ATLANTA—Plans for a new Alumni Council have come to fruition this year in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (AYS). The inaugural council boasts 20 members from various areas of the country and diverse disciplines divided into four committees.
The plan to formally bring AYS alumni together formed when Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Ashley Watts joined the school last September and answered the call to expand the school’s Young Alumni Council. This original group was tapped to advise Dean Sally Wallace on the Digital Landscape Initiative.
Housed in the Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations, the new council’s goals include building a strong network of AYS alumni involved in social and civic engagement, policy research, scholarship and the development of future leaders.
Front and center their first year are efforts to build a network of alumni worldwide, encouraging graduates to maintain lifelong relationships with the school and each other.
One such initiative will be revamping the school’s bi-annual Policy and Pancakes event, which brings alumni and current students together for casual conversations about current policies. In-person events like this one are on a temporary hold, but the virtual environment of council events and proceedings might have a silver lining still.
“One of our primary goals is to strengthen our alumni community around the globe,” Watts said. “We have always wanted to look into the areas where we have growing alumni populations outside the Atlanta area, which is much easier in a virtual environment.
“Eventually, we envision continued virtual events for all alumni, along with council members spearheading local, in-person events in areas with high concentrations of Andrew Young School alumni, like Chicago and Washington D.C.”
The new Alumni Council committees and members include:
- President: Jessica Chait (M.P.P. ’15)
- President-Elect: Christabel Ghansah (B.S. ’14, M.P.A. ’17)
- Secretary: Michael Polacek (M.P.A. ’18)
Career & Professional Development Committee
- Chair: Ted Bradford (M.S. ’10)
- Tamikio Bohler (M.P.A. ’93)
- Tim Cairl (M.P.P. ’13)
- Roshonda Gainey (M.P.A. ’11)
- Michael Polacek, Secretary (M.P.A. ’18)
Marketing & Communications Committee
- Chair: Bill Steiden (M.P.A. ’12)
- Emily Bowers (B.S. ’14)
- Noah Roenitz (B.S. ’19)
- Molly Shepherd (G.Cert. ’11)
Social & Civic Engagement Committee
- Chair: Cristina Roman (B.S. ’13, M.A. ’16)
- Allen Bosbyshell (B.S. ’18)
- Steven Brantley (M.P.A. ’20)
- Jessica Chait, (M.P.P. ’15)
- Tracy Davis (B.A. ’08)
- Bob Kosek (M.P.A. ’14)
Young Alumni Committee
- Chair: Josh Stephens (M.P.P. ’11)
- Christabel Ghansah, President-Elect (B.S. ’14, M.P.A. ’17)
- Pamela Hardnett (B.S. ’09)
- Precious King (B.S.W. ’19)
- Jessica Watkins (M.P.A. ’19)
Founding President Jessica Chait (M.P.P. ‘15) works in the area of technology policy in Washington, D.C. She shares Watts’ vision for a strong alumni community that transcends discipline, physical location and graduation year.
“One of my passions is designing programs that allow alumni to give back to current students,” Chait said. “I’m a first-generation college student, so I’ve relied on mentors a lot in my career. Students’ possibilities are endless, especially as undergraduates, and I firmly believe you can’t do it alone.”
Watts agrees that this type of mentorship is vital. “Alumni can give back by giving current students a leg up in the job market, which is even more desperately needed these days.”
Watts also speaks to the value of a close-knit community specific to Andrew Young School students.
“Our students have a shared passion for serving others,” she said. “The thread that connects the Andrew Young School disciplines is that they bend towards serving the greater good.”
Applications for membership on the AYS Alumni Council reopen in spring of next year. Alumni can learn more about current council members, goals, and membership information on the council’s website.
Story by: Sumar Deen, Student (M.S. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, ‘21)