Westmont Magazine A Question for Westmont Alumni
Alumni Advisory Council members include: (left to right, back row) Dane Howard '94, David Jay '02, Denise Jackson '78, Teri Bradford Rouse '77, David MacCulloch '84; (left to right, front row) Valerie Cronk Kushnerov '92, Mindy Wolfe '94, Leigh Anne Stepper Tsuji '92, chair, Melinda Moers Harriman '87, and Tamara Jackman Ericson '79. Missing: Kevin Reddick '86 and Alexis Baker '08
Instead of asking what alumni can give to Westmont, the new Westmont Alumni Advisory Council asks how Westmont can make the experience of being an alum more engaging. Building on the heartfelt gratitude many alumni express for their college years, the WAAC seeks to establish Westmont as a partner in their ongoing personal and professional lives and relationships.
“Our goal is to move Westmont from a foundational experience and place of sweet memories to a tangible resource for their life today,” says Leigh Anne Stepper Tsuji ’92, who chairs the WAAC. “I agree with President Gayle Beebe, who said ‘We want to find meaningful ways to channel the gratitude of our alumni.’ So many talented alumni tell us they want to share their successes, collaborate in their challenges and give back in important ways such as mentoring or providing internships. We want to pave a way for alumni to act on this good will and invest in the next generation — and make it a pleasant and rewarding experience.”
Formed earlier this year, the WAAC meets on campus for three all-day strategic planning sessions each year. In lively discussions, professionals share their expertise in social media, human resources, law, alumni affairs, art, non-profit work, entrepreneurship, academia, politics, advertising, marketing and business development. To date, they’ve developed three initiatives: Career Networking, Social Networking and Young Alumni.
Ideas to promote a career network include regional networking events and gatherings by industry at Homecoming. Encouraged that Westmont is active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the WAAC plans to invite more alumni to reconnect with Westmont and its most precious resource: people. An important key to success with young alumni is educating college seniors about the value of the alumni network and helping them set up their social and career profiles before graduating.
It’s a perfect time for the college to pursue these goals. Thanks to the vision of Reed Sheard, vice president for advancement and chief information officer, the college is investing in new technology and exploring social networking tools. Teri Bradford Rouse ’77, senior director of alumni relations, diligently gathered talented alumni committed to Westmont to launch the council.
Leigh Anne under-stands the affection alumni feel for Westmont. She is one of 13 alumnae known as the Dirty Dozen who travel together every year. “We’re committed to each other and support each other through the best and most challenging experiences of life,” she says. “We’re incredibly grateful for the introductions, memories and connections that Westmont has given us. The WAAC wants to encourage these kinds of connections.”
Leigh Anne Stepper Tsuji '92
An economics and business major, Leigh Anne worked for Chiat/Day Advertising in Los Angeles, the agency responsible for brands such as Energizer, Jack in the Box and Nissan. Her favorite season was working in the new business department pulling together pitches for top brands worldwide. She now consults with small-business owners and entrepreneurs as a coach, helping self-starters self-finish projects by breaking down all the steps. She conducts one-hour coaching sessions from her home office, allowing her to be fully present for her three sons 11, 8 and 2. Her husband, Paul, is an institutional sales trader for JonesTrading in Westlake, Calif.
“My strength is connecting people to the people who can give them the answers and help they need,” Leigh Anne says. “That’s why I’m excited to be involved with the WAAC.”
She believes alumni who connect with Westmont will find the same camaraderie, shared experiences and collaboration they knew as students. “We invite all Westmont alumni to get involved, to come back and re-engage,” she says. “The college has been a huge part of your life —and it still has great value for you. The council is committed to finding new and better ways to promote Westmont’s people, passions and projects .”