Colgate introduced its sixth professional network on April 1 during a reception at the Longview Gallery in Washington, D.C. The Common Good Network, representing alumni across the nonprofit and public service sectors, is the fourth network launched this academic year, following on the heels of finance, digital media and technology, and health and wellness.
The evening’s program included a conversation with an uncommonly good panel, moderated by President Jeffrey Herbst. It featured PeacePlayers International founder Brendan Tuohey ’96, Lakota Children’s Enrichment founder Maggie Dunne ’13, and former Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin ’68.
More than 150 alumni attended the event. Lawyers, fund-raisers, teachers, policy experts — whatever their work on behalf of the world community, they found common cause in forming a new group to advocate for each other, for current Colgate students, and the university.
President Herbst delivered the network’s charge in his opening remarks, telling the crowd that he looked to common good members to “help us understand your particular sector of the economy, what opportunities there are for students, how we can best help prepare students for the work ahead according to your own experiences.”
For its part, the university will facilitate conversations between alumni, aiding them in their search for professional fulfillment. “We view all of our professional networks to be dynamic things that will expand and grow over time,” Herbst said. “The help we’ve had in establishing this network in the common good will pay great dividends in the future.”
In forming the networks, career services director Michael Sciola teamed up with alumni director Tim Mansfield to address the needs of Colgate community members during their four years on campus and throughout their decades as alumni. Rather than building groups by occupation, administrators looked across industries to find broader ties that could mutually benefit graduates and their alma mater.
Sciola asked attendees to provide internships for Colgate students, refer other organizations that have internship opportunities, offer financial support for students seeking unpaid or underpaid internships, and take an active role in sustaining the network.
The Common Good Network fulfills a particularly helpful function for the community, because, Sciola said, “in this space, it’s not as obvious where the opportunities are.” Consequently, alumni already in the space have valuable information for those who are looking for their big break.
The evening’s panelists set a good example, talking about how they used their Colgate education to enter the business and, in some cases, how they tapped their Colgate connections to achieve success.
As Tuohey expanded PeacePlayers, he called together former Colgate classmates to help with everything from funding to know-how. Dunne sought advice from her Thought Into Action mentors. “The experiences that Colgate made possible for me helped me to be ready to go off and run this nonprofit full time,” she said. “The mentors I found are all still a huge part of my life.”
Frumin, working for the federal government in a role that required impartial insight, drew consistently on lessons learned from legendary philosophy professor Jerry Balmuth. “He made it clear that my opinion, without research, was not what he was interested in,” Frumin said. “You learn, listen, analyze, and then you’re ready to participate.”
Learning, listening, analyzing, and participating, Common Good Network members made their launch event a memorable and auspicious beginning. With plenty of work on the horizon, Sciola took a moment to enjoy the fruits of collective labor, provided by volunteers and Colgate staff. “Two years ago, this conversation is what we dreamt would happen,” Sciola said. “It’s brilliant.”