Regional Volunteer Caucus: San Francisco Review

Alumni Club of Houston VP, Linda Breed, AB'96, shares her reflections about her Volunteer Caucus experience.

As a current Co-Vice President of the Alumni Club of Houston, Linda Breed, AB'96, travelled to San Francisco this past February to attend the Regional Volunteer Caucus.

What did you like best about Regional Volunteer Caucus: San Francisco?
It was great to see attendees from different schools and it really reflects the broad base of alumni who support the University of Chicago. Thanks to the quality and diversity of schools that comprise the University, there are alumni working in government, corporations and in the not-for-profit sector. The Regional Alumni Clubs and Affinity groups are the umbrella organizations which span all schools and it's a unique characteristic of Chicago that you would get to interact with such a diverse group.

I also had the chance to meet up with a former Lower Wallace housemate, Kelli Bagley Rubin, AB'96, during the weekend in San Francisco.  We were nextdoor neighbors at Woodward Court (RIP) our first year and are still in touch after all this time. The ties that bind through Chicago are strong!

Which were your favorite sessions at Regional Volunteer Caucus: San Francisco?

I really enjoyed "Thinking Beyond Leadership," led by the Alumni Club of Boston co-Presidents, Koren Phillips, AB'05, and David Wang, LAB'88, AB'92, MBA'99. They had great solutions and their presentation generated a lot of great conversation and feedback. I wrote down several ideas to present to my fellow board members. I liked their change management approach to identifying a purpose to the club and articulating their mission and vision to generate some goals for themselves as a leadership team.

I also enjoyed hearing an update from Nim Chinniah on how the University has evolved and impacted its surroundings in Chicago. I haven't been back to campus in many years and I was amazed by how much things have changed, and how the environment has progressed to be more student-friendly.

What were the key learnings you will bring back to the Alumni Club of Houston?

There were a lot of best practices and experiences of other Alumni Clubs which I took back to the Alumni Club of Houston Board. Some of the points that impressed me most were that the purpose of the Regional Clubs should evolve as our cities and geographies evolve, and that a primary goal of all Regional clubs should be to continuously attract and recruit new members to join. As leaders of the club, we need to be on point to welcome and pay extra attention to alumni who might be coming to a local event for their first time. We also should identify members who have interest or potential to take over leadership roles in the future, and cultivate their interest.

Alumni Panelists Koryn Kendall, AB'06, and Doug Given, PhD'79, MD'80

How has your volunteer perspective changed as result of your attendance?

I'm more energized to do what I can to expand the membership of the Alumni Club of Houston, and see how we can reach out and connect with other local volunteers who are part of ASC or other UChicago clubs to more proactively include them in our programming.

Would you encourage others to attend future regional caucuses, and why?
Yes I would, if only to steal the great ideas of others and apply them in your own local setting.

Are there any volunteer opportunities/initiatives that you learned about that you will now get involved with at Regional Volunteer Caucus?

I'm currently Vice President of the Alumni Club of Houston, but I will do more to actively follow up with alumni who are new to Houston or perhaps showing up to club events once every few years. I see a lot of opportunity for Houston to grow and become more of a powerful presence as we are a major city that is benefitting from an industry boom. I suspect that there are others who, like me, have relocated to Houston only recently and are looking for people to meet and things to do which connect to Chicago's "lifelong learning" philosophy.

To see photos from this year's volunteer caucus visit the website. Materials handed out at the sessions are also available online. We hope to see you at a future Volunteer Caucus!