Marcia Cohodes is a Wexner Heritage Alumna from Minneapolis and a member of the Wexner Alumni Forum. She is retired from a career in investment banking. She is an advocate for individuals with disabilities in the Jewish community and co-chair of the UJC Disability Workgroup. Working with alumnus Jerry Ingber, Marcia helped develop Hillel LIFE: Leadership Initiative for Excellence; a program at the University of Minnesota, funded by alumni of the Minneapolis Wexner Heritage Program, honoring Leslie and Abigail Wexner’s commitment to developing future Jewish leaders. Marcia can be reached at: email@example.com
At last October’s Wexner Alumni Shabbaton in Chicago, I was asked to lead an affinity group discussion on campus life over Shabbat lunch. Ten alumni signed up for the discussion and, as the parent of three high school children, there was much to learn from those who currently have children in college as well as those who have college graduates.
Toward the end of our discussion, I raised the possibility of a network through which Wexner Alumni could connect for purposes of “welcoming” one another’s children to college campuses in their communities. Responses were not only positive; several participants acknowledged a willingness to reach out to a Jewish college student [a child of Wexner alumni] new to their community. Parents shared that it would be comforting to know there was someone in the local Jewish community that could be a resource for their child; ranging from an occasional Shabbat dinner and Jewish holidays, to a familiar and trusted contact in the event of an emergency.
In the weeks following our affinity group discussion, I continued to think about a network of Wexner alumni for our children away at college and, in a discussion with Angie Atkins (the new Wexner Heritage Alumni Director), suggested the possibility of opening this to the entire WH Alumni network – more than 1600 across the United States and Canada, and growing every year. Over the next few days, Angie had discussions with a few alumni about the concept of this type of network and all responses were positive, with many volunteering to participate. Nancy Neuberger began working out technical details with the webmasters at the Wexner Foundation and last month, the Wexner Foundation began beta testing Wexner Campus Connect.
Wexner Campus Connect will enable alumni to sign up as a host and/or resource for college age children of Wexner Heritage Alumni who attend a college or university near them. A report, documenting those having opted into the network, will list the volunteer alumni, sorted by state. The report will be accessible on the Wexner Foundation site under the Alumni login, password protected area. As an example, let’s say your child is going to attend Reed College. You would look under Oregon, see Jeff Nudelman’s name [WH Portland Alum] among others and connect with him as a resource for you and your college age child. Down the road, this project could spawn many more applications, for example; a Facebook page for students of Wexner alumni who would be willing to participate as “ambassadors” of their schools.
The Wexner Heritage Program has alumni in 31 cities across North America, which covers a lot of colleges. Wexner Campus Connect is now live and I encourage you to go to www.wexnerfoundation.org and update your profile to opt into the Wexner Campus Connect network. Become part of a network of Wexner Heritage graduates who embrace opportunities to stay connected to one another and, with Wexner Campus Connect, share this gift with our children by creating a viable network of alumni supporting this next generation of Jewish adults.