Mariah Maki is thrilled to come home.

She returned to Washington State University at the beginning of September as the sixth WSU Alumni Association executive director since the position was created in 1934 and the first woman to assume the role. She will also serve as associate vice president for advancement.

Mariah Maki wearing a black shirt with a WSU Cougar logo
Mariah Maki (Courtesy WSU Alumni Association)

“Honestly, WSU is where my heart is,” Maki says. She grew up on the Palouse and worked at WSU from 1998 to 2014 in admissions and the WSUAA. “My son Dylan was born in the old hospital right on campus.”

Maki brings 23 years of higher education administration experience to the position. Since 2014, Maki has worked for the foundation and alumni development at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

When Tim Pavish (’80 Comm.) retired in June after 18 very successful years as WSUAA executive director, Mike Connell (’85 Busi.), vice president of advancement and CEO of the WSU Foundation, knew he had to find the right person to carry on the legacy. Connell says Maki fits WSUAA’s needs perfectly as the association embarks on the next era, calling out her professional success, innovative ideas, and deep ties to the Palouse and WSU.

“Her experience and her energy just jumped out at me, and I said, ‘Holy cow, she’s just what we’re looking for,’” Connell says.

WSU is evolving into even more of a statewide system, he says, and the WSUAA also will increase its efforts on campuses beyond Pullman. It’s a vision that Maki shares with the WSUAA team.

“The Alumni Association team has worked so hard with engaging our alumni, both through membership and events, virtual and in person. I think we can build upon what they’re doing, but involving more of our multiple campus system,” Maki says. “Each of our campuses is unique with fantastic alumni bases.”

Volunteers especially drive WSUAA’s success, Maki says. “They give of their time, talent, and treasure, but they’re also helping other Cougs to find an affinity that they may have not had with the university.”

Maki is diving right into the new role by traveling all over to visit Cougs. “I’m looking forward to hearing from all of the alumni, whether we’re in Wisconsin or California or anywhere in the state,” she says.

No matter where she goes, though, Maki loves what she’s doing.

“There’s really nowhere like WSU,” she says. “It’s a dream for me to work with alumni at all of our campuses and help grow the Cougar family.”