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SEM's Alumnae Engagement Task Force

The SAETF was established in 2014 in order to develop strategies and recommendations to support and improve SEM's alumnae engagement. The SAETF consisted of a small and dedicated group of alumnae of varying years and geographic locations. We are immensely appreciative of the considerable time and effort that they dedicated to this cause.

Learn more aboutthe SAETF

Background, Mission, and Goals


In October 2014, SEM’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a five-year Strategic Plan to prioritize its work and to articulate SEM’s Vision and Core Values.

One of the nine Strategic Priorities established at that time was:

  • Alumnae, Parent and Community Engagement
  • Establish a new culture of engagement, building local, national and international initiatives that benefit the school, the Buffalo community, and SEM’s students, parents and Alumnae throughout the country and around the world.

The SEM Alumnae Engagement Task Force (SAETF) was established shortly thereafter.


To develop specific strategies and recommendations to support and improve Alumnae engagement in ways which can help SEM become more relevant in the lives of SEM Alumnae and furthering SEM’s reputation, enrollment recruitment, community and/or philanthropic support.


  • Increasing the number of Alumnae participating in events and activities throughout the year including networking and content-driven event programming that can enhance the development of their personal and professional lives
  • Transform the WNY based Buffalo Seminary Alumnae Association (BSAA) into a national organization with regional leadership and activities in major markets
  • Improve the percentage of Alumnae giving to SEM’s annual fund
  • Engage Alumnae in more frequent activities with students, in WNY and beyond, including mentoring, career networking, teaching/learning and presentations/panels at SEM
  • Modify by-laws of the Alumnae Association and SEM’s Board by-laws to reference each other and legitimize the relationship, aligning with best practices of school governance

Our Work:

Our first meeting was in April 2015 and our sixth and final meeting was June 2017 at which time SAETF members became Head’s Council on Alumnae Engagement (HACE) members.

  • Study of best practices and models of other Alumnae/alumni groups
  • Segment-specific SWOT analysis; BSAA Board, WNY Alumnae other than BSAA Board and BWNY Alumnae so we could learn more about what engagement means to each constituent group.
  • Online survey of all Alumnae.

Our Conclusions Included:

A new organizational structure and approach to Alumnae Relations is needed to support Alumnae from beyond WNY in addition to supporting those in WNY who indicate they are not engaged.

Alumnae from Beyond WNY (BWNY) are vital to our school’s financial foundation.

We can’t be successful in engaging our Alumnae unless we understand what ‘Alumnae engagement’ means to our Alumnae in order to be effective.


Recommendations approved by SEM’s Board of Trustees, Spring 2017:

In order to engage SEM Alumnae wherever they live, the SEM Alumnae Engagement Task Force (SAETF) recommends a fundamental change to the current organizational model and a thoughtful evolution of Alumnae relations programming to include both more content-driven engagement and new ways to connect Alumnae.


  • An engaged national Alumnae base is vital to SEM’s future success.
  • It’s essential to growing Annual Fund and support other initiatives that need funding, fundraisers and friendrasiers.
  • SEM is more likely to receive more bequests if our Alumnae are engaged, regardless of where they reside.
  • Alumnae BYWN are important contributors to the work of SEM’s Board of Trustees as they often bring perspectives of independent schools attended by their children.
  • Alumnae BWNY can impact our residential program as we seek to attract girls from throughout the United States.

New Organizational Model with National Focus:

The BSAA will be ‘reconfigured’ as a national organization with a new leadership model that strengthens our national reach and engagement potential. SEM will establish a ‘Head’s Council on Alumnae Engagement’ with diverse geographical representation. The Council will be responsible for setting broad direction and establishing priorities based on what our SAETF work has determined is important to engage our Alumnae.

Our model also includes establishing Chapters of the BSAA in certain cities or regions where we believe we can recruit an Alumnae team organize and lead an effort.

The Alumnae organization currently known as the BSAA Board will become Buffalo Chapter of the BSAA. We expect our first new BSAA Chapters will be in NYC and DC as we have had successful events there and benefit from well-cultivated Alumnae and Alumnae leadership.

The Council will include representation from each Chapter and will also include people (or Committees) with interest and functional expertise in several key areas.

New BSAA Organizational Model


Thank you to those SEM Alumnae who participated in the important work of the SAETF, including:


Moira Giammaresi Lewis



Caitlin Overdorf McCarthy



Erin Sozanski Goubiere



Katherine Dickinson



Bethany J. Grabiec



Molly Rich Lambros



Alicia Saia



Margaret Brown



Anne Murray



Betsy Bloom



Suzy Sears



Gaby DeRose


Alumna Trustee

Lucy B. Coburn



Kilby Bronstein



Vivian Williams