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By Liz Warren-Pederson

In January, four Phoenix-based Eller undergraduate alumni founded a professional association.

“We move through a cohort with Eller, we all know each other in Eller, and we graduate together in Eller,” said Chad Travis (’13). “After graduation is over, Eller disperses. The network is there when you need it, but for many of us the network stops building.”

At a football game, Travis talked to then-dean Len Jessup. “He was really empowering – he wanted us to form an alumni group,” he continued. “Tyler Kucera (’08) overheard that conversation and was immediately on board. Then we met Alison Althof (‘13) and Shawn Perona (’14) at an event for Arizona Now that Eller hosted.”

The Eller Professional Association of Phoenix aims to connect professionals, empower alumni, and expand knowledge. The organization launched in January and kicked off in March with a panel discussion focused on grad school in multiple disciplines. Including the leadership team, 26 attendees participated in the launch event.

“We want to help anyone in the Phoenix area who wants to develop themselves professionally, so we have a goal of having every attendee walk away from each meeting feeling they have something to reflect on or feeling they contributed something,” Travis explained. “If we have an event focused on connecting, we’ll have a fun way to share professional stores and goals with each other. If we’re focused on expanding knowledge for the next event, we can have an industry night with an expert that can teach us how their industry looks at strategy. We’re really focused on bringing value to every session and getting involvement from each member.”

The team has a lot in the pipeline. “We’ve been talking about hosting an industry night for technology in higher education and what the future of a textbook looks like and how that changes the environment for a student,” Travis said. “We’ve also been brainstorming a “Shark Tank” style event around non-profits: we’re looking to have a guest present on a major problem they’re having and split into groups and brainstorm, then present our ideas with the sharks being the non-profit.”

As they lock down events and participants, the association will share details through LinkedIn, MeetUp, and Facebook.

“There will be great things coming and we’re always looking for new ideas and feedback,” Travis said. “We are all passionate about the group’s potential and want to give back to a school that we’re so proud of. We really came together to help anyone that has an interest in bettering themselves and link that back to Eller’s great name.”

Top photo of the Eller Professional Association of Phoenix by Heather Strasser. L-R – Chad Travis ’13, Shawn Perona ’14, Alison Althof ’13, and Tyler Kucera ’08.