Ayanna McConnell, who has more than 25 years of experience leading student and alumni programs at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, has been named the 12th president and CEO of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.
The Alumni Association’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to appoint McConnell, effective immediately, during a meeting on Oct. 26. McConnell has served as acting president and CEO of the Alumni Association since March.
“Ayanna’s steadfast leadership over the past eight months, along with her expertise and ongoing commitment to university and alumni relations, make her the perfect leader for our organization,” said Mary Kay Haben, MBA’79, chair of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. “She brings extraordinary passion, experience, and commitment to our mission and core values. We are extremely excited and confident in her proven leadership.”
Previously, McConnell served as the Association’s vice president for university relations, during which she oversaw all aspects of the Association’s university relations, student, and fundraising and development programs. She also led the Association’s strategic initiatives in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. McConnell first joined the Association in 2011 to design the student community for the LEAD Scholars program.
A Detroit native, McConnell attended U-M before completing her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cleary University and her master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from Eastern Michigan University. Ayanna met her husband, Rob, at U-M, and the two have made Washtenaw County, Michigan, home with their two children. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Inkster Alumnae Chapter; the Ann Arbor Chapter of the Links Incorporated; and the Michigan ACE Network. She serves on the Washtenaw Community College Women’s Council and Jewish Family Services Community Advisory Council.
“I’m beyond thrilled to lead the Association as we continue to foster collaboration and strong relationships with our alumni, volunteer, and university partners. I care deeply about the Association’s mission and vision and hope to use the collective power of our impressive alumni base to increase collaboration and expand our future impact,” McConnell said.
“I’ve had the pleasure of serving with Ayanna for the past several months, and I’m confident she is the right person to lead the Association toward an even brighter future, strengthening our engagement with alumni, increasing our collaboration across the community, and deepening our belonging to the Michigan family,“ U-M President Santa J. Ono said.
The appointment comes after a national search led by the Board of Directors and the executive search firm Russell Reynolds.
The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan was founded in 1897 as a nonprofit organization independent from the University. It serves more than 668,000 U-M graduates.