ACT Updates

The power of One Thunderbird

The vision of the ACT is to ENGAGE, BUILD, and LAUNCH programs and services to our worldwide Thunderbird network of over 40,000 alumni. We want to listen to you, the alumni network, and learn how ACT, together with Thunderbird, can serve this incredible network of alumni in meaningful ways. Please check back here often for updates on our progress and feel free to send your ideas and feedback to us at Also, if you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to complete the ACT alumni survey.

ACT, in Partnership with Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University

Joy Lubeck, ’86, President, ACT

The nineteen members of the Alumni Council of Thunderbird are proud to be part of Thunderbird School of Global Management’s new future as the sixteenth school at Arizona State University.

Now that the merger is finalized, our alma mater has the opportunity to continue to build its 70-year legacy as an emerging center of excellence within the ASU Enterprise.

Just two weeks ago, Dr. Allen Morrison, our new CEO and Director General, met with ACT. He shared his near-term priorities, along with his medium and long term vision for Thunderbird. It’s clear that Dr. Morrison respects our school’s historical contributions to the world and is committed, along with President Michael Crow, to create a safe harbor for Thunderbird to stabilize and continue its evolution as a center of global excellence. Thunderbird will rise again, and regain its rightful place in terms of developing global leaders who create sustainable prosperity world-wide. Our school will have the ability to contribute even further to democratic and economic growth, to develop wealth and well-being, to provide success and quality of life, wherever Thunderbirds reside, just as President Crow articulated at the January 29th celebration event.

Clearly, there exist immediate priorities that are key to the near-term stabilization of our school in terms of our academic curriculum development and the positioning of Thunderbird’s MGM degree offerings within the ASU Enterprise.  We, as alumni will need to remain patient as this important work is implemented.

However, all T-bird alumni can lend immediate support in two priority areas:

  1. Refer prospective students to Thunderbird for the Fall 2015 class.
  2. Consider how you might provide internship and/or full-time employment opportunities to our students.

ACT is committed to supporting these key priorities, together with our new Thunderbird leadership, our alumni relations office and our chapter leaders. We have the opportunity to continue to re-engage with one another and our alma mater, and truly make a near-term difference.

We invite you all to join us, as we re-build our school for a strong future.

State of the Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT)

Joy Lubeck ’86, ACT President

It is with great pride that I share the inaugural State of the Alumni Council of Thunderbird to our global alumni community.

A year ago, eight alumni leaders, based across the globe, were asked by the Thunderbird Board of Trustees, in collaboration with the Thunderbird Global Council and other alumni leaders, to consider a volunteer leadership role as charter members of ACT.  Despite the challenges and disharmony that Thunderbird and its alumni were experiencing at that time, each alumnus to a person agreed to take on the challenge of supporting the concept of One Thunderbird — to work within the system of our school, together with all stakeholders, to improve communication and engagement with our 42,000+ alumni throughout the world and to provide an alumni voice to the school’s decision-making processes.

I am honored to lead this team of incredible human beings, whose passion and commitment to our school is evident in their multitude of tireless acts every day.  Last January, ACT swiftly assimilated as a global team, built out its committee structure and outlined key priorities to support the re-engagement of our alumni community.  To this end, and in collaboration with Thunderbird’s leadership, ACT identified several key initiatives that are now an integral part of the Thunderbird Alumni Relations/ACT draft strategic plan.  Our efforts have yielded some very positive results, which include:

  1. Improvement in alumni communication
  2. Re-engagement of the Thunderbird chapter leaders / Thunderbird chapter development
  3. Support to our Thunderbird students
  4. Global expansion of the Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT)
  5. Grass-roots efforts to accelerate the integration of ASU and Thunderbird chapters
  6. Participation in the HLC Alumni Review Process for accreditation and approval of the deal
  7. Proposals for value-based services and corporate sponsorship opportunities to ASU that demonstrate the collective power of our alumni

I invite you to review the 2014 ACT Scorecard.

The 2014 ACT Scorecard

Alumni Communications

·  Contributed to the monthly Alumni Newsletter (Thunderbird Digest)

·   Enhanced the
T-bird Mobile App together with Thunderbird IT

·   Engaged alumni through social media

·  Facilitated call for Dr. Michael Crow, ASU President, to address T-bird alumni chapter leaders

·  Requested the creation of a short personal video from Dr. Crow which was shared with all alumni

·  Established the One Thunderbird approach of partnership with all school stakeholders

·  Created the ACT website to post ACT articles and communications

·   Conducted an alumni survey which informed the Thunderbird Alumni Relations/ACT draft strategic plan framework

Chapter Leader


·  Reinstated monthly chapter leader conference calls

·  Conducted 1:1 interviews with over 20 chapter leaders to understand current state, aspirations, challenges and resource needs going forward as the 16th school at ASU

·  Facilitated ACT and chapter leader focus group sessions with local alumni, in an effort to gain insights, voice and stakeholdership for the Alumni Relations/ACT draft strategic plan

·   Supported cross-collaboration among chapter leaders throughout the world with the hope of sharing best practices and accelerating the strength of our global network

Chapter Development

·  Supported chapter development in key cities where leadership succession gaps existed

·  Initiated introductions for chapter leaders with ASU counterparts

·  Mentored and guided key chapters who reached out for support and information

·  Developing chapter expansion plans when united with ASU alumni network

·  Provided insights to improve the outreach to alumni via LinkedIn technology

·  Provided interview feedback summary to chapter leaders based on 1:1 interviews

Student Engagement

·   Instituted an ACT and TSG (Thunderbird Student Government) communication and collaboration process

·   Published alumni articles in student newspaper (Das Tor)

·  Mentored prospective, current and graduating students

·  Helped to support Winterims in 2015

·  Provided keynote speakers to student-led events, such as Foundations and other student clubs

·  Participated in Career Management Counseling Sessions for students

·   Represented ACT as Summer 2014 commencement speaker

Global Expansion of the ACT (Governance)

·   Established ACT by-laws, governance protocols, etc.

· Initiated a call to alumni to apply to be members of ACT

·  Expanded ACT from the founding 8 members to 19 members by unanimous vote of ACT and Thunderbird Trustees

·  Conducted formal interviews for ACT candidates

·  Initiated an on-boarding process with the new ACT members

·   Presented new ACT membership  to the Thunderbird alumni community on November 25, 2014

Thunderbird/ASU Chapter Collaboration

·  Established Thunderbird outreach to ASU chapter leadership in Atlanta as a pilot initiative

·  Facilitated reciprocal event opportunities in Atlanta for ASU and Thunderbird chapter leaders

·  Shared ASU chapter leader contacts with Thunderbird chapter leaders to build an organic outreach effort

·   Set February 2015 date to co-sponsor a collaborative ASU/Thunderbird corporate partnership event

ASU Alumni Partnership

·   Collaborating directly with ASU Alumni Office

·  Developing an ASU and Thunderbird engagement process

·  Proposing value-based opportunities to ASU that demonstrate the collective power of our alumni

·  Developing a collaborative strategic plan that integrates Thunderbird alumni with ASU alumni for mutually beneficial goals


These efforts represent the work of eight dedicated alumni leaders, in cooperation and collaboration with the school’s staff, administration, Thunderbird trustees, Thunderbird Global Council, Friends of Thunderbird, alumni, chapter leaders, students, faculty, corporate partners, and of course our ASU counterparts and partners.

ACT is extremely excited at the new dynamic opportunities that exist with our partnership with ASU. We look forward to this historic moment in Thunderbird’s history, as the sixteenth school at Arizona State University, and are committed to not only preserve the nearly seventy-year history of our alma mater, but to discover what is possible in terms of fusion and collaboration with the other schools and institutes within the ASU enterprise going forward into Vision 2015 and beyond.

I want to personally thank the esteemed alumni leaders with whom I have had the privilege of serving this past year:

Nona Niner ’81, Vice President and Alumni Communications Chair, New York

Jonathan Lutz ’96, Governance Chair, London

David Wittenberg ’93, Strategic Planning Chair, New Delhi

Baron Bruno ’08, Los Angeles

Gabriel Frank ’10, Sao Paolo

Tony van der Hoek ’89, Atlanta (and WP Carey undergraduate ’87 and MBA graduate ‘89)

Yohei Matsumura ’13, Tokyo

I also want to take this opportunity to welcome our new ACT members, who bring with them additional skills, perspectives and global influence.  These alumni leaders are as committed as the original eight charter members to move forward in a positive direction together and to serve the best interests of the Thunderbird School of Global Management and its illustrious global alumni community.

Looking forward into 2015, ACT, together with Thunderbird Alumni Relations, is actively planning for Vision 2015 in our new environment at Arizona State University.  We look forward to understanding what resources, programs and services can be made available to Thunderbird alumni and, in turn, exploring how Thunderbird might add value to Arizona State University. Thus, ACT will:

  • participate in future brainstorming and planning sessions with ASU leadership in early Q1 2015
  • build out the Thunderbird Alumni Relations/ACT strategic plan in partnership with Thunderbird chapter leaders and ASU leadership
  • work with the Thunderbird and ASU chapter leaders to strengthen our global alumni community
  • pursue opportunities for collaborative Thunderbird/ASU chapter activities
  • enhance engagement and communication with the Thunderbird alumni community

As Thunderbird merges with ASU, our hope is that the collective voice and wisdom of our alumni will be an integral part of our future.  Let us continue to forge a path forward with a renewed sense of pride and optimism.


Joy C. Lubeck, ‘86, ACT President

The ACT is delighted to announce that we will be more than doubling our size with the addition of 11 new members who were unanimously approved by the Thunderbird Board of Trustees on November 17, 2014.


These accomplished men and women represent graduating classes from four different decades, and live in eight countries across North America, Asia, Europe and Africa.  All of them can claim:

  • extensive and successful professional experience garnered across the globe;
  • notable service to the Thunderbird community as students, as alumni, or both;
  • clear, interesting proposals on how ACT and Thunderbird can engage, leverage and serve our 42,000 alumni worldwide; and
  • a belief in the potential offered by the fusion of Thunderbird with Arizona State University. 


All 11 new members went through a rigorous three-step process prior to being presented to the Board for final approval:

  • Submission of a written application;
  • Participation in a 40-minute conference call with the ACT Governance Committee, during which they expanded on their written application and were free to ask questions; and
  • Receiving a “yes” vote from a majority of ACT members.

The new members of ACT are:

  • Walter Baker, ’86, Tampa, FL
  • Paul Bradley, ’84, Singapore
  • Colleen Foster, ’84, Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Kevin Glynn, ’90, Evanston, IL
  • Ana Iglesias, ’10, Boston, MA
  • Barry King, ’14, Accra, Ghana
  • Juarez Lowe, ’03, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Lawrence Masle, ’94, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Ronald Okenfuss, ’96, St Paul, MN
  • Robert Omer, ’96, Frankfurt, Germany
  • Xavier Paillon, ’93, Montreal, Canada

Bios on the new members, and existing ACT members, are available here.

With the additional energy, expertise and ideas of these amazing folks, the ACT aims to offer our fellow alumni great services and ever-better connections to the School, to each other and to the whole of the Thunderbird community, in the spirit of One Thunderbird.

Forging the Alumni of the Future

Atlanta, GA


The second occasion for Sun Devils and T-Birds to come together was the watching of the ASU vs Notre Dame Football game in Decatur GA on November 8, 2014, where ASU dismantled Notre Dame 55-31. The conviviality of the occasion was a perfect opportunity to make new friends and share good times with Rennie Sloan T-Bird ’93 and Tony van der Hoek (ASU ’87-89 and T-Bird ’89) representing Thunderbird.  There were approximately 40 alumni present at the celebration!

ASUAtlanta’s ASU Alumni President Seth Deitchman introduced T-Bird Atlanta Chapter Leader Rennie Sloan and Alumni Council of Thunderbird’s Tony van der Hoek to incoming ASU Atlanta Alumni president-elect Kenneth Grambow, ASU ‘03 and some of the leadership team in Atlanta. 

On November 10, 2014, the ASU Alumni Chapter held their elections for their new board at Moo-Monday (which is held the second Monday of every month at different locations in town). Irena Tseng ‘14 was nominated by Seth Deitchman and then elected by the Atlanta ASU Chapter as Director ASU Thunderbird Liaison.  Seth commented, “We hope that this will be an example to the world of how we can come together and form a cohesive alumni network.” These sentiments were echoed by Tony: “the liaison position shows the alignment and offers us the opportunity to synergize the alumni base to form an even stronger alumni organization, leveraging the strengths of both, while allowing for our individuality. The goal would be to become the most well respected and regarded alumni organization in the world – for business, networking and fun!” 

ASUKenneth Grambow ’03 WP Carey and President-Elect Atlanta ASU Alumni commented that he is looking forward to working closely with Tony and Laura Maskell T-Bird ’10, President of Atlanta’s T-Bird Chapter and Rennie Sloan T-Bird ’93 in the coming months. Already plans are underway for our first combined official event in February 2015 where we will orchestrate a business speaking event with a senior UPS manager to the broader alumni community. The group will be reaching out to ASU to determine if a Supply Chain professor or dignitary may be able to also attend.

Thunderbird invites ASU Alumni President to Atlanta First Tuesday

Atlanta, GA

The Atlanta T-Bird Alumni Chapter was delighted to host Atlanta’s ASU Alumni President Seth Deitchman to the November T-Bird Tuesday, where for the first time Sun Devils and T-Birds socialized and networked together.  Laura Maskell ’10, President of Atlanta’s T-Bird Chapter, and Alumni Council of Thunderbird’s Tony van der Hoek (ASU ’87-89 and T-Bird ’89) introduced Seth to the group who were all enthused to welcome him.

The event was held on the top deck of one of the best Irish Pubs in Atlanta, Fado’s, which added to both a warm and friendly atmosphere, but also was in the heart of Buckhead.  Tony shared the fact that there are 397 T-Birds in the Greater Atlanta area, and ASU has approximately 4,000. 

T-Bird Tuesday at Fado’s Irish Pub in Buckhead Ga, November 4, 2014.

Seth addressed the group and spoke about the wonderful opportunity to collaborate and co-sponsor events.  Sun Devils certainly have the scale of the larger university whereas T-Birds have the focused global business degree programs.  There are many ASU alumni in Atlanta in senior positions with high profile companies as well as many entrepreneurs.  This model fits perfectly with the T-bird alumni profile.

In addition, there are events where we are already directionally aligned, such as Janet Ackerman’s (T-Bird ’97) Zumba® Fitness event on November 23rd at the pre-game show of the Atlanta Falcons vs. Cleveland Browns.  This will be the Atlanta Falcon’s Zumba Military Appreciation performance with contributions supporting military families. Seth shared information with the group about the Pat Tillman Foundation (, and what it means to ASU Sun Devils around the world.  Founded in 2004, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships – building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.  Pat Tillman, an ASU All- American football player, was in the midst of an all-star NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals when he put his athletic career on hold to serve his country in the wake of the attacks of 9/11.  Pat died in the line of duty regretfully.  Janet and Seth will be collaborating in the future to coordinate the Sun Devil Pat Tillman Run, which had 120 runners in Atlanta last year, with a joint event with the Atlanta Falcons.

Seth invited Atlanta T-Birds to the ASU vs. Notre Dame Football game on Saturday, November 8th and the next “Moo-Monday” which will be held on November 11th.  The first Monday of each month ASU alumni gather at a local burger restaurant.

Tony spoke to the group about the opportunity for T-Bird alumni to continue to focus their efforts on life-long learning, executive development, professional speaker events and the like.  This was the start of our efforts to collaborate and fuse our initiatives, demonstrating the advantages of this impending merger, which brings both the capabilities of a strong university – and the local scale that we have always enjoyed in our global networks.

Laura spoke of some upcoming events, such as the December Holiday Party, which may be another opportunity to invite and mingle with Sun Devils.

Over the coming months, Seth, Tony and Laura plan to continue to collaborate on local co-sponsored events, introduce other local chapter leaders of both schools and grow our understanding of our respective alumni organizations and their needs and desires.  Tony closed his comments with the mantra that Joy Lubeck, ’86 Tbird alumna, ACT President, calls to us all: “If not now, when? and if not us, who?”  The time for engagement and action is therefore upon us. The future looks very bright for all.

Thunderbird and ASU Alumni – First Contact

By Tony van der Hoek ’89, Alumni Council of Thunderbird  -  Atlanta, GA

Alumni Council of Thunderbird’s Tony van der Hoek,  ASU W.P. Carey ’89 & Thunderbird ‘89 and Atlanta’s ASU Alumni President Seth Deitchman ASU W.P. Carey ‘99 met for a first introductory meeting on October 20, 2014. The meeting was scheduled for both to share experiences as chapter leaders and to discuss future opportunities with the upcoming merger. 

Seth and Tony found many areas of commonality and mutual opportunities to share resources, organization and communication alignment. They discussed how T-Birds tended to focus more on the business development and networking opportunities for the alumni, and ASU on the schools spirit, networking and social activities (e.g. ASU football games, baseball outings etc.). 

To this end, Atlanta ASU Alumni host “Moo-Mondays.” The first Monday of each month ASU Alumni gather at a local burger restaurant.  T-Bird alumni have their global First Tuesday, which is a social networking gathering hosted on the first Tuesday of each month in many cities around the world.

ASU PartnershipTony van der Hoek and Seth Deitchman’s inaugural meeting at Starbucks, which has recently announced a partnership with ASU that allows all of its employees to take ASU on-line courses for free.

The duo discussed collaborative opportunities, such as Atlanta ASU Alumni sponsoring a LinkedIn Development program for business professionals to learn how to leverage that platform to optimize their search. Tony invited some local T-Birds to attend the event held on Wednesday, October 22nd.  In addition, Atlanta ASU Alumni host networking events and would like to open those up to T-Birds.

Speaking events, a long tradition at T-Bird, were also discussed. Seth mentioned that some of the renowned ASU alumni working at companies in Atlanta, such as Delta, Coca-Cola and UPS, could host events.  Both alumni have members at these great companies and could explore ways to co-present to the alumni community at large. 

Another area of interest, which continues to be a high priority for T-Bird Alumni, is to further engage the alumni in distance learning, lifetime learning and updates from the respective schools as well as the university. Tony referenced ASU’s School of Sustainability as one area of interest for global alumni. Seth also would like to see more opportunities for alumni to participate in continual learning and was eager for us to market such events together.  

Tony shared T-Bird’s mobile app and its broad functionality. Seth said that ASU does not have something like this at present, but hoped that the school would build something sustainable for the entire ASU alumni community. Some features of the app include the ability to receive alumni news, find alumni in one’s geographic proximity and search for alumni. 

Over the coming months, Seth and Tony plan to continue to collaborate together, introduce local chapter leaders of both entities and grow our understanding of each other’s alumni organizations and their needs and desire.  The future looks very bright to both!

Thunderbird Alumni Strategy: Vision 2015

by Joy Lubeck, ’86, President, Alumni Council of Thunderbird

The Thunderbird Alumni Relations Office (ARO) and the Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT) are actively engaged with our Thunderbird chapter leaders  regarding our go-forward strategy.  At this time we have already met one on one and received feedback from the following chapters:   London, Phoenix, Atlanta, New York, Sao Paolo, Washington DC, South Florida, Silicon Valley, with more chapter leaders scheduled in the coming weeks.

The feedback from our chapter leaders is being integrated into our draft strategic plan framework, that will serve as a starting document as we move into Vision 2015 as the 16th school at Arizona State University.

One of the top priorities is alumni re-engagement via our global alumni chapter network.  Critical to this goal is the expanded development and support of our Thunderbird chapters and chapter leadership, which Terri Nissen, Senior Director of Alumni Relations, shared on the October chapter leaders teleconference where over 35 chapter leaders participated.

Some chapters are building on this initial outreach effort by leading small focus groups to further invite the voice of our T-birds into the process.  Other chapters have distributed a short survey to better understand how the chapter leadership might add more value to its local alumni, now and in the future @ASU.

The interview is comprised of three sets of questions:

Current State:

1. What types of current programs and services are extended to your local alumni?

2. Is there a positive response to the various offerings?

3. What are the opportunities for improvement?

4. What are your top challenges to date?


Future State: Thunderbird as a separate alumni group @ ASU

1. What are the exclusive future programs and services your chapter would want to prioritize for only Tbirds?

2. What might be some of the success metrics to which you would aspire?

3. What type of support might you need from Thunderbird and ASU?


Future State: Thunderbird and ASU, in partnership and collaboration

1. What might you and your local alumni constituency see as opportunities for collaboration with ASU and its other schools and institutes (e.g. School of Sustainability, W.P. Carey School of Business, Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, Institute of Supply Management, etc.)? 

2. What programs might Thunderbird chapters offer our new-founded ASU partners?

3. What might ASU offer Thunderbird alumni that would be of interest?

4. What would success metrics be?


Already our chapter leaders have provided great insights from which we will co- build the Thunderbird Alumni Relations strategy.  Feedback will continue to be collected and shared with our Thunderbird global alumni community, so please stay tuned.  And when the timing is appropriate, Thunderbird will share its vision and goals with ASU leadership in the spirit of evolving our promising future together. 

In closing, we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their participation and support as we move into a very exciting and historical time for our alma mater, Thunderbird School of Global Management.

ASU Personal Development Session

On October 22, 2014, Janet Ackerman (Garber) ‘97 and Tony van der Hoek T-Bird ’89, ASU ’87 & ‘89 attended a personal development program on how to leverage social media tools such as LinkedIn and others in growing one’s professional network and finding the next career opportunity. The one-hour session was co-organized by Seth Dietchman, the president of Atlanta’s ASU Alumni and a W.P. Carey School of Business Alumni grad, and led by Daniel Guelzo of Optomi, an IT staffing firm with a consultant-focused approach.

Left to right: Seth Deitchman, Daniel Guelzo, Janet Ackerman, Tony van der Hoek and Mike Hosfeld (ASU alumni).

We were delighted to be included in such an event and learned a great deal about how to better utilize LinkedIn, Google and other tools to improve our career opportunity and business networking capabilities. We are now sharing these new skills with other members of T-Bird Alumni as well as hoping to schedule a webinar whereby Daniel can share his expertise with Thunderbird’s Career Management Center. 

The Atlanta Chapter is looking forward to further collaboration and shared events and activities as we merge with Arizona State University. 



Reflections from a T-bird/ASU alumnus

By Tony van der Hoek ’89, Alumni Council of Thunderbird

As we begin the historic journey of integrating the Thunderbird alumni community with the ASU alumni organization, I would like us to consider the magnitude of this opportunity. As both an ASU and Thunderbird alumnus, I will only touch on some things to consider from our own Thunderbird heritage, but there are many more ideas that we will want to explore. 

T-bird First Tuesdays

This has long been the foundation of our networking around the world. Suddenly, we will be able to invite more alumni members to these events. But now the conversation may change. Consider how we may continue to have a global dialogue and perspective, but welcome them to join us. Expanding our networking will revitalize us even more. As an example, 150 ASU EMBA students just graduated this year in Shanghai. 

ASU events

Much of the more visible ASU activities revolve around enjoying sporting events for the Sun Devils, and their professional sports graduates. Just recently, I was invited by the local ASU alumni chapter to a Braves vs. Oakland A’s game, where one of the A’s players is a Sun Devil graduate. What great times can we share together in the future? New friends, new networks and an expanded social life… doesn’t sound too bad? 

ASU also organizes an impressive number of campus visits, conferences and promotions of the university’s capabilities from its collection of colleges, schools and institutes. Those assets will now include Thunderbird – the best Global Management School on the planet. How can we collaborate with them to learn how we are stronger together, to the outside world? More combined degrees, distance learning and the like? ASU alumni host “send-offs” of entering students to the school. Should we attend and share with Thunderbird entering students our best wishes, guidance and mentoring support? 

We have Super First Tuesdays, where chapters are encouraged to invite prospective students to meet with alumni. Could we collaborate with the W.P. Carey business school or the Sustainability institute or one of the other schools under the ASU umbrella with this type of activity? 

Expanding Diversity

We need to recognize that ASU alumni will not only be from the W.P. Carey School of Business, but will also be from the schools of Engineering, Sustainability, Nursing, etc. What entrepreneurial and business activities common to Thunderbird alumni would be great opportunities for networking and collaboration with them?  What opportunities do we offer them? As Thunderbird grows and fuses with ASU, the new T-bird graduates will have a master’s degree in global management, but perhaps a minor in sustainability, engineering, media communications, etc. Their backgrounds, experience and focus will be something for us to proudly embrace. Thunderbirds will look different in terms of specialty and experience in the future. What can we do to leverage these new opportunities for greater diversity?

Continual Learning and Faculty Engagement

At many T-bird alumni chapters around the world, we have strived over the years to host faculty and school administration events, hold panel discussions, welcome keynote speakers, and facilitate opportunities for alumni networking. I would believe that we would continue to offer all of these thought leadership activities, but for even larger audiences. Perhaps ASU alumni would like to co-host or co-sponsor such events? They certainly have leading faculty and business practitioners in their fields of expertise who could speak to us and expand our own view of the world we live in. 

Faculty learning programs and executive education will be positively impacted by future collaborations among the ASU schools. Now, imagine the skills that you would like to enhance. Does ASU have those courses for you? Would you sign-up for an online program/course to refine your social media skills from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, for example? Would the faculty participate in local chapter events? 

Global Reunions

It has long been a tradition for Thunderbirds to gather together for special weekends around the world. What happens if we collaborate with our new ASU alumni colleagues and expand our global reunions to more locations? With our combined faculty and reach into the business world, imagine now what these reunions could become.

So, after all of this, I must say I am extremely enthused about what we are today, and what the opportunities are for us tomorrow. The Thunderbird we know will change. The school will be harder to get into, ranked higher in global educational rankings with the best ever rugby team (sorry, I was a T-bird rugby captain so have to throw that out there). Thunderbird alumni will be viewed as the best and most engaging and intellectually savvy on the cutting edge of the world… Wow, what a T-bird alumni community we will be! Please join my fellow ACT members in the dialogue about how we can get there together – as One.

ACT strategy for the Thunderbird Alumni Network

By David Wittenberg ’93, ACT Strategic Planning Committee Chair

Thunderbird’s most remarkable asset, our alumni network of over 40,000 globally minded graduates, is poised for unprecedented growth and development. Since the Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT) was formed last year, we have been taking the pulse of the alumni and working closely with the Alumni Relations Office (ARO) to understand where the alumni want to go and how to get there. We learned that T-bird alumni want two things most of all: first, to boost Thunderbird’s brand value and second, to connect with other alumni. 

ACT, the leadership team of the Thunderbird alumni network, has already launched a number of activities, such as monthly chapter leader conference calls. Some other plans have been held back by the school’s financial limitations and by the need to await completion of the merger with Arizona State University (ASU). ACT is using this period of transition to strategize and plan for the exciting future that we anticipate.

To assure that alumni continue to benefit from Thunderbird’s reputation as the leading graduate school for global management, ACT will continue to inform Thunderbird’s negotiating team about the desires of alumni regarding the things that make our school distinctive and valuable. We are addressing both the academic side of the school — advocating high admissions standards and a truly global curriculum – as well as the key alumni areas of interest – preserving the “Thunderbird mystique” and the way that the alumni network can be structured for maximum effectiveness. 

Thunderbird’s reputation will reach its greatest heights when employers reward graduates with responsible positions and high salaries. ACT and the ARO are involving alumni in recruiting prospective students and in coaching current students to make sure that each new Thunderbird is a credit to the school. We have recently seen enhanced career services for alumni, and we look to expand those efforts with ASU. 

Our strategy for improving connections between alumni touches numerous points. Through our One Thunderbird initiative, we have met, spoken with and corresponded with hundreds of alumni from various backgrounds, regions and points of view to bring all alumni together for the good of the school.

Much of our strategy is focused on our alumni chapters. Through the new platform of monthly conference calls, we are providing our chapter leaders with input and support to build engagement and participation in chapter activities.  Through this process, our chapter leaders have had unprecedented access to representatives of the board of trustees and the school as well as an opportunity to participate in a call with the ASU President, Dr. Crow, back in July.

Following the success of the recent European reunion in Dubrovnik, ACT is working to increase the school’s support for future alumni reunions. New regional gatherings for chapter leaders have also been added to the development agenda. 

ACT’s communications committee and alumni services committee have already contributed to fostering connections through regular alumni digests, timely information on the Thunderbird web site and an improved mobile phone application. We will continue to develop and expand alumni communications to boost engagement. Additional benefits and services are also being researched as we will benefit from the resources of the ASU alumni organization once the deal is closed in December. 

While some uncertainty remains about the next chapter in the history of our alumni network, ACT believes that we will see increased resources, an influx of new members, an array of new networking opportunities, and a series of positive developments that will enhance the value of the Thunderbird brand. We expect to see alumni engaged, active, and receiving more benefit than ever from the Thunderbird global alumni network.

The strategy of the Thunderbird alumni community is your strategy. The members of ACT are committed to harnessing the power of our unique community for the benefit of all alumni and our school, the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Your input, questions and opinions are always welcome. Please feel free to contact us at