The goal of an alumni association is to promote school pride and foster relationships among graduates of all ages and the community. But the Minnetonka Alumni Association (MAA) is finding that goal to be increasingly difficult with a dwindling and aging membership. The association is searching for younger graduates to revitalize its board and increase its impact in the community.
“The people that are left have been on for a long time,” Dan Heiland, MAA president, says.
The MAA formed in 2002 and organized the first All-Class All-Year Reunion, which is held every four years.
“This last summer, they had their fifth All-School All-Class reunion,” JacQueline Getty, Minnetonka Schools executive director of communications, says. “After that, several board members decided to retire. It was an opportunity for the board to look at their current membership and to really think, ‘How do we re-engage the classes from the ’80s, ’90s, 2000s, 2010s?’ Because the class that is currently on the board is currently from the ’60s and ’70s.”
Heiland, who is from the Class of 1974, says it is a challenge.
“The problem we’re having is when we’re asking the youth, they say, ‘We never knew what you were or what you did,’” he says. “Getting the word out to younger people has been difficult at best.”
The MAA hosts an annual brunch and awards ceremony that recognizes prominent alumni. But their main focus is the fine arts. Since sports is funded by many booster clubs, the MAA decided to focus their attention on the arts, awarding thousands of dollars in grants over the last 17 years.
Alumni say many of them return to the Minnetonka area after graduation because of the close-knit community they experienced growing up and in high school.
That’s indeed the case for new board member Marissa Haeny. An alumna of the class of 2012, she recently moved back to Minnetonka from St. Peter, where she worked in alumni relations at Gustavus Adolphus College. When she saw a list of MAA’s events, she knew she could help.
“It’s easy to sit there and say, ‘These aren’t the kind of events I want to go to. They’re not doing anything I like,'” Haeny says. “It’s another thing to say, ‘Ok, these aren’t necessarily going to engage people my age. Let’s do something about that.’”
Haeny says the board is considering events like coffees, cocktail hours and other networking events to attract more recent graduates.
Heiland is grateful for all of Haeny’s efforts. He knows people are busy in their day-to-day lives. While MAA needs more board members, they also offer less time-consuming opportunities.
“You could be on a committee and volunteer for four hours a year, up to whatever you felt comfortable with,” he says.
Haeny says, “It’s important to be involved in the community. We want Minnetonka to have that same great reputation they had when we graduated. It’s important to perpetuate that and stay involved.”
Membership in the MAA is free and is open to graduates of Minnetonka, Deephaven and Excelsior high schools and to people who attended those schools for at least one year. Present and former members of the faculty and administration are also welcome. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.