Published: Oct. 9, 2018 By

alumni council meets on rooftop

Members of the College of Music National Alumni Council (COMNAC) met earlier this fall in Boulder.

When the College of Music alumni program launched the College of Music National Alumni Council (COMNAC) last fall, the group’s first order of business was information sharing.

“COMNAC members had the opportunity to become familiar with the overarching strategic plan of the College of Music—and the data behind it—and gain an understanding of the alumni program, as well as current initiatives and curricular information that complement and support the objectives of the strategic plan,” says Alumni Coordinator Meagan Mahlberg.

In year two, Mahlberg is guiding COMNAC through a visioning process. “Now that COMNAC members know the priorities of the college and alumni program and what we’re trying to accomplish, the group is developing its own mission statement that reflects how its members see themselves as making a positive impact on the goals of the college and alumni engagement efforts,” she says. “In working sessions, we’ve started to shape the ‘why’ of COMNAC—the culture and identity of the group—and connect its members with students and faculty in meaningful ways that will hopefully inspire a clear call to action and inform specific deliverables to achieve between now and September 2019.”

Desired deliverables of the visioning process include—among others—determining regional outreach and recruitment activities that COMNAC members will initiate or participate in.

Continues Mahlberg, “As COMNAC takes root, its members are taking a deeper dive to discover the group’s niche, to uncover areas of untapped potential and to reframe perceived barriers as opportunities.” That includes identifying needed resources to implement COMNAC action items and tracking measurable results.

COMNAC’s eight founding members—comprising creative alumni pursuing diverse career paths—include:
Susan Olenwine (MM ’09), Chair; Barbara Bentree (BME ’80); Kate Berenson (BA ’78); Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf (DMA ’07); Michael Musick (BM ’07); Douglas T. Owens (MM ’86); Ashraf Sewailam (DMA ’08); and Barbara Wagner (MME ’78)

“COMNAC actualizes what it means to be an alumni,” says Chair Susan Olenwine (MM ’09). “We’re emphasizing specific roles that alumni can have, beyond coming together socially.

“We’re focusing on possibilities for input and initiative, in part by channeling members’ own professional insights to inform the alumni program, celebrate alumni successes and elevate student achievements in a cohesive way.”

Adds COMNAC member Douglas T. Owens (MM ’86), “It’s very special how the college is willing to be open about its strategic plan and direction. That kind of transparency inspires a desire to contribute and participate.

“Through COMNAC, we’re making connections that create opportunities for success—not only in obvious music-related fields, but also in unique and varied fields that demonstrate the interdisciplinary potential of music.”

COMNAC member Barbara Wagner (MME ’78) agrees. “We’re working to create value-added experiences for alumni by being deliberate in how we maximize alumni resources and engagement opportunities and intentional in how we cultivate diversity and inclusion.”

“COMNAC is an incredible group,” concludes Mahlberg. “Its members—all leaders in their own right—work really well together and play off one another. Everyone is contributing thoughtful perspectives around expanding awareness and visibility of the College of Music’s alumni program and growing regional markets. We’re also better connecting student success to professional success by bringing together students, faculty and alumni for networking and career development, including one-on-one mentorship opportunities.

“We aim to be a model for other alumni programs by demonstrating a symbiotic relationship between the College of Music and its alumni. When engaged alumni contribute their time, expertise and other forms of support, the college is better equipped to advance its strategic initiatives, which—in turn—increases and enhances its reputation and the value of students’ experiences here and after they graduate.”

To learn more about COMNAC and College of Music alumni happenings and opportunities, join the conversation at Music Buff Connect.