Chrisy Ahlberg AmEnde ’83 was recently elected president of the Keuka College Alumni Association Executive Council, taking the gavel from past president Jeremy Hourihan. As she prepared for this month's AAEC meeting, Chrisy took a few minutes to share her plans and goals, reflect on how her College experience boosted her career, and offer a message to alumni who actively support the College – and those who have drifted.
Name: Chrisy Ahlberg AmEnde
Major: B.S. Health Administration
Current hometown: Coventry, Connecticut
Current position: Operations Director, Check Fund Manager LLC
How long have you been active with the Alumni Association?
In 2014, I was asked to serve as a Class Representative. Also, ever since graduation I have been an active member of the reunion planning committee of the Class of 1983. Even though this is not part of the AAEC it did provide exposure to some of its initiatives.
After attending the first AAEC meeting I was hooked! Everyone on the committee is so dedicated and the programming supports such a variety of initiatives that are vital to Keuka College.
What prompted your interested in leading the Association?
Really, I am just an enthusiastic committee member who was asked to undertake this role by Jeremy Hourihan, the past president. What is really nice is that he asked while my family was present.
This opportunity is very exciting – yet somewhat daunting – as I will now be walking in the footsteps of people who contribute so significantly to Keuka College in many different ways. To be entrusted with the role is an honor and I am very much looking forward to working with everyone on the committee and at Keuka to further support College initiatives.
What roles do alumni play in the success of the College?
Keuka's alumni play a critical role in its success.
In our careers, we represent this institution, which not only makes it more desirable for employers to hire Keuka grads but also spreads the word about its excellent programs to attract prospective students. Many alumni act as Field Period® mentors, helping subsequent generations of students gain valuable work and life experience.
When alumni participate in events like Green and Gold Weekend, the current students see how connected alumni are to one another and to the College, which fosters a strong sense of community. Alumni financially support Keuka College and participate on committees that are dedicated to developing and executing strategies to sustain it.
What will be your first priorities as President?
The July AAEC meeting will be the start of new roles for many committee members, and there are individuals who will be participating in their first meeting. We want them to feel engaged right away and will encourage involvement not only in existing AAEC programs, but also we will be brainstorming in regard to new initiatives. This way we can immediately tap into their ideas and collective energy.
New communication programs are already in motion to help more people learn about alumni programs and to create more ways alumni can interact with their representatives. Also, with a significant Campaign kick-off on the horizon, AAEC will be an avenue for generating more awareness, enthusiasm and support.
How about long-term goals?
I am a fan of benchmarks so it would be great to achieve measurable increases in engagement, building on what is already a positive trajectory. The more alumni and students that we can involve in programs, whether in person or via digital means, the better. This includes getting more people to attend their reunions, reconnect with their classmates, participate as career or Field Period® network resources, support College initiatives and campaigns, encourage current students to become active alumni and recommend Keuka College to prospective students.
What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge(s)?
Keuka College's alumni span the globe and multiple generations, and developing engagement strategies for a broad range of constituencies is quite a challenge. The AAEC only meets three times per year and quite a few members live far away. Utilizing subcommittees and technology to stay connected will help keep moving toward achieving our goals.
What would be your message to alumni who are active in their support of the College?
"Thank you! The work you do is amazing and contributes so much to the success and positive culture of Keuka College!"
It would be fantastic to learn more about what motivates alumni to become active and try to do more of that!
What would be your message to alumni who may have loosened ties with the College?
OK, so there is this beautiful college on a big lake ... with a beach! It was your home for the four "best years of your life." Plus, the Finger Lakes region is filled with attractions, so get all of your friends together and visit campus! You won't even have to write any papers or solve differential equations. If you have lost touch with some of your old friends, you can even use the EverTrue app to find them.
See the amazing Digital Learning Center in the library. Check out the high-tech dorm lounges. Watch a soccer game on the turf field. Get a latte. Go kayaking. Sit in your old booth at Lloyd's. Connect with other people in your industry, which might advance your career or help you find people to hire. Meet and mentor students. Support Keuka initiatives. Listen to the enthusiastic professors. You will want to go back to college again ... well, except maybe for those physics word problems where the light is shining from one end of a moving train …
So many of my friends are not connected to their alma mater, and they are amazed to hear how Keuka College goes out of its way to cultivate long-lasting relationships. You will have so much fun if you attend campus events, and the College will benefit from your support.
How did your own College experience prepare or direct you in terms of your career?
Keuka College provided such an extraordinary and holistic education. In particular, Field Periods had a very strong influence on my career path, in terms of figuring out not only what I enjoyed but also what was not a match.
On the academic side, I have so much respect and gratitude for the indomitable Dr. Dorothy Prest, who encouraged a self-initiated major, combining my science curriculum with business and allied health for a degree in Health Administration. At a much larger school, it is hard to imagine that a professor would go so far out of her way to creatively guide a student.
Senior year, my Field Period® was in a hospital finance office, and I was fortunate to parlay a connection from that internship into a position at a different hospital. Not all of my jobs have been directly in health administration, but they each have had elements that related to my major.
Another great aspect of Keuka College's size is the opportunity to participate to a higher degree in more campus organizations than would likely be possible in a large university. It was very rewarding to play intercollegiate sports, and there is a reason that there are so many sports metaphors in business -- teamwork, effort and achievement are critical in both. A small college has so many leadership opportunities for students that really round out a resume.
All of these academic, experiential and extracurricular opportunities not only helped shape my career but also prepared me for volunteerism and fun hobbies that led to meaningful relationships and experiences.