2024 Volunteer Leadership Weekend showcases gratitude for alumni and parent leaders

More than 150 alumni and parent volunteers gathered on campus March 1–2 for Vanderbilt’s seventh annual Volunteer Leadership Weekend. On Friday, Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and Chairman of the Board Bruce Evans, BE’81, joined volunteers for a lunchtime conversation hosted at the Owen Graduate School of Management, reinforcing their important role in the greater Vanderbilt community.

“We want to make sure that every member of our community—faculty, staff, students—can realize their full potential, academically and as human beings,” Chancellor Diermeier said. “We need people to tell this story with conviction, so an enormously important role that you can play is to be ambassadors—to tell people what makes a Vanderbilt education special.”

Friday programming also included an opportunity for attendees to tour the makerspace at the Wond’ry with Kevin C. Galloway, director of making at the Wond’ry, and research associate professor and director of soldier engagement at the School of Engineering. Additionally, there were “insider” campus tours of the newly renovated Kirkland Hall, the university’s Fine Arts Gallery, Nicholas S. Zeppos College and adjoining West End Tower, and a behind-the-scenes look at Vanderbilt Athletics.

Day one of the weekend closed with a celebratory reception at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery with welcome remarks from John Lutz, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations, and Anu Pardeshi, BS’00, MS’02, MBA’04, president of the Alumni Association Board.

“It is enormously gratifying to see you all here,” said Vice Chancellor Lutz. “The combined effort and the result of your time, your talent, and your treasure is profound in its impact to Vanderbilt. We have an extraordinary level of commitment on the part of alums, parents and friends of Vanderbilt. It’s terrific to see the enthusiasm.” 

Co-chairs of the Parent Leadership Committee emphasized the importance of leading and nurturing the Vanderbilt community as it grows. 

“Through our time, through our giving, and through our outreach, we all are committed to investing in Vanderbilt and its future, especially during this time of the Dare to Grow campaign,” Mindi Shelton, BA’92, said. “In our combined dedication, we enhance the Vanderbilt experience for all students and build on the university’s strong foundation for the next 150 years.”

The final day of the program featured three panel sessions focused on Vanderbilt’s momentum, anchored by thematic priorities for the university in advancing its mission. Panelists included:

  • Faculty members Katherine Friedman, professor of biological sciences and vice chair of the department and associate provost for undergraduate research; Kitt Carpenter, E. Bronson Ingram University Distinguished Professor of Economics and Health Policy; and Doug Adams, vice dean of the School of Engineering, Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Daniel F. Flowers Professor, in conversation on Destination Vanderbilt, innovation and research.
  • Current students representing Experience Vanderbilt and Opportunity Vanderbilt, introduced by George Huber, BA’79, member of the Board of Trust and 2024 Reunion general chair.
  • Vice Chancellor Anders Hall on the endowment and Vanderbilt’s investment perspectives.

Volunteer Leadership Weekend ended with a working lunch for the boards of each volunteer group to coordinate and plan for the coming year’s programs and initiatives.

Attendees of the weekend events included representatives from many alumni and parent groups across the university, including the Alumni Association Board, AAPI Association of Vanderbilt Alumni, Association of Vanderbilt Black Alumni, Vanderbilt Chapter leaders, LBGTQIA+ Association of Vanderbilt Alumni, Parents Campaign Cabinet, Parents Leadership Committee, Parents and Family Association, Vanderbilt Association of Hispanic and Latinx Alumni, Reunion chairs and volunteers.