at the College (motivated, “roll up your sleeves,”accomplished,engaged).There is love for connection, and attendance at Reunion and other events is strong. The Alumnae Association is an independent voice and has been since the founding of the College.
CHALLENGES: There is a lack of understanding about the Association and the role it plays as well as about the difference between the Association and the College. Alumnae are diverse, in the broadest sense, requiring a wide range of approaches to engagement. The Alumnae Association tends to be northeast US-centric, while the Association’s membership is increasingly global.
OPPORTUNITIES: The change to a new, more sophisticated data management system for the alumnae profile on the Association website provides an opportunity to understand and strengthen our data as well as to clarify who we are and what we do, and re-engage alumnae through a communication campaign. There is an opportunity to partner with the College around key initiatives such as a global strategy and The Lynk.
THREATS: There is always a need to explain and support the importance and relevance of a liberal arts education at a women’s college in the twenty-first century.
The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College 2020
The board’s work culminated in a strong sense of direction for the next five years. We are committed to staying true to the Association’s core purpose and history while expanding the opportunities available to alumnae for connecting with each other and with the College, capitalizing on new technologies.
VISION:The Alumnae Association connects the global community of Mount Holyoke women with each other and the College as we create meaningful change in the world.
MISSION:The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College is an independent organization providing diverse programs, expertise, and resources to foster lifelong learning and empower alumnae to connect with each other and the College.
Specific to the work of the Global Strategy Task force, our Vision statement means that the Alumnae Association’s goals and objectives reflect an increasingly diverse worldwide alumnae population and that the Association is unified, inclusive, and global in representation, operations, communications, image, and style.
Likewise, our Mission means that the Alumnae Association: 1) embraces the global diversity of its members; 2) reflects the increased geographic mobility of alumnae; 3) promotes opportunities of alumnae worldwide for lifelong learning, professional growth, and intellectual connections; and 4) promotes opportunities for alumnae worldwide for lifespan connections.
Strategic Priorities: Build, Grow, Forge, Serve
By 2020, the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College will achieve the following goals:
- Build awareness about the Association and clarity about its work
- Grow the base of connected alumnae through innovative approaches
- Forge a powerful partnership with the College
- Serve as a strong, independent voice in support of a Mount Holyoke education
To accomplish our goals we’ve identified strategies—our path forward—for each of these four strategic priorities along with clear objective(s) against which we will measure success on an annual basis. For each strategic priority listed below, we’ve added footnotes to indicated specific references to the recommendations of the Global Strategy Task Force (GSTF).
STRATEGIC GOAL 1: Build awareness about the Association and clarity about its work
Today, there is a lack of understanding about the Association and the role it plays as well as about the differences between the Association and the College. This lack of understanding exists at many levels, specifically, across the broad and diverse group of women who comprise our more than 36,000 living alumnae as well as across the many stakeholders within the College, from senior administration to faculty and staff to trustees. We will develop an overall communication plan tailored to the various stakeholders of the Association with a goal of educating and communicating how the Association is relevant to alumnae across the spectrum of their lives as well as to the members of the broader College community. Since there is currently no single indicator to measure awareness and understanding among our stakeholders, a preliminary task will be to develop indicator(s) against which we can measure awareness and understanding on an annual basis.
By 2020 we will increase awareness and understanding among our stakeholders with a measure to be designed by 2017.
- Develop and implement an overall communication plan to our stakeholders as detailed and prioritized in a stakeholder analysis.
- Use existing channels (print, website, social media, email) to communicate about our work to the membership.1
- Clarify and communicate the ways in which the Association is relevant to alumnae across the spectrum of
their life stages.2
- Develop indicators to measure awareness and understanding among our stakeholders and review results annually.
1 Use internationally understood language reflective of the worldwide membership.
2 As it relates to the GSTF, this implies the need to encourage alumnae participation that reflects the reality, diversity, and changing patterns in women’s lives across the world.
STRATEGIC GOAL 2: Grow the base of connected alumnae through innovative approaches
Today alumnae are more diverse than at any time in the history of the College. To effectively reach out to our diverse constituents requires a wide range of approaches to engagement. The Association’s membership is increasingly global, so we can no longer depend solely on the traditional methods of in-person engagement that alumnae have grown to cherish to foster a sense of community and loyalty back to the College. The time is ripe to explore new technologies that will facilitate alumnae participation virtually as well as physically, connecting alumnae across the globe and thus redefining the traditional definitions of “events” and “clubs.” Finally there is an abundance of alumnae data in various repositories and formats, creating a great need for a new, more sophisticated data management system for alumnae information that the Alumnae Association can own and manage on behalf of the College community. As these changes occur over the next five years, this will necessitate a review and clarification of the organizational structure of the Association as well a review of the roles of Alumnae Association staff with those of volunteers of the Association.
- Increase the number of registered users in our online system from 50 percent to 70 percent by 2020.
- Pilot new approaches to connect alumnae, implementing with two unique groups annually.
Reinforce an inclusive culture and implement strategies for global connection, recognizing the strength of a diverse alumnae population.3
- Define and implement a strategy for acquiring critical, up-to-date information from alumnae, serving as the trusted source of information on Mount Holyoke alumnae.
- Define and communicate the wide range of values and benefits to alumnae of being connected, ensuring they understand how to get the most out of the network.
- Redefine “events” and expand the definition of “clubs” through exploring and testing new technologies and mechanisms for connecting to each other. 4
- Review and evolve the organizational structure of the Association, if needed.5
- Better define and align the roles of Alumnae Association staff with the roles of volunteers.
3 Recommendations specific to the GSTF include: 1) use technology and social media to enhance global connections; 2) promote global connections that take advantage of Mount Holyoke traditions that are common bonds among a more geographically diverse, mobile, and fast-paced alumnae population.
4 1) Encourage global connections that are face-to-face or virtual and are inclusive of formal and informal networks and groups, as well as spontaneous local activities; 2) broaden opportunities for global alumnae to participate and engage, taking advantage of new technologies as appropriate.
5 1) Recognize flexible governance structures for the Association’s global and diverse membership, reflecting attention to custom and tradition as well as local legal requirements; 2) include a representative for global affairs, chosen from the global alumnae group, on the Alumnae Association Board of Directors; 3) Incorporate the voices of worldwide alumnae in the Alumnae Association strategy and operations.
As declared earlier in this document, our intent is to build on the wonderful traditions and incredible connections most alumnae feel for the College and for each other, traditions and connections that began for all of us as Mount Holyoke College students. Our bond to the College is undeniable; working together we can create a powerful partnership that will benefit all—the students on campus, the College as a whole, the alumnae across the globe, and all women’s colleges providing a liberal arts education in the twenty-first century. There is an opportunity to partner with the College around a myriad of key initiatives, including mutually beneficial international initiatives involving global alumnae as well as initiatives such as The Lynk, preparing today’s students and tomorrow’s alumnae to face the future with confidence. However the Association staff is small in comparison to the College’s, and much of the work is done by volunteers. Annually agreeing on key collaborative priorities with the College and advanced planning are critical steps that will ensure that the Association will truly add value to College initiatives involving alumnae.
By 2020 identify and implement processes for agreeing on annual key collaborative priorities and yearly aligned plans of action with the College.
- Clarify Association priorities that are opportunities for collaboration with the College and draft a plan for discussing them annually.
- Update the College on the alumnae base, who we are, and how to partner most effectively with the Association.
- Work with senior members of College administration staff to share the key collaborative priorities across the College.6
6 As it relates to the work of the GSTF, identify and partner with the College on mutually beneficial international initiatives involving global alumnae.
We find ourselves in the twenty-first century at a period of time when we all need to advocate for institutions that are committed to educating women in the liberal arts. This is a period of great challenge yet also an opportunity for all of us—the College, students, and the Alumnae Association—to advocate on behalf of education for women, education at a women’s College, and a liberal arts education. The Alumnae Association can lead this effort on behalf of alumnae across the globe who have benefited from a Mount Holyoke College education, helping them to understand how they can help—individually and collectively—to maintain Mount Holyoke College’s reputation as a vibrant institution of higher education for young women from across the globe. We believe that these messages coming from alumnae independent of the College will strengthen Mount Holyoke’s place in the landscape of liberal women’s education.
Design, implement, and track an annual campaign on these issues.
- Educate alumnae about the need for and the importance of speaking out in support of education for women, education at a women’s College, and a liberal arts education.
- Inspire alumnae to recognize their role as the legacy of a Mount Holyoke College education, promoting the College in their communities and workplaces.
There were two resounding messages from the many participants in the strategic planning process: Alumnae are passionate about and committed to the College and the Alumnae Association; and Mount Holyoke College alumnae represent what the College can produce—as a whole, we are motivated, accomplished, engaged, and have a “roll up your sleeves” approach to challenges. With this as a foundation, the plan sets a bold direction for the next five years, and our next steps are to identify metrics against which progress can be measured twice a year and to put detailed action plans in place at the committee level to implement the plan. This document will be considered a “living” document, and the plan will only be successful if we regularly review progress against the established metrics, considering and implementing any needed changes to either the strategies or the action plans. With plans to report to its membership annually, the Board of Directors intends very much to be transparent about this work to make it a plan that truly represents and is understood by the broad and growing group of Mount Holyoke alumnae.
We look forward to leading the effort to implement this roadmap for key strategies over the next five years. We are confident that working together with the staff, our College partners, Alumnae Association volunteers, and the entire membership we will achieve all of the objectives detailed in the 2015–2020 Strategic Direction.
With plans to report to its membership annually, the Board of Directors intends very much to be transparent about this work to make it a plan that truly represents and is understood by the broad and growing group of Mount Holyoke alumnae.
Appendix A: Participants in the Strategic Planning Process
Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College Board of Directors
Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67, President
Chief Operating Officer, Girls Inc. (Retired); Consultant, Women and Children’s Issues
Julianne Trabucchi Puckett ’91, Vice President
Lyndy Dean Alexander ’80, Treasurer
Chair, Finance Committee
Chief Financial Officer/Senior Director of Operations, National Center for Family Learning
Ashanta N. Evans-Blackwell ’95, Clerk
Deputy General Counsel, Teach for America
Ann Blake ’85
Alumnae Trustee, Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees, 2012–2017
Consultant, Environmental and Public Health
Elaine C. Cheung ’09
Young Alumnae Representative
Chief of Staff and Budget Director, Member of the New York City Council
V. Radley Emes ’00
Chair, Nominating Committee
Danielle M. Germain ’93
Chair, Classes and Reunion Committee
Senior Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton
Shannon Dalton Giordano ’91
Chair, Communications Committee
President, Serendipity Social Media Inc.
Katherine S. Hunter ’75
Consultant, International Development Management, Conflict, and Governance
Ellen L. Leggett ’75
Chair, Volunteer Stewardship Committee
President, Leggett Jury Research LLC;
Professor of Psychology, University of Southern California
Amanda S. Leinberger ’07
Associate Information Management Officer, United Nations
Elizabeth Redmond VanWinkle ’82
Chair, Clubs Committee
Manager, Multifamily Operations, Fannie Mae
Elizabeth Wharff ’75
Alumna Trustee, Mount Holyoke College
Board of Trustees, 2015–2020
Clinical Associate, Simmons College School of Social Work Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
Jane E. Zachary
Executive Director, Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College
Strategic Plan 2015–2020 Committee
Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67, Chair
Julianne Trabucchi Puckett ’91
Lyndy Dean Alexander ’80
Ashanta N. Evans-Blackwell ’95
Shannon Dalton Giordano ’91
Nancy Bellows Perez ’76
Consultant, Strategic Planning Director, IBM Corporation (Retired)
Jane E. Zachary
Global Strategy Task Force
Katherine S. Hunter ’75, Chair
Director-at-large, Alumnae Association
Board of Directors
Consultant, International Development Management, Conflict, and Governance
Ann Blake ’85
Alumna Trustee, Mount Holyoke College
Board of Trustees, 2012–2017
Consultant, Environmental and Public Health
Eleanor Chang ’78
Chairwoman, 2014 Asia Symposium Organizing Committee
CoFounder and COO, University Placements Ltd.
Barbara Schmidt ’69
Chair, Mount Holyoke European Council
Association Manager, Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (Retired)
Marion Ntiru ’02
Vice President, Global Rewards Program Management, Citi
Director of Regional Engagement, Alumnae Association
Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College Senior Staff
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications (until March 2015)
Senior Director of Finance
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications (from March 2015)
Senior Director of Data and Technology
Senior Director of Programs
SWOT Exercise (Surfacing Key Issues and Priorities)
Alumnae Trustee Committee
Led by Chair Maureen Kuhn ’78
Classes and Reunion Committee
Led by Chair Danielle M. Germain ’93 Clubs Committee
Led by Chair Elizabeth Redmond VanWinkle ’82 Communications Committee
Led by Chair Shannon Dalton Giordano ’91
External Achievement Awards Committee
Led by Chair Nancy G. Rosoff ’78
Led by Chair Lyndy Dean Alexander ’80
Internal Achievement Awards Committee
Led by Chair Rebecca Clarke Foster ’82
Led by Chair V. Radley Emes ’00
Volunteer Stewardship Committee
Led by Chair Ellen L. Leggett ’75
Young Alumnae Initiative
Led by Elaine C. Cheung ’09
Led by Ann Blake ’85
Led by Chair, European Alumnae Council, Barbara Schmidt ’69
Alumnae Association staff
Led by Executive Director Jane E. Zachary
Appendix B: Roadmap for Key Strategies
September 11, 2015