Virginia Alumni Chapters Bring New Energy, Connections

September 26, 2018

MBU Alumni Chapters are on the move. There’s a dynamic energy coursing across the state, invigorating new and longtime members alike.

Over the past 10 months, the collective efforts of dedicated alumni volunteers and MBU’s Office of Alumni Engagement have created more than 30 chapter events for four alumni-dense areas in Virginia: SAWMBU (Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro), RoanokeMBU, RVAMBU (Richmond region), and Hampton RoadsMBU.

Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro teacher appreciation. A family-friendly cookout with the MBU Education department. A Mother’s Day event at the Salem Red Sox, complete with a shout-out to Mary Baldwin alumna and Mother’s Day creator Anna Jarvis. Channeling The Great Gatsby at the newly restored period hotel, The Cavalier, in Virginia Beach. A behind-the-scenes tour of Barren Ridge vineyards in Fishersville, with wine tastings straight from the barrel. No matter the setting, MBU chapter gatherings bring alumni together for fun, fellowship, and networking.

RVAMBU chapter members sport MBU sunglasses at their launch event, a networking happy hour at Travinia Wine Bar: (l-r) Debbie Wolfe Shea ’77, Bebe Herbert ’77, Ellen Gill Ball ’77, and Elizabeth Taylor Carter ’77.

The current alumni chapter momentum is built upon one foundational principle: creating a platform to highlight MBU’s vibrant alumni community, showcasing graduates’ good work — both professionally and in their communities — and connecting their talents with opportunities to benefit Mary Baldwin students.

“Mary Baldwin alumni have a legacy of connecting with each other to continue the Baldwin experience long after graduation,” said Amy Davenport, associate director of alumni engagement. “From this vibrant historical legacy the MBU Alumni Chapters tagline was born:  Connect. Collaborate. Celebrate.”

The alumni chapters initiative aims to grow and sustain vibrant alumni-led chapters with support from MBU’s Office of Alumni Engagement (OAE), opening up opportunities for all alumni to connect, celebrate, and collaborate with their peers and the university. In addition to events, OAE has worked on developing a strategic plan and chapter infrastructure for alumni chapters, and it serves as the campus liaison with the Alumni Board.

“I am so excited to see the momentum that the Office of Alumni Engagement has been able to establish with local chapters in such a short time,” said Jules Moss ’92, president-elect of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and chair of the Engagement Committee. “I look forward to the Alumni Board Engagement Committee continuing to work with Amy Davenport to expand our chapters nationally and bring diverse and exciting programs and events to our alumni.”

To learn more about alumni chapter opportunities or how to help plan a gathering, please reach out to Amy Davenport. There are many exciting upcoming events to celebrate Apple Day, plus book club discussions and cocktail hours.

“This refreshed approach to chapter development and event momentum could not have taken place without the leadership of the Alumni Board Engagement Committee and alumni volunteers,” said Davenport. “We truly appreciate our alumni’s dedication to Mary Baldwin and their continued involvement in the chapters!”

Here are some highlights of recent events from MBU Alumni Chapter members.

RoanokeMBU celebrates come rain or shine at Ballast Point Brewing Company: (l-r) Mallory Churning '08, Katy Cookston '08, Ginny Savage '69, Betsy McLeod '02, Rae Cable '92, Jessie Pretz '10, and Amy Davenport, associate director of alumni engagement.

“My favorite event was our August Happy Hour in Salem, Virginia. We had the largest turn out yet and represented 60 decades of traditions at Mary Baldwin. As a Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership graduate, I had the honor of meeting a former Alumni Board member who served as an advocate of the corps during its inception and creation. It was incredible to be able to thank her for her support and leadership.”
Mallory Churning '08

Tatiana Bryant '17 (l) and MBU student Shawnee Lee '19 (r) attend the most recent SAWMBU Alumni Chapter karaoke event, where Lee was able to build relationships in her network, meeting local professionals in counseling, criminal justice and real estate.

“What motivates me most to stay connected with my fellow squirrels is not only supporting and encouraging one another, but also working to better assist current students in their journey. It’s also important to stay connected because each of us has various talents and skill sets that, when combined together, can accomplish great things.”
Tatiana Bryant '17

The Hampton RoadsMBU Alumni Chapter launches with a networking happy hour in Newport News: (left side, front-back) Mallory Butler '88, Lanae Hawkins '06, Holly Gray '11, (right side, front-back) Board of Trustees member Trimble Spitzer '99 and Emily Hunt '08.

“When I was at Mary Baldwin as a student, the best advice I ever got was to get involved. Once I started participating on campus, my enjoyment of college skyrocketed. I think about alumni engagement in the same way. The first step is always get involved.”
Emily Hunt '08, who attended MBU’s Program for the Exceptionally Gifted

Clair Carter Bell '76 (l), 2017 Alumni Award recipient, and Dana Flanders '82 (r) take part in a private tour and wine tasting with Barren Ridge winemaker Tim Jordan, sharing the exceptional technique and terroir of the wines unique to his winery and region.

“I love attending Mary Baldwin chapter events to see old friends and to meet younger alumni and learn about their experiences and what they are doing after graduation. Our most exciting SAWMBU event this year was the happy hour at the newly opened Blackburn Inn. When I was a student at Mary Baldwin, there was a minimum security prison on this site, converted from the original Western State Mental Hospital facility. From the top floor, you have a fabulous view of Mary Baldwin on the hill.”
Clair Carter Bell '76

Donté Montague ’15, a graduate of MBU Online and recent recipient of Teacher of the Year for Staunton City Schools, helps represent Mary Baldwin University in Staunton’s Happy Birthday America parade on July 4.

“After becoming an active member of the local MBU alumni chapter, I believe the Fourth of July Parade was the most exciting event that I have participated in. I was able to meet even more alumni and make more friends. We had the opportunity to promote our university to the community in a very positive way. I was cheered on by many of my students and parents as they witnessed me represent an organization that I am a part of.”
Donté Montague ’15