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The NAA honors two NU clubs on the West Coast for jobs well done.

From left, Scott Carr, Sara Welker and Heather Rosing, members of the Club of the Year, at the Rock’n’Roll Marathon in San Diego last June.

Nearly six years ago Heather Rosing (L96) experienced what many graduates face: She left the familiar surroundings of the Northwestern campus for a new city — in her case, San Diego — where she barely knew anyone.

She could have done what many new professionals do — center her life solely on her job. Instead, she made a phone call to the Northwestern Alumni Association office in Evanston and connected with the NU Club of San Diego. By doing so, Rosing not only met a lot of new people, she also became part of a close-knit community that makes personal contact a priority.

"Soon I was asked to be a board member," Rosing says. "The board was very supportive of me, my career and my new life in San Diego. Right off the bat I became good personal friends with one member and began socializing with him and his friends."

Today Rosing is president of the NU Club of San Diego. In recognition of the club’s outstanding communications, programming and community service efforts, the NAA named San Diego the Club of the Year at the rescheduled fall leadership conference held on the Evanston campus Nov. 15 through 17.

Recently the club set up a new membership e-mail system and database, which tracks alumni participation and communications, informs members of events, polls them for feedback and recruits alumni who are new to the San Diego area. Rosing estimates board members receive two e-mail messages per week from people interested in joining the club and becoming involved. "We like to believe that we provide these people a ‘ready-made’ community to join," she says.

Yet that feeling of community isn’t limited to computer messages. Club leaders also understand the importance of staying in touch, so they follow up all e-mail messages with personal phone calls. Showing even more of a personal touch, board members regularly make additional inquiries to members after major personal reversals such as sickness or the death of family members.

Like many of Northwestern’s regional alumni clubs, the NU Club of San Diego hosts traditional gatherings — faculty speaker events, new student get-togethers, holiday parties and similar events. (During football season members cheering for the Wildcats regularly converge on Sport City Café and Brewery in nearby La Jolla.)

Joint outings with other clubs and their members are also not uncommon occurrences. Last June the club welcomed Los Angeles alumni, who performed in a comedy showcase at La Jolla’s Torrey Pines Christian Church, and later teamed up with the NU Club of the San Francisco Bay Area for a trip to Las Vegas for the Northwestern football season opener.

Building for the future, the club also programs events and provides services specifically targeted at young alumni through a new chapter within the club led by Quan Mac Gerville-Reache (S98) and Jeff McCulloch (WCAS98).

Reaching out to the San Diego community, the club as a whole has been involved for the past three years in the local Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon that benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies. Club members wake up at 4 a.m. on race day to set up and work a water station that serves runners.

Club regent Jane Kirby Smith (GSESP62), a 30-year member and past president, credits the organization’s current board of directors for its energy and focus. "Their enthusiasm, willingness to work and new ideas all contribute to the club’s success," says Smith. "It’s now a more active club with many more young alumni."

Another club recognized at the fall leadership conference was the NU Club of the San Francisco Bay Area, which received the NAA’s Renaissance Club of the Year honor. Over the last year the club successfully expanded its geographic range to incorporate alumni in the San Jose area and now covers a distance of more than 100 miles. According to club president Ty Levine (S88), the expansion has made the group not only larger but more diverse in age and professional range.

One of the club’s biggest successes this year tied in to the excursion to Las Vegas for the football team’s opener. More than 250 people attended a joint SFBA/San Diego club party in the penthouse suite of the Bellagio Hotel, and the group donated $1,000 from the party’s proceeds to University athletics.

"It was an amazing event," recalls Levine. "We had no idea whether five people or 200 would show up. We had parents of football players, members of the ’96 Rose Bowl team and [University trustee] Tom Hayward [WCAS62, L65] all at the same party. People really loved it!"

— Michele Hogan