The Connector: Strengthening the infrastructure of alumni networks
Stacie Hyatt (Wharton ’00) shares how she transitioned from biomedical executive to President and CEO of a software company making a growing impact
The author of Fully Funded, Outrageously Successful Ways to Fund an Alumni Chapter, Stacie Hyatt is an in-demand keynote speaker, and she’s a true believer in the notion that lives and careers can be radically transformed through a single alumni connection. Stacie graduated from the Wharton School in 2000, and she’s currently the President and CEO of the Society for Alumni Club Leadership. SACL is a Dallas-based organization that provides cloud-based infrastructure and services to hundreds of thousands of alumni club leaders, making it easy to recruit volunteers, market events, establish leadership structures, and more from a centralized portal.
Prior to cultivating more engaged alumni networks with SACL, Stacie worked for the healthcare giants Medtronic and St. Jude Medical, and she honed her expertise in the Dallas-Ft. Worth chapter of Wharton’s alumni club and by co-founding the Dallas Business Club (DBC). Outside these efforts, Stacie is involved in professional, humanitarian, and women’s organizations such as the Tech Titans, The Salvation Army, and the Executive Women’s Roundtable.
Chestnut Street Ventures spoke with Stacie about her journey from business school to making life much easier for volunteer alumni network leaders in the U.S. and abroad.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
The entrepreneurial bug didn’t bite until a short time after graduating from Wharton. I worked as an engineer prior to business school — I studied bioengineering as an undergrad at Texas A&M — and, after completing my MBA, I began to consider ways in which I might combine my technical background with my formal business training to fill a void. Since then, I’ve been an angel investor, a mentor, and a startup officer. Now I’m a bootstrapping founder on the other side of the table.
What inspired you to found the Society for Alumni Club Leadership?
I realized that most volunteer leaders face similar challenges. Leadership structure, volunteer recruitment, incorporation, event planning, insurance, marketing, you name it: Local club presidents were in the trenches, attempting to identify low-cost solutions to consistent problems related to establishing sustainable organizations and growth. My colleagues and I stepped back to assess how we could cultivate better organizations.
What was the scale of the problem?
An initial market analysis told us that a population of more than 100 million people were affected by these issues, and that hundreds of thousands were impacted by floundering volunteer leadership. It became clear there was an exceptional need for turnkey, economical technologies that could support local chapter leadership — soon thereafter SACL was born.
How much time were you initially able to devote to SACL?
I kept my day job as an international sales, marketing, and product executive for five years before fully committing in 2016. Between growing SACL, the day job, volunteering, and consulting, I stayed very busy!
How have things progressed for SACL since you committed full-time?
We took SACL public in January 2017 at the Alumni Professionals of Texas (APT) conference, and the following year brought an incredible array of ‘firsts.’ We released the 360-page book Fully Funded, Outrageously Successful Ways to Fund an Alumni Chapter with the participation of 86 colleges and universities. The book is available through major booksellers and through the largest industry organization, CASE. As a result of Fully Funded, I’ve had the great pleasure of giving the keynote address at multiple professional and volunteer alumni leaders conferences.
How is SACL’s backend product coming along?
We’ve launched our onsite and remote club administration services, and our online club fundraising system, and we’ve established several partnerships that benefit clubs and networks — including text donating and insurance. We’re also in the process of finalizing our cloud-based system and working with our first beta university client. And this is only the beginning!