The Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors held its first meeting of the new term last week, a virtual gathering to welcome first-year board members and discuss priorities and planning for the academic year to come.

The three days of meetings were a mix of plenary sessions focused on the mission, values, and principles of the YAA; committee meetings focused mentoring, building and developing alumni communities, identifying and cultivating new alumni leaders, board governance, and diversity, equity, and inclusion; and opportunities to hear from university leaders such as President Peter Salovey ’86 PhD, Secretary and Vice President for University Life Kimberly Goff-Crews ’83, ’86 JD, and Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Joan O’Neill.

The overriding theme: In a time of great uncertainty and urgent calls for social change, the YAA has an opportunity to bring alumni together and provide the types of events and programming that alumni will find timely, pertinent, impactful, and meaningful.

“We would obviously love to have held this meeting in person on campus in New Haven. Still, the opportunity for us all to gather together is so important,” said Jerry Henry ’80 MDiv, who presided over his first board meeting as chair after serving as vice chair the previous two years. “There was robust discussion of ideas over our three days together not only about our responsibilities, shared values and roles as board members, but especially about the work each of our committees plan to accomplish. It left me so incredibly excited for the year ahead!”

In addition to Henry, this was the first board meeting in their new roles for vice chair Xiaoyan Huang ’91 and executive officers Billy Kolber ’86 and Kevin Winston BA. Rob Greenly ’83 MBA returns for his second year as an executive officer.

The new members of the YAA Board of Governors for 2020-21 are Anna Barry ’95 MS, ’98 PhD, Benjamin Bartolome ’16, Lydia Cristobal ’16 DNP, Stephanie Grilli ’74 MA, ’80 PhD, Randy Helm ’70, Sterling Thomas ’08, and Judy Tom ’87. Jeffrey Feldman ’95 MBA completes the first-term class after filling a portion of a vacant term in 2019-20.

“Our September meeting is always one of the most exciting of the year,” said Weili Cheng ’77, executive director of the YAA. “Our new members, and returning members in new positions, bring with them a diversity of viewpoints that help us look at our programming in creative and different ways. For us, it feels like the official start to the year. And this year is one of much uncertainty, but with this focused and collaborative board, also a year of great promise and possibility.”

The YAA Board of Governors meets in full four times per year, with regular committee conversations being held regularly in between. The next board meeting, also to be held virtually, will be in November.