The members of the YAA Board of Governors at the Peabody Museum during their February 2020 board meeting.

The Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors held its first meeting of 2020 this past weekend, covering a wide range of interests as it continues its efforts to bolster the Yale alumni experience and develop the association’s many programs and offerings.

The Board of Governors meetings include all-day committee meetings and a plenary session attended by all board members and YAA staff. Overall, the board assembles four times per year, with this being its first meeting since November 2019.

“These gatherings are so important,” said Nancy Stratford ’77, chair of the YAA Board of Governors. “While we talk regularly throughout the year, the opportunity to meet in person and work through what we’ve done and continue to do, our shared successes and lessons learned, is truly invaluable. And most importantly, the outcomes of our in-person meetings create the basis for the programs and events that allow us to meet alumni where they are and to have a positive impact on their alumni experience.”

While the February board meetings officially began on Friday, February 7, the board was active the night prior as well, with more than 20 board members getting an early start on 2020 Yale Day of Service at the Yale-China Association. (The official Yale Day of Service will be observed May 9, though events occur throughout the year.) Many of those same members then spread out to the residential colleges for dinner and informal conversation with students, followed by a “Mentoring in Minutes” session with students held at Rose Alumni House, home of the YAA.

“Our board meetings are crucial to the work we do as alumni volunteers, but it’s also nice to have the chance to get on campus early, connect with students, and give back to the community,” said YAA Board of Governors Vice Chair Jerry Henry ’80 MDiv. “These opportunities deepen our sense of connection and enhance the purpose we strive to achieve, making us more effective alumni leaders.”

Friday’s committee meetings focused on graduate and professional school alumni affairs, YAA shared interest groups, volunteer leadership, and networking and mentoring, both alumni to students and alumni to fellow alumni.

Stratford’s introduction and YAA Executive Director Weili Cheng’s ’77 update kicked off Saturday’s plenary session, followed by a University Council report from Council President Gina Boswell ’89 MPPM. Wrapping up the day were reports on advancement technology and staff updates on service programs, including Day of Service and Yale Alumni Service Corps.

“Our sincere hope is that the board members come away from these gatherings with the tools they need to make a difference in their individual alumni communities, and by extension, for the alumni community as a whole,” Cheng said. “No doubt, these were an enlightening and productive two days. We’re looking forward to a wonderful finish to the academic year.”

The YAA Board of Governors next convenes in April, when it will continue its work and bid an in-person farewell to the members who will be cycling off the board at the end of its current term, on June 30.