After a summer of organizational rearrangement, Students and Alumni of Yale has slimmed down its leadership structure this semester to increase efficiency.
STAY — a group that aims to bring together students and alumni for social, service and career networking opportunities — opened its doors to member applications last January, and the group has seen rapid growth in events the months since. The group partners with the Association of Yale Alumni to offer panels, forums and social gatherings to current undergraduates, graduate students and alumni. Group leaders say the organization restructured its board and membership this semester to operate more productively and provide a greater number of events to the Yale community.
“In terms of the big picture, STAY has hit the ground running this semester,” said Stephen Blum ’74, AYA senior director of strategic initiatives and founding STAY board member. “The biggest challenge was to revamp and improve our organizational structure — we’ve succeeded in doing that. Beyond that, we’ve also obtained financial support.”
Blum said the group received hundreds of applications from students last January, though it only expected around 70. STAY attempted to place the applicants into a workable committee structure, he said, but ultimately the committee leadership was too large to manage. Over the summer, the group’s leadership decided instead to reorganize itself as six committees of 30 total members and an executive board of around 15 members.
He added that STAY provides both “channel and content,” as it helps market University-sponsored events to larger groups of people while also hosting self-generated events, such as student leadership forums and student-alumni mixers.
Eric Eliasson ’14, chair of STAY’s alumni membership committee, said though the leadership structure of the group has been “pared down,” members are still enthusiastic and committees are now much more manageable.
“I think the core of what STAY is hasn’t changed,” he said. “It’s an organization focused on connecting students and alumni in meaningful interactions.”
Eliasson added that the group has “really started to get [its] name out there and reap the benefits of the marketing [it has] been doing” and that it hopes to plan many more events in the near future. STAY has also secured funding from several sources, including the AYA, UCS and an anonymous gift from a donor, allowing it to expand its programs.
This semester, STAY has already held several leadership forums and career panels.
“Frankly, I’m surprised by the amount of early success we had — we were catching up behind the scenes to keep up with the excitement,” said Brandon Levin ’14, former president of STAY.
Alyssa Siefert GRD ’15, STAY executive treasurer, said the restructuring has been an “extremely large improvement in efficiency.” This semester, she added, the group has been able to focus on specific action items such as mentoring and outreach.
Kate Taylor-Mighty ’15, chair of STAY’s publicity committee, also said she finds the new structure more streamlined because it gives each member more responsibility.
“Something we heard last year was that people didn’t feel like they had enough tasks to go around — now that’s definitely alleviated,” she said.
Over winter break, the group will offer several local networking events in various parts of the country.