Passing the Baton

Tony Watkins and Alan Gallo
One gorgeous evening last fall, the NYU Stern Alumni Council met in person, outdoors, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic had forced most activities online. Since becoming the chair in 2018, Alan Gallo (BS ’87, MBA ’90), chief audit executive at American Express, has helped transform the role of the council at Stern. He expanded alumni representation across degree programs, increased the diversity and number of council members, and oversaw the launch of the online networking platform Stern Network, and custom programming for recent graduates. Seeing his colleagues in person that evening was special, though. Gallo recalled, “It was a difficult year. When we gathered that night, I saw nothing but the goodwill and desire to do the right thing for the alumni community and the School. It was a beautiful moment.”

Working with Marcia Friedkin (MBA ’13), vice chair of recruitment for the council, Gallo focused on increasing the size of the council, and in bringing in alumni from the recent classes to address the unique needs of those years.

 “If I had to pick one thing I’m proudest of, it’s the increased diversity of the council—that includes the traditional dimensions of diversity such as gender and ethnicity, but also diversity of degrees, specialty, industry, graduate, and undergraduate,” said Gallo. 

In addition, by increasing council membership from 13 to 35 Gallo created a more efficient and productive structure, enabling well-staffed subcommittees to convene in between the quarterly meetings. “The real work gets done in the committees, and now we have sufficient representation and capacity to pursue its own goals,” Gallo shared. 

Tony Watkins (MBA ’11), Google’s head of search, global partnerships and vice chair of the digital connections committee on the council, will be taking over as chair. 

“I’m excited for Tony to take on this new role. He has done a terrific job in advancing the ways alumni can connect digitally, in particular the launch of Stern Network. Tony’s commitment to Stern and his professional background in tech make him the perfect successor as the council continues to build out programs for alumni around the world,” said Gallo.

“I’m honored to represent the voice of 110,000 Stern alumni globally,” Watkins said. “I have some big shoes to fill as Alan moves on to his next endeavor. He’s transformed the council over the last several years, and I’d like to build upon the strong foundation he’s established.” 

Watkins was instrumental in helping launch Stern Network, the online alumni engagement platform, among other enhancements to the alumni experience. “During the pandemic we’ve seen explosive growth with Stern Network. We are giving alumni the ability to engage in whatever way works for them so that they can have their own personalized journey, whether they want to connect online or offline,” said Watkins.

Three themes will guide Watkins’ leadership: accountability, community, and engagement. “We’ll continue to establish clear and quantifiable objectives and review our progress,” he explained. “As we represent the global Stern alumni community, we need a deep understanding of the opportunities we’d like to grasp and the challenges we’ll need to face in the coming years—with the goal of ensuring that all Stern alumni are engaging with potential and current students, as well as the alumni events and resources that we create.”

Erin Malone, Executive Director of the Alumni Relations department, said, “Alan has done an amazing job for our alumni community, and I know Tony will bring new perspectives and expertise to make the community even more connected and engaged.”