In 2016–17, WFAA’s engagement efforts prepared for a major change.
The most significant event in engagement was the retirement of Paula Bonner MS’78, who stepped down as head of the alumni association at the end of June 2017 after leading WAA since 2000. Bonner’s tenure included many of WAA’s signature achievements: the launch of Grandparents University®, the expansion of alumni-learning programs, a renewed focus on critical geographic areas for alumni engagement, a celebration of WAA’s 150th anniversary, the creation of Alumni Park, and the merger with the UW Foundation, which created WFAA.
In the months between stepping down and her official retirement at the end of October, Bonner and her many legacies were celebrated around campus. Her efforts live on in the staff that she cultivated and nurtured for more than a decade and a half.
Sarah Schutt was named Bonner’s successor as WFAA’s chief alumni officer and executive director of WAA. Associated with WAA since 2001, Schutt has worked closely with Bonner and with WFAA leadership. “Sarah is already recognized across the Big Ten and among other alumni leaders around the country for her leadership of signature alumni-learning and engagement programs such as Grandparents University, as well as relaunching alumni career networking,” Bonner told On Wisconsin magazine. “She is the perfect fit for this role at this time in our history.”