Who started it all?
Alumni Connect was born out of an opportunity that directors Gary and Joani Brown saw in reaching out to recent college graduates—a population generally overlooked, but full of incredible potential.
“Our desire is to come alongside them as they transition from college to real life, to help them experience continued growth in the Lord, learn to integrate biblical principles in their lives, and make a significant impact for Christ in their new locations.”
We are motivated by the saving power of the Gospel.
We want to inspire, guide, mentor, and counsel alumni to live effective, fruitful, Spirit-led and controlled lives that are lived out by God’s power, to His glory, all done out of gratitude for His grace and mercy.
So who are we? Let us introduce ourselves.
Gary and Joani have always had a desire to see people flourish where they are planted — spiritually, relationally, and in their work. They know firsthand of the challenges that come in learning to thrive on their own, while grasping how to walk in faith of God’s continuing presence. Their early years of marriage, combined with Gary’s time working in retail construction project management, and Joani mothering and serving their growing family, was a time of significant personal growth. During his years as a self-employed custom home builder, Gary had many rich opportunities to disciple young men in how to grow in Biblical character, while giving practical “real world” lessons, as they built homes together.
Gary and Joani make their home in Lemont, Pa. They have been married for over 35 years, have six children and a growing number of grandchildren.
One question we get asked again and again, “Is Alumni Connect just you and Joani?” And the answer is a resounding “No.” So many different people make up this ministry, and allow us to contribute to the discipleship and establishment of alumni across the US…
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many….If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:14, 17-19
We meet with these individuals in person when we can, or connect via phone regularly. A big part of our role is building relationships not only with alumni, but with each of the people who make Alumni Connect possible, so we have a good working relationship with each.
However, what excites us most about this list is how God is at work through so many different individuals, and is accomplishing His purposes through each one. We are many parts, but one body.
- Mentors/Disciplers: These are individuals across the US who meet regularly and face-to-face with graduates, mentoring them in their walk with Christ and in their role at work.
- Networkers: Half a dozen men and women spread across the country and the world who Gary works with closely to find mentors for alumni.
- Workplace Ministry Staff and Leaders: Men and women who disciple alumni or connect us with people in the area who are interested in mentoring.
- Campus Ministry Directors: They connect and introduce us to college seniors, so we can share the ministry of Alumni Connect and identify soon-to-be graduates who want a mentor as they enter the workforce.
- Ministry Partners: Individuals (including you) who pray regularly for Alumni Connect and give financially to support the ministry.
- Advisory Board: Gary connects with these men regularly for mutual encouragement, and edification. They are also a trusted sounding board for current issues and new initiatives.
- Support Staff: Writers, graphic designers, tech support and business analysts who help us with the website, newsletter content, promotional materials and more!
Business and Technology Solutions
Maria has had a vision for what is now Alumni Connect since her own graduation from Penn State in 2006. In that unique and difficult season of transition, she began a career as an IT Business Analyst. Since becoming established in her marriage, church and community, she focuses problem solving skills in smaller business contexts that emphasize hard work and creativity. She has also started two businesses in the knitting industry and teaches classes at her local yarn store. She, her husband, and three children live outside Raleigh, NC.
Data and Technology Support
With a background in the legal field and a degree in Humanities, Heidi enjoys problem solving and organizing data. When she’s not working on Alumni Connect projects, you can find her blogging and trying to keep track of her active little girl. On weekends, she loves exploring new coffee shops with her husband and daughter in her now hometown of Indianapolis, IN.
By day, Claire is the Support Team Lead for a technology startup, and spends her day writing emails, process documents, and help articles. At Alumni Connect, she works with Gary to craft the email updates and quarterly newsletters. She loves Alumni Connect’s focus on equipping alumni as they navigate the workplace. She has a degree in Christian Publishing from North Tennessee Bible Institute and lives outside Raleigh, North Carolina. Claire stays busy with her nine (soon-to-be ten) nieces and nephews, and little dog, Mr. Knightly.
Danielle graduated with a degree in English and worked in the fashion industry for several years before becoming a freelance copywriter for small businesses and non-profits. With Alumni Connect, she maintains the website content, promotional materials, and mentor resources (in the works!). Danielle lives with her husband and poodle puppy in northern New Jersey, 45 minutes outside of NYC. In addition to her writing career, she keeps busy teaching private violin/piano lessons, blogging, running half marathons, and reading.