Team works to expand, enrich alum community
It takes a special person to step into a job in which the first task is helping to plan two major alum weekends happening within two months of the position’s start date—and make it look easy.
Spend one moment with the collected and cordial Susan “Sue” Little Doyle ’77 and you immediately realize that she is, indeed, that person.
Wheaton officials have known this for a long time, having benefited from her leadership skills over the years through her many roles as a volunteer. Now, Doyle is putting those skills to use on a broader scale as the new executive director of Alumnae/i Relations.
Hired in August as the acting director, she oversaw Homecoming Weekend events and the Alumnae/i Leadership Conference (ALC), and is well into planning for Reunion Weekend.
In December, Doyle became the permanent director. She previously was a clinical interventionist in the Fitchburg Public Schools in Massachusetts, where she was responsible for the therapeutic work with students who face emotional and behavioral challenges.
Doyle, who is the director-at-large on the Alumnae/i Board of Directors, majored in sociology, with a minor in elementary education, and has a master’s degree in social work from Boston College.
“I am very pleased that Sue is filling this critical role, as she has been ‘one of our own’ for a long time, and has a deep commitment to the college and its alumnae and alumni,” said Jane Martin ’74, Alumnae/i Association president. “Over the course of many years, Sue has served as a loyal volunteer, as a class officer and national Reunion chair.”
Added Mary Casey, vice president for college advancement: “Sue brings a depth of volunteer leadership to the role of executive director, and her warm relationships and keen insights played a key role in developing the Alumnae/i Association’s strategic plan and in monitoring its implementation.”
Doyle, the daughter of Jacqueline Flagg Little, Class of 1948, said she enjoys leading the Alumnae/i Relations Office and being a part of helping to make life-changing connections for Wheaton students and alumnae/i.
“I adore Wheaton and know it to be a very special place, not only for its academic rigor and the transformative experiences it provides, but perhaps most importantly, for the quality of the connections that are made here,” said Doyle, who has attended every ALC for the past 20 years.
“I can vouch for this phenomenon both personally and from the hundreds of stories I have heard over the years from both students and alumnae/i in my volunteer work for the college.”
One of the most important goals she has for her department is team building, considering there has been a period of transition in staff over the past couple of years.
“Another of my goals,” she said, “is to find many different ways in which alumnae/i can connect both to each other, and to the college. I see this as being done in several key ways, including through affinity affiliations; work with the Filene Center, the Admission Office, and the Student, Trustee, and Alumnae/i Council; and through regional events. The programming in these areas will create expanded opportunities for alumnae/i to connect and will enrich the Wheaton community.”
Marco Barbone ’09 works to engage network
At Wheaton, Marco Barbone ’09 played lacrosse for four years, and then worked in the field of athletics after graduating. Those experiences are serving him well in his new position at Wheaton as the assistant director of Alumnae/i Relations, where he develops strategies to engage alumnae/i and motivate a team of volunteers.
“From sports, I learned how to work with others to accomplish our common goals,” he says. “I love watching teams develop as a family, and providing any assistance and leadership to allow them to achieve success.”
Barbone, who was co-captain of the lacrosse team during his senior year, graduated from Wheaton with a double major in economics and psychology. He earned a master’s degree in sports leadership at Northeastern University, while working as a special education aide at Newton North High School, in Massachusetts. He then became director of Penguins Select for PrimeTime Lacrosse in Natick, Mass., managing teams from fourth grade through high school.
In August 2012, Barbone was hired as the coordinator for volunteer stewardship and affinity programs at Wheaton, where he played a key role in strengthening the Alumnae/i Relations Office’s collaboration with the Athletics Department, including supporting the department in the development of the Hall of Fame. During his year in that position, he also led the efforts to create mini-reunion programming by affinity.
He now has big plans in his new job: “I would like to increase our volunteer engagement with our alum base, specifically with our young alums, through already established events, such as Sophomore Symposium. I am also hoping to help create new opportunities for alumnae/i engagement.
“Alum involvement is the most important aspect of Wheaton because that is what keeps the college running. The support of alums fiscally and on a volunteer basis provides the college with an awesome network of hard-working individuals who all have Wheaton in common. By graduating from this college, there are 16,000 other alums to talk with about careers, life and the good old days.”
Gavin Mackie ’13 focuses on affinity programs
As Gavin Mackie ’13 walked across the stage on his graduation day last June, he wasn’t expecting to help plan his own first Homecoming. But he did just that this fall, as the double major in political science and music was hired as the coordinator for volunteer stewardship and affinity programs in Alumnae/i Relations.
Mackie put his leadership skills to use in helping to plan October’s Homecoming Weekend and the Alumnae/i Leadership Conference—two of the biggest events, besides Reunion Weekend, that Alumnae/i Relations tackles each year.
Originally from Hampden, Mass., Mackie, whose mother is Diane DeRosier Mackie ’79, says he’s happy to be using the skills he gained from his undergraduate experience in politics. “Last summer, I received a Wheaton Fund grant to work in Philadelphia as a volunteer organizer for the Obama campaign. My experience recruiting, training and organizing volunteers translates well working in volunteer relations at Wheaton.”
He also draws upon his leadership background as the former music director for the Gentlemen Callers. As a student, Mackie received departmental awards in both music and political science, as well as performance awards for both piano and voice.
He says he enjoys connecting with generations of Wheaton graduates as he helps to organize interest groups and reunite former classmates. “My position is focused on organizing new ways that alums can connect with each other and with students,” he says.
Although the job varies daily, his goal is to create networks of alumnae/i that, once established, will continue on as self-sustaining.
“Wheaton attracts some truly incredible people, and it’s a great environment in which both to learn and to work,” says Mackie, who, in the future, plans to go to graduate school.
Top photo by Keith Nordstrom, other photos by Charles Wang ’16