Members of the Yale Club of Michigan gather during the 2019 Yale Day of Service.
Members of the Yale Club of Michigan gather during the 2019 Yale Day of Service.

After years without a consistent presence, the Yale Club of Michigan (YCM) Task Force has worked diligently in 2019 to revitalize the club through a series of programs and offerings.

The task force, chaired by Akosua Barthwell Evans ’90 JD, has organized a series of events. They include a strategic planning session with the Fair Food Network, a meeting to discuss career transitioning, a Day of Service offering, a happy hour at the Atwater Brewery, and a trip to the Detroit Historical Museum. Additionally, the task force has hosted monthly meetings and sent monthly emails in an effort to increase alumni participation.

The work has paid off, successfully engaging more than 100 alumni, family, and friends through these outreach events and programs. Bob Bonds ’71, associate director for regional clubs with the Yale Alumni Association, has served as a frequent advisor and guest, enhancing the club’s progress.

“We’ve really come a long way in a relatively short period of time,” said Barthwell Evans, a member of the YAA Board of Governors. “There is still much work to do, but consistently and in increasing numbers, we’re seeing Yale alumni from throughout the state turn out at our events and offer to help out. It’s really exciting to see, and we’re looking forward to even more great programming and interesting events into the coming fall and winter.”

Active members of the YCM Task Force include Andrew Banooni ’07, Stephanie Blum ’96, Barthwell Evans, Beki Fraser ’99 MPPM, Mickey Garner ’71, Noah Hood ’08, Talia Johnson ’98, Fritz Morsches ’82 MBA, Rory Neuner ’03, Corey Rapala ’13, Jackie Spycher ’16 MDiv, and Tim Weeks’85 MBA.

Event Descriptions

Discussion on Career Transitioning and Building Networks: Members of the YCM were invited to Barthwell Evans’ home in Detroit to share career experiences and opportunities as well as offer advice on building personal and professional networks. Steve Blum ’74, senior director of strategic initiatives for the YAA, attended as well and shared career transitioning and network building best practices. Christopher Thomas ’09 MBA has volunteered to host the next session on career transitioning and network building. Additionally, participants at this event plan to meet quarterly to continue this series of discussions sessions.

Yale Club of Michigan members following the Career Transitions event in April.
Yale Club of Michigan members following the Career Transitions event in April.

YCM and Fair Food Network Strategic Planning Session: Members of the YCM met with Jean Chorazyczewski, program director for Fair Food Network, to discuss how to enable low-income Detroiters to purchase and consume more fresh produce.

Yale Day of Service: In an effort to restore areas of the historic West Boston Boulevard in Detroit, YCM co-sponsored a Yale Day of Service event with the West Boston Boulevard Block Club Association and the city of Detroit. Approximately 35 volunteers from the three organizations planted more than 3,200 begonias in the flowerbeds on the city-owned medians on West Boston Boulevard.

Happy Hour at the Atwater Brewery: YCM members met at the Atwater Brewery for a casual “get to know you” event. Organized by Talia Johnson ’98 and Corey Rapala ’13, around 20 Yale alumni gathered to enjoy good food and drink.

YCM at the Detroit Historical Museum’s Special “Detroit ‘67” Exhibit: More than 30 YCM members attended a special “Detroit ‘67” curated tour, hosted by the Detroit Historical Museum. The tour included a comprehensive overview of the events of the 1967 Detroit riots as well as opportunities for participants to share their own perspectives on the matter. The tour was followed by a lunch at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Looking Ahead

The YCM Task Force plans to further engage Michigan alumni in efforts to revitalize the Yale Club of Michigan. The next planned event is a summer picnic for alumni and their families.

The YCM Task Force expects to have completed the restructuring of the Yale Club of Michigan by September.

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