Dear Alumni Family,
June 30th marked the last day of my term serving as your Black Alumni Leadership Council (BALC) president and it is my pleasure to pass the baton to your new president, Jeff Brown. This fiscal year will also mark my fifth and final year serving on the BALC.
It has been my honor and privilege to lead the BALC and represent you, the more than 16,000 proud and powerful Black alumni of THE University of Georgia. Your passion, presence, and philanthropy are invaluable. Your service to this University, to our students, and each other is steadfast. Your commitment to keeping the Arch open for EVERYONE resolute.
To our alumni, please know that you are in great hands with Jeff at the helm. He is an accomplished leader with his own vision for the council and is invested in our success which includes: achieving our strategic goals, the continued improvement of our alumni experience and advocating for our students to be able to have an inclusive, supportive and diverse learning environment.
Every BALC president hopes to leave things better positioned for the incoming leader. I think that is one of the true hallmarks of the BALC, because each president and council has passed forward leadership that is strong, visionary and aspirational, better positioning us to continue to build not only our Black Alumni Scholarship Endowment but the perpetuity of the 1961 Club Giving Society, and the affinity group itself. Since the council began just four short years ago and in this last year, we have implemented the necessary programmatic and strategic business strategies that we believe will keep our affinity group moving in the best and right direction.
For fiscal year 2020, we started with an ambitious effort to refine our strategic plan for BALC to enhance alumni engagement and experiences, increase donor diving, invest in student support and success, and build the 1961 Club Giving Society brand. Jeff will continue these efforts, making his own mark on the initiatives and implementing improvements to our work that we have only just begun. As I transition to my role as immediate past president, I am excited about the future work of the incoming council as they prepare to recognize the 60th anniversary of desegregation on January 9, 2021.
Your council has worked exceptionally hard during my tenure as president, some having to step into leadership roles unexpectedly. Fueled by the energy and talent of our council members and their alumni contacts, we successfully launched our football season game watch parties in partnerships with the Black alumni associations of opposing universities. Galvanized by fresh ideas and the youthful energy of our outreach committee, the council bravely pressed on with our fall Connect and Chill Networking and Homecoming 2019 in a winter monsoon with amazing alumni support which led to an award-winning event with sold out tickets!
Not resting on our laurels, we turned our attention to 2020 with our Desegregation Day of Service giving back to the students at Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary, our Donor Appreciation Reception, the Mary Frances Early College of Education Gala and Dedication and the annual Holmes-Hunter Lecture Series. We were riding high having put in place plans for a year that we believed would deliver the excellent experiences you have asked for and deserve. And then the pandemic hit.
So, like the rest of University and the world, we pivoted, cancelled in-person events and moved our programming to a virtual environment that our alumni have been faithful to support and attend. Then came Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. And neither I nor this council could stay silent in our collective hurt, pain, disbelief and—yes—righteous anger over the social injustice and racism that we all were facing together, students and alumni alike. When we say, “we never bark alone”, we must mean it on and off the football field. So, we spoke to you and with you when the words you needed to hear were not said and we will say them again and again until change comes. Your life matters. We matter. We will never let the sacrifice and legacy of our ancestors, of OUR founders, Hamilton Holmes, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Mary Frances Early be in vain. That’s why we voted to fund 10 annual scholarships to students to provide them with the financial support they need. The marathon will continue.
As my journey closes with the BALC, I leave full of profound love, immense gratitude, and humble appreciation for far too many people to mention in this letter, but to all the council members, past and present, and the UGA Alumni Association team, serving with you has been an honor, thank you. You are appreciated more than you could possibly know and more than I can ever express.
I look forward to my new role as immediate past-president and I look forward to our continued positive impact on and off campus. To loosely quote a former president of the United States, “Davis out.”
Ericka B. Davis, Ph.D.
Immediate Past President