Calling all club leaders

Upcoming conference promises engagement and networking for heads of alumni groups

The Suburban (Chicago) Illini Club, shown here hosting its holiday networking event, is one of 46 domestic clubs, eight special interest groups and 40 international clubs that provide alumni with networking, game watches and scholarship fundraising activities. (Image courtesy of Matt Wilson)
Upcoming conference promises engagement and networking for heads of alumni groups

From a tasting with brother Bier Meisters to face time with top University of Illinois officials, a packed slate of events is planned for the Alumni Volunteer Leadership Conference, set for April 19-22 at Alice Campbell Alumni Center on campus. 

Sponsored by the Illinois Alumni Association (IAA), the event is open to leaders, officers and board members from the 46 clubs and eight special interest groups that serve Illinois alumni across the nation, as well as almost 40 international Illini clubs and representatives. Among those planning to attend is Mike Engelhardt, ’91 LAS, founder and president of the award-winning Suburban [Chicago] Illini Club, which includes 300 members and has an email list of 36,000 addresses. “You have to understand how to be engaging to alumni,” Engelhardt observes, citing club events such as networking, game watches, scholarship fundraising and information sessions about University programs. For Engelhardt, “support and alignment” with the IAA is critical to a club’s success.

The conference will kick off on the evening of Thursday, April 19, with a reception at Riggs Beer Company in Urbana. Founded by brothers Matt, ’06 ACES, and Darin, ’03 ENG, the brewery specializes in German-style lagers and uses a strain of wheat developed at Illinois, which the brothers grow on their family farm just down the road from the brewery. “We certainly wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t had the broad education offered by the  U of I,” Darin says.

Events on Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, include breakfast with UI Director of Athletics Josh Whitman, ’01 BUS,  JD ’08; a panel presentation by Illinois deans of medicine, engineering, business and law; and tours of the Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and recently renovated Lincoln Hall. A Friday evening awards ceremony and dinner at Robert Allerton Park in Monticello, Ill., will feature remarks by University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen. A session with UIAA President Jen Neubauer, ’82 ED,is on the docket, as are speed presentations by club leaders, talks by University administrators on admissions and student life, and the opportunity to attend Ebertfest, the UI’s renowned film festival. Breakfast with the IAA alumni relations team on Sunday, April 22, will conclude the gathering.

“Illinois is blessed with hundreds of loyal alumni who work tirelessly on behalf of the Illini Nation,” says Neubauer. “We at the IAA are thrilled to welcome these dedicated volunteers back to Urbana for provocative conversation, hands-on training, education and a celebration of all they do on behalf of our Alma Mater.”

The IAA is covering the cost of the program for participants, except for transportation and lodging. For more information, contact Matt Wilson, UIAA associate vice president, alumni community development, at or call him at 217-333-9141.