WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 6, 2018) – Howard University has appointed Sharon Strange Lewis as Director of Alumni Relations in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR). Additionally, El Hadji Djibril Diagne has been promoted to Associate Director and will work alongside Strange Lewis.
Strange Lewis, an alumna of Howard University’s School of Communications class of ‘84, brings nearly a decade of experience to the position, having served as the former director of Women and Diversity Programs and other alumni programs at the University of Maryland (UMD). She previously held an extensive career in television as the vice president of Creative Services for Black Entertainment Television (BET) before starting her career in alumni relations in 2009.
“Ms. Strange Lewis brings a wealth of knowledge in alumni relations and friend-raising to the Howard University team,” says David P. Bennett, Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations. “As a proud alumna and parent of a Howard graduate, I am confident that she will hit the ground running to enhance our engagement with alumni, parents and friends, of all generations.”
Stange Lewis received her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Howard University. She also received her master’s degree in business administration from Robert H. Smith School of Business at UMD. As managing director of the Office of Career Services at UMD, Strange Lewis successfully launched a program that provided opportunities for alumni who were displaced during the economic recession that began just a year before her appointment. Through the program, Strange Lewis provided career services, workshops and webinars to UMD’s MBA alumni who were displaced by the recession. She began to notice a trend that would lead her to develop another program that served a population of university alumni she noticed was underrepresented.
“We created a variety of events and other touch points that allowed us to find out what alumni were interested in and how to keep them connected to the school. It was during that time that I developed a passion for what was happening in the women’s empowerment space and I wanted to find a way to support our women alumnae, students, faculty and staff.”
Strange Lewis began a speaker series to have powerful women speak to students, and faculty at UMD. This became a catalyst to form a program focused on women and diversity.
As the Director of Alumni Relations at Howard, Strange Lewis will help to enable Howard’s alumni and parent communities to give back to the next generation.
“I feel a sense of pride when I think about the history and the legacy of Howard,” says Strange Lewis. “I think, ‘How do we preserve that’? It’s important to remember that if you’re an alumnus, you are able to live a better life because of Howard. Giving back and even just lending your time to encourage a Howard student will help them go further.”
In his new role as associate director for the Department of Alumni Relations, Diagne will work alongside Strange Lewis, and continue to build upon his 12-year career serving alumni at Howard. Diagne, a Senegal-born international exchange student from Paris, France, received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University in 2006, and also holds a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University. Diagne says his experience as an international student has given him the ability to represent the alumni experience in a more inclusive way.
“I feel grateful that I can bring an outside perspective,” says Diagne. “Because I was not a U.S. citizen, but I attended Howard, I can help bring the perspective of foreign alumni and provide insights about the priorities of international alumni.”
In 2014, Diagne made it possible for international alumni to run for election to one of the three seats on the Howard University Board of Trustees held solely for alumni. His work as a champion for the inclusion and support of all alumni, including international alumni, has continued throughout his career in the department.
Diagne was instrumental in creating a family host program with Undergraduate Trustee Ashley Grey that gives international students who are away from their families the opportunity to celebrate major holidays with local alumni in the Washington, DC area. Diagne also hopes to raise awareness about alumni philanthropy with current students.
“I hope to focus on educating our students about philanthropy starting from their freshman year, moving up,” says Diagne. “Students who benefit from alumni philanthropy should understand where the money for scholarships comes from and be ready to perpetuate the same kind of giving that their predecessors did.”
The Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) facilitates alumni engagement and philanthropic support for Howard University. For more information, visit http://www.alum.howard.edu/.
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About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.
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