The Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors held its final meeting of the 2020-21 academic year on Saturday, recognizing the great work accomplished during a most unusual year and bidding goodbye to its departing members.
The meeting, as with all YAA board meetings in 2020-21, was held virtually, a fitting finish to year in which online programming took precedence and the board had to reimagine the best ways to fulfill the YAA’s mission to enhance and renew the lifelong Yale experience for all alumni, whoever they are and wherever they may be.
“We started the year with so much uncertainty, knowing we could not gather in person but without a clear blueprint on how the year would progress,” said Jerry Henry ’80 MDiv, chair of the YAA Board of Governors. “We were able to pivot quickly, thanks to the dedication of the board’s alumni volunteers who rushed into the breach with great ideas and incredible energy. At the end of the day, we were able to have one of our most successful years. I couldn’t be prouder of this group.”
The biggest transition came in terms of events and programs. All were moved online, with individual webinars and regular series created to engage alumni. Online board meetings throughout the year provided connection – both to their fellow board members and to the university and its students, with an eye on organizing events that would serve alumni populations of all ages and interests.
The work was done during the board’s regular gatherings – a mix of committee meetings and plenary sessions that ranged from diversity, equity, and inclusion training to discussions with senior trustee Catharine Bond Hill ’85 PhD, President Salovey '86 PhD, and other university officials – and in monthly committee meetings that ensured YAA initiatives were moving forward and reaching their intended audience. Committees for 2020-21 included careers and mentoring, alumni communities, board governance, equity and inclusion, and volunteer pipeline development.
“In my time on the board as a volunteer in the 1990s and now as executive director, I have never seen a year quite like this one,” said Weili Cheng ’77, YAA executive director and former board member and chair. “Yet, throughout it all, the dedication and commitment of the board never wavered. They transitioned seamlessly from in-person meetings to Zoom meetings and innovated every step of the way to create meaningful, engaging opportunities for their fellow alumni.”
Saturday’s meeting concluded with a celebration of those departing the board: Board members Cornell Brooks ’90 JD, Darryl Crompton ’76 MPH, Thomas Dolan ’05, Tara Falcone ’11, Shah Karim ’81, ’87 MA, ’07 MPhil, and Patricia Melton ’83, and executive officers Rob Greenly ’83 MBA, Billy Kolber ’86, and Kevin Winston BA.
“I truly don’t have the words to express my gratitude to this group for all they have done,” Henry said. “They have left an indelible mark on the board and, by extension, on Yale. I thank them for their dedication and their friendship. And while I am sad to see them go, I’m heartened by the fact that they will continue on as volunteers and alumni leaders, and we will most definitely call on them in that capacity – soon and often.”
Photo caption (clockwise from top left): Cornell Brooks ’90 JD, Darryl Crompton ’76 MPH, Thomas Dolan ’05, Tara Falcone ’11, Rob Greenly ’83 MBA, Kevin Winston BA, Patricia Melton ’83, Billy Kolber ’86, and Shah Karim ’81, ’87 MA, ’07 MPhil.