Since the warmth and excitement of "coming home" is a major part of alumni life, it’s fitting that the new leader of UC’s alumni relations efforts is returning to the roots she put down two decades ago upon enrolling at UC.
Jennifer Heisey, A&S '97, started as executive director of the UC Alumni Association (UCAA) and vice president of alumni relations for the UC Foundation on April 14. She provides strategic leadership and vision, as well as daily operational oversight for the university’s alumni engagement efforts. That means helping to connect alumni with their university and each other, and cultivating new development opportunities throughout the vast UC alumni network.
“It’s been clear to me as an alumna – and to anyone else in the higher education field – that this university is on an impressive upward trajectory, and the strategic development of our alumni engagement efforts is a critical component in our institutional journey,” says Heisey. “I’m especially proud to have the privilege of doing this work at my alma mater, working with my fellow Bearcats.”
The importance of that last sentence can’t be overstated. As a legacy student/alumna, Heisey has a love for UC that runs deep.
“As I prepared for the opportunity to come back to UC in this capacity, I came upon my mother’s old college scrapbook and gained a fresh realization about how involved she was, how much UC meant to her and, consequently, how much that meant to me as I reflected on my own UC experience,” she says.
Heisey had followed her mother’s lead and became extremely involved in campus life as an undergrad, which strengthened the bonds she felt for the university and its people. Ultimately that led to a career in the alumni relations field. After gaining a foothold and a growing reputation in the industry through her work at Wright State and Ohio universities, she came back to UC in 2005 to lead various alumni outreach programs and initiatives. From 2008 to 2010 she was UCAA’s director of alumni affairs and chief operating officer.
She then led the alumni associations at SUNY College at Buffalo and the University of Louisville for two years each before answering UC’s latest call.
In addition to her UC degree, Heisey earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from Wright State University. She is an active member of the Council for Alumni Association Executives (CAAE) and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and acknowledged nationally as an outstanding leader in the alumni relations field.
“Alumni involvement is so important,” Heisey says. “It supports the vision of our dynamic president, Santa Ono, to create opportunity for all of our stakeholders. It supports current students by fostering a culture of connectivity and belonging that will see them through their lives as alumni. And it fuels the vast power of our alumni network, because as more people are actively engaged, more opportunities to connect will emerge.
“When I hear alumni talk about the personal and professional success they have had, it almost always can be traced somehow to their UC experience and the people they have met along the way. It’s our job to keep growing those opportunities.”