How to Give Back in 2022

The CCAA Board of Directors, along with Dean James J. Valentini and several Alumni Office staff members, met before Homecoming 2021.


In the ’90s, when I first was making my way in the world, the last thing on my mind was giving back to Columbia. In fairness, I barely had enough to pay for my studio sublet, with its broken-down stove, which I refused to quit due to its magnificent if oblique view of the Empire State Building. I remember the pivotal moment when I became a giver: I had just attended my 10-year reunion. At my class dinner my college roommate, who fumbled through three prospective majors before landing on the pre-med track, announced that he had upped his annual giving because “it was time.” He practically radiated with pride, and even joy. I wanted more of that in my life and decided to join him in support of alma mater. Later that night, as if to impel me to seal the deal, my fortune cookie from Hunan Cottage read “The Time Is Now.”

Young alumni, please don’t wait 10 years!

The Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA) aims foremost to bridge generations of College alumni in the shared mission of supporting the College. Our fellowship brims with stellar volunteers — remarkable alumni of all ages who bring passion to their service.

Following is a brief overview of the CCAA’s efforts, which are broadly divided between development (aka fundraising) and engagement.

CCAA volunteers support the development work of the Columbia College Fund team by conducting peer-to-peer solicitations, hosting stewardship events, and raising funds and awareness among the alumni community. Our VP is Raymond Yu ’89, SEAS’90, and Jonathan Sobel ’88 and Sherri Pancer Wolf ’90 co-chair the College Fund. There are also multiple fundraising committees and means of participation, such as the Fund Development Council, co-chaired by David Javdan ’90 and Scott Koonin ’02; Class Agents, co-chaired by Jennifer Fudge Ryan ’89 and Carlos Cuevas ’05, SIPA’12, PH’12; and the Alumnae Legacy Circle, co-chaired by Kelley Buechel Badishkanian ’98, BUS’08 and Diana Greenwald ’11.

On the alumni engagement side, we have six committees, overseen by Ben Cosgrove ’90 and Stefanie Katz-Rothman ’88:

• Alumni Engagement, co-chaired by Emily Miles Terry ’89 and John Vincenti ’90, focuses on enhancing the programs and experiences that help bring alumni together, particularly outside the Tri-State area.

The CC20/21 Task Force, led by Rita Pietropinto-Kitt ’93, SOA’96, was launched in response to the pandemic to provide extra support for the Classes of 2020 and 2021. This task force hosted special experiences for these young alums at Homecoming and organized alumni-hosted dinners in New York City and other regions for them.

Student/Alumni Journey, chaired by Doug Horowitz ’97, bolsters connections between students and alumni. is comes in many forms, such as mentoring and Senior Fund events.

Homecoming and Columbia Reunion, co-chaired by David Donner Chait ’07, BUS’13 and Chris Della Pietra ’89, has carried these marquee events forward despite recent uncertainties. Homecoming 2021 was wildly successful and was the first large-scale, in-person event for alumni, parents, students and friends since the start of the pandemic. The committee is now focusing on reunion (Thursday, June 9–Sunday, June 12).

Mentoring, co-chaired by Ganesh Betanabhatla ’06 and David Seidman ’06, supports the Odyssey Mentoring Program both online and through in-person events. This committee’s goal is to offer mentorship to every College student, as well as provide a robust network of alumni-to-alumni mentorship.

Alumni Representative Committee, co-chaired by Cliff Massey ’10 and Diana Nasser ’87, supports Undergraduate Admissions by having committee members interview College applicants. Its work expanded during the pandemic, with all interviews taking place virtually and a record number of applicants.

There are many other ways the CCAA builds community and fosters alumni interaction. I am especially proud to note that Columbia College Women is celebrating a milestone this year — its 35th anniversary!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, during which season I pen this note, thank you to all who engage with the College. If you are on the fence, we implore you to join our ranks! Volunteer alongside classmates or donate to the College Fund. Even one hour a month or one gift can add an additional sense of purpose to your life, as you help the next generation of Columbians.

Please feel free to reach out with questions: tedschweitzer100@ The time is now.