Alison Cole ’99 has been named executive director of the Yale Alumni Association (YAA), which represents and serves more than 180,000 alumni worldwide from all Yale schools.

Cole, who currently serves as the senior associate dean for external affairs and special projects in Yale College, succeeds Weili Cheng ’77, who retired this year after leading the YAA since 2016. Cole starts in the new role on May 15, 2024. 

Cole majored in political science at Yale and was the captain and an All-American player for the women’s lacrosse team. She was a member of Ezra Stiles College.

“With deep connections to the alumni community and extensive experience at Yale in successively senior positions, Alison is the ideal leader to succeed Weili Cheng ’77,” said President Peter Salovey. “She brings innovative ideas for further enhancing alumni engagement globally. I am grateful to the search advisory committee for doing an excellent job of considering broad alumni input and identifying exceptional candidates. I look forward to seeing all the ways Alison will continue to advance the YAA’s aspirations to foster a lifelong Yale experience for alumni in every part of the world.”

The YAA, which was founded in 1972, aims to enhance and renew the Yale experience for all alumni throughout their lives by stimulating ideas, affiliations, and friendships, and facilitating professional fulfillment and acts of service.

In Cole’s work with Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis and his senior leadership team, she has focused on communications, implementation, and administration of undergraduate student programs. She also served as the bridge between the Office of Development and the Yale College Dean’s Office to ensure these priorities have philanthropic support.

Earlier, she served in increasingly senior roles in Yale’s athletic department, starting in 2008 as an associate athletic director and ending as deputy director of athletics for external affairs, overseeing development, sports publicity, tickets, promotions, and corporate partnerships, and as sport supervisor for multiple varsity teams. In all these roles, she has had the opportunity to work with alumni volunteer leaders and to collaborate with the YAA staff team, which sets a strong foundation for a focus on alumni relations and engagement going forward.

“I am honored to be joining the YAA team as executive director,” said Cole. “The opportunity to partner with the incredible staff, board members, campus community, and volunteers to further enhance how alumni can engage with Yale is a privilege. My four years as an undergraduate were life-changing, and my time as an employee has only deepened my love for Yale. Thank you to the search committee, Joan O’Neill, and President Salovey for the chance to serve my alma mater in this important role.” 

Members of the search committee included Rahul Prasad ’87 PhD, who served as chair, Benjamin Bartolome ’16, Jeff Feldman ’95 MBA, Jerry Henry ’80 MDiv, Xiaoyan Huang ’91, Jennifer Madar ’88, Nancy Stratford ’77, Sterling E. Thomas, ’08, and Joan O’Neill, vice president for alumni affairs and development.

“Alison Cole will be an exceptional leader of the YAA,” Prasad said. “A Yale veteran with years of experience in alumni relations and a long history of volunteering, she stood out from a large field of exceptional candidates. By bringing a grasp of the workings of Yale, Alison will continue to elevate the standing of the YAA within Yale. She comes with a wealth of ideas that have the potential of increasing alumni engagement to new levels.”