But a small group of them still has work to do—work critical for the future of the Alumnae Association. They closet themselves in a conference room, joined by several former board members, Provost Andrew Shennan, and Assistant Vice President of Human Resources Carolyn Slaboden—and a few bottles of wine. With former board member Laura Wood Cantopher ’84 chairing, they begin discussing the strategic needs of the WCAA in coming years and poring over a proposed job description.
Welcome to the search for the next executive director of the Wellesley College Alumnae Association. Constituted by WCAA president Martha Goldberg Aronson ’89, this diverse committee is charged with carrying out all facets of the search—from publicity to interviewing and making a final recommendation on the next executive director.
Why a committee? It’s actually standard procedure for many jobs at Wellesley. “When you are looking to build a diverse community, having people from different ethnicities and races, genders, [with] diversity of perspective, is very important, so we aren’t just filling a position with a routine process,” explains AVP Carolyn Slaboden. Different individuals consider candidates through different lenses. “The hires tend to be a little bit more diverse. For example, you may have somebody who will open our eyes to looking at people who have not worked in an elite liberal arts college. To have a committee that’s having those kinds of conversations is important.”
The committee is also seen as a group of recruiters, all of whom can work their alumnae networks to make the broadest possible outreach.
Cantopher, who herself served as interim executive director at the WCAA a decade ago, says the committee is looking for some very specific characteristics in candidates. They are after:
- An “uber-collaborator,” says Cantopher, a relationship builder who can reach out to the many constituencies both within the alumnae body and on campus.
- Someone who has an inherent appreciation for the value of diversity. She says, “You need to have really demonstrated in your background and your experience that you understand what this means, and that you really buy into it. You don’t just say it. You live it.”
- A candidate who has a real understanding of technology and databases, as the Alumnae Association seeks to up its game on the technology front.
- And finally, says Cantopher, the committee is looking for someone who understands and appreciates the challenges presented by the many different generations represented within the alumnae body—differences in how people identify themselves, relate to the College, use technology, and much more.
The search committee has been active reading applications and interviewing this spring and hopes to have a new executive director in place in the not too distant future. The end goal, says Cantopher, is to take the Alumnae Association to “a new and even better point,” adapting and always improving to better meet needs as the alumnae population changes.