New alumni volunteer leaders seek to connect ’Canes for life

The new leaders of the University of Miami’s national alumni organizations, as well as those in ’Canes Communities across the country and around the world, aim to ignite a vibrant spirit of collaboration and community throughout the Hurricane alumni family.
New alumni volunteer leaders seek to connect ’Canes for life

The University of Miami alumni family is large, diverse, and spread throughout the United States and overseas. Building affinity networks and strengthening the connections between ’Canes in their own communities is a core priority for the alumni volunteers who stepped into leadership roles in June.

The new alumni volunteer leaders at both national and regional levels bring to their respective roles a wealth of professional expertise and leadership experience—and unflagging energy and enthusiasm for the U. Although these roles are distinct from each other, they all point toward the same objective: to bring the U more fully into ’Canes Communities and keep the ’Canes spirit shining brightly wherever alumni live and work. 

The three national volunteer alumni organizations are also making history: for the first time in the University’s history, the presidents of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Young Alumni Leaders Council, and President’s Council are all women.

Maribel Perez Wadsworth

Strengthening ’Canes Communities and engaging and retaining alumni donors are key priorities for Maribel Perez Wadsworth, B.S.C. ’93, the new president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. As she explained it, the University’s recent academic and athletic accomplishments give alumni more reasons than ever to reconnect with the U. (Read more about Perez Wadsworth’s plans for her presidency here.)

Joining Perez Wadsworth on the alumni board executive committee is Immediate Past President Devang Desai, B.A. ’97, J.D. ’03, who has turned the reins over after a highly successful tenure as board president. Also on the committee are President-Elect Darren Dupriest, B.B.A. ’91; and Vice Presidents Joshua A. Cohen, B.A. ’96; Allison Gillespie, B.A.M. ’91, M.S.Ed. ’95; M.S. ’03; Felicia Williams Hale, B.B.A. ’00; Shannon High-Bassalik, B.S.C. ’88; and Juliana R. Wheeler, B.A. ’92, M.A. ’94.

Young alumni are represented on the alumni board by Brianna Hathaway, B.A. ’16, the new president of the Young Alumni Leaders Council. The Council supports the needs of recent graduates with tailored communications and events that foster relationships, facilitate networking activities, and create a strong culture of giving among young ’Canes alumni. 

Brianna Hathaway

For Hathaway, volunteer leadership is fundamentally about helping alumni feel pride in their alma mater, which, in her view, starts with ensuring that they feel connected to and heard by the University. “It is my hope that the Young Alumni Leaders Council can create a culture of belonging for all alumni that facilitates a productive and long-term dialogue between the University and its ’Canes about what matters to them,” she said. “In my role, I hope we can continue to create pride in being a ‘Cane for Life.”

Joining Hathaway on the Young Alumni Leaders Council executive committee are President-Elect Melissa Jordon, B.A. ’14, J.D. ’16; Immediate Past President Max Myers, B.B.A. ’11; and Vice Presidents Derek Auguste, B.A. ’20; Austin Payne, B.B.A. ’15; Candice Johnson, B.S.P.H. ’16; Willie Herenton, B.A. ’21; Kailey Walsh, B.S.C. ’16; Jared Pillar, B.B.A. ’16; and Lauren Lee Pettiette Schewel, J.D. ’14.

The President’s Council, an invitation-only body that includes some of the University’s most prominent alumni, seeks to educate, engage, and lead as they cultivate other volunteers and friends of the U, support the University’s strategic priorities, and promote the importance of philanthropic investment in our institution.

Alice Vilma

Alice Vilma, B.B.A. ’99, is the new chair of the President’s Council Executive Committee. Vilma looks forward to leading the President’s Council in supporting the University of Miami, its students, and its mission. “As we count down to the University’s centennial celebration in 2025 and look ahead to our next century, the council will reinforce our commitment to advancing the University’s core priorities in research, education, innovation, and service,” she said.

Joining Vilma on the executive committee are Dan R. Smith, B.B.A. ’89, immediate past chair; Sandy H. Goldstein, B.B.A. ’81, M.B.A. ’84, chair-elect; Dean Z. Myers, B.B.A. ’80, M.B.A. ’81, strategic engagement co-chair; Adam S. Apatoff, B.B.A. ’93, strategic engagement co-chair; and Liz. B. White, B.S.C. ’92, membership chair.