Photograph by Jamie Betts

Meet URAA's new president

September 12, 2021

Alumni

Shannon Kelley, B’87, became president of the University of Richmond Alumni Association in July.
Interview by Matthew Dewald

What made you interested in serving as URAA’s president?
I love the university. I’m lucky that I've been able to be engaged in a number of ways since I graduated.

My husband is an alum, and we have three daughters. One graduated in May 2020, one is a rising senior, and our youngest is starting in the fall. My love affair with the university has continued because, as a parent, I’ve seen the university through their eyes. I think that the university’s direction is terrific, and I’m proud to be an ambassador.

What do you want alumni to know about the URAA? That it exists for everyone. Once you graduate from the university — whether you graduated in 1960 or in May 2021 — you are part of our alumni association, and we serve you.

We want you to continue your affiliation with the university throughout your life and always feel like a part of the university community.

What does the URAA do?
We work with alumni relations and career services to encourage alumni to engage with the university. That can happen in a lot of ways, regardless of where an alum lives.

Spiders can help current students through a mentorship role. They can hire another Spider or offer an internship or networking opportunities. They can also volunteer with their class when it’s their reunion year. We are thrilled when enthusiastic Spiders speak with prospective students and encourage them to visit the university. We also encourage alumni to give back to the university financially. You also have a role as the voice of alumni at the university. We want alumni to know that we are thoughtful, we’re listening, we care, and we want to hear what they have to say.

Did the pandemic teach you new things about alumni programming?
We saw that people who hadn’t been able to engage with the university — maybe they live in Kansas or Minnesota — were signing up for the virtual programming. There was some event that was of interest to them, they signed up, and they were part of the virtual community, so we are excited about that. I think the virtual programming will continue and alumni across the globe will continue to participate.

Tell me about the URAA leadership.
One of the things I love about our board is that we have a real diversity of voices among the 28 of us. Our board members span class years from 1959 to 2020, and people’s lived experiences are very different. It remains a very strong objective to make sure that our board diversity continues.

It's important to be able to evolve in your thinking. You might express an opinion but then start to think a little bit differently because you’re hearing from other board members with alternate perspectives.

What do you have planned for the upcoming year?
Obviously welcoming Dr. Kevin Hallock and doing what we can to help him with his priorities. He will have receptions throughout the country, and we really want alumni to come out and meet him.

We will continue helping with career support to enhance the Spider network. We’re also looking forward to hopefully getting people back to campus. People are motivated to connect in person.

We also plan to continue having conversations and training on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging to further our ability to engage alumni in meaningful conversations.