Executive Director of the Association of Yale Alumni Mark Dollhopf ’77 announced in April that he would step down when his term expired that summer. But nine months later, he still has not been replaced.
Jenny Chavira ’89, then-deputy executive director of the AYA, assumed the position of acting executive director during the interim period, but no permanent appointment for executive director has since taken place. Dollhopf held the position for nearly a decade.
The executive director of the AYA is the highest officer in the Association’s administrative structure and works with the AYA board of governors, AYA staff and University leadership to set programming for the organization, among other duties. The AYA published a report in September to provide information about the organization and assist potential candidates in assessing their interest in becoming executive director. Yet Michael Madison ’83, who chairs the search committee, said the hiring process is still ongoing. Madison emphasized the importance of finding the right candidate rather than filling the position as soon as possible.
“The search is not governed by a timetable,” Madison said. “The committee’s goal and Yale’s goal is to find great person for the position.”
The new executive director will be tasked with improving how the AYA makes use of emerging technologies — specifically for communications and branding — as well as overseeing human resources, management processes and budgetary discipline, according to the report.
Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Joan O’Neill said the timeframe for the search has been consistent with her expectations. She added that in addition to the search committee, which is composed of Yale alumni, the hiring process is being supported by Witt/Kieffer, an outside recruiting firm that specializes in higher education and nonprofit organizations.
Despite the lack of a permanent executive director, Chavira and Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives Stephen Blum ’74 said AYA affairs are running smoothly and that staff members have been stepping up in various ways to help out during the transition period.
“While we are all looking forward to welcoming the next leader for AYA whenever that person is named, in the meantime, everyone is contributing to keeping us moving forward, in partnership with our hundreds of alumni volunteers,” Chavira said.
Blum added that there have been no structural changes to the governance of the AYA other than Chavira’s serving as acting executive director until the search committee finds a suitable candidate.
Yale invests over $3.3 million each year to support AYA operations, a figure which constitutes more than 50 percent of its annual budget.