The former Presidential Administrative Fellow, cheerleader and part-time “bleacher creature” will take office July 1.
By Ruth Steinhardt
William Alexander III, B.S. ’04, M.B.A. ’06, will be the next president of the George Washington University Alumni Association beginning July 1. Alexander is president and founder of Dale LLC, a Maryland-based firm providing consultative and project management services in real estate and construction management. He previously served as a member of the Engineer Alumni Association and in 2014 was honored at GW’s Alumni Outstanding Service Awards.
Alexander takes over the GWAA presidency from Christine Brown-Quinn, M.B.A. ’92.
As GWAA president, Alexander said his job is to facilitate the strongest possible connections between alumni and each other as well as alumni and GW. In a tumultuous historical moment, he said, alumni networks can be powerful and supportive communities. And during the so-called “Great Resignation,” as many workers reevaluate their priorities and change their professional paths, fellow alumni are also important professional resources. More broadly, existing regional or affinity groups can become even stronger when connected to each other and to the resources GW itself can offer.
“I think now more than ever people are looking for belonging,” Alexander said. “Maybe someone’s contemplating a job change, or maybe they’re looking to establish more industry connections, or maybe they’ve moved to a new place, and they don’t know anyone—those local networks are there, and they have great programming. So what can we do to strengthen the synapses between GW and those groups?
“There’s a lot on the docket for this year,” he said. “But high-level, it’s about fostering deeper connections between alums and also getting folks to feel reconnected to the university.”
It’s a job for which Alexander is particularly well-suited. As a fraternity brother, a member of the cheerleading team and a cabinet member of what was then Colonial Inauguration, Alexander was a fixture on campus in his student days and “had an absolute ball for six years” while earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees. (When pressed, Alexander admitted it might be fair to call him a “big man on campus:” “I used to, you know, move and shake,” he joked.)
A D.C. native who attended School Without Walls, Alexander received a Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship to attend GW as an undergraduate and was part of the Presidential Administrative Fellowship class of 2006. Though his childhood home was just a 15-minute drive away, he made it clear to his family that he wanted an independent college experience.
“I said, ‘You need to pretend as if I'm 1,000 miles away,’” Alexander said, laughing. “And they really honored my request. That first summer I only went home for like a week or two—I lined up campus jobs that included housing. I really stayed gone as much as I could.”
One of his college jobs was as an occasional emcee and entertainer at university events. Funny, personable and gregarious, Alexander put nervous students and families at ease, even helping chaperone younger family members to the zoo and other child-friendly D.C. attractions. Alexander described himself as “a bleacher creature, doing antics with the students and the parents—and not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty good at it.”
After another goofy performance, shortly after his graduation from the School of Business—“so I was still undergraduate-like”— Alexander recalled being congratulated on his dynamism and energy by then-Dean of Freshmen Fred Siegel. The two had worked together often during Alexander’s GW career.
“[Siegel] said, ‘I envision for you that one day, you’ll still be this dynamic, hilarious nut that you are, but people will also see your serious side and the talents that you bring to the table,’” Alexander remembered. “It wasn’t ‘How much longer are you going to carry on this nonsense?’ It was: ‘There’s more you have to offer, and I want more people to see it.’”
The encouragement stuck with Alexander. As GWAA president, he said, he sees a way to bring his knack for connection to the task of growing and strengthening the alumni community.
“This is probably the culmination of whatever growth and maturation I can muster in myself,” he said. “I'm going to do a little bit of that for Fred Siegel, to show him I’ve got this.”