Local AOG Chapter and Affinity Group Leaders Gather in Dallas

November 3, 2022

The Association of Graduates hosted chapter and affinity group leaders at its annual Chapter and Affinity Group Conference in downtown Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, Nov. 3. Leaders from across the United States, and even from Germany, attended the one-day event.

The morning sessions focused on USAFA graduate survey results and how the alumni organization will evolve in the coming years to become more relevant to the Long Blue Line.

Naviere Walkewicz, senior vice president of alumni relations and business development, unveiled a few new initiatives that will come online in 2023 and beyond — including a Long Blue Line Weekend in July/August; a new USAFA portal for graduates, cadets, faculty and staff; and more customized reunions.

Karina Ross, senior director of alumni engagement, talked about other efforts on the docket, including volunteer month activities in April, chapter Founders Day gatherings in the spring, and a new Entrepreneurship Month in November.

Angelica Schumacher, young alumni program manager, presented information about ways the AOG hopes to engage with younger alumni soon after their USAFA graduation.

The AOG is planning a mini-reunion for recent graduating classes (one to five years from graduation) that will correspond with Firstie Departure, the event for soon-to-be graduates as they prepare for life in the Big Air Force or Space Force. The plan is to have younger graduates interact with Firsties to provide tips, offer support and answer questions.

In addition, Schumacher reported that efforts are underway to establish a more robust mentorship program to connect cadets, recent graduates and more mature graduates.

The rest of the day’s gathering was devoted to small group discussions related to five questions: How do we help educate the Long Blue Line on the role of the AOG and Air Force Academy Foundation? How can we enable and increase grad connection? How can we increase grad engagement and event attendance? How do we encourage more young alumni participation in local chapters? And how can we better recruit new chapter leadership?

Among some of the suggestions offered by attendees:

  • The AOG needs to be more proactive rather than reactive.
  • The AOG/Foundation should offer worldwide Zoom meetings for the graduate community.
  • Utilize a text messaging service to help reach and engage younger graduates.
  • To help with stadium renovations, conduct a “Buy a Seat” campaign in Falcon Stadium and allow grads to buy a seat in memory of classmates and others.
  • Offer a “free welcome gift” to those who join through Membership for All.
  • Offer timely online forums for graduates to discuss tough topics and get questions answered.
  • More AOG and Foundation events should focus on families.
  • Successful AOG chapters could mentor other chapters that are just getting started or are struggling.
  • Setting up more networking opportunities for members, both in person and virtual.