In 2015 Gretchen Dobson was engaged by the International Education Unit to consult on a project to assess our approach to global alumni engagement, This 6 month project involved a series of internal and external consultations, all geared towards creating a unique approach to global alumni engagement for a state government. Gretchen’s collaborative and communicative approach enabled us to engage with more than 40 stakeholders over the period and to synthesis the views of many disparate stakeholders. Her extensive knowledge of the alumni community, sustainable alumni engagement approaches and global best practice in program management and volunteer development helped us to think about alumni engagement in a new light.”Rebecca HallFormer Executive DirectorTrade, Economic Development, Employment and Innovation, State of Victoria (AUS)
Alumni engagement is a key pillar of the Australian government Australia Awards program. It was evident that we needed an expert to guide our strategic thinking in relation to supporting 22 Alumni Associations in Africa. It was fortuitous that I met Gretchen at the IEAA Conference in 2014. She came on board to guide the delivery of our inaugural Alumni Association Capacity Workshop in Africa. Gretchen demonstrated strong inter personal skills, making participants feel at ease and express their thoughts freely. She created a safe environment for dialogue and encouraged all to learn from each other. With her extensive experience in alumni relations, her approach as a facilitator was authentic, offering practical and theoretical approaches that resonated with the audience.
Partnering for Success:
When the UW Alumni Association began developing our six-year business plan for future engagement with alumni we knew we wanted to get it right the first time. That is when we decided to partner with Lee and his team of consultants at Patouillet Consulting. They took time to listen and understand the unique aspects of our culture. Gretchen Dobson served as the firm’s lead consultant onsite and did a masterful job working with our Alumni Board and Strategic Planning committee. With their personalized and customized approach for the University of Wyoming, we completed, and have begun implementing, a comprehensive strategic plan that ensures we provide critical and relevant support and services to alumni, students and the University of Wyoming for the future.
University of Wyoming Alumni Association
I worked closely with Gretchen on our inaugural international alumni relations program this past spring and summer. She did a remarkable job of engaging our faculty as well as our administrative leadership, including the vice chancellor for student affairs and a variety of development directors. The support Gretchen provided was top-notch and really demonstrated for my shareholders how she was able to leverage a modest budget to achieve a remarkable outcome, while building a strong foundation for our future efforts.
Dr. JC Schnabl
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations & Executive Director,
UMass Amherst Alumni Association
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Gretchen Dobson has a unique sense of global engagement, visible at every detailed level of her work. Her vision and tactical approach make her a joy to work with and her execution and timeliness go a long way towards a successful end result. We first worked with her as we strategized a method to engage our alumni in China. She was key in orchestrating individual and group meetings, both leading to worthwhile outcomes. Her personal touch is evident and her energy is contagious…I have strong confidence in Gretchen and her ability to help unite our alumni across the world.
Senior Director, Alumni Relations
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Academies Australasia, a private education and training provider with over a 100 year history, contracted Gretchen Dobson to develop an Alumni Relations Plan to engage our current students and alumni in furthering our brand and educational opportunities.
We all agree it has been an invaluable project, and a great pleasure to work with someone as strategically-minded and professional as Gretchen. Six of us at our 3 locations – Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore – were guided through the process (via Skype across up to 4 timezones!) from defining the rationale and gathering alumni feedback, to determining and implementing strategies.
Although private education and training providers don’t typically establish strategic global alumni networks, Gretchen applied her extensive knowledge and experience in this realm to our particular context and customised her coaching sessions to suit our needs. Gretchen is so generous with her expertise and time, and not just in relation to alumni development.
We could not recommend Gretchen highly enough if you too are looking to engage with your alumni, and current students, in a meaningful and mutually beneficial way.
Assistant General Manager, Partnerships
Academies Australasia Group
Franklin College Switzerland is a young, international, liberal arts college located in Lugano, Switzerland. The College has approximately 5,000 alumni who reside in more than 100 countries. Our entire Advancement operation is made up of 3.5 staff members, and as a result of our limited resources, we are always exploring ways to increase efficiency. This summer Gretchen helped me build the framework for an alumni and parent admissions ambassador program that I’m sure will have a tremendous impact on Franklin’s global recruitment efforts. She also helped me further develop our nascent alumni clubs program. I always came away from our session with lots of practical, cost-effective, ideas that would greatly enhance our programs. Simply put, Gretchen is amazing and I look forward to more sessions with her in the future!
Director of Alumni and Parent Relations
Franklin College Switzerland
Gretchen has been of great help to Berkeley Law as we expand our international alumni community. Our rapidly growing LL.M. program requires more alumni services in more places than ever before. Gretchen has helped us start to develop our global network; provided suggestions and expertise on event and activity programming, budgeting, travel planning and relationship-building; and served as a resource for information on how institutions of all kinds are developing international alumni clubs and chapters. We have been very pleased with her experience, advice and assistance.
Ms. Chaney Kourouniotis
Communications & Alumni Relations, LLM Program
University of California, Berkeley
The University of Warwick is one of the UK’s leading new universities, with a strong international focus: of 23,000 current students, over 8,000 come from outside the UK from over 120 countries. We asked Gretchen to help us to engage more fully with our international alumni during the Fall of 2012. Gretchen undertook an extensive round of interviews and focus groups with existing students, alumni, academic and administrative staff, and presented us with a comprehensive set of recommendations, many of which we expect to adopt. People responded well to her approach, which enhanced the quality of the report, and gave us a flying start to begin implementation.
Director International Office
University of Warwick
Gretchen provided a review of Exeter’s Alumni Relations strategy as part of the planning for our new campaign. Her advice was thorough, thoughtful and spot-on. It resulted in several clear recommendations for how we can quickly and easily improve our programme, including how we should focus our resources and what we should stop doing, saving us time and focusing our activities. With her years of experience, Gretchen was able to look at our programme and quickly assess its strengths and weaknesses. Her input was invaluable.
Deputy Director of Development and Alumni Relations
University of Exeter
With a view to strengthening the fundraising function of the unit, our Development Office invited Gretchen to conduct a training workshop for our executive and managerial staff members in early 2012. Gretchen’s workshop excelled in its capacity to tailor for the needs of teams with different portfolios, to render in-depth analysis to specific case studies, and to provide useful pointers that help us to land on possible solutions. It proved to be an effective tool for our office to consolidate previous experience and map out our next strategic plan.
Associate Vice-President (Development)
City University of Hong Kong
“After engaging Gretchen, within a matter of 4 months we had an alumni association. She was persuasive, she was clear, she was direct, she could use case studies, and deal with very tiny institution.”
“I think Gretchen, in her book Being Global, makes quite good points all the way through. She really makes the point about the lifecyle of alumi: from a student, into an alum, into a donor, into a major shaper of policy within an institution.”
“Ultimately, Bruford Connects is looking for opportunities for the institution. This new network of alumni engagement raises the flag for us. It’s really helped now because when I go around the world people know who we are and they didn’t know that three years ago.”
Professor Michael Earley
Principal & Chief Executive
Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance