We are pleased to introduce Jessica Harms, the new George School new director of alumni engagement. We interviewed her to learn a little more about her hopes and dreams for keeping alumni connected.
What are you most looking forward to at George School?
I am so thrilled to be here. My daughter attends Buckingham Friends School where she is in second grade and I’ve seen how impactful a Quaker education can be. She regularly uses phrases like “growth mindset” and “taking a moment of gratitude.” I am looking forward to helping our alumni stay engaged in the life of George School.
I love working with alumni because whomever I meet—someone from the George School Class of 1960 or the Class of 2010—I know that they share a similar experience as alumni, whether if is attending meetings for worship, enjoying sticky buns in the dining room, or sharing memories from classes in Retford.
George School is the thread that binds all generations of alums together. In my role, I often have the privilege of hearing wonderful, uplifting stories from an alum’s time on campus, including the lasting impact that teachers and dorm staff have had on their lives.
One of the initiatives I look forward to starting is a mentoring program where alumni connect with current students. I see my role as a conduit between alumni and our school, and as a support for Admissions, College Guidance, Service-Learning, and more. There are so many ways that George School alumni want to stay engaged and I am eager to begin planning the programs and events that will reinforce and extend their bonds with our school.
Can you give us a glimpse into a day in the life of the Director of Alumni Engagement?
One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to connect with people. My days are spent meeting with campus partners, learning about the needs of faculty and staff, and brainstorming ways that alumni may assist in a mutually beneficial way. Our end goal is an elevated, symbiotic experience for students, faculty, and alumni. And of course, I communicate with alumni daily, whether it’s answering an email about plans for Alumni Weekend or reaching out to an alum who has volunteered to serve as an assembly speaker.
We are actively planning Alumni Weekend for May 6–8, 2022, to celebrate achievements, rekindle friendships, and reflect on our alumni’s George School experience. We all look forward to welcoming all alumni back to campus.
Will you please share a little about your career prior to coming to George School?
I spent the last five and half years at Solebury School, right down the road in New Hope, PA. As a member of their Advancement Team, I started out as the Parent Relations Manager, where I worked with current parents on a variety of programs, including the planning and execution of their annual dinner auction.
After two years in that role, I was offered the position of Alumni Relations Manager, where I was responsible for building and strengthening relationships with their alumni population, planning Solebury’s Annual Reunion Weekend, and creating a variety of in-person and virtual events that engaged and stewarded alumni. I was also a contributing editor for their bi-annual magazine.
As is the way at many boarding schools, I wore many hats. In addition to my responsibilities in Advancement, I was a dorm parent in the all-gender dorm, a student advisor for a cohort of eight juniors, and a member of the Judiciary Committee.
What are some fun facts about you?
I do floral design as a hobby and started teaching classes last summer at a friend’s farm in Kingwood, New Jersey. I find that floral design provides a wonderful, creative outlet. I grew up in Northern California and spent a lot of time as a child riding horses (Western-style) and in dance classes. I graduated from a Waldorf high school and my favorite poet is Mary Oliver.