Alumni Spotlight

Stay Connected: The Friedman Alumni Association

by Kelly A. Dumke

What if I told you there was a part of the School specifically devoted to securing funds for your scholarships and financial aid, creating a network of alumni services, including career development tools, for your future job hunt, promoting the reputation and maintaining the caliber of students and faculty at your school…would you believe me?

You’d better believe it because that is exactly the task of the Alumni Association and the office of Development and Alumni Relations at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.  With the Alumni Association’s mission to develop and maintain a community of alumni and assist members of the community in achieving their professional and personal goals, as well as the development office’s support of the Friedman School’s mission and objectives, they are truly an amazing resource for Friedman students, faculty, alumni, and friends.  I sat down with Lindsay Schoomaker and Sean Devendorf from the office of Development and Alumni Relations to learn a bit more about these valuable School resources.

Who are they? Friedman School Alumni Association

The Friedman School’s Alumni Association is only a mere 7 years old, but it has already established an array of alumni networks, sponsored numerous networking and promotional events, and helped secure scholarship support for the School.  It is governed by an Executive Council, which is comprised of over twenty-five alumni and two student representatives. The council is currently led by Sai Krupa Das, NG02, President, and Andrew Shao N00, Vice President.  The goal of the council is to bridge alumni and students through the Tufts Career Network, organize networking and social events, and fundraise to increase alumni participation in the Annual Fund and Beyond Boundaries: The Campaign for Tufts.

Every graduate of the Friedman School is automatically a member of the Alumni Association and just last year the Association launched its first regional chapter in Washington DC with over 100 people involved.

The Office of Development & Alumni Relations is headed by four familiar faces on the Friedman campus – Cindy Briggs Tobin, Director of Development and Alumni Relations; Sean Devendorf, Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations; Lindsay Schoonmaker, Assistant Director, Stewardship & Constituent Relations, and Joanne McDonough, Staff Assistant.   The Office supports the activities of the Alumni Association as well as working with friends, overseers, foundations, and corporations to advance the School’s mission and objectives and secure much needed funding.

The Board of Overseers, comprised of friends, alumni, and experts in the field of nutrition science, policy, and communications, work with the Office of Development & Alumni Relations and Dean Kennedy by providing visionary leadership, council, and support both financially and strategically.

What they do? Funding, Resources, and Events

Funding: A major task of the Alumni Association and the Development Office is to secure funds to both advance the goals of the Friedman School and support students through financial aid and scholarships.  The School focuses on two major types of funding sources: capital gifts and the Annual Fund.

Capital gifts are focused on supporting long-term School priorities.  They are often larger gifts that are “restricted use”: dollars that can only be spent on specific needs of the school.  Some capital gifts are for the School’s endowment.   The endowment is basically the “financial bedrock” of the university; it gives Tufts the long-term stability to achieve its goals.  Through the endowment, professorships and student aid are generated off interest from a principal investment from generous donors.

The Annual Fund is the other major source of funding for the Friedman School.  It is dedicated to the immediate needs of the school with a major portion earmarked for student financial aid and other resources, such as free wireless on the first floor of Jaharis.

Recent fundraising successes have come from the 2009 graduating class and generous alumni internship donors.  Specifically, the Friedman Alumni Association, in conjunction with the Friedman graduating class of 2009, collected donations that were matched last spring by Friedman School Dean, Dr. Eileen Kennedy.   A total of $2,500 was raised that went directly to incoming student financial aid.  Additionally, a generous overseer recently donated a significant financial gift as part of the Annual Fund and directed the money solely for the purpose of funding student internships.


  1. Career Advisory Network (NEW): In conjunction with the Tufts University Alumni Association, the Friedman Alumni Association has been preparing to launch the Career Advisory Network.  This will be an updated version of the current monthly career mentor list that is sent out to Friedman students and alumni.  The new Career Advisory Network will connect alumni and students to facilitate communication about internship and job opportunities, career advice, and expert advice from professionals in a multitude of fields. The network will be updated in real time and will be available online in the coming months.
  2. Connecting Alumni and Students:  A major part of the mission of the Alumni Association is to connect students and alumni to facilitate reaching professional and personal goals. “We want people to have a relationship with the school for life, not just while they are here,” quotes Sean Devendorf.  Therefore, the Alumni Association puts on multiple events throughout the year that bring together alumni and students:
    1. Brown Bag Lunch Series – Lunchtime talks by alumni about his or her profession, career path or relevant issues and topics in the “real world.”
    2. Career Panels – Periodic events hosted at Friedman usually based around a program theme such as sustainability, public health, communication, and nutritional sciences or an alumni theme such as entrepreneurial alumni.


Beyond events at the Friedman Boston campus, the Alumni Association seeks to connect alumni and students all around the country and world.

  1. Tufts Alumni Regional Events: Alumni from all around the country attend events sponsored by the Alumni Association. Recent 2010 events include a lecture presentation and social event in Los Angeles featuring Dr. Chris Economos.  In addition, a networking and speaker series was held during February near San Francisco at The Culinary Institute of America.  Friedman Alumna Amy Myrdal N97, was instrumental in planning this fantastic event.  Regional events are posted here:
  2. Annual Student/Alumni Washington DC Trip:  Now in its third year, this annual event takes students from the Boston campus to visit various alumni working in the Washington DC area.  From organizations such as USDA, Environmental Defense, World Bank, and others, students gain first-hand insight into various jobs in the nutrition field.

How you can get involved and upcoming events?

The Friedman School Alumni Association makes every effort to connect students and alumni through events, social media, and online resources.  Consider joining the Executive Council of the Friedman School Alumni Association as a student representative next term.  As a committee member, you serve as a liaison between current Friedman students and alumni.  You have the power to create events, facilitate networking, and give a voice to the student body.  Current vice president, Andrew Shao states of his experience on the board, “[We are working to] elevate the alumni association to a level of stature that truly has a say in the school’s future.”

Also, join the Friedman Alumni Association groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to stay connected, network, and learn about upcoming events sponsored by the Alumni Association.

It might seem too good to be true to have an Alumni Association and School department devoted specifically to securing funds for you, creating networks for your future job search, and sponsoring events to promote career development and alumni networking.  The Friedman School’s Alumni Association and Office of Development & Alumni Relations are truly valuable resources that seek to promote your development as a current student and your relationship beyond!

The Friedman Sprout is a monthly student run newspaper that aims to serve the student population at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, prospective students, and alumni. Our mission is to report on newsworthy information that affects the Friedman community including nutrition research, food policy, internship and volunteer opportunities, as well as school events. Our editorial slant is that of sustainability in food and nutrition.

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