A capital club

Washington, D.C., welcomes the newest MIT Sloan alumni club

October 2, 2014

Alumni mingle at the MIT Sloan Club of Washington, D.C.’s inaugural gathering in July

Alumni mingle at the MIT Sloan Club of Washington, D.C.’s inaugural gathering in July

Many MIT Sloan alumni live and work near the banks of the Potomac River, but Washington, D.C., has never been home to an MIT Sloan Alumni Club—until now.

Scott Dulman, SM ’90, who has lived in the area for 20 years, started the club after he attended a Course XV 100th Anniversary event in Washington, D.C., last year. When speaking to Dean David Schmittlein and members of the Office of External Relations, Dulman questioned why there was no area alumni club. Soon after, he found himself working with the MIT Club of Washington, D.C., and the MIT Sloan Office of External Relations to create one.

Fellow MIT Sloan alumnus Ken Gordon, SM ’60, who has been a member of the MIT Club of Washington, D.C., for more than 40 years, assisted Dulman in forming the new club.

As a past MIT Club president and a current board member, Gordon had always integrated MIT Sloan activities into the D.C. club, but he said last year seemed like the “right time” to formally launch an MIT Sloan-specific alumni club. The MIT Club and the MIT Sloan Office of External Relations were supportive of the effort.

“Alumni clubs serve as an important extension of the school,” said Renee Hirschberg, associate director of alumni relations and annual giving at MIT Sloan. “The Office of External Relations does not have the capacity to host regional events as frequently as everyone may like; therefore clubs are critical in providing alumni with engagement opportunities such as admissions events, welcoming alumni to the area, networking events, and more,” she said.

Working with Hirschberg, Dulman sent out a survey to the 700-plus alumni in the greater Washington, D.C., area to assess interest in organizing a club. A core group of organizers met for the first time in May 2014 to decide on programming and leadership. There is now a group of 15 board members, including Dulman and Gordon.

Many of the MIT and MIT Sloan alumni are interested in the same topics, and Gordon emphasized that the MIT and MIT Sloan clubs need to work in tandem. Dulman agreed, and said MIT Sloan alumni should consider participating in both clubs. “We want to strengthen our ties with Sloan, and have the opportunity to network with members of Sloan and the MIT community,” he said.

Inaugural event

In July, an informal happy hour at Del Frisco’s Grille was the first official MIT Sloan Alumni Club event, where more than 30 alumni were in attendance. The board members are working to schedule future events, some of which may feature current faculty members speaking on topics such as health care, big data, and financial regulation.

There are no dues to join, although some events will charge a small admission fee to cover expenses. The club is considering a new model to engage both alumni and potential industry partners as resources for funding, as well as event space and other donated services.

Elizabeth Petheo, EMBA ’14, who is vice president of partnerships for the club, said the board plans to work with industry sponsors who will support the club and provide visibility.

Hirschberg said the timing of the club launch has been fortuitous, since the Office of External Relations introduced the MIT Sloan Alumni Board last June, aiming in part to expand the network of MIT Sloan alumni clubs. Currently, there are eight MIT Sloan alumni clubs, three of which are overseas.

Washington, D.C., area alumni are encouraged to join the LinkedIn group or email vice president of membership Hisham Kassab or Dulman if they would like to get involved.

Anyone who is interested in creating an MIT Sloan alumni club in his or her area is encouraged to contact Hirschberg, who will research the number of alumni in the region and offer connections with the local MIT Club.

“We’re looking for engaged alumni,” says Hirschberg. “We have a lot of gratitude for the volunteers who lead these clubs.”