While I have perhaps enjoyed less professional success than the better part of Williams alumni, I have found considerable success in nearly every volunteer activity to which I have devoted serious attention. And this goes back to my time at Williams when, shortly after founding the Garfield Republican Club, I was asked to run for state chair of the Massachusetts College Republicans, being the first student from a college in the western part of the state to helm that federation.
And this success in private clubs has helped me understand why some organizations succeed and others fail. Involved in Log Cabin Republicans, I watch that organization crumble because its national office reats successful chapter presidents as threats (to their authority) rather than as a source of ideas and leadership.
One reason, I believe, we have a solid alumni organization at Williams is that the alumni office acts, by and large, in the opposite manner. It has offered a lot of support to alumni in various regions across the country when they have presented ideas for activities and programs. First Lew Fisher, then Brooks Foehl, were most supportive when I pitched the idea of Ephs-in-Entertainment and a Purple Cow Short Film Festival (featuring films made by or with significant participation of) Williams alumni.
Founding the former in 2002 and spearheading the latter in 2003 led to my election that year (’03) as President of the LA Regional Association. I guess the alumni office thought I did a good job in that capacity or else they wouldn’t have asked me to serve on the executive committee of the Society of Alumni.
From my experience, the alumni office is eager to help (and otherwise acknowledge) alumni who are willing to work to improve the college and its relationship to alumni. I say this to encourage all of you to get more involved at the local level. If there’s a regional association in your area, ask how you can help out. If there’s not, see if you can get one organized.
It would be great if other energetic alumni could set up professional organizations like Ephs-in-Entertainment where we have regular dinners where we can mix, mingle and reminisce.