massmind - Get Together - YAAMNY 2008 Strategic Planning Retreat Reflections by Nicole Rose

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This weekend I am having the experience of coming together with diverse members of the Yale Alumni community of New York in a discussion that is encouraging the expansion of ideas through an all day strategic planning session directed at developing a scope of vision and objectives for YAAMNY. The group is comprised of about 30 Yale Alumni leaders under the direction of Mark Dollhopf '77 (Executive Director-AYA) and Jenny Chavira '89 (Director for Major Cities-AYA). The retreat started last night with a wonderful cocktail hour and dinner at the Tarrytown House and Estate, during which all of the retreat members had a chance to get to know each other, share what the Yale experience meant to each of us and communicate our vision of involvement with YAAMNY and New York's Shared Interest Groups (SIGs). Some of the questions/thoughts that have been coming up during today's discussion are: How is New York a better place because there are leaders here? How is the Yale leadership made manifest in New York? How are we able to simultaneously define ourselves is individuals within the Yale family (Shared Interest Groups & YAMMNY), AND make a difference in the world at large? How do we continue the Yale value of 'life long learning and service' through the alumni association? How do we leverage the talents of our Yale community to achieve our collective goals? Mark Dollhopf, Executive Director of the AYA, presented the concepts of powerful experiences promote serial reciprocity, and that the combination of 1) Vision and 2) Leadership were integral and crucial components to the sucess of a non-profit structure. He explained that the relationship between the AYA and the different alumni associations and SIGs has changed, that the AYA is here to support the different groups the way that a professional support staff would support the board and volunteers of a non-profit. He is alo focused on leveraging the talents of the alumni membership in a meaninful way so that alumni are invested in giving to the organization, rather than just thinking 'what can i get from this'. An interesting trajectory of YAAMNY history was presented by the various presidents of YAAMNY throughout its inception to the present day. Alberto, the current president of YAAMNY, underscores that the friction of communication that used to exist has basically disappeared and now the end user communicates directly with the producer's content, as seen and facilitated by the YAAAMNY website. There was some response to this culture of open access to information or 'democratization of information' - that it devalues information. Mark Dollhopf also just mentioned that the danger in the current medium of social networking that the form of communication ends up becoming the message itself. This is really a very engaging conversation we're happening and I feel like the values that made my time at Yale very special: intellectual discourse, diversity, and sharing of talents, are all a part of this event. One of the most meaningful personal moments that has happened here this weekend is that one of the alum leaders here is the daughter of my Yale School of Music professor, Ronald Roseman, who passed away 8 years ago. Mr. Roseman had a profound impact on my life in many ways, and I am so aware at this moment of the importance of the Yale legacy and the ways in which it connects us all. We are currently discussing as I write the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of YAAMNY. I am going to sign off on this article and rejoin the discussion that is happening. Right now a lot of interesting points are coming up, and there has been some heated discussion here!