The members of the 2019-20 YAA Board of Governors. Photo credit: Mara Lavitt

The Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors gathered last weekend for the first time during the 2019-20 academic calendar, kicking off a new year of programming and events and welcoming its eight new members into the fold.

The wide-ranging, three-day gathering, held September 12-14 in New Haven, included a Thursday team-building workshop centered on communications skills recognizing differences; Friday committee meetings planning alumni programs and events; a full-body Friday afternoon session featuring general introductions and addresses from university leaders; and a Saturday workshop on the YAA’s service programs and opportunities, including Yale Day of Service and Yale Alumni Service Corps.

In between, there was a Thursday night panel for students and alumni on Women in STEMM moderated by YAA executive committee member Xiaoyan Huang ’91 and a Friday night dinner with YAA board members and staff.

“It was a tremendous start to the year as we welcomed our new and returning board members,” said YAA Board of Governors chair Nancy Stratford ’77, beginning the second year of her two-year term. “As we always see at our board meetings, everyone brings terrific energy to continue our great work and generate wonderful new ideas. I’m incredibly excited to see all that we’re going to accomplish this year.”

The YAA Board of Governors sets the direction and goals for the YAA Assembly delegation of alumni leaders and the association as a whole. The volunteer board leads alumni initiatives and programs, recognizes outstanding volunteers and organizations, and helps to build and develop the leadership pipeline for the YAA and the university at large.

The meetings on Friday focused on mentoring and other career-related programs, shared interest groups, volunteer engagement, and outreach to alumni of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Yale’s professional schools. In each case, new committee chairs, working with the members of their respective committees and staff liaisons, set goals and plans for the year ahead.

Those committee meetings were followed by a plenary session that featured overviews of the work and responsibilities of the different groups within the YAA, as well as presentations and Q&A sessions with Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews ’83, ’86 JD, Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Joan O’Neill, and President Peter Salovey ’86 PhD.

“There is something truly special and inspiring about the first meeting of each year,” said YAA Executive Director Weili Cheng ’77. “Each board has its own character, and every year I think of how fortunate we are to have so many amazing volunteers who are eager to partner with our staff to build on past successes, find new avenues to make a difference, and create new programming and opportunities for all alumni.”