UNO Alumni Association Ushers in New Leaders

Norma JaneUNO alumna Norma Jane Sabiston will serve as president of the UNO International Alumni Association for the 2012-2013 academic year. Photo courtesy Norma Jane Sabiston.

A changing of the guard takes place tonight as the University of New Orleans International Alumni Association celebrates past and future directors at an annual soiree that will include a formal passing of the presidential gavel.

All alumni are invited to attend the cocktail hour event. The UNO International Alumni Association Annual Meeting and Soiree runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Loa Bar, International House Hotel, located at 221 Camp St., New Orleans. Food and libations will be served and attire is business casual, said Pamela Meyer, executive director of the Alumni Association.

The building in which the hotel is located is home of the world's first World Trade Center which, for 50 years, helped cement New Orleans' role as an international business and travel destination. The building and hotel have recently been restored by leading New Orleans developer Sean Cummings.

"It's an iconic New Orleans landmark, a fitting place to celebrate the successes and the renaissance of the University of New Orleans," said UNO President Peter J. Fos, who will be on hand to speak at the event and greet alumni.

Brian Glorisoso, who served as association president for 2011-2012 will formally pass the gavel to Norma Jane Sabiston, a public affairs leader and political consultant. The UNO alumna returned home to New Orleans several years ago after serving more than 25 years on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. She began leading her own board of directors in August and will serve as association president for 2012-2013.

"We're really at a place where, from a national and an international standpoint, we're going to attract the kind of students who want to have the kind of education that UNO provides," Sabiston recently said in an interview for an upcoming issue of the UNO Magazine, "a very high quality education, along with the intimacy of our campus."

Fos said that Glorisoso served on the search committee that hired Fos to be president.

"Since then, I've gotten to know him and know how fortunate the University is to have had him at the helm of the Alumni Association. The UNO International Alumni Association has become an invaluable partner to the University helping with student recruitment and retention, alumni cultivation, and more," Fos said.

"Thanks to Brian's leadership and the support of his Board of Directors and other alumni, we were able to re-open The Cove at UNO, another New Orleans landmark; to launch a new New Orleans festival – Crawfish Mambo -- a signature alumni event that we will continue to grow; and to launch the Alumni & Friends Online Community, helping grow the alumni membership by 30 percent and helping UNO rebuild alumni data and relationships."

Sabiston, who used her rainmaking abilities last yar to raise more than $100,00 to help UNO restore the Sandbar at The Cove, has worked with Fos to set alumni association objectives going forward.

Fos has said that he believes the university's alumni association should always be a part of mentoring students on campus. Sabiston's board plans to launch a mentoring program that pairs alumni from all walks of life with current students. Mentors will share their career paths, goals and experiences.

Second, the alumni association plans to increase memberships and visibility, said Sabiston. Her recruitment committee has set an agressive goal of increasing membership and participating by 45 percent within the year. Demonstrating alumni involvement and participation is key to raising national visibility, said the consultant.

Third, the association will boast scholarship programs at UNO, underwriting five Students4Higher scholarships to match five 4-year scholarships established and funded by UNO alumni Barry and Theresa LeBlanc of New Orleans. The association recently helped Fos to raise more than $300,000 for new EdVets scholarships for veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The association will host two major events each year, said Sabison, including Crawfish Mambo, a new signature spring event designed to bring alumni back to campus.

"Being involved with the alumni association is just a small way of giving back," Sabiston said in a recent interview. "I really feel like UNO just laid the foundation for me to be able to go Washington, D.C. and, I think, work for some of the best and brightest members of our delegation," said the government relations expert remembering her many years on Capitol Hill. "So I'm having a great time with it."