2012 AYA Leadership Award Recipient Bios

 

Marv Berenblum ’56

Among Marv Berenblum’s accomplishments as an Ambassador for Yale, he most recently (Autumn 2012) oversaw the successful planning and launch of the Alumni College, an initiative that gives members of the Yale alumni communities in New York and New Haven the opportunity to take seminars led by Yale professors emeriti. Marv’s vision drove all stages of the endeavor: from formulating the initial framework to engaging volunteers in the project implementation. His initiative, leadership, and persistence quickly transformed the Alumni College from idea to reality.

Marv has also been a key player in other recent programs: he produced the Yale Global Alumni Leadership Exchange (YaleGALE) trip to Israel in February 2012, and he has spearheaded partnerships with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Greenwich, New Haven, and Hartford for the Yale Day of Service and ongoing mentorship activities.

Currently, Marv is an officer of the AYA Board of Governors and chair of its Volunteer Leadership Committee. In the past, he has had leadership roles with the Yale Glee Club Associates and the Yale Alumni Association of Greenwich; plus, he has been an active participant in YaleGALE, Yale Alumni Chorus trips abroad, and related activities at the Yale Club of New York City.

 

Richard Espinosa ’10 and Christopher Glazek ’07, ’07 MA

Richard Espinosa and Christopher Glazek are the leaders behind the Yale AIDS Memorial Project (YAMP), dedicated to honoring and documenting the lives of members of the Yale community who perished during the AIDS epidemic and providing an important educational tool for new generations to understand the epidemic’s impact.

Chris formulated the idea to create a Yale AIDS Memorial in Winter 2011, when he realized the devastating effect that HIV/AIDS had on the gay community in the 1980s and 1990s. He recruited Richard, and together they built a team of young alumni and students to research and write the memorials, ensuring each was written with the utmost care and respect, with outreach to friends and family to share their memories.

In a very short timeframe, they have made extraordinary progress on this initiative by assembling an impressive and dedicated board of directors, by collaborating with several campus and community partners, and by raising project funds. They have also created a multifaceted plan to expand this ongoing effort, which includes managing a team of volunteers and planning to work with other universities in order to assist them in building their own online memorials. YAMP’s launch in June 2012 generated a great deal of press, including in the New York Times.

 

Robbin Walsh Schoewe ’85

When her family relocated to Chicago about 10 years ago, Robbin Schoewe participated in the Yale Club of Chicago’s tutoring sessions at the Elihu Yale School on the city’s South Side. Inspired by her experiences there, Robbin volunteered to be a Site Coordinator for Yale Day of Service (YDOS) in 2009. The following year she became a Co-Club Coordinator and then a Regional Director for the area, driving an almost 25% increase in participation. Many of her ideas have been shared as examples and templates for other YDOS leaders.

Over the past year, Robbin sparked a Yale Club of Chicago partnership with RefugeeOne, a nonprofit which helps resettle refugees. She engaged other local alumni leaders and shared interest groups to cosponsor a family of eight—from furnishing an apartment and welcoming the family at the airport to a six-month schedule of alumni volunteers helping the family navigate big-city life. The Yale community welcomed the family’s participation in a Yale Day of Service project and at a Yale women’s soccer game. Fueled by Robbin’s dedication and vision for this ongoing project, the Yale Club of Chicago looks forward to cosponsoring its second family in coming weeks.

Robbin’s enthusiasm for “catalyzing kindness” is contagious. With an expanding base of alumni volunteers and more activities throughout the year, she has established an active Community Service Committee for the Yale Club of Chicago.

 

Constance Spencer ’82 MArch

Constance (Connie) Spencer is a practicing architect/artist/writer who had not been in touch with Yale for 25 years until she went on the first Yale Alumni Service Corps (YASC) program to the Dominican Republic in 2008. As a Construction Group leader there and then on subsequent YASC programs in Mexico, China, and Nicaragua, she has directed work building houses, playgrounds, sports facilities, amphitheaters and water filters for marginal communities. Connie became the first volunteer to produce programs for YASC, including the Dominican Republic trip in 2011 with 100 volunteers and Nicaragua in 2012 with 60 participants in 2012. She is currently Producer for the first domestic program to West Virginia in the summer of 2013. Beyond such deep engagement with the programs, Connie has been a member of the YASC Board since its inception and became its Chair this year.

In addition to these YASC roles, Connie participated in the Yale Global Alumni Leadership Exchange (YaleGALE) programs to Turkey and China where she promoted collaboration and alumni strategy for service with universities globally. In her local area, she has participated in the Yale Day of Service and interviewed North Carolina and South Carolina applicants to Yale through the Alumni Schools Committee.

 

Victor Wong ’09

Victor Wong is the founder of Yale Alumni Entrepreneurs and Investors. The sold-out launch event was a huge success that spawned demo nights, fireside chats and networking events—each one with a long waitlist, demonstrating local demand.

To assist with ongoing activities and the organizational structure, Victor recruited a team of volunteer leaders to develop the group, and he engaged the Yale Club of San Francisco (YCSF) and the Yale Club of Silicon Valley (YCSV) to cosponsor Yale Alumni Entrepreneurs and Investors events.

In a short time, Victor’s passion has changed the face of Yale alumni activities in the Bay Area. Many alumni have attempted to bring together the Yale entrepreneurial community in the past, some succeeding at organizing single events, but Victor’s dedication and skills have created the foundation for a full-fledged group which is now expanding to other cities. He leveraged support from the AYA into funding from numerous companies, securing funding commitments from cosponsors through 2013. A key element of the group’s success has been the ability to bring together alumni in various aspects of the entrepreneurial world including start-up companies and venture capitalists. Victor’s leadership in satisfying this need of Yale alumni in entrepreneurial endeavors is a model for other Yale groups to follow.

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