MONDAY, JULY 26, 2021   
*all time are Eastern Time Zone

 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Pre-Conference Coffee | Sponsored by Vault

Grab your coffee, pastry, or other food and beverage of choice, and gather with fellow attendees as we kick off this year’s ACSN2021 Virtual Conference! We’ll do some light facilitated conversation and get ready for three days of learning, reflection, and connection.

12:30 – 1:00 pm

New Member Orientation  | Sponsored by Vault

New to ACSN? First-time conference attendee? Bring your coffee to this room and we’ll introduce you to members of our planning committee and the ACSN Board. We’ll share a bit about the organization and the conference, and gather your input, too.

1:15 – 2:45 pm

Keynote Speaker, Lindsey Pollak | Sponsored by PeopleGrove

Best-selling author and workplace expert, Lindsey Pollak, will present her thoughts on the changing nature of work as we emerge from the pandemic. Based on her latest book, Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work, she will share insights we can share with our alumni as they engage in career planning and job searching. This interactive session is moderated by ACSN Conference Committee Members, Michael Steelman, and Lucie Sandel.

3:00 – 3:45 pm

Guided Conversation, Martin Cepeda | Sponsored by PeopleGrove

She-sessions. The great resignation. DE&I. Remote work. Hybrid work. The changing workplace. Work/life balance. Global impacts. Martin Cepeda will address these and other issues as we emerge as changed people into a workplace that may or may not have changed. 

4:00 – 5:00 pm

Speed Networking on Brazen | Sponsored by Mission Collaborative

Join us at the end of day one for a high-energy, interactive experience on the Brazen platform to connect with fellow attendees, debrief what you have learned so far, and share strategies from your institution.


TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2021   
*all time are Eastern Time Zone

 12:00 – 1:00 pm

 Conversations with Conference Sponsors | Sponsored by Alumni Transitions

Kick-off day two with our Conference Sponsors in individual breakout rooms. You’ll be able to move between the rooms, explore their tools and platforms, and ask questions that meet your specific needs.

1:15 – 2:45 pm

Keynote Speaker, Mark Woodland | Sponsored by PBC Guru

Mark Woodland’s involvement in marketing spans more than 35 years, including two decades spent in senior leadership roles in higher education in Utah and California. As assistant vice chancellor of Marketing Communications for the California State University, he works with a talented team of professionals to communicate the value and significance of the CSU to audiences across the state.

 2:30 pm

 Small-Group Discussion post-Keynote


3:00 – 3:45 pm

Up in the Air: A Young Alum’s Perspective on Navigating Uncertainty 
Ryan Riccordella, Solutions Expert, Wake Forest Alumnus

Contrary to the popular expression, there are three things in life that are certain: death, taxes...and uncertainty. As jarring as 2020 was, it was not a standalone event. Rather, it was just one more piece of a continual pattern for today’s young alumni who have faced radical change and uncertainty from a very young age (think Y2K, 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008). How have these continued upheavals of norms influenced young alumni’s view of the world, and how does that impact the way they navigate their careers? Moreover, as people who have experienced these events ourselves, how has our own worldview (and approach to our work) changed? This session aims to explore the effects of uncertainty on young alumni, but also to create a forum to share the ways in which young alumni can be supported in processing uncertainty of the past, and the uncertainty that is sure to come.

By participating in this session you will gain perspective on the following questions:

  • How can young alumni be empowered to recognize the things they can control to mitigate feelings of uncertainty in their lives? 
  • How can young alumni be coached to feel comfortable “sitting in uncertainty” when it cannot be avoided? 
  • How does uncertainty in our own lives and careers impact our ability to be effective resources for young alumni?

3:00 – 3:45 pm

The “Pandemic Exodus” and Employer Returnships/Return to Work Programs 
Carol Fishman Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of IRelaunch
Cheryl Bonner, Director Alumni Career Services Penn State 

Those advising alumni currently on a career break or anticipating a future career break will benefit from knowing the latest information on employer returnship/return to work programs and the top strategies for applying to and getting accepted to them. 

Over 9 million men and women lost jobs during the pandemic, and nearly 4 million left the labor force entirely. This “Pandemic Exodus” from the labor force was largely unrelated to work performance, as it was caused by an external factor. Employers with returnships/return to work programs in place will be best positioned to hire professionals on a career break when they’re ready to return and benefit most from this high-caliber talent pool. Thirty-four percent of the Fortune 50 run a return to work program. 

During this session, you will gain information about returnship/return to work programs and about the strategies to get accepted to one. You will be fully informed on this topic and will be able to advise alumni on a career break looking to get back to work.

By participating in this session, you will:

  • Learn about employer returnship/return to work programs, who offers them and what they are, the impact on them now that millions of people have left the labor force during the Pandemic, and what this means for your alumni on a career break looking to relaunch their careers. 
  • Understand eligibility factors for admission to these competitive return to work programs and how your alumni can be best positioned for success when applying to them. 
  • Gather top return to work job search advice for your relaunching alumni including “Scripts & Dialogues” examples of what to say and what to write, and a comprehensive library of resources customized for alumni on a career break looking to return to work.

3:00 – 3:45 pm

Using Data to Track and Inform your Strategy 
Julee Bertsch Director, Alumni Career Services Bucknell University

Covid made everyone change and evaluate how their work was being done. Learn how the presenter I transformed their data from an excel spreadsheet to a Tableau format that enable pulling visualized data, data trends, and YoY trends to respond to questions about whether and how Covid affected their work. This has allowed them to see the data in an easier format which can quickly populate 2021 annual report as well as provide the controls to pull in parameters that are important for their work.

By participating in this session you will:

  • Learn the value of visualizing data to capture trends. 
  • Understand the ease of pulling data to craft a story about how work is progressing and who you are serving.
  • Determine what data is important to capture.

3:00 – 3:45 pm

Blending Wellness in Career Programming 
Lucie Sandel, Senior Associate Director Northwestern Alumni Association, Alumni Engagement

Why should we introduce or increase the amount of well-being programming offered? The idea may seem like a pivot, however, we've always made a point of including some aspect of well-being in our career programming because when we go to work, whether it's in an office or far more commonly now, a home office space, we bring the whole person. By specifically adding the term Wellness to our 'Cats Career and Wellness Chats program we want to recognize that alumni and students are looking for an opportunity to share knowledge, tips, skills, and expertise on a wide variety of issues that are front of mind for alumni and students today. We don’t know what the world will look like after COVID-19 but we know that it will be different and that brings with it unemployment, health concerns, and overall uncertainty. These events will endeavor to lift some of those worries and burdens that our alumni and students are facing and will continue to face for the foreseeable future. The manager of the Northwestern Alumni Association Career Advancement team will discuss how the 'Cats Career and Wellness Chats came to be, the campus partners who have been participating, and the overall success of the program.

By participating in this session you will:

  • Determine which topics would resonate with your alumni
  • Understand how to add DEI subjects and who are the experts. 
  • Develop ways to successfully tie in wellness + careers.

3:00 – 3:45 pm

Silver Linings: Positive Programming Lessons from COVID-19   Cindy Hyman, Director of Alumni Career and Professional Development University of Denver

Every crisis is an opportunity. Even when demand for alumni career services is high, our teams are rarely a magnet for scarce university resources. While COVID-19 changed much about work, it also taught valuable lessons that can inform future alumni career programming. COVID devastated university budgets and forced us to move entirely online. It also sparked new collaborations, forced us to rethink how we measure success, and find creative ways to reach more alumni in need of our services. At the University of Denver, our two-person Alumni Career & Professional Development team experienced two extended, overlapping FMLA leaves during COVID and still met our annual goals in only three quarters. During this conversation, we’ll discuss effective collaborations and innovative ways to scale previously small, live programs.

By participating in this session you will learn:

  • How to identify potential collaboration partners 
  • How to design collaborative programs that achieve joint goals 
  • New ways to scale previously small, live programs and offer them to a broad, virtual audience

 4:00 pm

Networking with Door Prizes | Sponsored by CareerShift

Let’s wrap up day two with an interactive hour designed to stretch you both physically and mentally. ! This will be a fun opportunity to meet fellow attendees and test your knowledge with the chance to win some great door prizes.  

*all times are Eastern Standard Time


12:00 – 1:00 pm

All members ACSN Business Meeting and Meet the Board

Come learn about what’s happening at ACSN, plans for the next year, and meet the new slate of board members. All attendees are welcome.


1:15 – 2:00 pm

What Really Makes for an Effective Alumni Career Webinar? 
Zack Rubin, Co-Founder and CEO PBC Guru

Ellie Geraghty, Director of Alumni Career Programs at University of Maryland Alumni Association 

Becky Ross, Senior Associate Director for Alumnae Career Services Bryn Mawr College

Wendy Webster Coakley, Director of Alumni Career Networking at Williams College

COVID-19 forced all alumni offices to dramatically shift programming online and resulted in far more attention and resources being applied to career and lifelong learning webinars. This session will focus on lessons learned for career webinars and how to apply them to make more engaging programs in the future. The presenters will begin with a 10-minute overview of key trends observed over the last year by more than 100 alumni organizations regarding their webinar programming and how it can be applied to create more engaging career webinars. The data used for this analysis comes from the Alumni Learning Consortium which is uniquely positioned to glean these cross-institution insights as to the largest alumni-focused webinar platform in the world. The remaining session time will be an open discussion for all attendees to share what has worked well for their career webinars and what the future holds as more in-person programs become possible again.

By participating in this session you will:

  • Understand five key drivers of career webinar success based on data analysis (effective marketing, alluring event title, presenter renown, topic relevance, and past program quality). 
  • Gain insights through peer discussion in the “room” of what has worked with other ACSN member schools and what people see for the future. 
  • Collect at least 10 new ideas for webinar topics looking towards the 2021-2022 academic year.

1:15 – 2:00 pm

Developing Alumni Leadership Programs 
Maura Hume Sweeney, Director of Alumni Career & Professional Development, College of the Holy Cross

Many colleges and universities offer leadership development programs for their students. What about their alumni? Join in this conversation to discuss the unique role that Alumni Career Services can play in providing alumni with leadership development throughout their careers.

By participating in this session, you will be able to: 

  • Develop a leadership philosophy that is in line with the mission of their institution 
  • Determine the type of leadership program that fits their target audience 
  • Discuss best practices for the format, duration, and timing

1:15 – 2:00 pm

Finding Meaning in the Midst of Chaos 
Allison McWilliams, Assistant Vice President, Mentoring and Alumni Personal and Career Development, Wake Forest University    

The past year has been, to say the least, a lot of chaos. From the global pandemic to job losses and changes to individual and collective reckoning with systemic racism, we’re all navigating through a new normal, and that requires new tools and strategies for doing work and building a life. As a result, many have started to ask themselves, what kind of life do I want to create? Where do I find meaning and purpose, and does my work align with those things? As we start to re-emerge from the pandemic and consider a return to some version of in-person work, how can we as alumni career professionals support our alumni, especially our young alumni, as they grapple with these important questions? How do we do this work for ourselves and our colleagues as we, too, think about meaning and purpose? In this conversation we will discuss both the challenges and opportunities for doing this work and identify tools and strategies we each can use, moving forward.

By participating in this session you will:

  • Identify the realities that are driving this feeling of chaos, both individually and more globally.
  • Identify the challenges and opportunities for alumni career professionals to move beyond the job search to conversations around meaning and purpose.
  • Share tools and strategies we can use both in our work with alumni and with our teams.

1:15 – 2:00 pm

Creating Mentoring Opportunities 
Lucie Sandel, Senior Associate Director Northwestern Alumni Association, Alumni Engagement

Alumni are looking for ways to give back that are personal and direct to the students. Many universities are offering mentoring programs to connect these engaged alumni with students who would benefit from their guidance. A difficulty we've seen, and as an attendee at a mentoring conference I've learned that Northwestern University isn't alone, is that while students will eagerly sign up to become a mentee, they are often reluctant to take the BIG step, which is to make the "ask" and connect with the alumni. The reasons range from "Oh, this person is too important, they wouldn't want to talk to me" to "I don't even know what questions to ask!" The Mentor Circle program offers opportunities for alumni involved in interesting work to engage with a group of students around an idea / an industry / a career path where they won't feel the pressure of asking to meet or having lots of questions. The group atmosphere with a facilitator allows them to listen, ask a question, connect with other students sharing their career interests, and a willing alum. Northwestern Alumni Association Career Advancement manager will discuss how engagement in the program skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic when we asked a few mentor circle hosts if they'd be willing to meet with students over Zoom instead of in-person (one went from 3 students signing up to 18 students and alumni meeting monthly over Zoom since April 2020).

By participating in this session you will answer the following questions:

  • Whom and how do you recruit from your alumni population? 
  • Alumni work in so many different fields, which industries will provide the most "bang for your buck"? 
  • How do you collaborate with divisions/departments that don't have careers teams but have genuine interest from their alumni and students?

1:15 – 2:00 pm

Designing Inclusive Career Community & Conversations Through Alumni Partnerships
Tiffany Waddell Tate, Wake Forest University 

How might alumni engagement & career development professionals identify synergies of engagement, relationship, and relevance to expand career community and conversation that speak to the emerging needs of a diverse cross-section of alumni? From creating space for topics of interest to cultivating strategic partnerships - creating relevant, timely, and engaging programming experiences that represent nuanced challenges that Black and brown alumni face will continue to be a critical need for many institutions.

By participating in this session you will

  • Learn how to identify potential alumni/affinity partners to expand career & professional development opportunities for students and alumni, 
  • Share best practices and "sticky" program topics for alumni constituents
  • Ideate new ideas and resources to continue this work.


2:15 – 3:00 pm

New strategies and methods to engage alumni online 
Maura Sweeney, Director of Alumni Career & Professional Development, College of the Holy Cross

Hallie Crawford, Create Your Own Career Path

Now that virtual meetings are the norm, it's increasingly important to find ways to engage and educate alumni online in varying ways and formats. We have found online engagement peaked at the start of the pandemic and dropped slightly over time most likely because 1) we are starting to open up, travel, and get back to the office and 2) familiarity with online platforms and experiences mean people are seeking and have found new ways to connect. This makes it increasingly more important to find ways to engage alumni, through the typical webinar format, through podcasts, through platforms like Streamyard, Facebook, and YouTube streaming, and by leveraging alternative events like coffee chats with a coach, mini-conferences, open Q&A forums for half a day, and others.

By participating in this session you will:

  • Learn ways to increase engagement and participation in webinars, podcasts, and other tools
  • Develop a strategy for launching new tools and not technology for the sake of technology
  • Discover new platforms to provide and present information,
  • Find out about different types of events to provide to alumni (Mini conferences, Coffee with a coach, podcasts, Career Q&A forums)
  • Identify collaborations with individuals and offices at their institution

2:15 – 3:00 pm

Alumni at Work: Building Engagement and Creating Community Through Advancement & Career Development Partnership 
Tiffany Tate and Megan Hoyt,  Wake Forest University  

In our world today, change is the only constant. Our workplaces are fundamentally restructuring, as demands and needs of both employers and employees are shifting. Within higher education, staff professionals are adjusting traditional program models to meet the increasing expectations from alumni. In order to re-think these dynamics, we need different models for effective work. In this session, we will examine the research on workplace and generational trends; provide a partnership model between advancement and career development professionals that eliminates silos within the institution; and offer specific, actionable program frameworks for implementation with your institutional constituencies.

By participating in this session you will

  • Gain a model for strategic communication & collaboration across Higher Education departments; 
  • Learn specific, actionable program frameworks for implementation with their institutional constituencies; 
  • Gain insight into generational trends/research that informs this work and its relevance across university advancement and career development core goals.

2:15 – 3:00 pm

Moving Beyond Content and Into Experiences: a Pilot in Career Development 
Samantha Constance, Assistant Director, Career Development  University of Chicago 

In Spring 2021 the University of Chicago Alumni Career Development team piloted the Alumni Career Retreat, a 7-week, cohort-based program built on the foundation that our alumni network has so much to offer each other. The program was designed for members of the alumni community to find accountability, support, and inspiration as they work towards their career goals together. Following the success of the inaugural retreat, we’re planning a re-tooled retreat in partnership with Howard University to harness the power of our shared alumni networks. In this interactive session, the UChicago Alumni Career Development team will share details about how they built the Alumni Career Retreat and our lessons learned. They will share a sample workbook & curriculum so that you don’t have to recreate the wheel. Additionally, we’ll open the floor to ACSN members for breakout rooms to discuss how a peer learning or cohort-based model could be adapted at your university.

By participating in this session you will:

  • Explore why peer learning is a valuable career development opportunity that allows us, as career development professionals, to deepen alumni engagement beyond a traditional webinar. 
  • Learn and discuss actionable steps to adapt UChicago’s Alumni Career Retreat model to their own campus. 
  • Expand your own network of ACSN connections following small group discussions.

2:15 – 3:00 pm

ACSN Best Practices Think Tank
Kioshana LaCount, Assistant Director of Virtual Career Resources  The Ohio State UniversityAlumni Association 

Share your own expertise and leverage your past experience as a career services professional while you collaborate and brainstorm with others. This session is targeted at those with 5+ years of experience providing career services to alumni. Network with each other while you brainstorm solutions regarding the issues facing our offices. Designed for those more senior to the role (5+ years of experience providing career services to alumni), this is a time to gain input on topics and issues you want to address more fully. As we wrap up the conference, this is a time to make connections and potentially find resources and partners for post-conference engagement.  

By participating in this session you will:

As a result of attending this session, you will ]have had a chance to participate in shared discussions and cross-collaboration on best practices on ways our offices and ACSN can move forward within the industry as we emerge into a changed and continually changing landscape. 

3:00 – 3:45 pm

 Keynote Speaker: Chris Field | Sponsored by Brazen

Chris Field has been challenging complacency and disrupting the status quo most of his life. His most important disruption is Mercy Project, the non-profit he started to rescue children from human trafficking in Ghana, Africa. Its innovative approach has drawn international attention and earned the prestigious Norman Borlaug Humanitarian Award. To date, Mercy Project has rescued more than 150 children, returned them to their families, and provided them with an education that will transform their future for generations to come. Field lives in College Station, Texas with his wife Stacey and their four young children.

3:45 – 4:00 pm

ACSN2021 Special Announcements and Closing Conference Activities | Sponsored by Brazen

4:00 – 5:00 pm

Conference Celebration and Wrap-Up! | Sponsored by Creative Resources

Let’s wrap up these three days of learning and connection with a celebratory toast (BYDC: bring your drink of choice) along with a special invitation to ACSN2022!