We need to find news ways to connect and engage
When I had the pleasure of assuming the Presidency of the Queen’s University Alumni Association (QUAA) in November, I was delighted that my first official duty was to serve as emcee for the Toronto Branch’s John Orr Dinner, where Principal Emeritus Tom Williams, LLD’10, was honoured. It was a lovely full circle for me.
As a little girl, I always wanted to attend Queen’s. I had alumni relatives on both sides of my family, including my dad, Rudy Joss, Sc’69, my paternal uncle, my maternal grandmother, my maternal uncle, and too many cousins to name. As well, my mom, Kingston-born, spent her first six years living at the corner of Collingwood Street and Union Street, and attended Victoria Public School (now the core of the School of Business); Queen’s and Kingston are in my genes.
I enrolled at Queen’s in 1992 and majored in History, but I spent much of my time involved in student affairs. As a frosh, I took part in the Queen’s Model Parliament committee under the leadership of chair Raquel Fragoso Peters, Artsci’93. My appetite whetted, I got more involved in student politics, culminating in my term as AMS Vice-President University Affairs in 1995-96. That year, the AMS Executive worked closely with Tom Williams, LLD'09, who had recently stepped down as a Vice-Principal, but continued to be a strong student proponent and a personal mentor to me and others.
After graduating from Queen’s, I studied at the U of T and then started my own Internet consulting firm in Toronto. I stayed connected with my Queen’s friends, who had become my extended family, but I missed my involvement with the University.
My first opportunity to reconnect came because of my role in the Artsci’96 Permanent Year Executive’s planning for our five-year reunion. The next opportunity came when I attended a Toronto Branch AGM with Sarah Renaud, Artsci’96. Sarah and I volunteered for the John Orr committee, and later with the Branch Executive. One of the things I love about being involved with the QUAA is the wide variety of graduates from all faculties and years you meet and work with. They are a fantastic group.
After several years of being involved with Toronto Branch, I was invited to join the Queen’s University Alumni Association Board of Directors. I have no idea whom I have to thank for nominating me, but I owe them a big thank you.
When I joined the Board, it was busy with a strategic planning initiative and a structural reorganization. This made it an interesting time for me to learn the ropes. As my experience on the Board grew, so did the variety of roles I took on, including serving as co-organizer for the inaugural MiniU in 2008, and then becoming Executive V-P Communications. During the eight years that I’ve now served on the QUAA Board, I have had opportunities to give back to Queen’s. I’ve also had many enriching experiences with other alumni, University staff, and members of the administration. Queen’s attracts dynamic people. (But if you’re reading this, then you likely already knew that.)
Last fall, several dedicated QUAA Board members concluded their terms, and for their years of hard work, I’d like to thank Paul Glen, Sc’74; Rob Pitt, MA’82; Josh Orzech, Com’96; and, Ellen Hanbidge, Artsci’82. As well, for the past two years the QUAA had a very strong President, Heather Black, Sc’80, who tirelessly helped alumni, students and staff to connect and collaborate. On behalf of all alumni, thank you, Heather, for all that you accomplished, and for your continued commitment and enthusiasm.
In 2012 the QUAA Board of Directors will work on the goals that we refresh at our May face-to-face meetings, and hopefully we will find new ways to connect and engage with alumni, and to foster a life-long association with Queen’s.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank my family for their support and encouragement as I begin my two-year term at QUAA President. While my husband, John Brown, didn’t attend Queen’s, he has enjoyed many Queen’s events and has joined in the famous Queen’s camaraderie. His support, as well of that of my parents, my two step-daughters, who are 18 and 12 years old, and the enthusiasm with which my three-month old son, Bentley (Class of 2033?) meets all QUAA calls and events, make my commitment possible. Cha Gheill!