New additions to alumni staff add fresh energy to team
Jennifer is the ever efficient one. The one with a penchant for planning and organization. And a master negotiator. Matt is never without a dad joke and has a knack for building relationships. Even with his office door closed, his voice bounces the halls. Together, they form a dynamic duo that joined the Alumni Affairs team alongside Anne-Marie Connors just over six months ago. Here, we get to know them a little better.
Director, CSU Alumni Association
Jennifer works with the CSUAA Board of Directors, Young Alumni Council and the student alumni organization, the 1964 Society, to foster connections between current students and alumni, and identify opportunities for our alumni to get involved to support the momentum and innovative work happening at Cleveland State.
Cleveland born and raised? Where’d you go to high school? College?
I am! I grew up in Chagrin Falls and went to school at Laurel School in Shaker Heights. I went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where I earned by undergraduate degree in Strategic Communication. I am happy to share that I was recently accepted into the MBA program at Cleveland State University and will begin classes in the fall. Go Vikes!
You’ve been in your new role about 6 months. What has impressed you most in your conversations with alumni?
Our alumni are nothing short of incredible! Their passion for CSU and giving back to our students is unmatched. They volunteer at events, offer to make introductions for students and the University, and serve as champions for our great institution within their networks. I am so proud to be a voice for these alumni on campus, and to play a key role in bridging our alumni all over the country with our dedicated students.
Eastside or Westside?
I may spark a debate, but I love both the east and west sides! I currently live on the eastside and love the community, Metroparks and food scene. However, I often go to the westside to enjoy the amazing lake front. I feel lucky to have lived on, and experienced, both.
Honey Hut ice cream or Mitchell’s?
That is an impossible choice! I love ALL Cleveland ice cream! I was a huge fan of Sweet Moses, and often frequent Honey Hut, Mitchells, Masons Creamery, and Graeters now that they have expanded to the Cleveland area.
Favorite Cleveland restaurant.
I love the Cleveland food scene and have many favorites in the area including The Fairmount, Luna Bakery and Café, Barrio, Michael Angelo’s Winery, Pier W, Sapphire Creek Winery and Gardens and many restaurants and bakeries in Cleveland’s Little Italy.
Last book/audiobook/podcast you read and/or listened to?
I love reading biographies and autobiographies about people that inspire me, books about leadership and growth, and books that address subjects important to me and those recommended to me by my peers. Most recently I read “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, and my summer reading list includes “The Psychology of Money” by Morgan Housel, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey, and “My Own Words” by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Hidden or not-so-hidden talents?
I am a retired competitive figure skater and synchronized skater and represented Team USA as a member of the Miami University Junior Varsity Synchronized Skating Team. In my spare time, I now enjoy coaching and helping my students pursue their passion for the sport.
Director, Alumni Relations and Corporate Engagement
“We really get to do something special in alumni relations and corporate engagement,” Matt said. He spends his time learning alumni stories, the impact CSU had on their lives, and how they want to give back to the next generation of Vikings. As a liaison with the Cleveland corporations, he works to connect students and the University with the Greater Cleveland business community.
You’re not from Cleveland originally. How’d you end up in Northeast Ohio?
Cleveland is everywhere. I was living in North Carolina working in higher education and met my now spouse who is from Cleveland. Our time in North Carolina was coming to an end so coming to Cleveland sounded like the best next step. I’ve loved every second of it!
You’ve been in your new role a little over 6 months. What has impressed you most in your conversations with alumni?
I love how our alumni all have unique CSU experiences. They’ve found dream jobs, relocated to new places or even found the love of their lives.
What’s the best part of living in Cleveland?
I love the history and the cuisine. I joke that I explore Cleveland through my stomach, but there is so much!
Eastside or Westside?
My spouse grew up in Geauga County and when we moved to Cleveland, she told me we were now Westsiders. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I’m still a Westsider today!
Honey Hut ice cream or Mitchell’s?
My heart will always hold a cone for Sweet Moses, but due to proximity I’ll go with Mitchell’s.
What’s on your radio during your morning and evening commutes?
Radio is off and I’m discussing dinosaurs with my children.
Favorite Cleveland restaurant?
We’re newly vegan so Cleveland Vegan in Lakewood is our go-to. They have so many options that you can’t even tell are vegan!
What are you doing when you’re not at work?
I live the #DadLife pretty righteously. Usually in some form of shuttling, feeding, playing, reading, or entertaining my family!
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