Volunteers Honored at Donaldson Alumni Leadership Summit

Alumni volunteers gathered at Edward P. Evans Hall on Friday, May 4, where they networked, learned about Yale SOM’s strategic priorities, and were honored for their service to the school.

The school welcomed 250 volunteers for the event, called the Donaldson Alumni Leadership Summit after Founding Dean William H. Donaldson. They were among the more than 2,000 alumni who have contributed to the school over the last four years by serving as alumni chapter leaders or class secretaries, mentoring students, speaking on campus, helping to recruit prospective students, participating in Career Development Office events, and more.

Donaldson and his wife, Jane, who served as the school’s first director of admissions, welcomed and thanked alumni in a video message.

“The fact that you have chosen to volunteer on SOM’s behalf in any number of ways is really heartening to us,” said Jane Donaldson, “and I think part of the whole spirit of what SOM is trying to do, which is to create a community that will last a lifetime.”

William Donaldson added, “Your tireless efforts to support SOM and the SOM community have been inspiring. Jane and I together are incredibly grateful for what you’ve done to support the community.”

Three individual alumni were presented with the Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership.

Jamila Abston ’17 was honored for her efforts as an ambassador for the EMBA program, as a speaker, and in bringing diverse guest speakers to Evans Hall. “A leader, role model, mentor, and exemplary volunteer, Jamila embodies the mission of Yale SOM both professionally and personally,” said Ramon Soto ’08 as he presented her award. “Whenever alumni are called upon by the MBA for Executives admissions team for help, she is the first to respond.”

Steve Bookbinder ’81 was honored for his contributions to the Yale SOM Alumni Survey. “Steve generously offered his time and expertise to the school to review the raw data, help uncover key insights, and provide feedback on future survey design,” Soto said. “Putting on his alumnus hat, Steve also helped think through the best ways to communicate the findings and next steps to alumni.”

Sura Tilakawardane ’13 was honored for his work introducing students to job opportunities at CNN. “Sura eagerly agrees to all requests to share his career story with students and initiates creative ideas to engage with students and help them shine,” Soto said.

Three alumni groups were also presented with the Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership.

The leadership of the New York City Alumni Chapter was honored for its work engaging the largest regional alumni group:

  • Rebecca Lilly Brooks ’98
  • Sulexan Chery ’15
  • Jonathan Dayton ’09
  • Charlie Gaetjens ’05
  • Jean Goldwyn ’14
  • Nik Khakee ’96
  • Tanmay Manohar ’16
  • Prem Tumkosit ’11

 “Engaging such a large number of alumni spread across class years, degree programs, sectors, and industries is not an easy task,” Soto said, “but this leadership team holds strong to their mission ‘to foster a community of Yale SOM alumni in the New York metropolitan area, advancing our careers and interests in business and society.’”

The Hong Kong Alumni Chapter leadership team was recognized for its success in connecting the alumni in Hong Kong to each other and the school:

  • Sam Wong ’89
  • Vince Chan ’02
  • Daniel Rupp ’06
  • Maggie Chen ’10
  • Rob Johnson ’03
  • Renu Bhatia ’88

Soto said, “They have a unique ability—with absolutely no prompting from the school—to mobilize the alumni community in Hong Kong. Their annual Yale SOM Alumni Thanksgiving Dinner has become a special tradition and an event everyone looks forward to each year.”

The Global Chapters Committee of the Yale SOM Alumni Advisory Board was honored for its work overseeing global chapters and assisting in regional alumni engagement efforts:

  • Philip Plottel ’98
  • Ed O’Connor ’11
  • Mauricio Voorduin ’97
  • Gunhan Karakullukcu ’93
  • Shannon Marimon ’10

“The committee worked very hard over a two-year period to help Alumni Relations launch the new Alumni Groups platform and roll out a series of mission-focused and easily adaptable resources for chapter leaders,” Soto said.

Soto also presented the 2018 Faculty Award for Outstanding Alumni Engagement to Zoë Chance, assistant professor of marketing. In November 2017, students in Chance’s Mastering Influence and Persuasion course spent several evenings making fundraising calls for the Alumni Fund, practicing the art of cold-calling and getting to know the Yale SOM alumni community.

“Thanks to Zoë, alumni have deepened their connection to Yale SOM and she has drawn them into closer relationships with current students,” Soto said. “Thank you, Zoë, for leveraging your course in such a creative, important, and powerful way.”