Yesterday on an unusually hot Chicago Spring day, more than 20 people gathered at Rock Bottom Brewery to meet Ross MBA1′s who were in town working on MAP projects. The teams working with Ballet Chicago and MillerCoors met alums and talked about their projects. In addition, one of the faculty advisors for Ballet Chicago, Valerie Suslow, an Associate Dean and Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, mingled with the students and alums. It was all business, until the Artistic Director, Dan Duell, and School Director, Patricia Blair of Ballet Chicago showed. They shared their story of their Ballanchine-based ballet school where they built not just the future dance stars but also the individual confidence and character of their students.
The mixer was part of Ross Chicago’s Alumni-MAP Initiative (AMAP), a non-profit outreach meant to create deep, positive change in our community. This year’s focus is Ballet Chicago, an arts education ballet institution. Hugh Jedwill, MBA’04, worked with Ballet Chicago to bring a student MAP team to help Ballet Chicago with a marketing plan for their Nutcracker program. Ballet Chicago was already familiar with Ross as they had worked with a Ross-led team last year to build a new Strategic Plan. Starting in April this year, a Ross-led team will help them with a Branding and Key Messaging project.
By focusing 100% of Ross Chicago’s considerable resources on one non-profit each year, we can make a significant impact on our community. Other Ross alums, Manisha Singh, EMBA’04, and Kevin Wiliams, MBA’86, have helped Ballet Chicago on their strategy and public relations, respectively. Neha Mehta, BBA’09, is coordinating additional family-friendly events including a Sunday afternoon performance to Ballet Chicago’s Spring Repertory.
The mood at Rock Bottom, however, was not about business. It was on the school and the experiences that made all of us–alumni, faculty and current students–remember why Ross is important to us: the connections and relationships we made (and continue to make) that will always stay with us.