One of the greatest benefits of completing a TFAS program is joining the TFAS Alumni Network. TFAS alumni represent the courageous leaders the world needs, and they are actively serving in roles of influence in journalism, business, economics, law and government. This network not only helps alumni launch careers, but also allows them to create relationships with professionals in their field.
In honor of its 55th anniversary this February, TFAS announced the relaunch of TFAS Alumni Connect, an enhanced version of the online alumni platform that allows alumni to continue building these vital connections while providing them with exclusive access to program updates, upcoming events, job postings, volunteer opportunities and more.
TFAS has also established a team of staff members dedicated to alumni engagement. The creation of the Alumni Engagement team is part of TFAS’s new strategic plan initiative to engage TFAS alumni in meaningful ways. They will build out a robust, purposeful alumni program, providing alumni with ongoing support, resources and recognition for their accomplishments. Their aim is to connect alumni around the globe with each other as well as with TFAS activities and professional opportunities.
The Alumni Engagement team is committed to meeting the ever-evolving needs of TFAS alumni. To ensure TFAS alumni programming is personalized and relevant, the team encourages alumni to provide their input by completing the Alumni Engagement Survey. This survey, which will be live through the end of March, asks alumni to weigh in on future events, communication and continuing education opportunities.
Dana Faught, TFAS director of student recruitment + alumni engagement, is looking forward to offering alumni support by keeping them involved with TFAS through the new platform.
“Our hope for the TFAS Alumni Connect platform is to bring together thousands of TFAS alumni around the world to offer them a one-stop-shop for any resource they may need to succeed,” Faught said. “TFAS programs wouldn’t be possible without the alumni volunteer network, so we hope we can show them that no matter where they go in their careers, TFAS is here to support them – just as they have supported TFAS over the years.”
Alumni are encouraged to register for the new platform and update their accounts with the year of their program, location, current job and more. Based on this information, alumni will have access to exclusive networking groups with peers from their programs, graduation year and professionals in their field. There is even a unique map feature that allows members to search for other alumni who live in their city or region.
From there, alumni can explore the many other features of the portal, including a “TFAS Happenings” tab that highlights upcoming events, a “News and Updates” section that provides exclusive alumni updates and other TFAS news, a TFAS social media feed, and a “TFAS Career Connections” directory that encourages alumni to browse and share job postings or professional development opportunities like fellowships and conferences.
TFAS programs wouldn’t be possible without the alumni volunteer network, so we hope we can show them that no matter where they go in their careers, TFAS is here to support them – just as they have supported TFAS over the years.” – Dana Faught
TFAS Director of Student Recruitment + Alumni Engagement
Alumni can also learn more about how they can stay involved with TFAS through the online platform. Each year, TFAS alumni play an integral role in semester and summer programs by serving as mentors to students, sponsoring internships or volunteering as guest speakers. Through TFAS Alumni Connect, alumni can easily access these important volunteer opportunities that enhance TFAS’s transformative programming for students.
Jeremy Harrell ’07, PPF ’10, said he was most grateful for the way his TFAS mentor challenged him. Harrell’s mentor helped him assess his career trajectory and truly set him on the right path, which he likely would not have found without that guidance.
“TFAS has played an integral role in almost every step I’ve made in my career,” he shared. “The TFAS experience has been the gift that keeps on giving.”
Since the launch of TFAS Alumni Connect on Feb. 7, hundreds of alumni have logged into the platform, with many sharing a “Toast to TFAS” to celebrate 55 years of Teaching Freedom and share the impact of the program on their careers.
Sarah Markley ’16 joined in on the celebration, sharing about how participating in the TFAS program taught her invaluable life lessons.
“TFAS was the best place imaginable to start my D.C. journey,” Markley shared. “The friends I made and lessons I learned during my time in the program will truly last a lifetime. Here’s to many more years of TFAS changing lives and creating opportunities in our nation’s capital.”
Over the next several months, alumni can expect to hear more about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities through TFAS Alumni Connect, including details on in-person alumni events, the “Window into Washington” virtual seminars and the TFAS Liberty + the Future NYC Alumni Lecture Series this spring.
To learn more about the enhanced alumni portal and update your profile, visit alumni.TFAS.org.
Meet the Alumni Engagement Team
Dana Faught is the director of student recruitment + alumni engagement for TFAS D.C. Programs. She works to recruit students from all over the country by traveling to college campuses, career fairs and conferences. Dana also serves as an admissions and financial counselor to incoming students.
As part of her role in the Alumni Engagement team, she manages the TFAS Alumni Connect networking platform and oversees the Alumni Council and Alumni Awards.
She previously interned for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, where she worked within the office of communications to organize and promote the Ohio State Fair. She is a graduate of Northeast Ohio’s Mount Union College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in media studies and writing. During college, Dana worked as a student assistant for her college’s Office of Alumni Affairs, a public relations director for her campus newspaper and as a recruitment manager for her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi. Additionally, Dana volunteered with her local Habitat for Humanity by assisting the organization with brochures and other promotional materials. Dana is based in Akron, Ohio, where she lives with her fiancé and their beagle Leo.
Jennifer Stangland serves as the alumni engagement and special programs manager for the The Fund for American Studies’ Alumni Engagement team.
Prior to joining the team at TFAS in January 2022, Jen spent five years teaching high school English literature and composition in San Francisco, where she developed her love of educational programming, and most importantly, spending her time with students. She also served as a program coordinator for the Community College Initiative Program at Northern Virginia Community College, where she welcomed international students to the United States for a year of academic study and internship experience. Jen thoroughly enjoyed interacting with these students from around the world as she spent a year studying abroad in Asia herself and continues to spend a significant amount of time traveling internationally.
Jen graduated with a degree in social sciences from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and later earned her teaching credential from San Francisco State University. Jen is a recent transplant to the D.C. area from California, where she now enjoys exploring the city with her husband through outdoor activities, restaurants and art museums. In her free time, you can find her planning her next camping trip, painting or hosting friends for dinner.
Meet the Continuing Education Team
Michelle Jeffress Le ’95, ’96 is a two-time alumna of The Fund for American Studies’ programs. She attended TFAS D.C. Summer Programs in 1995, participating in the Communications + Journalism track and interning with the Military District of Washington as a staff reporter. The following year she participated in TFAS Prague. She is also an Institute for Humane Studies graduate. In 1997 she returned to TFAS, this time serving as a program assistant for the international programs. In 1998, she joined the TFAS staff full time. Michelle currently works as the vice president of international and alumni programs for TFAS.
Michelle is originally from Independence, Missouri. She earned her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in political science with minors in history and French from Missouri State University. She completed her master’s degree in international economics and European studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She spent her first year of graduate school in Italy, studying at the SAIS Bologna Center.
Michelle currently lives with her husband and daughter in Arlington. She enjoys traveling and has been to five continents. While she is not particularly interested in braving icy Antarctica just to add another continent to the tally, Michelle is always up for further visits to her favorite spots abroad.
Ryan Wolfe joined The Fund for American Studies in October 2021 as the manager of continuing education programs. In this role, he works with young professionals to further their careers in public policy and journalism through a variety of fellowships, including the TFAS Public Policy Fellowship, Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship, and the Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism.
Prior to joining TFAS, he worked at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute as the director of the collegiate network, where he managed a network of campus publications and placed students as summer interns and year-long fellows at national media outlets.
Ryan grew up in southern New Jersey and attended Wake Forest University for his undergraduate studies, graduating magna cum laude with honors in politics and international affairs. He currently lives in Washington, D.C.