Mary Kay Haben, MBA’79, became chair of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan’s Board of Directors at the body’s regular meeting in September. She replaces Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, ’79, who held the role from 2021-23. Wilson-Thompson remains on the 23-member board.
Haben spent more than 30 years working for two iconic Chicago-based businesses. She was president of the cheese and pizza divisions at Kraft Foods and later served as president of North America for Wm. Wrigley Jr Co. Haben retired from full-time work in 2011 and began serving on corporate boards, including The Hershey Company, Equity Residential, Bob Evans Farms, and Grocery Outlet Inc. She first joined the board of the Alumni Association in 2015.
We spoke with Haben to discuss her time at U-M and the goals for the board moving forward.
What drew you to become involved with the Alumni Association board?
I love U-M and remained involved with the University after graduation. I initially served on the alumni board of governors for the Ross School of Business where I eventually became chair; was a guest speaker for various classes; was an annual recruiter of top U-M talent for both Kraft and Wrigley; and was a commencement speaker. I served as chair of the University of Illinois Alumni Association, where I received my undergraduate degree. After finishing my term with them, I expressed interest in joining this board to expand my horizons beyond the business school and meet other Michigan alums from other generations and other fields of study. And my experience with the Alumni Association has delivered that generously.
Can you share a bit about your experience as a student at U-M? What was memorable?
I really loved my time at U-M. I made great friends that I still keep in touch with today, both students as well as faculty. I am a huge sports fan, and I played co-ed intramural football, attended Michigan football games, and was blessed to attend two Rose Bowls. I loved the tailgating and all of the traditions surrounding Michigan football. I was socially active at the business school where we started a tradition called the MBA Prom, and I was crowned Prom Queen. There is no place like U-M. It is rare and unique, and you always have a special connection with all Michigan alums.
What are your goals and vision for the Alumni Association as board chair? What do you hope the organization will achieve in the next few years?
As board chair, I want to harness the power of the exceptionally talented and passionate Board of Directors to help CEO Ayanna McConnell and her team make the Alumni Association the best it can be. The goals for the organization are around defining and communicating our value proposition to drive increased membership and engagement among our alumni; taking our unique and innovative LEAD Scholars program to a heightened level of impact; leveraging our unique asset in Camp Michigania to engage more alumni in deeper and even more magical ways; identifying new innovative ideas to better serve our alumni and in doing so, deepen our alumni reach and engagement; enhancing our University alliances and partnerships; and continuing to attract and develop an exceptional board of alumni.
What would you like alumni to know about you?
I bleed maize and blue, and could not be more excited to be a part of this amazing University and incredible Alumni Association staff and board as we continue to drive our mission to be the Leaders and Best. We want to hear from you! If you have ideas on how to better serve YOU, our alumni, let us know. Go Blue!
Monica Howard Douglas, ’94, joined the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. She is currently executive vice president and general counsel of The Coca-Cola Company, overseeing the company’s global legal function. Douglas joined Coca-Cola in 2004 as senior managing counsel. She is a member of the board of directors for VICI Properties Inc., Junior Achievement USA, and Cool Girls Inc.