Katey Koehn got involved with the Washington State University Alumni Association four years before graduating. She was in her first year at WSU Global Campus, studying online in the San Francisco Bay Area and wanting to connect with other Cougs. Soon, she went from attending watch parties to hosting them, then serving as vice president and president of the alumni chapter in Northern California.
“Anytime the Alumni Association comes calling, I’m going to say yes,” says Koehn (’14 Soc. Sci.), who recently relocated to Port Orchard. She chairs the scholarship committee for the Kitsap County alumni chapter and serves as vice president of the 2022–2023 WSUAA Board of Directors. “I can’t picture a time when I’m not doing everything I can for the Alumni Association and helping to enhance the experiences of my fellow alumni. They’re family at this point.”
The WSUAA loves its volunteers. But it’s always looking for more dedicated Cougs to help plan local events, review scholarship applications, serve on boards and committees, carry out community service projects, and more.
All you need, says Kim Mueller (’91 Sport Mgmt.), director of alumni engagement for the WSUAA, “is a desire to help the institution and to build community with fellow Cougs.”
The WSUAA has 54 chapters and clubs in 20 states, each with its own leadership team. Plus, the association has a board of 18 members as well as committees for finance, alumni awards, and scholarships.
In all, the association has a core group of some 250 active volunteers. “Their energy, enthusiasm, and engagement is very impressive,” Mueller says. In fact, WSU was recently ranked No. 13 in the country by the Princeton Review for best alumni network at a public institution.
“Our alumni represent each of the six distinct campuses within the WSU system. While they each may have had different experiences, they are united by their passion for Washington State. That is an incredible benefit for students,” says Mariah Maki, associate vice president for advancement and WSUAA executive director.
Clubs and chapters held more than 600 watch parties during the 2022–2023 academic year, mostly for football and men’s basketball but for other events as well. The Spokane chapter, for example, hosted a watch party for the association’s third annual Women’s Leadership Summit followed by a networking event on the WSU Spokane campus. Other chapter activities include wine tastings, holiday parties, toy and food drives, send-offs for new WSU students, webinars, ski days, WSU cheese samplings, meet and greets, and Coug Nights at professional sporting events.
Last summer’s inaugural Better Together Service Days with BECU brought more than 250 WSU and University of Washington alumni together to fight food insecurity across the country—from Seattle, Spokane, and Southern California to Washington, DC. BECU donated $10,000 to the cause, giving $5,000 donations to both Food Lifeline and Second Harvest in Washington state. “It was Cougs and Huskies working side by side to support our communities. It was fantastic how everyone came together,” says Kelly Brantner (’96 Busi., ’97 MBA), WSUAA director of membership and marketing. BECU and the WSU and UW Alumni Associations are already planning a second weeklong event.
WSUAA volunteers receive training to learn how impactful their role is to WSU and fellow Cougs and to learn about the support offered to volunteers from the WSUAA staff.
“I think people initially choose to get involved with the Alumni Association because they want to give back to WSU,” Brantner says. “But what they find when they give back to WSU is how much they get out of giving back. Then they feel like they want to give more because WSU has given so much more back to them.”
Contact the WSU Alumni Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-ALUM-WSU for more information.
Giving back: Profiles of WSUAA volunteers