Networking the Maxwell way is what the school's DC alumni association is all about. In this interview with SU in DC, Maxwell School DC Alumni Association President Jana Morgan G'08 shares her thoughts on the work and goals of the group.
How long has the club been in existence?
The Maxwell School DC Alumni Association was organized more than 25 years ago, and over the last few years has become increasingly energized and engaged with our fellow members of the Maxwell alumni network in DC.
How many members do you have?
The Maxwell DC Alumni Association made a conscious effort to avoid charging dues to our members, so there is no formal membership process. Anyone who has graduated from Maxwell is a member and welcome to come to our events or join the board. Every year we get a new cohort of fantastic graduates, looking to connect with other alums in DC, and we encourage them to get involved with the alumni association.
What are the goals of the club?
Our main goal is to give Maxwellians in the DC area the chance to connect with other alumni in the city. We provide networking opportunities for alumni to build professional relationships and facilitate the creation of new friendships through our social and community service events. We also promote the mentoring of current Maxwell students by alumni in the DC area.
Do you have any particular charities that you support?
The Maxwell DC Alumni Association works hard to be connected to the DC community and participates in a number of community service events throughout the year. In October, we participated in the Walk to End Modern Slavery, and on December 3 about 15 alums showed up to volunteer at Gifts for the Homeless, where they sorted clothes for distribution to local homeless shelters. We also hold an annual community service event in August where DC alums come together to beautify a DC public school before the students arrive for the year. This event is held in honor of Maxwell Alum Brady K. Howell G '00, whose life was tragically cut short during the September 11 attack on the Pentagon. This event was created not only to remember Brady Howell, but to continue and celebrate his dedicated service ot the community and country.
What kinds of events do you sponsor?
Along with our community service events, we hold a Third Thursday happy hour every month. We hold them in various locations throughout the metro area - Capitol Hill, Dupont, Foggy Bottom, NOVA - in order to give a wide range of alums the opportunity to participate. We also aid current Maxwell students by hosting networking events when they visit DC for their annual networking trip or for intercession classes. I have received many questions about the annual picnic and want to make sure everyone knows it will be happening in mid-spring to early summer of 2012!
How do you connect with current students/recent grads?
We work with the SU in DC staff to make sure current students are aware of all of our community service and networking events, and we encourage them to participate. We also work with current students at Maxwell to organize their February networking trip, reaching out to alums to provide housing and site visits, and encouraging them to participate in the social events.
How has the SU in DC office been of help to you?
The SU in DC office has been an excellent resource to our organization. They are always so accommodating in allowing us to hold our monthly meetings there, as well as providing space for events at the Greenberg House. The DC office also actively reaches out to involve us in activities with current students. The amazing staff members are so helpful, and the alumni association feels very lucky to be able to work with them.
Why do you think it's important to stay connected to SU?
Whether it was spending four life-shaping years as an undergraduate or two incredibly rigorous years as a grad student, we become connected through our shared experiences. The people we meet, whether it be at Maxwell or the wider SU community, become a part of our extended families. When people move to different cities, they know they can reach out to their fellow alums to help introduce them to their surroundings and to new friends. As people search for their first jobs, or look to change careers, advice can be sought from graduates who remain a part of the SU community.
What is your favorite memory of your SU experience?
Other than the Maxwell Halloween party? I had so many amazing opportunities, including taking classes with Ibrahim Gambari on conflict resolution and Ambassador Joyce Leader on African development. I'd have to say that my time working as a Black Spots researcher was my favorite experience at SU. I found the research we were doing to be exactly the kind of content that interested me most. In this project, we looked at areas of the world without clear governmental controls and assessed the potential for terrorist or criminal networks to be operating in the region. One of the regions I researched was the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, an area on which i now focus in my career.
For more information on the Maxwell DC Alumni Association, you can visit their website www.maxwelldc.org or e-mail them at maxwellschoolDC@gmail.com. To get in contact with Jana Morgan directly, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jana Morgan earned a master's degree in international relations from the Maxwell School and a bachelor's degree from St. Lawrence University. She does policy work on conflict minerals for Global witness, an organization focused on breaking the link between natural resource exploitation and human rights violations, corruption, and conflict. She lives in Washington, D.C., and can often be found on Tuesday nights at the Wonderland Ballroom belting out tunes with the HariKaraoke Band. She has traveled to four continents and hopes to have reached the last three by age 35.
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