Just announced! Almabase’s 50U50 powered by Blackbaud recognizing champions in alumni relations and advancement. There is me in the middle of it all is me as a judge among a distinguished panel of fellow judges. How did I get here?


In early 2021, I awoke to find myself on a prestigious list: 15 Alumni Relations Leaders You Should Follow on LinkedIn

Wow! All my posts and articles on LinkedIn paid off! I didn’t take this accolade and run. I decided to nurture the relationship that put me on this list.

I reached out to the team at Almabase who published the list, including CEO Kalyan Varma and Shravan Chitharanjan, Brand Marketing Manager. It started with my thanks. Then on both sides our curiosity took over to see how we might collaborate further. This led to a webinar with Kalyan as host and stellar alumni researcher Dr Kevin Fleming of Prosper NonProfit Advisors– as we presented on The Alumni Centric Approach to Transformational Philanthropy

Not wanting to lose the brilliance of the online discussion event, Kevin and I published an overview on the Almabase blog in November 2021.

Networking like this is a win-win – Almabase is creating meaningful content for the broader alumni relations community, and, of course, building its brand presence. For me, I was promoting my book The Alumni Way that was hot off the press only weeks before. Kevin and I also wanted to promote our chapter on transformational philanthropy in the NAFSA published book  Engaging International Alumni as Strategic Partners.

And so began our connections every so often over the past two years, special touchpoints for mutually beneficial results– and the crucial outcome of the connections was new content to support alumni relations professional community.

Fast forward to last summer, I was approached by the team from Almabase with their idea for a 50 under 50 list for alumni relations and advancement professionals. They contacted me to get my thoughts on the idea and also to ask if I would consider becoming a judge for the event. As with many networking occasions this is done as an act of volunteer service, which I was happy to oblige (and truth be told found the sharing with the team a lot of fun!). I was honoured to be asked to be a judge for the 50U50 inaugural list. I had the pleasure of meeting fellow judges as a group and individually either as part of past networking or to learn about my fellow judges — their interests and expertise.

Now with the nominations are open NOW for the 50U50!! Check out more information about the list here.

What can we learn about networking from my experience?

1- Networking can be sparked from anywhere and anyone – be open to new connections around every corner!

2- Show gratitude and follow-up – showing your grateful for the connection and also follow-up on how the connections helped you. Be the one people remember for your kindness, gratitude and willingness to go the extra mile.

3- Find mutually beneficial collaborations – this isn’t always possible with every connection, but it is useful to think about not only what you can get from a new connection, but also what you can give in return. Always try to overdeliver if you can- be generous – this is remembered and helps bring about more opportunities.

4- Dive in! Enjoy the experience and connections with new people. If you find ways to promote them, their work do so!

*Please note I hold no affiliation or affiliate marketing with Almabase, Blackbaud or even Prosper NonProfit Advisors. I am giving of my service as a volunteer judge to find alumni relations champions and I love to promote  those doing brilliant things for alumni relations! 

If you want more information on the Next Generation Networking workshop for alumni and students, or you would like to explore networking further – follow me on LinkedIn or book a Discovery Call.


Photo caption: 50U50 judges: Dr Maria Gallo (me!), Dr Jay Dillon (UC Berkeley), Dr Shalonda Martin (Pomona College), Jenny Cooke Smith (CASE Insights)