Alfred University News

Alfred University students travel to nation’s capital for Leadership Forum

More than 30 Alfred University students and a group of faculty and staff traveled to Washington, D.C., April 3-5 for the second annual DC Purple City Student Leadership Forum.

The event, themed “Connections, Conversations, Developing Relationships,” focused on networking and mentoring and was funded by Washington, D.C.-area alumni. More than 70 students applied to attend this year’s event. Thirty-one students attended, representing each of the University’s academic units and including international students from five countries—Senegal, Ukraine, Yemen, Chile, and Ecuador.

The event was sponsored by the Alfred University Division of University Advancement and funded by several Washington, D.C.-area alumni and friends. It was organized by Diana Maguire, associate professor of management, alumna Danielle Johnson-Kutch ’03, Melissa Van Winkle, director of Alumni and Constituent Development, and Robin Mazejka, associate vice president, Philanthropic Relationships. Kutch is director of Global Government Affairs at Docusign and is an active member of the Alfred University community. In addition to leading the DC Purple City group, she serves as president of the Alumni Council and as a member of the Judson Leadership Center Advisory Board. 

The three-day trip began Wednesday, April 3, with a reception at the Georgetown home of Tanya and Alejandro Mayorkas, parents of first-year Alfred University student Amelia (Mimi) Mayorkas. Alejandro Mayorkas is secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and a member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet. The group of students were treated to a meal prepared by Tanya and chatted with Secretary Mayorkas about his career.

On Thursday, April 4, a full-day leadership forum was held at the offices of KPMG accounting firm, where Alfred University alumna and Board of Trustees member Patty St. George ’89 is a partner. Mark Zupan, University president, joined 14 Alfred University alumni panelists: Board of Trustees members St. George, Russ Cesari ’67, Steve Heine ’81 (Board vice chair), and Bryan Hill ’90; and Patricia Riley ’65 (keynote speaker), Mark O’Meara ’74, David Kaplan ’78, Bruce Baschuk ’75, Christie Swarts ’96, David Bachrach ’94, Arnie Podgorsky ’72, Jared Cooper ’13, Meghann Galloway ’10, and Pamela Boozer-Strother ’91.

Students engaged with alumni in interactive sessions on finding common connections, making connections, developing an elevator pitch, telling your story, advocating for yourself, and developing mentoring relationships.

That evening, students had an opportunity for more networking as they joined forum participants and additional Alfred University alumni gathered for a reception at the Mayflower Hotel. According to Maguire, two students on the trip—Rob Chiusano, a finance major, and Emily Woo, an art major—made some meaningful connections immediately after the reception.

“They literally used their elevator pitches with other elevator riders and walked away with professional contacts,” Maguire related. “Rob connected with owners of a financial firm and Emily connected with professionals from a distinguished art gallery in New Jersey. Both students were excited about their newfound ability to connect!”

On Friday, April 5, the group toured the U.S. Capitol before returning to campus.