AAMC News & Notes
A Message from the AAMC President: Spring 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC) to work in very different ways, especially since the campus continues to be closed to visitors—including most alumnae—to reduce the risk of contagion. Fewer students are living on campus than usual, and almost all of their classes are online.
A major part of our mission is to support Mills students, and we’ve been able to continue to do so through socially distanced and virtual events. At the end of last semester, Alumnae Student Relations Committee members assembled and distributed 150 finals snack bags on campus. Students always look forward to this finals tradition and were delighted to pick them up and chat—at a safe distance—with alumnae. The committee also co-sponsored an online Winter Celebration for students who completed their degrees in December. Family members from near and far joined in the celebration and made it a memorable and moving experience. We are looking forward to more such gatherings this spring.
During the pandemic, the Board of Governors (BOG) and its committees have been meeting regularly online or by conference call. We continue to renew the leadership of the AAMC through our nominations process and the annual election of a new alumna trustee. Please cast your vote for this year’s candidate for alumna trustee. You can read the nominee’s statement, as well as more information on how to cast your vote, on the next page.
Another way to get involved and lend your support is by serving on one of the committees of the AAMC BOG. I encourage you to peruse the AAMC website at aamc.mills.edu for a list of committees. You can always reach out to me if you’d like to know which committees are currently seeking new members. The BOG has also continued to assess its programs and make changes when needed. Three years ago, the AAMC and Mills College together launched MillsConnect, a networking and mentorship platform created for Mills alumnae and students. We want to thank those of you who supported and participated on this platform. The students who used MillsConnect benefited greatly from your mentorship, perspective, and advice. In the years since we first launched, though, we found that students did not use the platform as much as we had anticipated or hoped. Because of this, the MillsConnect Steering Committee decided not to renew our contract with the platform provider, PeopleGrove, and MillsConnect shut down on February 13. We encourage you to join at least one of the two Mills-oriented groups on LinkedIn: Mills College Connections, which is open to students and alumnae; and Mills College Alumnae, specifically for alumnae. Joining one or both of these groups can keep you up-to-date with what Mills graduates and students are doing professionally and help you to make valuable connections.
One program that will make a big impact on students far into the future is the Alumnae of Color Endowed Scholarship, established by the AAMC’s Alumnae of Color Committee. We will share updates about it in the future as fundraising continues, but this winter we received very sad news about the first recipient of the scholarship: Sharon Robinson ’14, MPP ’15, passed away after a battle with cancer. I was blessed to know Sharon and experience her generosity, optimism, and ability to lift anyone’s spirit at any time. All who knew her will forever cherish Sharon. You can learn more about her in this issue’s In Memoriam section.
As we continue to navigate these challenging times, I gain strength from those who have journeyed ahead of us. These affirming words of Maya Angelou grant us wisdom:
A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.
I am grateful to have met so many Mills alumnae who embody this spirit.
Until we can safely meet together in person, be safe and well and enjoy the spring.
Viji Nakka-Cammauf, MA ’82
President, Alumnae Association of Mills College
Elect your alumna trustee
Vote by Friday, May 7, to approve the nominee of the Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC) to serve as the voice of Mills graduates on the Mills College Board of Trustees from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2024. The alumna trustee will also serve as a member of the AAMC Board of Governors during this same period. Alumnae trustees present the views of alumnae and of AAMC governors to the leadership of Mills College. They are full members of the boards of both the AAMC and the College, responsible for participating on committees as well as in board meetings, and serving as liaison between the two boards. Please review our nominee’s statement below, then vote to approve or disapprove her appointment using the online ballot available at alumnae.mills.edu/alumna-trustee-ballot.
All members of the AAMC are eligible to vote; any former Mills student who has completed at least one full-time semester and whose class has graduated from Mills is considered a member of the AAMC. All ballots must be completed and received at Reinhardt Alumnae House by 5:00 pm on May 7. If approved, Jacki Brown ’74 will join continuing alumna trustees Deborah “Debi” Wood ’75 and Adrienne McMichael Foster ’74 on both boards. Tara Singh ’05 is completing her term as alumna trustee in July. We proudly thank her for her service to the AAMC and the College.
Honorable Jacki C. Brown ’74
Education: BA in American history, Mills College; JD, University of San Francisco
MY MILLS EDUCATION INSPIRED ME to achieve whatever heights I could reach by delivering an excellent academic environment and providing me with a social structure of women committed to excelling in whatever field they chose to pursue.
The practice of law requires skills in dispute resolution, problem-solving, and issue analysis. As a judge, I have honed those skills and execute them quickly and efficiently while under the greatest stress. I have reached the pinnacle of my field, one traditionally controlled by men, and therefore have directly contributed to the changing demographics of the field.
Moreover, as a long-term Alumnae Admissions Representative, I am quite familiar with the process of finding student applicants, reviewing, and interviewing them for their possible admission. I have also interviewed, selected, and supervised law clerks in their training to become attorneys. Good management skills and procedures affect any program’s success rate.
I want to give back by bringing these skills back to Mills College—the true source of my personal and professional success—and applying them to the formation of what Mills will become. I foresee that the time of the “small, elite, private women’s college” is probably over, but like the willow tree that can bend under a strong wind yet never break, Mills has shown repeatedly that resilience and wisdom can bring the College through the worst of eras. The institution may change, but as long as it continues to deliver its message to the hearts and minds of its students, it will survive, just as it has since 1852.
I am optimistic that Mills will continue to value its alumnae and their support of and for the College. I am encouraged by the current administration’s openness to alumnae contributions and the respect I see alumnae hold for the administration as it struggles with the changes wrought by the economic and social hardships of recent years. Without the contributions of alumnae, Mills will not be able to retain its traditional unique strengths while developing new abilities in the face of the challenges of the 21st century.
I can relate to and empathize with the emotional component of young people’s difficulties in life. I also understand the mature person’s need for efficient resolution of issues and for fiscal responsibility. I have been employing these capacities in my professional life for many years now and would love the opportunity to bring them into service for the alumnae community and the future of Mills College.
A longtime favorite gets an update!
The AAMC’s beloved eucalyptus leaf pins, originally created by the Class of 1948 for its 50th Reunion, have undergone a redesign, and we’re happy to share them with you. As before, the leaves are handpicked on the Mills campus and then preserved in 24-karat gold or sterling silver. These new pins feature the delicate texture of the original leaves and a more refined shape. Gold or silver plating traces the veins of the leaves to create the look of fine filigree jewelry.
Gold pins are $45 each and silver are $40 each plus shipping and handling. Purchase one or browse many other merchandise offerings (all sales benefit the AAMC or Mills College) on our online store at aamcmerch.square.site.