Alumni Leaders Speak Out
By Michelle Valigursky
“Philanthropy is all about finding a passion in something and wanting to be part of it,” says Isabel Garcia 99L, president of the Emory Alumni Board (EAB) and partner of the Piedmont Law Group.
“My mother always said if you approach philanthropy as just writing a check, you are going about it the wrong way.” Like Garcia, the 40-45 dedicated Emory Alumni Board members agree that service leadership to Emory is deeply gratifying.
“Alumni volunteer leaders are critical to the success of the Emory Alumni Association,” says Allison Dykes, vice president of alumni relations. “Through our powerful network of volunteers, the association is able to engage thousands of alumni by helping us plan events, build a strong network of volunteers, support alumni and students seeking career opportunities and advice, and serve their community.”
The Emory Alumni Board is a high-level advisory group with working committees that represents the voice of Emory’s 118,000 alumni. EAB members work to develop and disseminate policy and oversee the activities of the association. EAB members represent all schools and units, interest groups, and regions that make up Emory’s alumni population.
The EAB’s mission is “to provide a representative alumni body that will advise the association and facilitate the successful advancement of its mission.” It strives “to actively engage the association staff, university president, and trustees in fulfillment of Emory’s vision to be a destination university internationally recognized as an inquiry-driven, ethically engaged, and diverse community, whose members work collaboratively for positive transformation in the world through courageous leadership in teaching, research, scholarship, health care, and social action.” EAB members are “carefully selected to ensure full representation of the overall alumni body with respect to school, gender, age, race, and geographic diversity.”
Brent Conway 06N, senior project manager for Peacock Architects, serves his fellow Emory alumni in numerous ways.
“I am in my third term on the Emory Alumni Board and have been on the campaign committee the entire time. I am the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Alumni Board representative on the Emory Alumni Board,” Conway explains. “I have been a volunteer in a number of ways at Emory since 1995.”
Conway closely aligned his professional expertise with his volunteer service. “While working for Egleston Children’s Health Care System in the mid-90s (prior to Children Healthcare of Atlanta), I worked very closely with Emory Healthcare faculty and administrators on different pediatric healthcare initiatives,” he said. “Because of the great relationship between Emory and Egleston, it was a natural platform to engage in volunteerism toward something I felt important. I am very proud to be associated with Emory as a volunteer, alum, and former administrator. Emory has reached out to me several times to serve, whether it be the University Senate or various Boards of Directors and I am humbled to be considered.”
For many alumni leaders like Conway, the call to serve came early in life. “During my freshman year, I discovered a newly formed organization called Volunteer Emory. I eagerly joined the staff and soon found myself in a leadership role,” says Laura Durudogan 85C, president-elect of the Emory Alumni Board and director of human resources for Southwest Orthopedics. “The experience was life-changing for me. Volunteer Emory inspired so many of us to make a difference in our community.”
Garcia, too, understood the importance of giving at a very young age. “Philanthropy was very important in our household from the time I was very young because of lessons instilled by my mother,” she recalls. “A portion of my allowance money when I was a kid was set aside each year (meaning that I only received a net portion of my allowance) and at the end of the year, I could decide what charity I wanted my money contributed to.” This weighty decision was always given due consideration. “Because I got to select the charity, I chose what I was interested in supporting, even at ten years old.”
The Power of 100% Commitment
Contributions to Campaign Emory numbered an impressive $1.69 billion. In a remarkable show of support, one hundred percent of the Emory Alumni Board members made the financial commitment to give during the campaign. The choice, for many, came naturally.
“I was blessed with the support of many Emory mentors and role models. Bill Fox 79PhD, Becky Gurholt, Joe Moon, Bobbi Patterson 94PhD – the list is long,” says Durudogan. “So I continue to give volunteer hours and financial support to Emory as a way to honor and recognize those who believed in me and encouraged me all those years ago. My work on the Emory Alumni Board and with my local alumni chapter allows me to stay engaged with the university and to lend a voice to the challenges that Emory faces today.”
Chapter leadership also allows Emory alumni living beyond Atlanta’s campus to take an active role in the future growth of the globally connected Emory community.
Durudogan explains her own path to her position as the next president of the Emory Alumni Board. “I have been a volunteer for Emory ever since graduation from the college in 1985. I chaired the DC chapter immediately following graduation. I then moved to Chicago in 1988 and chaired the Chicago Chapter for many years,” she explains. “I was then asked to co-chair the Chicago Chapter again and have been serving in this role for seven years and counting!”
Martha Fagan, senior director of the Emory Alumni Association, shares her appreciation for the dedicated leadership of EAB members. “The members of the Emory Alumni Board and other volunteer leaders, who work on behalf of the university, give so much of themselves in terms of time, talent, advocacy, and philanthropy. It is such an honor to work with such amazing leaders who care so much about Emory and its future.”
Garcia sums up the passion of her colleagues. “I feel that way about Emory. I am invested in Emory. I am proud of Emory. I want to feel like I’m contributing to making Emory an even better place and that is why I give to Emory. I’m passionate about it, I see the great things happening here and I want to be a part of it. Simple as that!”
Find out more information on how you can volunteer for the Emory Alumni Association and its activities around the world.