Lees-McRae Alumni Board welcomes five new members

The Lees-McRae Alumni Association is an incredibly important and changemaking group of over 7,000 Lees-McRae graduates and former students. The members of the Association provide vital support for the college through fundraising and recruiting, feats that could not be accomplished without strong and sound leadership from the governing body of the Association, the Alumni Board.

As stated in the Lees-McRae Alumni Association bylaws, the group, “shall be represented by the Lees-McRae Alumni Board. The board will oversee the link between the college and alumni and the Lees-McRae alumni family by encouraging participation and creating opportunities for interaction with Lees-McRae College.” Consisting of the five-person Executive Committee and between 18 and 36 additional board members, the Alumni Board provides sound direction to the Association.

“Alumni Board members meet three times a year as an entire board and also meet monthly on individual committees that strive to connect alumni with opportunities to support the college’s priorities, including the Executive, Career and Life Planning, Advancement, Enrollment Management, and Events and Engagement Committees,” Executive Director of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Relations Katie Talbert said.

During this past nomination cycle, five new alumni answered the call to serve on the board and commit to giving back to the college that shaped them. Michelle Scott ’90, Tennille Sherrill ’98, Abbie Gardner ’17, Shelby Schestag ’06, and Christopher Finley ’96 are the newest members of the Lees-McRae Alumni Board.

After graduating, each of these alumni continued to thrive personally and professionally, and now feel a responsibility to give back to the institution that inspired them to pursue their dreams and passions and gave them the tools they needed to achieve their goals.

Scott, a third-generation Lees-McRae alumnus and former staff member for 16 and a half years, served as the Director of Alumni Relations and the Director of Development at the college. While she has long been involved in the alumni perspective at the college, she is now a Bobcat parent, and is excited to celebrate the fourth generation of Bobcats in her family from her new seat on the Alumni Board.

Sherrill studied Humanities, Communications, and Business at Lees-McRae, earning a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She has had an exciting career and has worked as a teacher, professional singer, and program manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Through each different path, however, she said she kept within herself the Lees-McRae mission to approach both life and work from a creative, collaborative, and critical perspective.

Being the most recent graduate, Gardner’s experience at Lees-McRae is still top of mind. After a phone conversation with Alumni Board Vice President Gail Miller ’72 one night, Gardner decided to join the board herself.

“I do not have the words to describe how important the people I met and memories I have from Lees-McRae are. From some of my greatest friendships, some of my greatest mentorships, and most of all my love for leadership,” Gardner wrote in her Alumni Board application. “Almost six years later I reflect on my history with Lees-McRae, and I would not change a thing. I want the alumni and future Bobcats to understand how lucky we are to have a college with community, dedication, and support. Lees-McRae built me. The people, the classes, the campus are all a foundation of who I am today.”

Joining the Alumni Board is not Schestag’s first experience with alumni relations. Alongside fellow ’06 graduate and long-time friend Jennifer Kanjorski, Schestag founded the new Lees-McRae Chesapeake Alumni Chapter in 2022. She looks forward to continuing her alumni-related work on the board.

Finley began at the college when it was still a two-year institution but ended up staying to earn a four-year degree when it transitioned during his time as a student. In his application for the Alumni Board, he said that the driving force behind his desire to serve on the board is to give back to the institution he calls instrumental in his career success.

Each new board member will serve a three-year term that began this past October. Throughout their terms, each of the new members looks forward to making a difference and giving back to Lees-McRae, and reflecting on the years, memories, and lessons that impacted them for the rest of their lives.

By Maya JarrellJanuary 06, 2023