For Gabrielle Mountain, the challenges of the past year represent an opportunity.

“Engagement looks much different now than it did pre-COVID,” said Mountain, who recently joined the College of Natural Resources and Environment as director of alumni relations. “Previously, a big emphasis was on bringing alumni back to campus for events or traveling to visit with them. Last year challenged those practices, and alumni relations professionals were tasked with finding new ways to connect and engage with our constituencies.”

Although Mountain is taking on a new role, she has experience, having served as assistant director of alumni relations in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences since 2016. Prior to starting her career as a Hokie, Mountain had served as an Extension center coordinator at the University of Florida and an events coordinator at the Tampa Convention Center. She holds a master’s degree in management from the University of Florida.

In her new position, Mountain aims to find a balance between in-person events and the new world of online engagement. “It is particularly exciting to start this new role now, just as things are opening up,” she said. “We have an opportunity to try in-person events, virtual events, and even hybrid approaches to reach alumni who are outside of Virginia or even the United States.”

As a member of the college’s advancement team, Mountain is tasked with planning, promoting, and executing alumni engagement programming to meet institutional advancement goals. She cites outreach efforts like the college’s “Third Thursday” webinars as models of engagement to build upon.

“We are excited to have Gabrielle join the advancement team,” said Julia Allen, the college’s assistant dean for advancement. “She is deeply committed to Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission, and she brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm needed to engage our alumni base in a substantive and meaningful way.”

Paul M. Winistorfer, dean of the college, said, “We are fortunate to have Gabrielle join our team, reaping the benefits of her prior experience at Virginia Tech. Engagement today means so much more than just attending events. We want our alumni to be able to reflect and share their input so that we can benefit from their professional experience as we continue to shape the college and work with our students. Gabrielle will be pivotal in helping us make these connections.”

Mountain, who grew up in the coastal town of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, has always had an appreciation for the conservation of natural resources. She is excited to use her passion for engagement to work with alumni who are contributing to environmental stewardship around the world.

“Our alumni are taking on some of the world’s biggest challenges,” she said, “and I am excited to do the engagement work that I love while supporting and celebrating the accomplishments of people who are doing this critical work.”

Written by David Fleming

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