First-ever region-specific Smith alumni club launches
in New York City
Times Square is famous for many things: It’s the location of one of the most
recognized New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world; it’s the site of the
historic Times Square kiss in 1945; and it’s home to Times Square Studios, from
which ABC’s Good Morning America airs each day. Times Square will also
be remembered by many alumni from the Robert H. Smith School of Business as the
spot of the Smith Alumni Club of New York launch event that was two years in the
More than 200 alumni gathered at the Ernst & Young National Headquarters, located
centrally in Times Square, on Sept. 29, 2010, to celebrate the launch of the Smith
Alumni Club of New York, or SmithNY. The region-specific alumni club is the first
of its kind at the Smith School, and aims to unite the more than 5,000 alumni living
in the Greater New York region.
The event was a collaborative effort between the Smith School and the SmithNY
Council, including Ngozi Nwaneri ’09; Neil Samen ’09; John Masoudpour ’01, MBA ’07;
Alex Muchinsky, MBA ’96; Puja Samria, MBA ’10; Marla Weintraub ’09; and Jared Piche
’00. Both the Smith School’s Office of Development & Alumni Relations and the SmithNY
Council saw a need for an alumni club for Smith alums living in New York City, Northern
New Jersey and Southern Connecticut – the second largest population of Smith alumni,
after the Washington, D.C.-area.
“An alumni club in New York is an idea we’ve had since the summer of 2008. Ngozi
and I were at our summer internships—Ngozi was at Ernst & Young in New York, and
I was at JPMorgan in Delaware,” Samen explained. “We realized that there was no
formal presence or network for Smith alumni in the New York region, where Ngozi
thought he would like to end up after graduation.”
Prior to graduating, Nwaneri and Samen approached the Office of Development &
Alumni Relations with their idea. Immediately, a partnership was forged as the concept
of alumni clubs was a departmental goal as well. Having alumni leaders who understand
the vision and want to meet the needs of alumni was the basis of the partnership.
SmithNY is the result of hard work and determination from all involved to ensure
the success of the club.
In addition to the alumni present at the launch event, the dean of the Smith
School, G. “Anand” Ananadalingam, the undergraduate dean, Patricia Cleveland, and
the assistant dean of alumni relations, Kelly Brown, all made their way up to the
Big Apple for the festivities. Vice Chairman and Northeast Managing Partner of Ernst
& Young, Mark Manoff ’78 hosted the launch event, letting SmithNY use Ernst & Young’s
space located right in the heart of the city.
Dean Anand spoke to the crowd about his excitement that the Smith School has
a New York alumni club. Most of the top business schools in the country already
have an alumni club in the city, and now the Smith School was joining in creating
a community for its alumni in the area.
Brown also expressed her excitement in the launch of SmithNY, saying she hopes
the club will help foster a strong relationship between alumni living in the New
York region and the Smith School. After the short speeches, alumni spent the rest
of the evening networking.
“We could not have asked for a better turnout or better engagement from the alumni,”
Nwaneri said. “It was nice to see so many alumni come out to the launch event. We
are looking forward to providing alums in the city more stimulating programs and
events throughout the upcoming year.”
In the few weeks since the launch event, SmithNY has launched its website,
and has hosted a “My Life in New York” alumni panel discussion at which alumni provided
current students with insight into a day in their life in the New York region. Several
SmithNY club members also participated in New York Cares Day, a citywide day of
service filled with cleaning and fixing up New York City public schools.
“The launch of SmithNY is critical in that we hope to provide a model for other
regional clubs to be based on. We anticipate launching the next clubs in the Baltimore
and Philadelphia regions,” said Rosetta Clay, director of alumni programs. “The
key will be identifying strong alumni leadership who will work with us to build
sustainable programming that will be relevant for many years to come. Obviously,
there will be region-specific programming for the clubs, but the mission and goal
will be the same – to strengthen Smith’s brand and provide opportunities for alumni
to engage with one another, students and the Smith School.”
Jessica Bauer, Writer and Editor, Office of Marketing Communications