Grinnell College Alumni Council welcomes four new members

July 10, 2024 — Four Grinnell graduates with plentiful volunteer experience and expertise in the disciplines of government affairs, clean energy, investments, and education have joined the Grinnell College Alumni Council.

The new Alumni Council members for 2024-25 are:

  • Jay Dick ’93
  • David Kurzman ’96
  • Maggie Bian ’09
  • Mairéad O’Grady ’10

Each new member will serve an initial two-year term through Reunion 2026, and they are eligible to serve through 2030. Council members can be elected for up to three consecutive terms.

The Alumni Council strives to unite Grinnell graduates. The 26-member group promotes a spirit of camaraderie among alumni and supports the College leadership, faculty, staff, and students in the advancement of the College. Council meetings are held on campus in the fall and spring.

“It is always exciting to have new Grinnellians join the team,” says Scott Shepherd, Alumni Council president. “They bring fresh ideas, energy, and perspectives, which make us stronger and more effective. Alumni Council works to bring more positive student outcomes by promoting alumni involvement in philanthropy, internships, externships, and mentoring relationships. These activities build a stronger, more connected Grinnell community for both students and alumni.”

Here’s a detailed look at the new members:

Jay Dick ’93

Jay H Dick
   Jay Dick ’93

Dick lives in Fairfax, Virginia, and oversees the government affairs department for Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit organization advocating at the federal, state, and local levels for the arts and creative economy. 

“I am originally from Colfax, Iowa, and credit Grinnell with opening the world to me, and making me a hopefully better, wiser, and empathic person,” he says.

Dick is a long-time volunteer who has served as a class fund director and as a member of both the Grinnell-in-Washington D.C. Planning Committee and the Grinnell College Museum of Art Leadership Council. 

“I wanted to serve on the Alumni Council to connect new and future alumni to established alumni to better equip them to be successful in today’s job market,” Dick says. “Grinnellians can change the world and make it a better place; they just might need a little help in getting started. I want to work to make more of these connections between alumni, make them more diverse and more robust.”

Dick will serve on the Council’s Career Exploration Task Force. 

David Kurzman ’96

David Kurzman
   David Kurzman ’96

Kurzman resides in Berkley, California. Much of his career has been spent working in the clean energy arena – an area he discovered when he took a 200-level chemistry class at Grinnell. Over the last five years, Kurzman’s focus has been on growing a startup company he co-founded, Exergy Energy, that provides backup power-as-a-service to commercial and industrial energy consumers.

Kurzman is a class fund director for the class of 1996 along with Todd Kopelman ’96 and Jason Parsons ’96. He has served on his Reunion Planning Committee and was a GRASP (Grinnell Regional Admission Support Program) volunteer when that program was active. 

“I have been involved with the College in many forms since graduation, and joining the Alumni Council is my next step to give back just a little of what Grinnell has given me over the years,” he says. 

Kurzman will serve on the Philanthropy Task Force. 

Maggie Bian ’09

Maggie Bian
   Maggie Bian ’09

Bian splits her time between Hong Kong and Shanghai, China, where she is the chief people officer and managing director at YF Capital, a prominent Asian investment firm. 

Bian previously served as the 2009 class agent and class fund director. She also has hosted Grinnell events including an alumni gathering in China with President Anne F. Harris in June.

“My Grinnell education had a profound impact on my life in many ways, and I will always be grateful for this experience,” Bian says. “As an alumna currently working in Asia, I have been actively involved in organizing alumni events in the region and taking part in them as well. I strongly believe that fostering a strong international alumni community is crucial for the long-term development of Grinnell. I hope that my service at the Alumni Council can contribute toward achieving this goal.”

Bian will serve on the Membership Development Committee. 

Mairéad O’Grady ’10

Mairéad O'Grady
   Mairéad O’Grady ’10

After 13 years of work in education, spanning Thailand to Washington D.C. to South Africa, O’Grady ended up back where she started in the Boston area. She lives in Sommerville, Massachusetts, and is pursuing her Ph.D. in Tufts University’s Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development with a focus on adolescent identity development and civic engagement.

“Being a student in an academic environment again for the first time since 2010 has made me reminisce a lot about my time at Grinnell and everything that those years gave to me: confidence in communication, belief in the value of my ideas, a desire to make the world a better place, and some of the most important relationships in my life,” O’Grady says. “Now, I want to put all of that to use to contribute back to Grinnell and reconnect with a place so important to my personal identity formation.”

O’Grady will serve on the Alumni Awards Committee.  

Other Council news

The Council also re-elected the following members to their second terms: Sasha Aslanian ’90,
Jennifer Beinart ’06, Suha Gillani ’16, Natz Soberanes ’13, Vivek Venugopal ’01, Atavia Whitfield ’06, and Jeremy Youde ’99. Shepherd, Becky Reetz Neal ’65, Ed Atkins ’66, and Ben Vaughn Jr. ’15 were elected to their third Council terms.

Kate Goddard ’91 was elected Alumni Council president-elect for this year. She will serve as president in 2025-26.

In addition to three standing committees (Executive, Alumni Awards, Membership Development), the Council is launching four new task forces this year.

The Philanthropy Task Force will work with annual giving leadership to advocate for alumni giving to Grinnell and help create a culture of philanthropy among alums. Dawn Helsing Wolters ’87 will chair this task force. 

The Career Exploration Task Force will partner with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) and the Center for Careers, Life and Service (CLS) to improve pathways through which alumni can support students’ career exploration and help achieve innovative ways of expanding alumni involvement. This group will be co-chaired by Aslanian and Soberanes.

The Dialogue Across Difference Task Force will partner with DAR and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to frame a virtual learning series focused on communicating across difference, strengthening relationships, and working through disagreement towards reconciliation and common ground. Youde will serve as this group’s chair. 

The Alumni Academic Connections Task Force will explore opportunities for how to engage alumni in the intellectual life of the College by strengthening the culture of alumni engagement among faculty and staff. Whitfield will be the chair of this task force. 

—by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Are you interested in joining the Council? New members are recruited annually – learn more about the Council and how to apply before our Jan. 5 deadline by visiting the Alumni Council web pages. The online site also has a full list of members, committees, and past meeting minutes. Read the spring meeting summary to see what transpired at the April 2024 meetings.

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive and like the Alumni & Friends Facebook and the Alumni & Friends Instagram accounts.