On Friday, June 19, or Juneteenth, the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at William & Mary, after a year and a half of planning, announced the launch of the Mason Alumni of Color Network (Mason AoCN).
The May 25 murder of George Floyd has renewed conversations about systemic racism and criminal justice reform among W&M students, staff, and alumni alike. Given the current backdrop of country-wide activism for racial and economic equality and police reform, the official commencement of the Mason AoCN further stands as a timely action in the fight for justice and equality.
The creation of the Mason AoCN was spearheaded by a group of alumni, Montique Warren, MBA ’14, Enrique Sanchez-Rivera, MBA ’07, Stephanie Appiah, JD/MBA ’15, and Adrienne Streater, MBA ’14 who have formed the Mason AoCN Leadership Council.
President of the Mason Alumni of Color Network, Montique Warren, MBA ’14, said that the Mason AoCN was born out of a notion of community, inclusion, and bringing alumni of all backgrounds to the table. He explained that current national events, while not the impetus for the network’s creation, serve as an accelerant to the ongoing development of the Mason AoCN.
“We are building momentum based on an existing need,” Warren said. “As many alumni of color noted a desire for greater connection to the Mason Community, the events of the past few weeks and ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts across William & Mary have more clearly demonstrated for others the importance of advancement in this area. In recognizing the moment, we the alumni, with full support of the administration, chose to act because now more than ever we all need to connect, engage, motivate, and celebrate, not only our shared interests, but also our uniqueness to promote a better Mason for all.”
“Over the past eighteen months a small group of alumni and staff have collaborated to gather additional alumni feedback, garner faculty and staff support, and determine how to uplift the Mason School by increasing meaningful engagement opportunities and purposeful inclusion of alumni of color,” Warren said.
The official recognition of the Mason AoCN on June 19 established an organized volunteer council, revealed upcoming events and programming, and opened network membership to the Mason School student and alumni community.
“Official launch and recognition of the Mason AoCN, as we are celebrating on Freedom Day, June 19, 2020, allows creation of a formal network of alumni of color that can uplift and enhance the diversity efforts of the school and throughout the Mason community,” AoCN Leadership said. “The support of, and teamwork with, the Mason School leadership will allow the alumni and students involved to leverage resources, connect, converge, and promote inclusion for administrative and scholastic engagement.”
The focus areas and tactics of the Mason AoCN include: hosting speakers of diverse backgrounds and experiences, fostering tighter connections with alumni and current students to enhance their post-graduate experience, amplifying alumni relations to promote greater diversity and inclusion in student selection, engagement, career resourcing and instructional philosophy, and organizing sustained programming efforts to create a more inclusive culture for alumna and current students.
Planned events range from guest speakers and a book club to mentoring opportunities and other activities that aim to comprehend the unique needs and desires of people of color within the Mason community.
The July 16 kickoff event will feature an online talk from Ken Harvey, former NFL Pro-Bowl linebacker and author, who will speak about persistence in the face of adversity. The event will be virtual and is open to the public. To register, visit https://events.wm.edu/event/view/alumni/117958.
Mason AoCN outreach efforts to engage with students will occur during new student orientation and continue throughout the academic year and past graduation.
“The Mason AoCN leadership council is currently in discussions with the Mason School about the best way to be involved in student orientation and throughout the student experience while in the Business School,” AoCN Leadership said. “We hope to provide support and mentoring to incoming and current students and promote a constructive platform for engagement with and for the Mason School community and the University as a whole.”
For more information on the Mason AoCN and how to join, visit https://mason.wm.edu/alumni/aocn/index.php. Members will receive email communications about future program offerings, networking opportunities, and quarterly newsletters, among other outreach messages.