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Shapiro Succeeds Howard
as Alumni Society President
Howard CW'68 and Leonard Shapiro W'64.
by Addison Geary
God is crying that youre leaving
office, joked Leonard Shapiro
W64 to Elsie Sterling Howard CW68, the outgoing president of the University
of Pennsylvania Alumni Society. He was referring to the rainy weather
braved by those attending the UPAS board meeting early on Saturday morning
of what would be a mostly soggy Alumni Weekendat which Shapiro was elected
to succeed Howard as president.
Besides being a member of the UPAS executive committee,
Shapiro is an alumni trustee, serving on the budget and finance and the
facilities and campus-planning committees, a member of the Agenda for
Excellence Council and the board of overseers of the Graduate School of
Education. He is past-president of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Advisory
Board and a target-school representative for his local secondary-school
committee. When not volunteering for Penn, he is president of Emerald
Realty Advisors, LLC, in Bethesda, Md.
Howard professes herself
thrilled with Lenny as my successor. He has been a fantastic supportercreative,
energetic, dependable, thorough. As a member of the executive committee
and an alumni trustee, He is very well-versed in the process piece, as
well as being a terrific motivater of people.
At the board meeting,
he called her a transformative leader. Elsie took what I perceived
to be a relatively moribund organizationsort of stuckand didnt question
small pieces but went to the essence of every function and asked the people
responsible for oversight to really turn everything over and transform
each facet of what Alumni Relations did, he says. Howards high energy
and strong desire to adopt best practices available in alumni relations
offices around the country energized this whole office, and the result
was that we have new programs and dynamic activities.
Howards five-year tenure
as presidentthe longest ever, she sayshas seen numerous changes in
Alumni Relations at Penn. One major focusa natural one, for someone who
heads her own public-relations firmwas improving communications. I think
we have changed the way we communicate with alumni, she says, through
greater use of e-mail listservs and the World Wide Web; increasing the
print circulation of the Gazette, which has grown from about 90,000
to 140,000 in recent years; and developing new communications vehicles
such as the Red&Blueprint, a newsletter for alumni leaders.
She also cites successful
efforts to attract a whole new generation of leaders through annual
alumni-leadership forums on campus and at regional conferences, and generally
being all over the country as opposed to being rooted in Philadelphia
and expecting all of our alumni to come back.
One successful new outreach
effort has been the Penn On The Road program, which brings panel discussions
by alumni and faculty experts in a variety of subjects directly to alumni
groups around the country. Another is PennCares, in which alumni have
organized community-service activities in their cities (see story on page
A complementary goal to
increasing off-campus offerings was to make the two weekends on campusHomecoming
and Alumni Weekendworth returning for, she adds. Holding the Alumni
Award of Merit gala during Homecoming festivities in November is new
for us over the past five years. [And] at Alumni Weekend, you can actually
eat the food now, she says. We wanted to make our traditional experiences
more valid for people who have high expectations and high standards, but
we didnt want to relinquish the sense of Penn.
Finally, she notes as
a personal goal her wish to invigorate senior alumni leadership and make
service on the UPAS executive committee, which oversees the Office of
Alumni Relations, comparable to the prestige of being on the Board of
Overseers of SAS or Annenberg, for example. I feel we have that now.
Howard, who lives in Miami
Beach, received the Alumni Award of Merit in 1988. She is active in Reunion
planning for her Class, founding president of the Dade County Alumni Club
and has chaired the secondary-school committee for her area. She says
that she has loved every moment of her time as UPAS president. There
is no bad part to the job.
Her next volunteer assignment
will be chair of the Penn Fund, the Universitys annual-giving program,
where she hopes to replicate some practices instituted in Alumni Relations.
The truth is, most alumni want to share in the future of the University.
Some people are able to give, some people are able to do, and some people
are able to do both. We need to ensure that the alumni population has
the opportunity to do as much collectively as it wants to and as much
individually as he or she wants.
Looking ahead to his term
in office, Shapiro explains his decision to take on the job of UPAS president
this way: I love the University of Pennsylvania. I feel a strong lifetime
connection to it. I have great affection and admiration for its professional
and volunteer leadership. I saw an opportunity for me to continue what
Elsie had started, and I hope I am the right person for the job.
Beyond refining the work
of the past five years of transforming the Alumni Relations office into
something that answers the needs of alumni, Shapiro adds, I am personally
committed to the concept of regionalizationfocusing more energy out where
the alumni are. Very few of the alumni actually get back to campus, and
I think we have a responsibility to get out to them and give them services
and programs and support to connect them to the University.
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