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Weighty bookends, and volumes of thanks in between

I was only weeks into my position when Charlottesville erupted in the ugly and deadly violence of August 2017. In the months and years that followed, I saw firsthand our collective character as Wahoos rise to the occasion and emerge even stronger.

Jenifer G. Andrasko Sarah Cramer Shields

That experience heartens me as I watch our community rise to an even deadlier and more pervasive challenge. Throughout, the University of Virginia Alumni Association team has been at the fore, a source of strength for the UVA community and the University and, honestly, a daily source of inspiration for me.

The two events make for a formidable set of bookends to my time here. Some months ago, before the pandemic, I made the decision to step down from the Alumni Association (see related story). If there’s any comfort in having made such a difficult decision, it’s knowing that our alumni community is more robust than ever.

When I came to the organization, I appreciated but still couldn’t have imagined the depth and breadth of love and admiration that our alumni have for the University. Nor could I have foreseen the richness of the experiences I would have while here.

As I reflect, I’m struck by the tremendous importance of community. And if I’ve learned anything over the past three years, it’s that community is at the heart of who we are and all we do here at the Alumni Association. We champion, we nurture, and we support your dreams to build, sustain and enhance the UVA community. The Alumni Association is a partner to help you bring your ideas to life, providing opportunities for you to remain a part of the fabric of UVA. You dream of opportunities for our University to do more and be more—and we are there alongside you. It’s an incredibly inspiring and joyful charge.

As the first woman to lead the Alumni Association, I am particularly honored to represent my sister alumnae. It’s why I’m so proud of “Retold: A celebration of the transformational impact of women on the University of Virginia”—launched in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Board of Visitors’ resolution to allow some women into select graduate and professional programs and the 50th anniversary of full coeducation. Retold will honor our alumnae by telling the authentic stories of women’s experiences at the University and their indispensable contributions to its greatness. Being a part of the making of Retold and, in turn, having a part in the larger story of women at UVA, has been an incredible gift, and I know that Retold will leave a lasting impression on our UVA community.

I’ve been privileged to work alongside a dedicated staff and an engaged and strategically minded Board of Managers. I believe strongly in the strategy that we have developed to guide the future, the team we’ve built and the bench strength of the leaders at Alumni Hall. I’m delighted that our chief operating officer, Lily E. West (Darden ’12), has agreed to serve as the interim president and CEO while the Board of Managers conducts a nationwide search for a permanent successor. Lily is an extraordinary leader, and we are lucky to have her.

Thank you for your generosity of spirit and for all the ways you contribute to make our UVA community a vibrant and thriving one. I trust I have left the organization in a better place, and I look forward to watching the Alumni Association and our beloved University flourish.

With my deepest gratitude,

Jen Andrasko's signature

Jenifer G. Andrasko (Darden ’10)
President & CEO, UVA Alumni Association