American International School in Lagos Discovers their Global Alumni

Dear Educational Leaders,

I am writing to you to describe the recent experience of The American International School (AIS) of Lagos, an institution accredited by the Middle States Commission in the United States.

We are an independent school (Pre-K to- Grade 12) based in Lagos, Nigeria. Since 1960, our institution has attracted families and students from both multinational and Nigerian backgrounds. We are a close-knit community, including more than 15 000 former students, faculty, parents, current students and staff as alumni. However, until 2015 we had no means of engaging with alumni.

My board and I knew this was both a challenge and an opportunity, so we looked to the best for assistance. We invited Dr. Gretchen Dobson to join us in Lagos in May, 2015 to help us answer the question: “Should AIS invest in an alumni relations program?” Gretchen quickly embraced the opportunity to learn as much about our local context as possible during her the three-day visit. She undertook multiple interviews and focus groups, drew upon her vast knowledge of global alumni networks. The result was her recommendation that AIS must start an alumni program. Our institution was celebrating its 50th anniversary a few months later and the launch of an alumni program could not have been better timed.

In just over two years, Gretchen and her team at Academic Assembly have created and facilitated an international alumni relations framework that has exceeded our expectations. Within the first year, we recruited a Deputy Director of Alumni Relations whom Gretchen coaches on a regular basis, and entered into a multi-year contract with Academic Assembly to build our global alumni network. We’ve leveraged social media to invite early and active participation in our social networks (1,200 alumni joined our Facebook page within the first week of launching). I hosted international alumni receptions in three U.S. cities last year and we also launched our first international chapter in Tacoma, Washington.

In one example of engagement, alumni from around the world are contributing their time and talent to mentor and help prepare our Seniors as they prepare to transition to college or university here in Nigeria and abroad. I can’t wait to see what Year Three brings for our alumni program.

If you’re thinking there is more that you can do to build your global alumni relations, I strongly endorse Gretchen Dobson and her team.

With warm regards,

Gregory A. Rayl


November 28, 2017