The world has changed dramatically over the past several months, but one thing has remained remarkably constant: the strength of Milken’s community. Leveraging that strength is the goal of alumni Jacqueline Lowy ’07 and Sharon Winter ’10, who recently concepted, designed and built a new website focused on alumni engagement and support.
Called the Milken Alumni Hub, the site serves as a virtual town hall for school graduates, enabling them to do everything from searching for jobs to posting how-to videos. “When coronavirus happened, I saw a lot of my friends offering services online: cooking tutorials, yoga classes, even therapy sessions,” recalls Jacqueline, a partner at a venture capital fund specializing in sports, entertainment and e-commerce. “Sharon and I wanted there to be a forum for Milken alumni to connect and share resources during this difficult time.”
The idea for the site preceded the COVID-19 outbreak. “Jacqueline and I both work in technology,” says Sharon, a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Esports One, a data science company in the esports space. “Last year, we began discussing how we could utilize our skills to enhance Milken’s alumni engagement, putting a structure in place capable of bringing us all together.”
Every endeavor has an origin story, and this one is particularly on point. Though Sharon and Jacqueline had overlapped at Milken – and despite the fact that Jacqueline’s younger brother had been in Sharon’s class – the two had never actually met. They were introduced by Jacqueline’s New York-based business partner, who had run into Sharon at a tech founders meet-up in Los Angeles. “We hit it off right away and started doing business together,” Jacqueline says. “Given our common backgrounds, it seems crazy that I had to meet her through a friend from across the country.”
The pair quickly began strategizing ways to create a network that would allow Milken alumni to get and stay in touch. “There are so many incredible talents that have come out of Milken. It’s a whole community that, on an individual level, most of us aren’t even aware of. We both felt that members of our alumni family should have a way to lift each other up,” Sharon says.
When coronavirus hit, their discussions became more urgent. “There’s so much need out there right now, and the type of platform we had in mind would give people a chance to help or be helped depending upon their particular situations,” Jacqueline says. “We decided to make our timetable for the project a little more aggressive.”
That, notes Ross D. Mankuta, Director of College Counseling, Alumni Relations & Strategic Partnerships, is a serious understatement. “On April 10th, I got an email from Sharon and Jacqueline proposing what would become the Milken Alumni Hub. Twelve days later, we’d produced an entire site, ready to launch, with sections dedicated to job resources, events, alumni news and more. These two ladies have pulled off something truly amazing,” he says.
In Sharon and Jacqueline’s view, the Milken Alumni Hub has the potential to drive significant value as it continues to attract notice and evolve. “There’s a genuine sense of trust and comfort when you come across a fellow alum who went to Milken. You know you’re in good hands,” Sharon says. “By growing our connections, the Hub makes access to our community even more desirable.”
Jacqueline points out that this has significant ramifications for Milken’s future. “I attended USC, which is known for the power of its alumni network,” she says. “That’s what we hope to do for Milken – to create enough buzz and reputation that going to the school becomes a no-brainer.”
For her, the quest is personal. “I’m not a parent yet, but one day, I hope to send my own kids to Milken,” she says. Of course, her ability to do that will depend, in part, on the school’s long-term financial security, which means attracting generations of new families. “Milken’s alumni are super successful, and there’s so much potential for us to help our peers, as well as current students,” she observes. “Through the Hub, we can start to show people just how much a Milken education is worth.”