2012 American University Washington College of Law

Alumni Chapter Handbook

Dear Washington College of Law Alumni Chapter Leaders,

Welcome to your role as an alumni volunteer!  Thank you for your interest in building a WCL alumni community in your region.  Your involvement in the chapter system provides a vital link between the ongoing operations at WCL, the current student population, and the thousands of proud alumni scattered across the globe.

Please use this handbook as your principal resource for chapter operations.  It includes information on the mission and purpose of alumni chapters, responsibilities of chapter leaders, and how the Office of Alumni Relations can help you, among other things.  In addition to this handbook, please review the event planning guide for tips on planning, programming and marketing events.  Your comments and suggestions for improvement are always welcome.

The Office of Alumni Relations is here to help, so please contact us if you have questions.  Your commitment to WCL and dedication to engaging alumni are invaluable. 


Shelly Horn

Director of Alumni Relations

Washington College of Law


Table of Contents

  • What is a WCL Alumni Chapter?                                               4

  • How to Start an Alumni Chapter                                                5         

  • Chapter Leadership                                                                     7

  • The Role of the Office of Alumni Relations                             8

  • FAQs                                                                                            9

  • Helpful Contacts                                                                          10

  • Directory of Alumni Chapter Volunteers                                  11

Volunteer Application Form                                          Appendix I

Annual Chapter Event Plan                                            Appendix II

Add about fundraising, only for WCL, no outside organization

Washington College of Law

Chapter Handbook


What is a Washington College of Law Alumni Chapter?


The Washington College of Law Alumni Chapter’s mission is to connect alumni, family, and friends to the life of the law school and to support the strategic goals of WCL.  Chapter objectives include everything from fostering dialogue about the current state of the law school, to planning cultural, social, community service, and educational events to engage the alumni in your community.


  • Encourage alumni and friends of WCL to maintain an active interest in the Law School
  • Initiate and promote activities to connect alumni including: service, social/networking, cultural/educational, family, or athletic events
  • Welcome new WCL alumni to your area
    Provide opportunities for fellowship and networking
    Encourage prospective students to consider American University for their undergraduate or graduate education
    Foster relationships with current WCL students by participating in mentoring programs or promoting job and internship opportunities
    Encourage other WCL alumni to become leadership volunteers

How to Start an Alumni Chapter:

Chapters must be approved by the WCL Office of Alumni Relations.  Each alumni chapter is expected to:

  • Have at least one alumnus/a committed to serve as a Chapter Leader volunteer
  • Have at least two named volunteers to help with events and promotion (as a Co-Leader and a Planning Committee member)
  • Plan at least one event per year that serves the identified population

Alumni Relations’ staff arealways interested in helping alumni launch newchapters where there are groups of interested Alumni! Here are a few simple requirements to starting an alumni chapter in your area:

1) Contact Alumni Relations

Check the alumni web pages at www.wcl.american.edu/alumni to find out if there is an existing chapter in your area. If not, contact Shelly Horn at 202-274-4036, or shorn@american.edu to discuss your interest in launching a chapter. 

2) Complete a volunteer application form and submit it to Shelly Horn at shorn@wcl.american.edu

See Appendix I in this manual for the application.

3) Review the Geographic Area

The Office of Alumni Relations will provide you with a predefined list of zip codes in your geographic area. Please review this list carefully, as this is the list that we will utilize to invite alumni to events in your area. We are happy to add additional zip codes to the region.

4) Reach out to Alumni in Your Area 

The best way to see if other people in your area are interested in starting an alumni chapter, or attending events is to reach out to other alumni in the area to gauge their interest in, and commitment to, starting an official alumni chapter. The Office of Alumni Relations will send an e-mail to alumni in your region on your behalf. We will also post it in the Alumni Online Community InCircle. And you can post it on our social networking sites including Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and our web pages.

5) Plan a Meeting

Get other interested alumni in the area together to have a brainstorming session. Review the offices (Leader, Co-Leader, and Planning Committee members) and decide who will assume responsibility for each leadership role. Check with the Office of Alumni Relations on their plans for your area, and then put together a tentative calendar of feasible events you think alumni in the area would be interested in attending.

6) Submit Your Plan to the Alumni Association

Once you have created a plan, submit it to Shelly Horn at shorn@wcl.american.edu

Chapter Leadership

The Chapter Leader, Co-Leader and Planning Committee members have primary responsibility for the management and spirit of a WCL Alumni Chapter.

Chapter Leader & Co-Chapter Leaders:

  • The Chapter leader is expected to be the main point of contact with the Office of Alumni Relations
  • Establish short-range and long-range objectives for the chapter, keeping with the Alumni Alliance goals.
  • Submit an annual Event Plan (see Appendix II in this manual) to the Office of Alumni Relations at least 10 weeks prior to the first event date of the year
  • Serve as a contact person for alumni in the region with interests in becoming actively involved with the chapter
  • Serve as host/hostess during chapter functions and events
  • Welcome and assist current students from your area with networking opportunities
  • Submit attendee lists and updated contact information  to the Office of Alumni Relations following events
  • Participate in quarterly conference calls
  • Create a chapter group on Facebook and inCircle, or facilitate existing groups 
  • Actively seek new volunteers with the potential to serve as future leaders for the chapter

Planning Committee Volunteers

The planning committee of each chapter comprises volunteers who organize events and activities for WCL alumni and friends.  They are encouraged to participate in quarterly conference calls with the Office of Alumni Relations and plan and attend alumni chapter events along with the Chapter Leader and Co-Leaders. 

Some chapters may choose to have Planning Committee members serve as the leader for different types of events. For example:

  • Social/Networking Chair- responsible for planning networking events, happy hour business-card exchanges, and similar events

The Office of Alumni Relations

The Office of Alumni Relations assists regional Chapters in the following ways:

  • Provides list of ideas for possible events that you can use
  • Provides marketing outreach to get your started
  • Sends name tags, banners, sign-in sheets, for events
  • Processes registrations for events, and provides chapter with list of event attendees for follow up
  • Assists with the promotion of the event
  • Provides chapter recognition on the Alumni Web site      

Alumni chapters can assist the Office of Alumni Relations in the following ways:

  • Plan at least one chapter-organized event per year
  • File an annual Chapter Event Plan to the Office of Alumni Relations, detailing the activities your chapter would like to host for the coming year 
  • Provide follow-up evaluations after events
  • Keep the office up-to-date on constituent address changes
  • Mail receipts and attendance sheets to Office of Alumni Relations following each event

American University Washington College of Law Alumni Board

The Washington College of Law Alumni Board (WCLAB) exists to provide opportunities for alumni to participate in and contribute to the ongoing life of the Washington College of Law, to fulfill their responsibility of enhancing the continued growth and development of WCL, and to promote interaction among alumni through programs which enrich their professional, cultural, and personal lives.  

The WCLAB’s Outreach Committee consists of board members who aim to strengthen WCL’s reach domestically.  The WCLAB meets twice per year, so if you have an idea or a proposal that you would like to share with the Outreach Committee, please contact Shelly Horn at shorn@wcl.american.edu

To learn more about the WCLAB, please visit:  www.wcl.american.edu/alumni/leadership

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What is the most important aspect of ensuring a chapter’s success?

The most significant component of a successful chapter is committed leadership.   Effective leaders also ensure continuity of the chapter by identifying the leaders of tomorrow and mentoring their leadership development.

2.  Do I need to communicate with the Office of Alumni Relations?

WCL Alumni Chapters are an extension of the Law School, and work to foster the goals of the institution. Chapters must remain in contact with the Office of Alumni Relations to facilitate the implementation, marketing, and success of the programming.  Alumni Chapters and the Office of Alumni Relations will work together to achieve mutual goals; these beneficial ties must be respected by all parties.

3.  How do I know what constitutes an appropriate activity and/or event site?

A chapter should offer a variety of activities that appeal to the educational, cultural, volunteer, or social interests of its regional alumni and friends. 

Please refer to the Event Planning Guide to see an overview of events that would be considered appropriate.   Avoid scheduling any activities at private venues that are, or are perceived to be, exclusionary on the basis of social standing, race, religion, gender, or ethnic background.  Also remember to avoid planning events on national or religious holidays, or during any official (paid) WCL events in your area.

4.  What record-keeping is necessary for the chapter?

Just as it is important to plan properly for an event, it is also necessary to evaluate an event’s success and maintain records of these evaluations for future use.  It is also important that the Office of Alumni Relations receives attendance sheets for all events.  These attendance sheets should include any updated mailing and contact information.

5.  Where can we find new ideas for our chapter?

Don’t hesitate to contact any of your peers to learn about their chapter’s activities.  Ideas can also be found by visiting the Web sites of other universities and colleges and on the CASE Web site (www.case.org).

And don’t forget the Office of Alumni Relations can suggest a number of ideas for your chapter.  Remember, we’re only a phone call or email message away!


American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20016

Main Switch Board                                                                          (202)-274

Admissions                                                                                         (202)-

Annual Fund Information  

Director of Annual Giving                                                               (202)-

Registrar’s Office (transcripts/diplomas)                                        (202)-

AU Bookstore                                                                                    (202)-885-6300

Alumni Relations:

Telephone: 202-274-4163

Fax number: (202)-274-4291

Ruth Swanson, Associate Dean of Development & Alumni Relations



Shelly Horn, Director of Alumni Relations            





            Annual Giving


Directory of Alumni Chapter Volunteers

Domestic Chapters

Leader Name


Phone Number


Regional Alumni Chapter
Volunteer Application Form

  • Name:

  • Degree & Graduation Year:

  • Contact Information:

Preferred Address:

            Work Phone:                                                  Home Phone: 


            Occupation & Employer:

  • Regional Chapter you are Applying for:

  • Position you are applying for (Leader, Co-Leader, Planning Committee):

  • Why are you interested in leading a Washington College of Law Chapter?

  • What previous experience do you have with event planning and/or volunteer management?

  • Please list some ideas you have for chapter events in your region (cultural, academic, social, career networking, etc.):

  • Are you familiar with using social networking websites to advertise events, such as inCircle, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?  Yes/No

  • Are you comfortable writing e-mails? Yes/No

  • Are you willing and able to commit to a two-year term limit?  Yes/No

  • If elected, do you agree to abide by the regulations outlined in the Office of Alumni Relations alumni chapter manual?

Contact Shelly Horn at shorn@wcl.american.edu for further information. Thank you.



For event ideas and guidelines, please consult the Event Planning Guide

Chapter Name_____________________________________________________

Month______Year _____


Happy Hour________________________________________________________

Community Service Project_____________________________________________

Museum Event______________________________________________________

Local Event_________________________________________________________

Networking Event___________________________________________________

Career/Professional advancement event___________________________________

Professional sports event______________________________________________


Pre-game Event_____________________________________________________

Post-game Event_____________________________________________________

Happy Hour________________________________________________________

Community Service Project_____________________________________________

Educational Event___________________________________________________


Family Event________________________________________________________

Local Event_________________________________________________________

Networking Event___________________________________________________

Career/Professional advancement event___________________________________

Museum Event______________________________________________________