Alumnae Alliance


To volunteer for a working group of the Alumnae Alliance, please click here.


Click here to nominate an alumna for an Alumnae Alliance Council position.


The Sweet Briar College Alumnae Alliance fosters and sustains Sweet Briar’s vibrant learning environment for women. The Alumnae Alliance promotes programs and services that enhance strong bonds of fellowship, mentorship and vision. It supports Sweet Briar as an institution dedicated in perpetuity to producing extraordinary scholars and leaders who serve the needs of a contemporary world.

The Alumnae Alliance Council has a working relationship with the alumnae relations and development office, assisting with and augmenting special projects and initiatives to further the operational needs of the College. As appropriate, the alumnae relations and development office seeks input and involvement from the Alumnae Alliance Council on strategic planning projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Alumnae Alliance and what does it do?

The Alumnae Alliance was created by the SBC Board of Directors on Sept. 26, 2015, as to ensure the continued engagement of the alumnae of the College as the College works to rebuild and innovate for the future. As described in the bylaws of the Board of Directors (adopted on April 23, 2016, and revised on Nov. 11, 2016), the Alumnae Alliance is intended to serve as the new vehicle for channeling alumnae volunteer work for the College. To that end, the Alumnae Alliance partners with the College administration in student recruiting efforts, fundraising, Reunion planning, providing networking and career advice to alumnae and students, and other alumnae relations projects, and serves as a voice for all alumnae, through the Alumnae Alliance Working Groups, to report on alumnae activities and concerns.

Alumnae volunteer by joining working groups in one (or more) of seven focus areas; by providing professional expertise as a volunteer to the Council, the College, and the Board; and by representing different alumnae constituencies and interests (e.g., class years, geographic regions, majors). Alumnae also volunteer in service to the College and to the Alumnae Alliance in a variety of service-oriented projects (e.g., Sweet Work Weeks and the Reunion Engagement Festival). The intent of these volunteer activities is to operationalize “The Sweet Briar Effect” by positively and productively engaging the time, talent, interests and passion of alumnae in service to the College and its alumnae.

Why is the Alumnae Alliance not an independent 501(c)(3) organization?

The Board of Directors decided to continue the organization of the Alumnae Alliance as part of the College rather than spin it off as a separately organized nonprofit because of the costs of operating a separate entity, including administrative costs, directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, and taxable deductions accounting, all of which are quite expensive. These costs are covered currently for the Alumnae Alliance by the College’s overall operations and accounting infrastructure and blanket insurance policy. In addition, SACS Principles of Accreditation 3.2.12 and 3.2.13 have specific requirements as to the College’s legal authority and operating control, particularly with regard to fundraising, of any entity organized separately from the College. For these reasons, the Board formed the new Alumnae Alliance as part of the College, just as the former Alumnae Association was.

How do I join the Alumnae Alliance?

All alumnae of Sweet Briar College are automatically members of the Alumnae Alliance. The term “alumnae” includes those who have graduated from Sweet Briar College, those who have received honorary degrees, and those who have completed at least one semester of coursework while enrolled in the College.

How do I volunteer for a working group or a project?

Contact the co-chairs of the working group or of the Alumnae Alliance and express your interest! From time to time, the Council solicits nominations for leadership positions or other opportunities (such as the call for nominations for positions on the Presidential Search Committee and the Alumnae Committee of the Board of Directors last summer). Selections are made based on professional skill sets, willingness to make the necessary time commitment, willingness to sign the SBC Volunteer Agreement, and commitment to uphold the guiding principles and expectations articulated in that Agreement.

Why is the Alumnae Alliance Council organized like it is?

The initial Alumnae Alliance Council was formed in September 2015 by the chair of the Alumnae Committee of the College Board of Directors to govern the day-to-day operations of the Alumnae Alliance. The Council formed in a “hub-and-spoke” model to promote shared leadership and team collaboration within and across working groups. This new business model for our alumnae community is also promoted by organizations such as (world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer services), (supporting kids and teens service, empowering them to become change makers in their communities and the world), (helping others and meeting critical needs in their communities), and (focused on helping Americans 55 and over serve in their communities), but to our knowledge this is the first time this model of professional volunteering has been used in a college or university setting. Sweet Briar’s community is somewhat unique and innovative because the alumnae professional skills-based volunteer service is often in a virtual organization, as our alumnae community is distributed around the world (with a concentration of alumnae in the United States).

How will the nominations process be publicized?

Nominations will be requested by the following means:

  • Announcement Postings (request for nominations, including self-nominations, using an online form coordinated with the College’s alumnae relations and development office using either Wufoo or MailChimp).
  • The Alumnae Alliance Facebook Page (
  • Alumnifire to solicit professional alumnae who might be looking for volunteer opportunities (
  • The Briar Wire (if time is permitted to include announcement in the normal publishing distribution cycle). Alumnae articles submissions for potential inclusion in the Briar Wire: Deadline for submission is the 7th of every month; articles should be sent to Clélie Steckel, editor-in-chief ( AR&D reserves the right to edit and fit in based on the monthly content. Alumnae typically receive the Briar Wire issue in paper format and/or e-copy around two weeks later.
  • The Sweet Briar College Alumnae Magazine (if time is permitted to include announcement in the normal publishing and distribution cycle)
  • Direct email distribution and request for nominations, including self-nominations, using an online form (e.g., coordinated with the alumnae relations and development office using either Wufoo or MailChimp). Class and Club leadership teams may be encouraged to share the information to their alumnae constituents.
  • In Person such as at Reunion (1st weekend after Memorial Day), Founders’ Day (3rd weekend in September), or other alumnae gatherings.

Who is in charge of the selection process?

The Alumnae Alliance Council will work together to orchestrate communications, run the nomination solicitation process, collect all submitted nominations, and report back to the full Alumnae Alliance Council in a timely manner regarding nominations for each open position. The Council will solicit nominees in multiple media forums from among the membership of the Alumnae Alliance. After collecting and collating the nominations, the Council will vet nominees with strong nomination support to confirm willingness to serve (including willingness to sign and uphold the principles articulated in the SBC Volunteer Agreement and an understanding of the time commitment involved). “Nomination support” includes a significant number of write-in recommendations, together with a résumé or biographical statement showing strong skills and fit for the position advertised. The Council will consult on the top candidates identified in this manner with College staff who work most closely with the particular volunteer area, e.g., AR&D, admissions and career services, again as to skills and fit. After making its selections, the Council will contact and confirm the new alumnae volunteers as quickly as possible after the nominations period ends, and provide onboarding training about the Alumnae Alliance, Council operations, the Council-AR&D Partnership Principles, the SBC Volunteer Agreement and other expectations.

Why is this process interim?

The selection process described above is an interim process because the Council is forming a new working group, the Strategic Initiatives-Governance Working Group, to address these and other governance issues. Until this working group completes its work and makes its recommendations, the Council is using an interim process to fill vacancies on the Council because there is a pressing need to staff these positions and continue the ongoing work of the various working groups.

What kinds of issues will the new Strategic Initiatives-Governance Working Group be addressing?

Potential areas of focus for this new working group include:

  • Developing governance principles and processes for the Alumnae Alliance Council, including researching, evaluating and recommending alternative options for filling positions on the Council; terms of service; responsibilities and job descriptions; defining roles and responsibilities for leading the different working groups; and developing self-serve templates and tools and information as to how the working groups should operate.
  • Refreshing the AA Council and AR&D Memorandum of Understanding (the MOU basically serves to define how the Council and AR&D interact in accordance with the SACS Principles of Accreditation and in alignment with the SBC Volunteer agreement, how decisions are made, how conflicts are resolved, etc.).
  • Clarifying “How to Volunteer?” (what is the process, how does an application get routed, etc.).
  • Explaining “What happens when an alumna submits an idea online or has an idea and wants to see if the Alumnae Alliance WGs should take on?” (How does the raw idea get shaped, refined, worked into a one-page proposal with resources and timing defined, etc.?)
  • Reviewing and revising if necessary the Alumnae Alliance Core Values and Guiding Principles.
  • Helping plan and implement six-month priorities (periodically revised by the Alumnae Alliance Council in consultation with AR&D, and approved by the Alumnae Committee of the Board) so that different working groups understand what they are being asked to do and can work on specific project plans, leading to successful project execution.

Alumnae Alliance Council Working Groups and Co-chairs

Council Operations

This group oversees Council execution toward 6-month priorities; plans and manages Council meetings, agendas and minutes; and recruits and develops the leadership bench of Plus Ones.

Co-chairs Sarah vonRosenberg ’72

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Debra Elkins ’93

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Alumnae Admissions Ambassadors

This group coordinates alumnae volunteers to staff college fairs, visit high schools and contact prospective students.

Co-chairs Michelle Badger ’06

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Heather Ewing ’90

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Alumnae Clubs

This group coordinates alumnae club events in collaboration with the College.

Co-chairs Norma Valentine ’93

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Kathryn Hagist Yunk ’91

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Alumnae Communications

This group supports traditional and social media communications targeted to reach nine decades of alumnae.

Co-chairs Jane Dure ’82

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Phyllis Jordan ’80

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Sarah Reidy Ferguson ’96

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Eleanor O’Connor ’07

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Class Leadership Teams

This group assists with class notes, class communications and maintaining alumnae contact information.

Co-chairs These co-chairs are matrixed and working with Alumnae Communications to focus on communications for all classes


This is a group of volunteers who help with College-directed fundraising initiatives.

Co-chairs Cathy Foose ’78 (Interim)

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Governance and Strategic Initiatives

This group develops the annual board report on the Alumnae Alliance, updates Council strategy and governance documents and oversees the Council leadership nominations process.

Co-chairs Katie Robertson ’97

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Sarah Clement ’75

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“The Network” and Lifelong Learning

This group connects alumnae and students across generations, building a network of professional and personal support.

Co-chairs Katie Schellhammer ’95

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Young Alumnae Squad

This group represents young alumnae interests and designs, plans and carries out initiatives focused on young alumnae.

Co-chairs Alexandra Grobman ’12

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Sara Parsatoon ’11

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Alumnae Alliance Council Meeting Minutes

2018 2017 2016 2015
January 1-9-2018
February 2-6-2018 2-14-2017
March 3-14-2017
April 4-11-2017
May 5-9-2017
June 6-6-2017
July 7-11-2017
August 8-8-2017
September 9-5-2017
October 10-3-2017
November 11-14-2017
December 12-12-2017 12-13-2016 12-8-2015