Ryan Catherwood’s passion for working with alumni stems from a love of bringing people together face-to-face—and a fascination with deploying cutting-edge digital strategies to make that happen.
It’s a combination that took him from an early career in the event-planning and hospitality industry into higher education. In leadership positions at Washington & Lee University and most recently the University of Virginia, he has emerged as a nationally known thought-leader in the field of alumni engagement.
Capping an extensive national search, Catherwood was announced Friday as the new leader of Longwood’s alumni engagement efforts, succeeding Nancy Britton Shelton ’68, who led Longwood’s alumni office for nearly 40 years.
Catherwood comes to Longwood from U.Va., where he is director of engagement strategy in the office of alumni, parent engagement and annual giving. He starts at Longwood in early July.
"I am excited to come to a university with such close bonds to its alumni. There truly is a unique camaraderie among members of the Longwood family," Catherwood said. "Nancy has built a wonderful, vibrant alumni network. I’m looking forward to building on those efforts already in place with some new, forward-looking ideas and really enhancing the family that exists."
"Our search attracted an extraordinary number of strong applicants, but Ryan emerged clearly as the person with the energy and vision to build a 21st-century alumni engagement operation," said President W. Taylor Reveley IV. "Longwood alumni are famously loyal, committed and passionate. There are extraordinary opportunities to channel that energy, to connect with people where they are, at home and at work, and to attract people back to visit campus. Our goal is to ensure the relationship with Longwood is a lifelong one. Ryan is the person to make that happen."
Finalists for the position were selected by a search committee comprised of Tim Pierson, vice president for student affairs; Kathleen Early ’92, president of the Alumni Association; Eileen Anderson ’83, Board of Visitors; Bart Mitchell ’90 and Nancy Terry ’90 from the University Foundation; James Jordan, Board of Visitors Distinguished Professor; Paul Barrett, dean of the College of Business and Economics; Jennifer Conkwright, Office of Commonwealth Relations; Scott Bacon, associate director of athletics for external relations; and Justin Pope, chief of staff.
"The Alumni Association is delighted to welcome Ryan Catherwood to Longwood," said Early. "His wealth of experience, industry knowledge and clear enthusiasm for Longwood and its mission will make him a dynamic addition to our community. We look forward to working with him to implement great programming for our alumni."
At U.Va., Catherwood has served on the leadership team of a 24-person group that works with 1,000 volunteers and executes more than 1,300 events annually. He has spearheaded a number of initiatives to increase alumni engagement, steered an award-winning fundraising campaign and launched "HoosNetwork Live," a web series featuring achievements of alumni faculty and staff.
Catherwood hosts a regular web show called "Advancement Live" and blogs about the field of alumni engagement at www.higheredlive.com and his web site www.ryancatherwood.com.
He says he’s bursting with ideas for pushing Longwood’s Office of Alumni Relations forward—including finding ways for alumni to engage even if they have only a few minutes a month. He will also be working to build up a career and professional development component to Longwood’s alumni office, engaging alumni to help one another, and—in collaboration with the University Career Center—current students with career advice.
"I’m interested in infusing Longwood with some of the things I’ve learned and creating some fun opportunities for alumni to grow both professionally and personally under the flag of the university," he said. "We are going to make engaging with Longwood a fun, rewarding experience."
Prior to his time at UVA, Catherwood served as director of digital communication and social media in the Office of Alumni Affairs at Washington & Lee University. A 2003 graduate of the University of Richmond, where he remains deeply involved in alumni volunteer activities, he also holds a graduate diploma in business administration from the University of Queensland in Australia. He has worked in the advertising industry in Richmond, and in marketing and banquet management at two hotel companies.
Connections to Longwood include a sister-in-law, Tricia Ramsey Smith ’01, and several close friends. Ryan and his wife, Kathryn, have two young children, Reid and Liv.
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