Dollhopf to step down as alumni association executive director

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Mark Dollhopf (Photo by Michael Marsland)

Mark Dollhopf ’77 has announced that he will step down from service as the executive director of the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) this summer after his current term ends.

“Mark’s commitment and unparalleled enthusiasm for all things Yale have generated remarkable engagement by alumni both here in the U.S. and around the world. His innovation and creativity in alumni relations have been the envy of peer institutions,” wrote Joan O’Neill, vice president for alumni affairs and development, in a message to campus colleagues. “We at Yale are indebted for his steadfast service.”

“Mark will leave with the alumni association in even more robust shape than when he came to lead the AYA staff nine years ago,” noted O’Neill. She said that the university administration and the AYA board and will develop a plan for a search committee soon. Jenny Chavira ‘89, the AYA’s deputy executive director, will serve as acting executive director beginning Aug. 1.

Strategic planning — by the overall alumni association and its constituent groups — has been a hallmark of Dollhopf’s leadership. The AYA’s strategic plans of 2008 and 2012 provided a framework to strengthen longstanding programs — including regional alumni associations, educational travel, and class reunions — and to launch new initiatives, such as a broad array of shared interest groups, community service programs, and global outreach efforts. The results of this strategic combination of “respecting the past and embracing the future” have been record numbers of participants in alumni relations activities — both on campus and in communities around the world.

Dollhopf first worked for the university after graduation in 1977 as a staff member in the Development Office. In 1980, he began a successful career as a consultant for independent universities, schools, and other non-profits. He was an active Yale volunteer throughout this time. A Whiffenpoof and Glee Club member while at Yale, he founded the Yale Alumni Chorus in 1997, and his volunteer service was recognized with a Yale Medal in 2004.

“My time as a Yale student changed my life — and inspired me to give back in service to Yale and to society,” Dollhopf said. “Nathan Hale’s words inscribed in the Memorial Quadrangle — ‘I wish to be useful’ — call out to me every day. It has been a privilege to serve with the exemplary professional staff of the AYA and an incomparable set of volunteers to mobilize the gifts of time and talent of our fellow alums around the world.”

O’Neill remarked that since his professional return to Yale in 2006, Dollhopf has led the AYA “with inspiration and great energy” and “has helped the association to re-imagine alumni relations as an opportunity to call alumni to service in support of Yale.” She noted that the most recent AYA assembly in November, which set new records for attendance, showcased the dynamism of Yale alumni relations, with a few highlights including:

Dollhopf told his staff colleagues, “We have done much in the past nine years to advance and celebrate the culture of giving that is the AYA. I am grateful for the gifts that have been given me, from university and alumni leaders, but most especially from you — your gifts of passion, enthusiasm, innovation, and professionalism. … I am looking forward to new consulting engagements with other universities and non-profit organizations to share what it is we have been creating here at Yale. We have much to share. And I look forward to continuing our life-changing work together as a volunteer, if not as a staff member.”