Making connections

Annual Sullivan alumni receptions bring generations of award and scholarship recipients together

Caroline Brackenridge Talbot and Dee Dee Vantree-Keller

For the last three years, alumni of the Sullivan Foundation have been coming together to enjoy good food, good drinks, and good conversation at the bi-annual alumni reception. The event, which is scheduled to coincide with each year’s board meeting, brings Sullivan Award and Scholarship recipients from different schools and different generations together.

Winning a Sullivan Award in college is a good predictor for a life of service, so the Foundation trustees get a chance to connect with many teachers, nurses, doctors, philanthropists, and champions of social justice. Attendees draw inspiration from learning about the work of their peers and seeing firsthand that commitments to service don’t stop after college for Sullivan alumni.

“Members get to meet other members,” says foundation president Steve McDavid, “and, since there are 70 colleges and universities in the Sullivan family, they often don’t know who else has won a Sullivan award or even which other schools offer it.”

Doron Samuel-Siegel, Woody Sours, and Martha Sours

The location of the reception rotates among member colleges along with the board meeting, so alumni who live near each other can connect. Gathering these like-minded neighbors has sparked conversations about common interests and how to make a difference in the local community. The fundamental goal of the reception, however, is very simple.

“It’s about forging a connection,” says McDavid. “The reception has no agenda, no one’s asking for money. All we want to do is let our alumni know that the Sullivan Foundation is alive and well.”

The fall 2014 reception was held at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia, on October 16. Randolph-Macon College, the College of William & Mary, the University of Virginia, Hampden-Sydney College, and Mary Baldwin College co-hosted the gathering with the Sullivan Board of Trustees.

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