Over the last 15 years, Jennifer Richwine (’93) has been responsible for every major event on the Reynolda Campus – from annual favorites such as Convocation and Commencement, to once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as the recent Wake Will campaign launch and Dr.Maya Angelou’s memorial service.
This fall, she’s taking her omnipresent clipboard to the nation’s capital, where she will take on the responsibility of establishing an office for Wake Forest University in Washington, D.C.
Effective Sept. 1, as the Executive Director of the Washington Office, Richwine will serve as the central point of contact for Wake Forest in D.C. and provide strategic planning, direction, and execution of programs and connections between D.C. area alumni, parents, students and the University as a whole. She will help raise the University’s profile in this increasingly alumni-populated city by identifying and cultivating relationships inside and outside the Wake Forest family in the metro area.
“A large number of Wake Forest alumni call the D.C. area home. We have been considering opportunities for a University liaison in the corridor stretching from D.C. to New York to strengthen our networking capabilities, facilitate fundraising activities, enhance alumni and parent programming, and bridge connections for our students,” said Vice President for Advancement Mark Petersen. “Jennifer possesses a unique combination of skills, desire and connections to succeed and become a catalyst for Wake Forest in Washington.”
Richwine will work collaboratively with the Office of Personal and Career Development, the Alumni Office, the Provost’s Office and other University partners to facilitate relationships and achieve specific annual goals. After relocating to D.C. later this year, her responsibilities will stretch up the East Coast to support affiliate programs such as Wake on Wall Street in New York City. She will also support campaign and development activities in both D.C.and New York, including identifying potential donors and developing strategies to connect donors with the University.
“I’m excited for the relationships and partnerships I’ve built over the last 15 years on campus to evolve as I serve my alma mater in a new capacity,” said Richwine. “I look forward to seeing what we can do with a more focused effort in a city of such importance to Wake Forest.”
The University Events team has been realigned under Communications and External Relations and Associate Vice President Brett Eaton will immediately begin a search for a new executive director to lead this talented team. Brandi Cleveland will serve as the interim director of University Events during the search.
Richwine answered a few Q&As about what her new role means for Wake Forest.
Q: Does this mean Wake Forest is opening a physical space in Washington, D.C. like there is in Charlotte?
A: While the Wake Forest University Charlotte Center has classroom, event and other programmable space, the Washington Office will consist only of a single office that serves as my home base, at least for a while. Though the exact location is to be determined, I’m in conversations with several well-connected alumni about possibilities within their own office environments that, ideally, we could use for some Wake Forest events, speakers and receptions. Of course, I would love for the Washington Office to be successful enough to command a prominent “store front” in the same way the Charlotte Center does, but that would be several years down the road.
Q: What does this mean for WAKE Washington and other existing student programs?
A: Great question. From WAKE Washington to White House internships, hundreds of Wake Forest students spend their summers in D.C. each year, but we can do more to create meaningful connections between our students and D.C. influencers inside and outside the Wake Forest community. I’m not sure what that roadmap looks like yet, but I’m excited for the journey.
Q: How will this move benefit faculty and staff?
A: In the short term, I hope to be able to serve as a resource for them, whether that’s bridging connections with alumni, non-profit organizations or alumni who might be interested in their teaching and research. I’ll be glad to help facilitate meetings and make introductions. And of course, I’ll be promoting their good work as the foundation for what makes Wake Forest so special. Over time, I hope to be able to provide them with an invaluable network to support whatever their need is in D.C. In addition to engaging students and alumni, providing ongoing faculty and staff support is an aspect of my role that will evolve over time, and it’s a central part of the commitment to establishing a Washington Office.
Q: What excites you most about this opportunity?
A: I believe there is so much untapped potential in Washington. Every time I visit with members of the Wake Forest family in the area, I learn about alumni doing interesting and impactful work, and we want to spotlight these individuals and connect our students to them to learn from their experience. My goal is to capitalize on what is happening there already, and build the bridges and connections that enrich and enhance the Wake Forest experience – as alumni, parents, students, faculty and staff. I lived in D.C. for six years after I graduated from Wake Forest in 1993, and now both of my college roommates are there, in addition to many other friends, so in a way it’s a coming home for me. It’s a tremendous opportunity, and I’m very excited.