Volunteer Spotlight: Heather Aspras, WG'08
Heather Aspras, WG'08
President, Wharton Club of Philadelphia
Julia Embody, Associate Director of Global Clubs with Wharton Alumni Relations, interviewed Heather Aspras, WG’08 for this edition of Volunteer Spotlight. Heather is President of the Wharton Club of Philadelphia and recently joined the Board of Directors for the Wharton Healthcare Management Alumni Association.
We like to start every volunteer spotlight off with a question that helps reflect on life as a Wharton alumnus: What is your greatest achievement since graduating? With her tenth Reunion approaching next May, this was a big question for Heather to consider! Ultimately, though she had a number of good candidates to choose from personally and professionally, she decided that her proudest accomplishment was convincing a family member to go back to school to earn their bachelor’s degree. When I asked Heather how she managed that, she responded in true Wharton fashion – with plenty of research presented in a PowerPoint!
Here at Wharton Alumni Relations, we are always thinking about new ways to motivate volunteers and engage alumni, so my next question came very naturally from Heather’s greatest achievement since graduating. What motivates you to volunteer for Wharton and how do you motivate the Wharton Club of Philadelphia team? Heather’s answer was nearly one and the same. For her, the best part about leading the Wharton Club of Philadelphia is the opportunity to make connections. Whether socially or professionally, there is so much to get out of the Wharton alumni network, especially through club programming. As she thinks about her leadership team, Heather looks for ways to connect her club leaders’ passions to the needs of the club. Her “rockstar” volunteers often come to her individually with new ideas, which she then helps them run with. This year, Heather introduced new positions to the club’s officer list; from Chief of Staff to VP of Sponsorship, she is always thinking about new ways to get alumni involved and giving back to the community.
The Wharton Club of Philadelphia’s move toward an innovative leadership structure is just one example of how Heather helps align the club with what is relevant to the alumni community. Unsurprisingly, my next question – what is your vision for the club? – had a ready answer. The club is focusing on three major priorities: engaging the young alumni community, developing partnerships with other local alumni clubs, and expanding career & leadership programming. One way that they are working toward these goals is by conducting a survey to find out what kind of programming is most relevant to alumni across generations, industries, and interest groups.
To round out our interview, I posed one final question: What is one piece of advice you would give to other Wharton alumni club leaders? Heather once again brought it back to the key element we started on – the people. The best thing she has learned is getting the right leadership team in place and establishing trust. Not only does this make the experience altogether more enjoyable, but it also allows her to stay focused and avoid burnout. Heather says that the most time-consuming part of her role as president is her commitment to attending nearly every club event, even if she hasn’t personally organized it. Having a great team of motivated volunteers helps her to evenly distribute the work involved to run fantastic programming, while also still affording her the bandwidth to achieve her own club leadership goals.