AYA Assembly Notes by Jim Hartman

Each year the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) holds an assembly whereby some important part of Yale is presented to the various alumni delegates. This year’s event coincided with Sandy, and your humble correspondent was the only delegate from the club to make the entire assembly. I’m glad I did, and given the subject-SERVICE-I wanted to share some of my observations with you. 

2012 Focus:  Service

“Answering the Call to Service: Alumni Volunteers in the Global Community”

Observations from Programs and Presentations

  • Something has changed at a very high level regarding Yale and the AYA. AYA is “struggling financially” and has appealed to the administration to take the AYA in a service-oriented direction. This is viewed as a strategic direction for Yale, and is regarded as a differentiator among top-tier schools.
  • Yale views service as part of its brand.
  • AYA has redefined its mission to service. Based on what was said for two days, one can project AYA becoming AYAS (Association of Yale Alumni Service).
  • Approach of many programs and presentations was to show how individuals want to give back, and giving back through service is a more rewarding experience than other ways of giving.
  • Some speakers identified their service commitment as representing a life-long relationship with Yale. For example, a class agent becomes a chair of agents; then the person commits to a special interest group; and then the person gets involved with a global Yale service initiative.
  • The AYA strategic plan is to take it way past the level of the past. No more will it just represent the traditional alumni and local club activities. Emphasis on the special interest groups-who they believe are better connected to Yale than the traditional class connections-and being the leaders on service initiatives.
  • Yale and other leading universities are inculcating students to become service leaders before they graduate.

Quick Summary of New Service Initiatives

  • Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance. Alumni trying to help nonprofits with fob sourcing, sharing of resources and finding directors for organizations. [yalenonprofit.org]
  • Yale Jefferson Awards for service. I am a little fuzzy on the details, but the larger Jefferson Awards have been considered the “Nobel Prize for public service,” and Yale young recipients are being awarded. Also, Jefferson Awards are setting of youth day of service in cities.
  • Presentation made by the New York City Service Officer (1994 graduate). New York is trying to harness all the community service volunteerism and make better use of it where the service is most needed.
  • Upcoming volunteer opportunities in Nicaragua, Ghana and-a first-West Virginia.

Other Observations

  • Shared Interest Groups (women, black, Latino, military, etc.) have just about as many events as the seven biggest regional clubs. They are bringing more attendance to class reunions.
  • AYA’s new strategic plan worships ideas coming from the field. It wants clubs to experiment with activities.
  • Residential college reunions have commenced with reasonable attendance.
  • This was the best local club service story. Chicago handled a refuge family. Interesting project: 1) welcoming refugees; 2) finding a place to live; 3) setting up household; 4) arranging papers, etc. 5) getting donations of furnishings, kitchen items and the like; 6) placing kids in school; and 7) starting tutoring in English and other things.
  • There now is a special interest group called Yale Blue Green designed to inspire alumni to act upon sustainability and to create sustainability.

New Non-Profit World and Impact on Yale Clubs

  • AYA spelled out the changing world for fund raising and Yale clubs trying to keep membership.
  • AYA spelled out what might be a blue print for successful clubs to follow.
  • Detailed observation shared with Yale Club of Philadelphia Council January 17, 2013.