Jesuit Friends and Alumni Network
- How we got started
The Cleveland Loyola Club started in November of 2006 when a small group of graduates from Jesuit institutions decided to organize a luncheon speaker program. For ease of convenience, a downtown location was chosen, namely The City Club. Attendees would gather from 11:30 to 12 to network. Then at noon an MC would gather the guests to their round luncheon tables. The format consisted of a welcome and then an invocation prayer, after which guests would begin eating. At about 12:30, the speaker was introduced. The speaker addressed the guests for about 20 to 30 minutes followed by 10 to 15 minutes of questions as time allowed. The MC would then thank the speaker and provide an appropriate gift, and in some cases, a stipend check. The date and speaker for the next luncheon was announced, concluding with a closing prayer.
From the beginning the strategy was to secure table sponsors which in time developed into a core of regulars. Most of the promotion for luncheons came from personal contact. In time there was some success in developing relations with Jesuit institutions which agreed to promote the JFAN luncheons to their alums. As Fr. Bill Bichl, SJ at one meeting stated, “Loyola Club is about ‘friendraising’ not ‘fundraising.’”
At some point along the way, a national coordinating structure was formed as “Jesuit Friends and Alumni Network.” JFAN clubs were replicated in: Detroit, Grand Traverse (MI), Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, Omaha, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, and Washington D.C. In addition, Jesuit Connection(s) efforts, focusing on young adults in their 20’s and 30’s, were started in Boston, followed by Chicago, and then San Francisco.
- JFAN’s Connection with the World Union of Jesuit Alumni (WUJA)
JFAN is the United States member of the World Union of Jesuit Alumni. WUJA, on an international level, brings together former pupils or students of Jesuit schools and universities throughout the world in order to build international relationships between these people, to contribute to the mission of the Society of Jesus, and to promote the universal dynamic of Jesuit education. For these purposes, WUJA organizes world meetings of Alumni around themes related to the commitment in the world and the society in the perspective of Christian and humanistic values, as practiced and promoted by the Society of Jesus in its educational work. In 2017, the world meeting, or Congress, was held in North America (USA) for the first time. WUJA is interested in developing a world-wide community to federate and mobilize as many alumni as possible who are sensitive to this dimension of their education and interested in this global dynamic, by reaching them among others via the alumni associations in the Jesuit schools and universities worldwide and the national structures or local groups of Jesuit Alumni.
The United States has distinctions from other nations related to WUJA. First, most, if not all, alumni associations in the U.S. are institutionally based. Thus, there are no regional or national alumni associations apart from the institutions. Secondly, JFAN clubs are comprised of “friends”, not only alumni, of the Jesuits. Lastly, JFAN clubs include alumni and friends from any Jesuit school or ministry, who happen to live in the immediate area. JFAN’s commonality with WUJA is that members of local clubs often are alumni from a variety of different locations around the United States and the world.
III. JFAN National Steering Committee
In 2012 a JFAN National Steering Committee (NSC) was formed to explore the idea of expanding JFAN clubs to other cities. Conference calls are conducted on a quarterly basis to facilitate discussions. The steering committee grew to about a dozen members representing various constituencies related to Jesuit institutions and initiatives. Representatives from various JFAN, Loyola, and Jesuit Connection Clubs are invited to join the conference calls.
The NSC also continues to meet on a quarterly basis via telephone in order to:
- To create a connectivity from club to club
- To be a resource for club organizers
- To be a framework for clubs for guidance towards Jesuit Mission
- To be a point of contact / information
- To gather Jesuit oriented of minds for input and decisions,
- To gather of individuals who work and / or are networked within the Jesuit world
- To be a conduit to the World Union of Jesuit Alumni (WUJA)
- JFAN Tool Box (Note: These guidelines are provided as a resource for individuals interested in starting a new club)
- JFAN Club Structure
- Mission: The mission of the Jesuit Friends and Alumni Network (JFAN) is to gather those who share a fidelity to the Jesuit mission and a desire for the spirituality of Saint Ignatius to inspire their lives. The various JFAN clubs encourage those shaped by experiences with Jesuit institutions and ministries to answer the call to be men and women for and with others.
- The Steering Committee of each JFAN club typically consists of permanent members plus additional rotating members.
- The officers of the Steering Committee are the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary and Treasurer, all of whom hold office for a designated period of time, (E.g. two years) or until removed by the permanent members. The purpose of the Steering Committee is to be supportive of the respective club and to help keep it running smoothly and to serve as a source for officers and directors.
- The officers perform the following duties with oversight and direction provided by the Steering Committee, plus such duties as may be assigned to them from time to time:
- The Chair shall lead the Club and preside at all meetings.
- The Vice-Chair shall support the Chair.
- The Secretary shall keep minutes of meetings and provide such other support as requested by the Chair.
- The Treasurer shall assist with any financial questions, prepare financial reports and provide such other support as requested by the Chair.
- No officer or director or Steering Committee Member shall receive, directly or indirectly, any salary, compensation or emolument from the Club.
- The JFAN model
- Clubs, on a city and/or regional level, meet on a regular basis to foster community, deepen participants relationship with God through Ignatian Spirituality, and serve those in need.
- Programs typically feature food, fellowship, and inspiration.
- Events are open to alumni of Jesuit colleges, universities, high schools, and elementary schools as well as alumni of Nativity and Cristo Rey schools.
- Events are also open to friends of the Jesuits, e.g. Jesuit volunteers, parents of alumni, employees of Jesuit churches, schools, universities, retreat houses, non-profits, Jesuit parishioners, retreatants, etc.
- Information may be offered to attendees on other formation experiences such as Ignatian retreats, service opportunities, and other Jesuit focused events.
- Events provide professional networking among those Jesuit educated and likeminded.
- Clubs of JFAN shall
- Represent the ideals of the Jesuit education in all programming
- Refer to their club as Jesuit Friends and Alumni Network (JFAN) of ______________(city/region name) OR Jesuit Connections___________(city/region name).
- Focus on the JFAN mission when planning club programs
- Conduct business in a way that reflects favorably upon the club, JFAN, and the Jesuit community
- Properly promote the image of JFAN clubs
- Not sell or share the database of JFAN clubs
- Refrain from fundraising for themselves or any other organization
- Avoid political advocacy or commercial programming
- Use JFAN images with permission
- Notify the National Steering Committee of major events and projects
- Maintain communication with the local Jesuit provincial office.
- The experience of many clubs has been that a convenient downtown location with relative ease of transportation facilitates a JFAN Club luncheon or other events.
- A fixed menu at a reasonable cost is recommended. An information table can be used to publicize upcoming events and provide resource materials regarding Jesuit institutions and initiatives.
- If possible, video capability ought to be secured.
- Feedback:An appropriate method of receiving feedback on the event and speaker ought to be determined. A brief survey card at every guest’s seat is one way of handling this, especially if the MC requests guests to take two minutes to fill it out.
- Promotion of events are typically made through emails and word of mouth. Reservations can be made through a website. It Is Important that you ask for people’s email addressed for future event promotion.
- In some cases, Jesuit institutions are emailing their alums information about the luncheons.
- Speakers: Selection and Preparation
- A primary responsibility of the Steering Committee is the selection of the speakers.
- Committees can review the list of speakers from other clubs for some ideas and possible candidates.
- Clubs ought to seek a balance in their selection of speakers. Jesuit and lay speakers should be utilized.
- Ideally at least one member of the steering committee ought to have a conversation with the speaker regarding the content of the talk. Sharing a few guiding questions that speak to the issue of Ignatian Spirituality can help focus the speaker’s remarks.
- Clubs are encouraged to plan their speakers up to a year ahead of time.
- Clubs have seen a real risk in planning speakers from out of state during inclement times of the year.Local speakers should be considered during these periods.
- Talks lasting around twenty minutes with questions to follow have been well received.
- A small gift (book, cup, etc) is a great way to acknowledge/thank the speaker.
- In general, each JFAN club is responsible for communicating club events and news to its constituents.
- Each club should strongly consider having a website or other central online portal.
- A national level JFAN conference call is held on a quarterly basis to which all JFAN clubs are invited to join. In this regard, it is highly recommended that leadership team members of clubs communicate with each other.
- Clubs are encouraged to maintain a relationship with the Jesuit Provincial Office and local Jesuit Institutions and ministries.
- Communication with the local provincial office is especially important as a club is looking to begin.
- JFAN Club ought to have a local Jesuit contact person (preferably as a member of the Steering Committee).
- The words “Society of Jesus” & “Jesuit” have copyright protection. The use of these words by JFAN Clubs is granted by the approval of the Charter.
- Event Planning
- Ideally you should schedule programs a year in advance
- Seek consensus and approval for website and flier content (Speaker bio and picture, location and timing, topic, reservation process, table sponsorship, special needs requests, etc. )
- Utilize email and your website for promoting the upcoming event six to eight weeks in advance. Schedule additional promotions one or more times.
- Seek other forms for promotion (E.g. parish newsletters, alumni publications, etc.)
- Arrange discounts for certain individuals and nonprofits
- Communicate with the venue regarding seating, menu, A/V, etc.
- Day of the Event
- Arrive early to set up reservation tables.
- Lay out name tags In alpha order.
- Set up stage with banner.
- Check sound system.
- Distribute program (and any other handouts) at each place.
- Put out table signs for sponsored tables.
- MC asks people to take their seats.
- A designated person says opening prayer.
- MC gives opening remarks.
- Speaker is introduced by someone who is personally familiar with speaker.
- Timing varies, but most clubs allow people to begin eating as speaker gives presentation.
- Presentation ends, followed by Q&A.
- Closing remarks include gratitude to speaker, presentation of gift, comments about next event timing and speaker, followed by closing prayer.
- Miscellaneous Notes
- Selection of the proper venue is important for size, access, A/V capabilities, menu options, etc.
- Seating arrangement is important to insure table sponsors, friends of speaker, etc. are properly situated.
- Most clubs have found that consistency in the program format is preferable. Attendees can predict timing of beginning and end for purposes of planning other commitments of the day.
- Opening and closing prayers are often said by a representative of one of the local Jesuit institutions (E.g. Jesuit, lay teacher, retreat director, student, etc.)
- The M/C should be someone who can engage the crowd.
- Program booklet should include the program sequence, list of table sponsors, and information about upcoming event/s.
- Steering committees are encouraged to have a pre-luncheon Meeting (at least 4 weeks prior)
- Additional Email blasts prior to the event are often helpful.
- Consider annual table subscriptions, with the benefit of front row tables.
- Some clubs have steering committee meetings following their events.
- Clubs should share names of speakers who are well received with other clubs.
- Occasionally, clubs will have feedback forms for attendees to fill out. These are especially important for newer clubs.
- Most clubs restrict travel reimbursement to domestic travel only.
- Generally speaking, stipends and/or gifts should be consistent with all speakers.
Again, as Fr. Bichl, SJ stated, “Loyola Club is about ‘friendraising’ not ‘fundraising’”. Conceivably, JFAN clubs are duplicated throughout many cities to create networks of Jesuit friends. An expanding network of clubs throughout the nation hopefully maintains friendships that were cemented while in the shadows of Loyola Club’s (Cleveland) legacy, and creates new friendships. An expanding network allows new graduates to associate with an active Jesuit community of alums and friends in their hometown or new town.
At the national level, we hope to expand JFAN across the country, with hopes that years from now, when current alums and friends have come and gone, we will have new alums and friends fostering this natural network, seeking to continue being Men and Women for Others.