Alumna Gives Back Through Reunions
Friday, October 14, 2022
BY WADE RUPARD
Winnie Klick Steffenson, ’02 MBA, is a connector.
During her time as a Carlson Executive MBA program (CEMBA) student, she grew close to her cohort. Combined with the faculty and staff, Steffenson’s experience left an indelible mark and she didn’t
want to lose touch with the classmates that meant so much to her. Some 15 years after walking across the commencement stage, she felt a strong need to gather the group in-person.
“This was something I was really passionate about,” she says. “I wanted to get our class together. I still have a very strong connection to my classmates because of the friendships I made during our time together. I thought it would be fun for all of us to reconnect.”
Steffenson secured support from some of her classmates and reached out to Sarah Oehler, the senior director of alumni relations and annual giving on the Carlson School’s Institutional Advancement team to make it happen. The 2017 reunion was possibly the first such event to take place.
“Winnie is the ultimate champion of the University, the Carlson School, and the CEMBA program,” Oehler says. “She has done everything she can to try to find ways to give back in a variety of ways.” Prior to the reunion, Steffenson served on CEMBA’s Executive Advisory Board and the Carlson School’s Alumni Board, as well as volunteered as a career coach for the school’s Business Career Center.
She also has given back financially, donating for years to the Dean’s Excellence Fund and the CEMBA program. Steffenson is a member of the school’s Investors Circle, which recognizes giving of $1,000 or more with myriad privileges at distinct giving levels.
Now, as the CEMBA program works to fund more fellowships to support women, entrepreneurs, and BIPOC students, Steffenson is there to offer support.
“What I’ve enjoyed most about my relationship with the Carlson School is that I have been active in pursuing it,” she says. “I’ve had invitations to participate and I’ve also sought out other ways to be involved and give back to the school.”
Today, Steffenson has added connection points with the University. After retiring, she enrolled in U of M art classes.
“Education has always been important to me,” she says. “I enjoy learning and expanding my circle of friends and colleagues.”
Steffenson’s original idea of hosting a reunion came full circle this spring. The Carlson School’s Institutional Advancement team hosted reunion events for milestone MBA classes. The first in-person MBA Reunion Weekend was held in May 2022 and Steffenson’s 20-year reunion with her CEMBA cohort was part of it.
“The MBA Reunion weekend was a great opportunity to reconnect with classmates, professors, staff and other Carlson School alumni,” says Steffenson.
This article appeared in the Fall 2022 alumni magazine
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