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Admitting that his choice was "non-traditional," President E. Gordon Gee announced in early December that Lisa J. Raiola '84 would become Brown's new vice president for alumni relations. On January 1, Raiola became responsible for all alumni programs and for deepening the connection between the University and its graduates.
"I want Brown to be the experience of a lifetime," she says, "not a once-in-a-lifetime experience." Raiola, who graduated magna cum laude with a concentration in biomedical ethics, holds a master's of public health from the Boston University School of Medicine. She has most recently been director of medical ethics and of strategic planning for the troubled Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, which she joined when it acquired the Rhode Island Group Health Association, where she was director of human-resources development. At the time, Raiola was in charge of working out the merger of the two organizations.
"Lisa has excelled in connecting people to institutions," Gee said in a statement, "and she has shown that she knows how to strategically move forward an agenda, often under challenging circumstances."
By her own admission, Raiola has not been an active alumna - something she sees as an asset. "I know I'm coming into this without the content knowledge," she says. "I'm as interested in drawing in others like me - the 65,000 or so alumni who are not currently active - as I am in simply serving the 7,000 who are now regularly active." If a program is uninteresting to her, she adds, it may be uninteresting to the majority of alumni, who, like her, have been focused on their careers rather than their alma mater. "Alumni relations should not foster a sense of exclusivity," she says, but "should be about democratizing this experience of having gone to Brown."
Raiola was a finalist selected for Gee's consideration after a four-month search by an alumni committee. Led by Brown Alumni Association President Jerome Vascellaro '74, it eventually reviewed the applications of 130 Brown graduates. Steven Calvert, the first vice president for alumni relations, resigned in July.