AOG Hosts Chapter Presidents’, Parents’ Club Conferences

Association of Graduates chapter presidents from throughout the nation have gathered at the United States Air Force Academy this week to exchange ideas, learn about new initiatives and grow their personal networks.

The conference kicked off Wednesday with breakfast and a show at the newly renovated Planetarium and STEM Center.

The chapter officials then moved to Polaris Hall, where the group was greeted by AOG Board Chair Cathy McClain ’82 via video technology. She talked briefly about the AOG board’s recent strategic planning efforts, and about recent conversations regarding how the organization can better serve all USAFA graduates in the future.

AOG President and CEO Marty Marcolongo provided an update about the alumni association’s ongoing efforts to further engage Academy graduates and to encourage chapter service projects throughout the country.

USAFA Endowment President and CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Gould ’76 talked about the efforts of his organization to grow the percentage of graduates who donate back to the institution. Currently, approximately 12% of Academy graduates contribute financially at some level. That participation figure is considerably lower than many institutions — Princeton 55% and Army 35%, just to name a few.

The message, Gould said, is “help us to help our Academy.”

During a question-and-answer session, Marcolongo and Gould fielded a number of questions from chapter presidents. One recurring theme was bridging the gap between the older generations and more recent graduates.

In additional conference sessions, AOG’s Young Alumni Engagement Coordinator Devin Davis provided an overview concerning expanding efforts to engage more recent graduates. Among the critical new tools is a networking platform that will soon be launched to better connect graduates.

Corrie Grubbs, the AOG’s senior vice president of operations, talked about a new career center website that will provide a one-stop-shop for graduates looking to transition now or in the future.

In several break-out sessions, chapter leaders talked about such topics as using technology to tell their story and promote upcoming events; exchanging fresh ideas for stage-of-life events and inclusive service projects; and collaborating with Parents Clubs within a geographic region.

Among the ideas for events discussed to engage graduates were game nights, a day at the zoo, “Noon Meal Formation” events with a special speaker, biking/running groups, and community service projects.

On Thursday, the chapter presidents gathered along with dozens of Parents’ Club leaders for combined conference sessions.

Among the topics of discussion were an Academy update from leadership, ideas on better connecting across generations, and suggestions on how everyone can help tell the story of the Academy in their individual communities.

In his briefing with the combined conference, USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria ’85 reported that 62% of the cadets in the newest class, the Class of 2023, have parents who never served in the military.

As a result, many of those parents are experiencing the military for the first time and then talking about their perceptions when they return home, Silveria noted.

He encouraged parents to educate themselves so they can better share the impressive things that are happening within the Cadet Wing and at the institution.

Among other updates shared from the senior leadership team:

  • The renovation of Sijan Hall will begin late next year and be completed in phases.
  • The Cadet Chapel is set to close for up to four years, beginning next week, due to a complete renovation of the facility.
  • The Academy is beginning to move a cadet’s Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) selection process to the winter of their second-class year.
  • USAFA is beginning to incorporate enlisted faculty members into the institutional team.
  • The airmanship program is beginning to incorporate simulator technology in order to maximize training opportunities for cadets.
  • USAFA continues to evaluate its curriculum to ensure that cadets who graduate acquire the skills necessary to be a leader in today’s Air Force.
  • With the stand-up of Space Command, the Academy is continuing to discuss the role that its graduates will play in the important space domain.

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