The Faculty of Arts and Science grad — who takes on the role from predecessor Kim Fuller, BFA 96 — first joined the association’s board in 2015.
“I was at the point in my life where I felt I had accomplished much of what I had set for myself and decided it was time to give back,” says Donnini. “I owe a lot of where I am today to what I learned at Concordia — from an education perspective as well as from a personal perspective — so I decided that this was a great place to start my volunteer career.
“If I can help current students or alumni achieve that same sense of accomplishment and pride in their alma mater, I’m in.”
The CUAA is a volunteer body that represents more than 220,000 alumni worldwide and provides the university with advice, support and sponsorship that is reflective of constituent needs. The association works with Alumni Relations to provide graduates with a variety of benefits, services, programs and events — the latter of which have gone online in the form of workshops, webinars and more since the start of the pandemic.
“Pre-COVID, it was more about assisting the university and the Alumni Relations team in getting as many people involved and engaged as possible through meaningful professional, academic and social opportunities,” says Donnini.
“This year, given the pandemic, our big focus will be making sure alumni have all the support they need, mostly by supporting initiatives such as CU Cares and contributing to the fundraising campaigns.”
In collaboration between Concordia’s LIVE Centre and University Advancement, CU Cares mobilizes students, faculty, staff and alumni to volunteer with a variety of Montreal organizations in need of people power to assist with food preparation and wellness calls with seniors and crisis-line support.
‘I keep going back to my roots’
For Donnini — who attended Villa Maria High School and Marianopolis College, and helped co-found the Villa Maria Foundation while attending Concordia — giving back to her alma mater is in her nature.
“It’s like I keep going back to my roots,” she says with a laugh. “When I decided to become part of the CUAA and walked into the Hall Building at the downtown Sir George Williams Campus for the first time, it brought back a lot of memories. It just felt good.”
Donnini has worked in marketing in the automotive industry for 20 years, but started a new challenge at Hamster, the only Canadian office product distributor in the country, as vice-president of marketing just before the pandemic started. It’s been a busy time for her, professionally speaking, but that’s only encouraged her to give back even more.
“Concordia taught me structure, hard work, loyalty and teamwork, so when you commit to a team to deliver a project, you show up and contribute,” she says.
“It also taught me all the academic knowledge required to succeed in my career — including business and marketing — and allowed me to meet many different people and build long-lasting relationships. It helped me grow as a person by being exposed to many different cultures,” she adds. “I loved my time at Concordia.”