Alumni Association of the University of Michigan Receives Inclusive Excellence Award

The organization was honored for its programs and services.
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A group of students stand in front of a fountain wearing caps and gowns. They also are wearing stoles that read LEAD Scholar
Graduating LEAD Scholars gather for a photo in 2023. Photo by Tori Wilson

The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan received the 2024 Alumni Association Inclusive Excellence Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. 

The award honors alumni association’s programs, culture, and initiatives that encourage and support diversity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging for all alumni, regardless of racial or ethnic background, sexual or gender identity, religion, socio-economic status, world view, and more.

“We are proud to be honored with this award,” says Ayanna McConnell, president and CEO of the Alumni Association. “Creating a sense of inclusion and belonging for alumni and students is at the core of our programs and services. DEI is one of the four pillars of our organization, and reflected in the core values for our employees.” 

The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan is one of 32 alumni associations to be honored in Insight Into Diversity’s June issue. The magazine is the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

“We hope that every alum feels that the Association is a place for them — a place where they belong,” says Mary Kay Haben, MBA’79, the chair of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. “Our respect for diversity of experience and thought is key to this effort. And we support the University of Michigan’s efforts to help foster a diverse educational environment.” 

As a nonprofit that is separate from the University, the Alumni Association operates the LEAD Scholars program which awards merit-based scholarships and gives empowering community support to admitted students who exemplify the program’s four pillars: leadership, excellence, achievement, and diversity. Since the program’s founding in 2008, there have been more than 750 LEAD Scholars. The Alumni Association partners with donors to support the scholarships and programming.

The Association has also partnered with the University to launch the Alumni M-Pact DEI Certificate program. First held in 2021, the four-week course for alumni has returned in 2024 to help alumni cultivate diversity and inclusion action plans to impact communities at a local level. 

The Association’s career program offers a monthly webinar series that has touched on a number of topics, including approaching work with a neuro-inclusive lens, setting yourself apart in a job search regardless of your age, how to talk about mental health at work, and international alumni and the job search. In addition, the Association has a collection of 10 identity-focused career resource guides for alumni specific to a variety of identities from Black and Hispanic alums to those who are veterans and those who identify as LGBTQ+. 

Internally, staff members are required to do at least two hours of DEIJ (diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice) self-learning each month. This encourages staff to continue their DEI journeys and helps introduce ways they might be able to incorporate learnings into their program areas. The Association has a culture action team that advises leadership on various issues including items related to having a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace. 

The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan was founded in 1897 and is a member-based nonprofit organization that enriches the University of Michigan’s impact by serving as an independent gateway for alums of all identities, backgrounds, and experiences — across the globe and in our neighborhoods — in order to create and deepen belonging to the Michigan family, the Leaders and Best.

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