For the past eight months, Joycelyn Blizzard has served as the Inaugural Director of Multicultural Alumni Engagement with the goal of increasing engagement between alumni of color and the College.
“The intention of the role … is quite straightforward: to further engage alumni of color,” Blizzard said. “Bowdoin saw that they need this [engagement] and created a position.”
Blizzard highlighted how her personal experience attending a predominantly white institution has informed her work at Bowdoin and allowed her to forge connections with alumni of color.
Blizzard received a bachelor’s degree in Leadership Studies from the University of Richmond and later earned a Master’s of Public Administration at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
“Here I am at Bowdoin where, quite frankly, I carry the calls, thoughts, feelings and desires of alumni of color,” Blizzard said. “Bowdoin has a history of being an all-white, male college, and we’ve had women for 50 years [and] folks of color for many years, but when folks roll into that alumni realm, folks tend to disengage or get lost from the College across the board, but, of course, even more so for folks of color. My role is here to figure out how to re-engage[them].” Blizzard said.
A key aspect of Blizzard’s job is to connect with alumni and listen to their concerns.
“I have been all over the map, talking to students and alumni—they range from the class of 2021 all the way back to class of 1966,” Blizzard said. “In each one of those conversations, I asked, “Who would you think I would benefit from having a conversation with? That has led me down an interesting path to understand how to better serve [the community].”
Engagement for the Office of Development and Alumni Relations is measured by an alum attending an event, donating or volunteering. Blizzard’s role is to develop strategies and methods to increase engagement of alumni of color, and she has seen improvement over her tenure.
Through data collected between July and December of 2021, there was a six percent increase in the engagement of alumni of color. This six percent increase means that an alum of color either attended an event, donated, or volunteered for the first time. However, this data was recently received, so it is too early to break down the layers of engagement.
“There are folks that are answering my email and calls that haven’t done anything with the College, which is great because they’re excited to see a person with my title,” Blizzard said.
“They don’t know me from Adam, but they’re interested in the work and it begins to reinvigorate what they loved about this place.”