Whitney T. Espich, an accomplished leader in alumni relations and development, has been named by President L. Rafael Reif as the next CEO of the MIT Alumni Association (MITAA).
Espich is currently executive director of communications, events, and donor relations for MIT’s Office of Resource Development (RD), where she has worked since 2014. In that capacity, she has played a significant role in launching the public phase of the MIT Campaign for a Better World, collaborating across MIT to share the campaign’s message with alumni and friends. Aligning many partners, she orchestrated the accompanying MIT Better World global event series that visited New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, Tel Aviv, Mexico City, and Washington over the course of a year, hosting 3,500 alumni and friends.
As MITAA CEO, Espich will work closely with the president of the Alumni Association — a one-year post that rotates among alumni elected to the position — and with the MITAA Board of Directors.
“Since joining MIT three years ago, Whitney has excelled as a leader and a connector — of people, talents, and ideas,” Reif says. “She came to MIT with a wonderful enthusiasm for our mission, our values, and our community. Over the past year, I watched with admiration as she led the outstanding effort to bring our Better World events to MIT alumni in cities across the country and around the world. Through that work, she built countless relationships with individual graduates and a deep appreciation for what alumni value about their MIT connection. I look forward to partnering with Whitney as she expands her connections to our alumni — the remarkable people who do the work of MIT in the world.”
Espich will assume her new position on Sept. 5, succeeding Judith M. Cole, who announced her retirement in April. As CEO, Espich will lead MITAA’s campus-based staff in carrying out the Alumni Association’s work in support of the vision set forth by Reif and MITAA’s board of directors. As a member of the MIT Academic Council, she will represent an alumni perspective on Reif’s senior advisory committee.
“I look forward to enhancing and strengthening alumni ties to MIT and to one another,” Espich says. “Together we have the opportunity to unlock the energy latent in the global alumni community — energy and influence with the proven capacity to change the world. I am honored by this opportunity to work with President Reif, the Board, the alumni of MIT, and the Alumni Association staff.”
Espich’s selection follows a national search led by a committee of 10 MIT alumni, students, and staff. The search committee was chaired by Don Shobrys ’75, who served as president of the Alumni Association in 2014-15.
“The search process had tremendous support from the MIT community, attracting an exceptionally large pool of very strong candidates,” Shobrys says. “The search committee looked for a substantial knowledge of MIT and its culture, strong communication skills, intellect, energy, and a track record of successful outreach efforts in a relevant area. Whitney is an exceptional choice from an extremely strong pool.”
Members of the search committee noted Espich’s prior work to bring life to the MIT Campaign for a Better World, directly supporting President Reif’s vision of the Institute’s leadership in education, research, and innovation for a better world.
“I’m delighted by the choice of Whitney as the new CEO for our Alumni Association,” says Ken Wang ’71, a member of the search committee who served as MITAA president in 2009-10. “As one might expect, she is experienced and personable, smart, and thoughtful. The qualities that make her special, however, are that she ‘gets’ who we are and has an intense desire to understand our needs and desires as alumni. I think she will do a masterful job.”
“I’m looking forward to working with Whitney to have MIT alumni better connect to MIT and each other through the MITAA,” adds Hyun-A Park ’83, MCP ’85, the current president of the Alumni Association, who also served on the search committee. “I know that Whitney’s strong communications base, her commitment to excellence, and her understanding of MIT will be a strong foundation for our work together.”
The responsibilities of the MITAA CEO include supporting MIT’s engagement with its alumni and its alumni’s engagement with each other; ensuring meaningful connections between alumni and volunteers in MITAA activities; aligning the Alumni Association’s vision and that of MIT; managing the operations and growth of the MIT Annual Fund; coordinating MITAA’s activities with alumni outreach by schools, departments, and programs across campus; facilitating the volunteer-led processes by which the MITAA nominates candidates for membership on the MIT Corporation and its Visiting Committees; and ensuring the maintenance of MITAA’s database of alumni and friends.
The Alumni Association also organizes events such as Tech Reunions, the Alumni Leadership Conference, and Family Weekend.
Originally from Virginia, Espich holds a BA from Indiana University and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of St. Andrews. Before joining MIT, she worked in Harvard University’s central alumni affairs and development office, first as director of university development communications initiatives and then as senior director of strategic marketing and communications. Earlier in her career, she held communications positions at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Citigate Cunningham, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (Monticello), and Mary Baldwin College.