Alumni Council News

Council Work Aims to Strengthen GC Pride

If you’ve been to a Grinnell sporting event on campus in the past few years, you’ve heard this two-word phrase shouted as a rallying cry: “GC Pride!” Right now, when everything seems uncertain, I continue to be filled with GC Pride.

The response to Grinnell’s decision to send the vast majority of students home and conduct the rest of the semester online has been inspiring. More than $100,000 has been raised for the new Supporting Our Students (SOS) Fund, which helped students get home and get the resources they needed to continue their education. In the midst of this pandemic, I have never felt more GC Pride than I do right now.

The Alumni Council spring meeting took place just days before the College announced its transition to distance learning. During the meeting, the council focused on four main activities.

First, the council met with Ben Newhouse, dean of students, and Terry Mason, the new dean of health and wellness, to hear an update on the work of the student affairs and the student health and wellness teams. This includes work to increase access to mental health services on campus, including telemedicine, as well as proactively working with students on harm reduction strategies.

Second, the Alumni Council, led by its Alumni Engagement and Communications Committee, adopted a new communications plan. A chief goal in this plan is a more directed effort on behalf of the Alumni Council to reach out to fellow alumni and to provide communication before and after each meeting, so we can gather input on topics to be discussed and report on results. This plan will be rolled out starting in the fall.

Third, the Alumni Council, led by Ahsan Rahim ’11, developed and hosted a workshop on personal finance skills. The workshop covered topics like signing a lease, and it was attended by more than 60 students. This work helps prepare students for life after Grinnell.

Finally, the council’s Ad Hoc Civility Committee continued to refine and develop the new Code of Leadership, a statement of shared values for our alumni volunteers. This code was created to articulate the importance of a professional, respectful, and kind environment for all Grinnell College community members.

On behalf of the entire Alumni Council, I want to thank all of you for stepping up to support Grinnell’s students during this difficult time. We should all feel great GC Pride at how we are handling this moment.

Membership Updates

This meeting marked the final one for five members:

  • Mary Knuth Otto ’63
  • Fritz Schwaller ’69
  • Rhonda Stuart ’86
  • Jim Asplund ’88
  • Ahsan Rahim ’11

Their contributions greatly enriched the alumni community, and they will be missed.

The council also elected Lester Alemán ’07 president-elect and five new members to terms starting in June:

  • Becky Reetz Neal ’65
  • Ed Atkins ’66
  • Tom Triplett ’69
  • Scott Shepherd ’82
  • Ben Vaughn ’15

The council will continue to support alumni and students through this uncertain time and into a new era following President Raynard S. Kington’s departure at the end of the academic year. We would love to hear your ideas of how we can best do so.

The Grinnell College Alumni Council supports purposeful, lifelong relationships among Grinnell alumni and between the alumni and College communities.

The Evolution of Multicultural Reunion

Following previous targeted reunion events for black students and the first LGBTQIA+ reunion in 2016, Multicultural Reunion seeks to establish a sense of inclusion among alumni who may or may not have had that community as students by celebrating the strength we find in our overlapping personal, cultural, spiritual, and social identities.

Instrumental to the success of Multicultural Reunion is the strong leadership from the alumni community. Rhonda Stuart ’86 chaired the first Multicultural Reunion Planning Committee in 2017, culminating in events attended by 150 alumni. That work was recognized in 2018 in the best diversity program award category by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

In 2019 Stuart returned to head the reunion planning committee, along with co-chairs Graciela Guzmán ’11, Lester Alemán ’07, and Chris Wilde ’88. Our partners in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Sarah Smith-Benanti and Jayn Bailey Cheney ’05, and multicultural organization student leaders met via phone conferences and on-campus meetings to formulate events to explore the impact of diversity initiatives on Grinnell student life.

The 2019 Multicultural Reunion in November brought 120 alumni back for events designed to help attendees meet and reconnect, starting with our Friday kickoff event, “Looking Back and Leaping Forward.” Guided by prepared prompts, participants shared freely their fun memories, frustrations, and vulnerabilities. We segued into “Invisible Identities,” a panel of alumni and a current student, moderated by Anna Dudda ’96, to discuss topics such as hidden disabilities and neurodiversity, with frank conversation about how resources for students with disabilities have evolved over time.

On the Jewish Sabbath Friday evening, Rabbi Rachel Weiss ’98 led a Shabbat service prior to the lively, soul-stirring keynote address by Michael Twitty, a gay, African American Jewish culinary cultural interpreter, author of The Cooking Gene, which features stories exploring his intersectional identity through the lens of food traditions.

Saturday started with a wide-ranging conversation among the diversity professionals on the College staff to provide status reports about initiatives and the challenges in growing these programs. Next, we heard from a panel comprised of outstanding multicultural historians including a current student, two alumni, and Daniel Kaiser, professor emeritus. His new book explores the lives of African Americans, including Edith Renfrow Smith ’39 and her family, who lived in the town of Grinnell in the early 20th century.

At the second annual gala dinner, five alumni were honored with the 2019 Diversity Champion Award: Hubert Farbes ’69, Roy Walker ’69, Merryll Penson ’70, Grant Crandall ’69, and U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate ’69. Professor Kesho Scott, inaugural recipient of the award in 2017, was on hand to present. Each alum was instrumental in founding Concerned Black Students (CBS) and the Conney M. Kimbo Black Cultural Center (BCC). The weekend concluded Sunday morning with Black Church in Herrick Chapel, featuring the Rev. Brian Smith ’94 and the Young, Gifted, and Black Choir.

Concurrent events rounded out the weekend, including the queer people of color student-produced drag show, now entering its second decade, and the Multicultural Digital Archive Project, a concept for a future segment of the Digital Grinnell website to be focused on the timelines of multicultural student organizations, created by Katherine Rankin Matsuura ’90, Wilde, and student researchers.

Please make plans to join us in fall 2021 for the third Multicultural Reunion.

The Grinnell College Alumni Council supports purposeful, lifelong relationships among Grinnell alumni and between the alumni and College communities.


Community Is Our Strength

I am not from Iowa, but every time I come back to Grinnell, it feels as much home to me as my actual hometown of Portland, Oregon. Probably the biggest part of this feeling is that Grinnell’s greatest strength lies in its community. No one makes it through Grinnell alone. I know I would not have made it through without faculty members like Barb Trish or Don Smith or friends like Alejandro Oyarzabal ’04 or David Creasey ’04. I am sure each of you has similar people who made your success at Grinnell possible. Together we are indeed greater.

At the center of the fall Alumni Council meeting, which took place alongside volunteer weekend, the council met with 120 volunteers, ranging from the classes of 1951 to 2019, to discuss how we can better work together to foster connections between alumni and leverage our skills to best support Grinnell and the work of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR). These skills are particularly important as we enter the public phase of the Campaign for Grinnell College. The volunteers who made their way to Grinnell for volunteer weekend, and those who were unable to attend, will be counted on to help support and attend the campaign events that are being held across the country and in London and Hong Kong in the next year. We encourage all alumni to attend these events as well. See a list at of campaign events.

Elsewhere through the weekend, Alumni Council’s three standing committees, as well as the ad hoc committee on civility, provided updates about their work. Highlights include:

  • Alumni and Student Connections: The goal is to support and promote the externship program, which every year sends students across the country and around the world to job shadow alums for several days during the College’s spring break.
  • Alumni Engagement and Communication: The committee is discussing tools to better engage alumni, especially those who have become disconnected from Grinnell. In addition, it is finding ways to capture the informal connections alumni make every day on Facebook, among groups of friends, or in their communities. The committee also discussed work on the “Event in a Box” program, which provides a tool kit for alums to plan and hold events.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Their work is focused in two areas — first, supporting the second Multicultural Reunion, which saw alums return to campus to celebrate the differences that made our Grinnell experiences unique; second, continuing work to develop the coaching program previously discussed in the Winter 2018 issue of The Grinnell Magazine.
  • Ad Hoc Committee on Civility: This committee, formed to think about how we can all bring our best selves to our volunteer work on behalf of the College, rolled out an initial version of a new alumni volunteer code of leadership to the volunteers present. More details on this will be provided as we further develop this code and present elements of it to the entire Grinnell community over the next several months.

Finally, it was the first Alumni Council meeting for Robert Gehorsam ’76, Bernard Jackson ’86, and Eric Mistry ’14. Find their profiles on the Alumni Council website.

Every day that I get to work on behalf of Grinnell as part of the Alumni Council makes me proud to be a Grinnellian. We get to witness (and participate in) the impressive efforts of alums to support current students, and the efforts of students, faculty, and staff that make Grinnell what it is. Grinnell is a special place, and everyone on the Alumni Council is proud to spend as much time as we do doing whatever work we can to keep it that way.

The Grinnell College Alumni Council supports purposeful, lifelong relationships among Grinnell alumni and between the alumni and College communities.

What’s Cooking, Grinnell?

In 2017 President Raynard S. Kington approached the Alumni Council with the idea of creating an Alumni Community Cookbook. The project’s inspiration came from a 1975 Grinnell alumni cookbook, which talked about the role food plays in building community and creating space for people to set aside their differences and engage in fellowship. Whether forging lifelong friendships in the dining hall or attending summer alumni picnics, potluck dinners, or happy hours, Grinnellians have a history of coming together around the table.

So, what are you having for dinner tonight? Have you tried any new dishes offered in the cookbook? What are you taking to your next alumni potluck? Tell us at magazine[at]grinnell[dot]edu, subject: cookbook. Photos welcome.

The current cookbook was a collaborative effort involving many participants from the Grinnell College community. The Alumni Council targeted a release date, found an Iowa company to print the book, and issued a request for recipes throughout the College and alumni communities. Development and alumni relations staff created a webpage and form for recipe submissions, and the Pioneer Bookshop agreed to sell the book in the store and online.

The request for recipes went out, and submissions came in from alumni, faculty, and staff. The goal was to collect at least 150 recipes. We received more than 230 from alumni classes spanning more than 50 years. The council wanted to tie in the first cookbook, compiled by Charlotte Cathcart Maselli ’29, with the new one, so we featured some recipes from the original edition, including Maselli’s recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms Parma (Page 27 of the new cookbook).

The book also includes brief reminiscences about our culinary experiences at Grinnell. I fondly remember “steak night” and chicken Kiev. Sunday night, however, salmon croquettes were the featured menu item, which caused many of us to flee into town for a sandwich at the Peppercorn Deli, a meal at the Longhorn, or a pizza from Pagliai’s.

When Nancy Garrett Logan ’59 was at Grinnell, the town didn’t offer a lot of restaurant choices or fast food options, so she and the other women in the Loose Hall basement cooked. Try their Loose Hall Girls’ Stew (Page 121). Brigham Hoegh ’08 writes about a special friendship with Jingsheng Sheng Wang ’08 that began in the First-Year Tutorial and was enhanced by cooking Mapo Tofu (Page 53) many times together at Grinnell. Alyssa Manz ’13 sent in her dairy-free Avocado-Lime Matcha Pound Cake recipe (Page 204) that substitutes avocado for butter. She writes, “Isn’t being different what Grinnellians are best at?”

The Alumni Council took on the alumni cookbook project with the idea that it would help promote communication among alums and foster the sense of community. It prompted Edward Senn ’79 to contact Mary Knuth Otto ’63 about her Maine Seafood Bake recipe (Page 33). Although he got the seafood ingredients he needed at his local farmers’ market, he wasn’t sure which type of sherry to use. Mary says it was a fun and spontaneous phone call that only happened because of the cookbook.

The cookbook forges a link between Grinnellians from many different generations across the globe. At Commencement this year, graduates received a copy as a gift from the Alumni Association. Many of the parents appreciated the practicality of this gift, but we hope our newest alumni will appreciate it as a “welcome to the community” gift.

That je ne sais quoi that connects Grinnellians is made stronger by gathering around the table.

Council Highlights Civility and Communication

Grinnell’s 26-member Alumni Council came together on campus March 7–9. The weather was typical Iowa — snow, rain, ice, and some sun — but indoor spaces in both the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center and the partially finished Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC, now shortened by students to “husk”) were warm and welcoming.

The council discussed two topics of significance to the entire Grinnell community. 

The first of these discussions focused on the issue of civility and possible strategies that the Alumni Council might use in facilitating discussions within the larger College community. The subject was originally raised at our fall 2018 meeting when Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) staff shared reports of several unfortunate incidents where courtesy and respect among volunteers and between volunteers and staff at the College were lacking. An ad hoc committee of the Alumni Council has been formed to further explore how our alumni volunteers and the broader alumni community can affirm Grinnell’s common values and focus on making alumni events safe and respectful experiences for all. 

The second conversation explored the role of the Alumni Council in supporting engagement and communication among Grinnell alumni and between the alumni body and the College when major issues arise on campus. Because the council represents a broad and diverse group of alumni, we have the opportunity to pass on information and facilitate discussion and debate within our community — to involve Grinnellians in ways they have valued since their own days on campus. 

New efforts to reach out to alumni are already under way from DAR personnel. The mechanics of communication present challenges: How best can we solicit your opinions? How can we engage you in dialogue with others in the community? We welcome your thoughts as we go forward. Incoming council president Ryann Haines Cheung ’93 will distill the ideas generated within the council and incorporate them into its work for the upcoming year. 

New members and president-elect announced

Final agenda items on Saturday afternoon were the announcement of new members, who began their terms in late May following Reunion, and a vote on the new president-elect. Those joining the council include Robert Gehorsam ’76, New York City; Bernard Jackson ’86, Maynard, Massachusetts; and Eric Mistry ’14, Duluth, Minnesota. Next year’s president-elect is Christopher Meyer ’70, from Sarasota, Florida.

Alumni cookbook published

cookbook coverThe Alumni Council has published a brand new Grinnell College alumni cookbook, filled with recipes many of you contributed! The last one dates back to 1975. Inspired by President Raynard S. Kington and with significant support from DAR, the council’s committee on engagement and communication organized the new cookbook project. In his preface to the cookbook, Kington observes that sitting down together at a table with good food to share is one of the best ways to create and sustain a community. You can purchase the Alumni Community Cookbook online through the Grinnell College Bookstore ( 

Energized by the Student Alumni Council

Hearing from the Student Alumni Council (SAC) is always a highlight of both our fall and spring Alumni Council meetings; the students’ ideas, enthusiasm, programs, and organizational abilities are inspiring. SAC became an organization on campus in 2013, emerging from an earlier organization, the Student Alumni Association (SAA), created in 2000. Founding students of the SAA had recognized that they and their peers were losing a sense of identity with their class years and with the history of the College. SAC has built on that mission and expanded its activities.

According to its mission, SAC is “a student-run group that fosters connections between students and alumni, empowers students to be a part of the wider Grinnell community, raises awareness about Grinnell’s history and traditions, and works to develop a culture of service and philanthropy among current students. SAC fosters an atmosphere that guides students through their transition to life after Grinnell, bestowing a sense of pride in the community and a commitment to give back with their time, talent, treasure, and ties.” 

This year’s co-presidents are seniors Emily Zaffiro ’19 and Jonathan Gilmour ’19. The group has 22 members and an adviser, Mitch Wolff, assistant director of student programs in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. 

Gilmour shared with me by email why he participates in SAC: “My passion for meeting and connecting with Grinnellians of all years led me to SAC, and the ability to foster relationships between students and alumni keeps me excited and involved. I want to use the tools with which I’ve been equipped here at Grinnell to help others experience the same life-changing journey that I have been privileged to undergo here in the cornfields.”

SAC’s efforts each year include the following:

  • Helping with the Medallion Ceremony held in Herrick Chapel for all incoming students during New Student Orientation Week. Entering students are given a medallion that replicates the silver dollar donated to the College by James J. Hill in 1846. The script on it informs them that the medallion “symbolizes the possibilities you have as a Grinnellian.”

  • Sponsoring National Philanthropy Week on campus each November, a time to acknowledge and celebrate the generous contributions of alumni, faculty, staff, parents, corporations, and friends of the College to the student body.  

  • Organizing the Arctic Lights event on campus. On a chilly evening in late fall, a large group of students gather on North Campus in front of Gates Hall for a ceremonial lighting of the tower in brilliant blue and to enjoy music by the a cappella group the G-Tones, along with hot drinks and fresh baked goods.

  • Working to facilitate the Class Ambassadors Program in partnership with the Student Government Association. The program is designed to promote connections among classmates and to the College in general.  

  • Supporting the senior class gift co-chairs in organizing their class’s fundraising efforts. Aided by the generosity of the late Stephen Kent ’67, who, when he was a member of the Alumni Council, challenged graduating seniors to donate to the College by matching their efforts, the senior gift has become a well-established tradition. Over the years, the Alumni Council has continued Kent’s practice and matches all senior class gifts dollar for dollar.  

I look forward to the possibility of welcoming members of the Student Alumni Council into membership on the “senior” Alumni Council. They all will have a lot to offer. 

The Grinnell College Alumni Council supports purposeful, lifelong relationships among Grinnell alumni and between the alumni and College communities.


    A Been There Done That Resource

    As members of the Alumni Council’s 2017–18 Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Saurabh Saraf ’05, Howie Schein ’66, and I agreed to tackle the challenge of connecting traditionally marginalized students with alumni. We were assisted by Sarah Smith-Benanti, assistant director of alumni and donor relations for diverse communities. Our group agreed early on that this program should be shaped by student needs.

    During our discussions with staff in the Office of Intercultural Affairs and the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, someone mentioned that student organizations are often looking for help from beyond campus with programming and ideas. Would this work for campus groups serving multicultural students?  

    Jordan Brooks, assistant director of intercultural affairs, endorsed this gem of an idea. He oversees the Multicultural Leadership Council, which brings together the leadership of various student groups to develop goals and programming for the year.  

    Our work was beginning to have a more cohesive form at this point — but of course, we wanted to ensure that our tentative plans met with approval from students. So, when back on campus for the March 2018 Alumni Council meeting, we met with student leaders from some of the multicultural organizations. 

    We pitched the idea of an alumni adviser to connect with each interested student group — someone who could offer advice, round up other alumni resources for various programs (e.g., a panel on interviewing for summer internships), and offer support through leadership transitions. Happily, we were met with smiles, nods, and some sighs of relief. One student said, “I can think of three things I did this past semester where a ‘been there, done that’ resource would have been so welcome!”

    Finally, we took our plan back to the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for endorsement. Lester Alemán ’07, co-chair of our committee, sees this as “a great opportunity for alumni from diverse backgrounds to remain connected to the campus experience, as well as a great opportunity for students to learn about how alumni faced similar challenges in the past.” 

    We put together a document covering roles and responsibilities for the participants of a pilot phase, and as the three of us were rolling off the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, we passed it along to new members Graciela Guzmán ’11 and David Jarvis ’04. They have now met with the leadership of interested student groups and are working on matching alumni advisers for a spring 2019 pilot of the program.

    “Students are particularly excited to have the opportunity to work with alums that have navigated challenges and major leadership roles at Grinnell,” Guzmán says. “They want to tap into the strategy, resilience and problem-solving that has allowed us to be successful in Grinnell and after graduating. As alums, we are excited to see this project move forward and carve out a meaningful way to contribute to the goals students outline for themselves and bring our student and alum family even closer together through this coaching program.”

    A Brief History

    I never knew I was a member of something called the Grinnell College Alumni Association. I became a member after completing my first semester, as does everyone who completes 16 credits at Grinnell. 

    In 1879, with fewer than 100 people qualifying, the alumni of Grinnell College first organized themselves. It was a small group since graduating classes averaged around 20 students. In 1880 Robert M. Haines 1865, one of the first grads of what was then Iowa College after it moved to Grinnell, was elected president of the association. History does tend to repeat itself. The 2019–20 president of the association will be Ryann Haines Cheung ’93, a descendant of that important Grinnell clan. 

    From its inception, the alumni association has played a critical role in the life of the College. Historically, trustees of the College were either chosen from the ranks of the association or actually elected by the alumni. The association has also had local chapters in Chicago, southern California, and New York for more than a century. Of course, then as now, the alumni were routinely solicited for contributions to important initiatives on campus. Alumni Recitation Hall was named for the hundreds of alumni who gave for its construction.

    Early on, membership in the alumni association only included those who had completed their Grinnell degree. By the early 20th century, folks began to recognize that the impact of a Grinnell education was indelible, so membership in the alumni association also went to those who had attended but not graduated. That includes approximately 1,200 soldiers who spent time on campus during World War II.

    Women have always played a very important role in alumni affairs.  The first alumna to serve a full term as a trustee was Mary Chamberlain 1892, 1913–17.  Nonetheless, the direction of the College and alumni association remained firmly in male hands for a few more generations. Multi-generational Grinnell families, where mom and dad met at Grinnell, also became common. In 1915 a “chips” club was formed for children of alumni; it had 26 eligible students that year. Over the years, the number of chip has risen and fallen, with a maximum of about 12 percent of entering first-year students. 

    The modern alumni association took shape in 1929, at the 50th anniversary of its founding. A new set of bylaws was passed, goals developed, and a mission crafted. These remain the guiding documents for the association. In 1929, the College appointed the first official alumni secretary to serve as the liaison between the College and the association.  

    An important responsibility of the alumni association was the recruitment of students for the College. Initially this occurred within the context of the Congregational churches of Iowa and the upper Midwest, but as the College became secular, the alumni began to serve as active recruiters. Now, alumni in the Grinnell Regional Admissions Support Program (GRASP) assist professional admission officers.

    In good times and bad, financial success or disaster, in war and peace, the Grinnell College Alumni Association has continued to link the alumni to the College and encourage fellowship among all alumni.

    Grinnellians for Life

    A highlight of the spring Alumni Council meeting was the presentation focusing on Grinnell’s career communities, a recently launched addition to the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS). There are seven: Arts, Media, and Communications; Business and Finance; Education Professions; Government and Social Services; Health Professions; Law; and STEM. 

    I was part of a group meeting with Rachel Edwards Harvith ’00, who heads the Arts, Media, and Communications Career Community. Rachel has an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa and has been involved in theater in a number of places including Chicago. She is eager to engage with students about networking, museums, being an artist, and portfolio development. For the alumni community, her goal is to build a web of connections not only between students and alumni, but also among any Grinnell alums she can snag to engage with her in this broad-based Career Community. 

    All of the Career Communities and their directors can be found on Grinnell Connect on the “Groups” page. Each Career Community Group provides a specific space online for industry-based conversation between students and alumni.

    For alumni who would like to get involved with CLS, additional opportunities include hosting a three- to five-day externship over spring break, offering a Grinnellink Internship, sharing internship and employment opportunities, and recruiting students for internships and/or jobs. And if offering career help isn’t a possibility, you can participate by serving as a homestay host for externs or interns coming to your community.  

    So, if you are already a member of Grinnell Connect, great! If not, join now at From there, create an account through Facebook, LinkedIn, or your email account. As you develop your profile, be sure to personalize it to indicate how you are “willing to help.”

    Then, find people you know, offer your services, and respond to requests. Also download the new Grinnell Connect app onto your phone at, where there are specific instructions for iOS and Android. From there, you can even use the app to locate fellow Grinnellians who might be in your vicinity at the moment.  

    Alumni Council members are already participating with CLS through Grinnell Connect. We look forward to crossing paths with you electronically, or to learning from the app that you’re close by and we could get together to share Grinnell stories over a drink or a cup of coffee!

    New members, leaders, and retirees  

    The Alumni Council elected a slate of four candidates for membership beginning in June 2018: Debby Feir ’68 (Atlanta); Debbie Gottschalk ’90 (Newark, Delaware); Andrea Jackson ’95 (Solana Beach, California); and Jocelyn Wyatt ’99 (New York City). Ryann Haines Cheung ’93 was elected president-elect for 2018–19, and Fritz Schwaller ’69 will assume the role of president for the coming year. Finally, this year’s president, Peter Calvert ’79, thanked retiring council members Lara Szent-Gyorgyi ’89, Angela Onwuachi-Willig ’94, Saurabh Saraf ’05, and Allison Brinkhorst ’11 for their service. Their contributions were further recognized at a dinner at Grinnell House.

    Fostering Community Grinnell Style

    If you’ve ever stopped someone wearing a Grinnell sweatshirt or slightly stalked a vehicle with a Grinnell College bumper sticker, it’s probably because you know the delight a conversation with a fellow Grinnellian can bring. Over the past few years, the College has recognized how much we enjoy running into fellow alumni, and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) hired Anna Halpin-Healy ’13 as the assistant director of alumni relations for regional programs. In this new position, she supports the College’s and alumni volunteers’ efforts to foster the Grinnell community across the country, with a particular focus on the College’s regional networks.

    Grinnell regional networks are areas in the United States with a significant number of Grinnellians. Regional planning committees are formed in these areas, and these groups of alumni volunteers work together and with DAR to foster their local alumni community. Regional network events bring Grinnellians together in celebration of the College’s commitment to community, social justice, and lifelong learning.

    In 2016–17, the networks hosted 74 regional events, in addition to the 22 summer picnics and 17 Global Day of Service group projects planned around the country, offering numerous opportunities for Grinnellians to connect with one another.

    Regional network events are as diverse as our alumni community and cover the spectrum of Grinnell interests. Here are a few samples of the great events regional planning committees have hosted: 

    • Going back to class with professors Sarah Purcell ’92 and Barb Trish and 20 current Grinnell students on the Rosenfield Program spring break tour as they discussed Evgeny Morozov’s The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (2011).
    • Taking a hike through beautiful and historic Woodland Mounds Preserve in Warren County, Iowa, with Jesse Richardson-Jones ’03 and Kirsten Plowman ’04
    • Listening to “The Legal Fight for Transgender Rights,” a presentation by Chase Strangio ’04 at the Chicago Humanities Festival, with Thomas Neil ’14, Joe Engleman ’14, and the Grinnell-in-Chicago Regional Planning Committee. 

    In support of the Alumni Council’s purpose, “to foster strong connections among Grinnell alumni and between alumni and the College,” council members have been intentionally active in their regional networks and encourage you to do the same. Robert Ruhl ’76, a member of the Grinnell-in-Puget Sound Regional Planning Committee, has helped host the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, the Global Day of Service, and the annual summer picnic. Mary Knuth Otto ‘63 notes, “It’s the mix of graduation years that I really love about [regional events].” And I, myself, have so enjoyed working with the Grinnell-in-Des Moines Planning Committee as co-chair this year.

    What makes the magic happen in the most active regional networks? Karmi Mattson ’97, Twin Cities regional coordinator, says, “Think of things you’ve always wanted to do but have never gotten around to doing, like touring a popular location or attending a class on an interesting topic. Most events happen because there was one alum willing to spearhead the event and run with it.” 

    How can you get involved?

    To learn more about joining a regional planning 

    committee and working with your fellow alumni to organize events and foster your local Grinnell community, please visit or contact Halpin-Healy, halpinhe2[at]grinnell[dot]edu or 866-850-1846. DAR is specifically looking for more alumni who are excited about fostering the Grinnell community in the Bay Area, Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. If you are interested in fostering your local Grinnell community but do not live in a regional network, DAR may be able to support your efforts. Please visit to learn more.

    Grinnell’s Regional Networks

    (San Francisco) Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Des Moines, Front Range (Denver area), Iowa City/Corridor, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, Puget Sound (Seattle area), Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul), Washington, D.C.