Volunteer Spotlight: Kevin Dowdell, WG'85
Kelly Lauersen, Senior Associate Director, Global Clubs interviewed Kevin Dowdell, WG’85 for this edition of Volunteer Spotlight. Kevin is on the Advisory Board of the Wharton Club of the National Capital Region and was integral to the club’s launch in early 2019.
KL: What is your greatest achievement since graduating from Wharton?
KD: Meeting Arthur Ashe and co-founding the Safe Passage Foundation with him and running it for four years (until he passed) was a transformative life experience. I was an unseasoned 28 years of age when we met. I had worked as a strategy consultant for four years after graduating, but knew nothing of nonprofits or startups so I learned a lot. However, as Arthur’s understudy, I had the opportunity to appreciate and absorb his extraordinarily high level of integrity and commitment — especially in challenging times — and his appreciation for family and for life. So that was by far my greatest experience!
KL: What motivates you to volunteer for Wharton?
KD: I had two motivations. First, our club is a startup, which is a rarity since most clubs are well established -- so now that I actually have startup experience, I enjoy starting and growing new businesses and organizations. Second, I only recently gained a full appreciation of the value that alumni networks can provide, so I stepped up my alumni involvement at both Princeton and Wharton.
KL: What has been your favorite memory as a club leader?
KD: Our kick-off event in April 2019 — only 6 or 7 months after our first meeting — was a great success. The event featured David Trone, WG’85 who was a newly elected U.S. Congressman, and more than 200 people attended — so we knew we were onto something! My favorite "future memory” is an event currently planned for October 26 with Michael Smerconish about the upcoming election. I had a Virtual Coffee with Chuck Marion, C’86 W’86 L’89, President of the Wharton Club of Philadelphia, and we decided to co-host events. I suggested Smerconish to conduct a pre-election analysis, though I knew it would be challenging to secure him. I’m a big fan of Smerconish because he prepares rigorously and he tries to objectively call balls and strikes despite today’s highly partisan climate.
KL: What is your vision for the Wharton Club of the National Capital Region?
KD: I see three aspects developing over time. First, I see our club developing into a community where DC area alumni of all ages and backgrounds feel welcome to find mentors, develop their careers, identify investment and business financing opportunities, and take advantage of the best of the opportunities our club provides. Second, I see our club continuing to partner with other clubs for virtual events — long after the pandemic has subsided and we’re able to attend events in-person. Third, I see a community that incorporates fun and positive energy, which is vital. Ultimately, I’d like to see Wharton alumni appreciate the full value that alumni networks can provide early on — and not wait as long as I did to engage.
KL: What advice would you give to a new club volunteer?
KD: We’re only in year two of a startup so the opportunity here for new club volunteers is real. Therefore, my advice is to jump in and help define our path in a way that works for you. We need new ideas and fresh thinking and we can also provide support and opportunities, which creates a solid value proposition.