After a competitive nationwide search, William & Mary has named Matthew L. “Matt” Brandon ’92 as the next associate vice president for alumni engagement and CEO of the W&M Alumni Association.
Brandon, who will begin his new role on Nov. 28, has three decades of experience in alumni engagement and advancement, both in higher education and at a prominent nonprofit.
“As a leader in his field and an alumnus of William & Mary, Matt has a deep appreciation for his alma mater’s traditions and strengths, as well as the opportunities ahead,” said President Katherine A. Rowe. “He will be a strong advocate for the university and our alumni.”
Brandon will be responsible for ensuring that all alumni of William & Mary are engaged, involved, informed, represented and encouraged to be active in the life of the university.
“Ever since I set foot on campus as a high school student, I knew William & Mary was a place where I could belong,” said Brandon. “My goal is to ensure all alumni can thrive in the W&M community and can be full participants, and that they can take advantage of all the benefits William & Mary provides throughout their lives.”
Brandon will partner with others throughout the university to implement William & Mary’s Vision 2026 strategic plan, which includes expanding W&M’s reach, educating for impact and evolving to excel. Alumni are integral to these goals and the four pan-university initiatives — democracy, data, water and careers — not only by providing their input, expertise and support, but also benefiting from enhanced services and the increased value of their degrees.
For example, Brandon will work closely with Kathleen Powell, chief career officer, on expanded professional development programming for alumni and a new networking platform, which will help alumni leverage the power of the W&M network for career advancement and thrive from their first job to their last.
Much of Brandon’s career has centered around the intersection of engagement and philanthropy. He currently serves as director of development for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading the foundation’s campaign efforts. Prior to that, he served in leadership roles at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia Alumni Association.
At Lynchburg College, Brandon served as associate vice president for alumni relations, overseeing programming, partnerships and communications and working closely with the Alumni Association board of directors. In this role, he developed a strategic plan and led a team that increased alumni engagement by 300%, launched an online alumni community, created successful sustainable career networking events and doubled participation in Homecoming. He then became associate vice president for advancement, serving on the president’s leadership team.
“Matt embodies our culture of engagement and philanthropy in all he does, and he brings a wealth of experience to this effort,” said Matthew T. Lambert ’99, vice president for university advancement. “He is a bridge builder who brings people together for the betterment of alma mater. His big picture, whole-university approach is vital to maintaining our momentum in alumni engagement. Matt understands and respects our deep history and rich traditions while also seeing the potential for new and engaging opportunities for all of our alumni.”
Brandon will serve on the president’s cabinet and will report to Lambert as a member of the Office of University Advancement’s executive leadership team. He succeeds Marilyn Ward Midyette ’75, who served in the role from 2014 until her retirement in August, and Howard J. Busbee ’65, J.D. ’67, M.L.T. ’68, L.H.D. ’22, a longtime volunteer leader at W&M who graciously and adeptly stepped in as interim AVP and CEO and will help pass the mantle to ensure a smooth leadership transition.
In some ways, Brandon’s career is coming full circle. He got his start in alumni engagement in 1994 as associate director of programs for the WMAA, managing 37 alumni chapters and interest groups, recruiting and training more than 100 volunteers and overseeing the Student Alumni Liaison Council. He also oversaw the New York Auction as well as key Homecoming and reunion events. From 1999-2003, he served as the WMAA’s director of alumni products and services, including alumni marketing, facilities rentals, sponsorships and retail.
“I am delighted to welcome Matt back to our alma mater in this new role,” said Anna Dinwiddie Hatfield ’96, president of the W&M Alumni Association Board of Directors. “He brings both a love of William & Mary and a broader perspective from leading other institutions. The board and I look forward to working together with him to serve our vibrant community of alumni.”
Brandon graduated from William & Mary in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in economics. He also holds a Master of Science in journalism and public relations from Ohio University.
While a student at William & Mary, Brandon was a charter member of the Xi Theta chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. He competed on the varsity wrestling team, served as a President’s Aide and was a member of the Black Student Organization and the Student Assembly.
As an alumnus, he was one of the first officers of the Hulon Willis Association, the WMAA’s network for alumni of Black or African descent, and has remained actively involved.
The Aspen Leadership Group partnered with William & Mary to conduct the extensive nationwide search. During the interview process, candidates met with President Rowe and her executive leadership team; university advancement staff; alumni engagement staff; the WMAA board of directors; alumni from regional, affinity and identity networks; W&M deans and community leaders.
Brandon takes the helm of the WMAA after several years of unprecedented growth in alumni engagement at W&M. Under Midyette’s leadership, the university launched William & Mary Weekend, Professionals Week, W&M Women’s Weekend, a reimagined Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, Traditions Weekend and new virtual programming featuring alumni experts in their fields, among other offerings. Affinity and identity-based inclusion initiatives and career and networking opportunities also expanded.
The university saw the number of alumni participating in these programs and events triple over the course of the For the Bold campaign from approximately 10,000 per year to more than 30,000 per year, establishing a trajectory for growth. The university also remains the No. 1 public university for alumni giving, showing continued investment by alumni in their alma mater.
James E. Ukrop ’60, L.H.D. ’99, is a strong supporter of his alma mater, having served on the William & Mary Foundation board, Mason School of Business Foundation board, For the Bold Campaign Steering Committee, Board of Visitors, and as president of the W&M Alumni Association, among other leadership roles. He received the prestigious Alumni Medallion from the WMAA in 1981 and knew Brandon during his earlier years working at the Alumni Association.
“Matt has been an integral part of the W&M community since his time as a student. For me, the greatest value in my college experience was the lasting friendships I gained, which continue to inspire me to stay involved in and serve my alma mater, and the connections I’ve made through the W&M network worldwide,” said Ukrop. “Matt sees an alumni community in which all members feel connected to and can leverage the power of this network, and he is the right leader to achieve that goal.”
Mica A. Willis ’13 served on the search committee and is a member of the Annual Giving Board of Directors and the board of the Crim Dell Association: William & Mary’s LGBTQ+ Alumni Association, and is the granddaughter of the late Hulon L. Willis M.Ed. ’56, for whom the Hulon Willis Association is named.
“When you talk to Matt, it’s immediately apparent how much he values each person’s unique perspective,” said Willis. “Whether you graduated last year or 60 years ago, Matt cares deeply about your story and how the WMAA can better serve and connect you with your W&M community.”
Brandon will be joined in Williamsburg by his wife, Teri. They are the proud parents of two adult daughters, Mia and Macy, who live in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Brandon intends to begin his term by meeting with colleagues across the university and as many alumni as possible, as well as attending alumni events, starting this December.
“I am delighted to welcome Matt into this role,” said Busbee. “The W&M Alumni Association is in excellent hands.”