The benefits of membership in a local alumni chapter

(L-R): John McGrinder (’22), Jamie Prince (’22) and Bryan Roberts (’95) are among the leaders — past and present — of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the JMU Alumni Association.

SUMMARY: JMU alumni in the Dallas-Fort Worth area build on the foundation laid by predecessors to create a haven for Dukes to come.

It has been only two years since John McGrinder (ʼ22) capped a career of conspicuous achievement in James Madison University’s College of Business by accepting a job in the Dallas-Fort Worth office of Gartner, Inc., the global technology research and advisory firm.

McGrinder graduated cum laude from JMU with a B.B.A. in Marketing and a minor in Business Analytics, supplemented by a concentration in Professional Sales. He amassed a slew of honors and awards during his time in Harrisonburg, including recognition as the “Outstanding Male in Sales.” McGrinder was also a two-time recipient of the Department of Marketing’s “Mark It Forward” scholarship.

Since his relocation to North Texas, he has risen to become co-president, with fellow Gartner recruit Jamie Prince (’22), of the JMU Alumni Association’s regional chapter there — the “DFW Dukes.”

McGrinder is unrestrained in his enthusiasm for the work the chapter is doing, about which he says he “cannot say enough good things.” He traces his own involvement to the timely intercession of Samantha Collier, director of the Office of Professional Development and Engagement. Collier introduced him to Bryan Roberts (ʼ95), a senior executive with the Fogo de Chão chain of upscale Brazilian steakhouses, who was at that time winding down a decade-long run as DFW chapter president.

Roberts extended a warm greeting to McGrinder and other JMU alumni new to Dallas-Fort Worth, hosting a dinner in their honor during their very first weekend in the region.

Now, having jointly succeeded Roberts in the chapter-president role, McGrinder and Prince take special care to reach out to arrivals still newer than themselves, hoping to make them feel equally welcome.

“A lot of what I love about the alumni chapter, and one of the reasons I assumed a leadership role in it so soon after moving to North Texas, relates to giving back,” McGrinder said. “That, and working with other people who are really passionate about what they do.”

Paula Polglase (ʼ92, ʼ96M), director of Alumni Relations at JMU, says many benefits accrue to young alums from their involvement in local chapters. “It’s a great way,” she said, “to get to know your area as a young adult and to socialize and network with multiple generations of Dukes.”

Within chapters there often are excellent opportunities to take up the reins of leadership, Polglase said, adding that, “it’s also a great way to stay connected to JMU, of course.”

“Very often our alumni simply want to know that we have a presence here,” Roberts observed. “They may or may not have the bandwidth to participate in any specific activity or event, but it still helps them feel connected to a network and support system.”

Roberts praises McGrinder and Prince for their shrewd delegation of responsibility for the running of chapter events among an ever-widening circle of Dallas-Fort Worth alumni.

“During any given event,” he said, “it may not be possible for either one to run point, but maybe someone else on the chapter leadership team can.”

Roberts also especially commends McGrinder and Prince for their astute use of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

“It has been very helpful in driving awareness throughout the region, and in engaging with professionals outside the typical JMU bubble and standard email distribution,” he said. “[McGrinder and Prince] are always looking for creative new ways to engage with the brand — even within their own networks.”

Find your regional or affinity chapter through the Alumni Association. 

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by David Doremus

Published: Monday, July 1, 2024

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 3, 2024

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