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Alumni & Stakeholder Engagement

Priority 4: Engagement

Expand our lifelong engagement with our alumni and increase our engagement with stakeholders connected to research and students.





More than 180,000 duke alumni around the world

Alumni Stories

group of people

Ebonie Simpson PPS ’12 was named co-executive director of the Lower Eastside Girls Club.

Woman, smiling

Joy Basu PPS ’08 runs a boutique advisory, is a Trustee of the Heifer International Foundation, and was appointed as a White House Fellow for 2021-2022.

Two men smiling mentor and mentee

two women smiling mentor and mentee

Adam Fischer MPP/MEM ‘19 and Marjorie Patterson MPP ‘10 mentored current students through the MPP Mentoring Program.

Woman, smiling

Stephanie McGarrah MPP ’00 was appointed to direct the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office.

Sanford building in foreground, people sitting in chairs

Alumni Engagement By the Numbers


Sanford Alumni

Includes MIDP, MPP, iMEP, PhD graduates and all Duke undergraduates who majored in Public Policy.



Total number of alumni events hosted or in partnership with others. 


Event attendees

Includes Sanford-only events, plus many more attendees at co-sponsored events.



Includes alumni who volunteered time.



Includes alumni and friends who made donations to Sanford.

Thank you to our Sanford alumni serving in leadership roles on Duke alumni boards.

Volunteer Opportunities

Sustaining Sanford’s Growth

– In addition to the 1,624 individuals who contributed $1.5 million to Sanford via gifts to the Sanford Annual Fund, many alumni and friends opted to show their support by establishing new endowments that will sustain Sanford in the future.

– Sanford received $20.4 million in new commitments from alumni, parents, friends, corporations and foundations.

– Sanford received $10 million from The Duke Endowment to support graduate fellowships, professorships and strategic investments in school priorities. 

16 newly established or new commitments to previously established endowments were made to Sanford in FY21 totaling $3.7 million. (NOTE: This total does not include The Duke Endowment $7.75M, of which a balance of $2.25M is expendable).

Examples of recent major gifts to Sanford:

– The Richard B. and Kathryn C. Lieb Dean’s Fellowship Fund Endowment provides whole or partial fellowships to MPP students, with preference given to individuals who are in active U.S. military service or who have been honorably discharged from such service.

– Professor Emerita Helen Ladd believes in the value of Sanford’s MPP program. As one of the first directors of the program, she helped build it into a top-ranked professional program. Today, she is continuing to build the program through her gift to create the Helen F. Ladd Fellowship Fund.

Philanthropic Support of the School

Presenting the 2020-2021 Sanford Annual Fund Honor Roll!

We are thankful for the people who make it possible to prepare students for lives of leadership, civic engagement and public service. Honor Roll members for the 2021 fiscal year (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021) have our gratitude.

Mask Up and Make a Difference

Mask UP and Make a Difference, people's faces with masks

A heartfelt thank you to all of our alumni, students, parents and friends who joined us in February 2021 to Mask Up and Make a Difference in support of the Sanford Annual Fund!

Not only did your gift directly benefit our outstanding students, but each supporter received a Sanford mask!

Staying Engaged During the Pandemic

We continued to offer virtual programming for our alumni since we were not able to gather in person due to the pandemic. In addition to hosting exclusive Sanford events, we also delivered virtual events for all Duke alumni in conjunction with partners across Duke University.

Sanford School of Public Policy professors and alumni were featured speakers in Forever Learning Institute programs, as well as events hosted by regional alumni clubs across the country, affinity groups and the Duke Policy & Politics Network.

During Reunion weekend, Duke alumni were also able to return to the classroom with a virtual memo writing class led by Sanford instructors.

Many events were recorded and are available on the Duke Alumni Lifelong Learning YouTube Channel.

In 2020, our sponsorship continues via CCFP’s involvement in this year’s virtual conference.

Why Public Policy Matters

This social media ‘vlog’ series is about public policy during the time of COVID-19.

By alumni, for the community.

CASE district 3 silver award


Alumni Volunteers

Our global alumni community supported Sanford in multiple critical volunteer roles.

Volunteers joined us as regional leaders working with other alumni or assisted with a variety of student needs. Some of the many ways our undergraduate and graduate alumni sustained our work included:

— Serving as alumni mentors on class projects or serving in our MPP mentorship program

This alumni profile features some of the alumni/student mentorship couples

This article talks about David Schanzer’s class and 6 alumni mentors

— Speaking in classes or with individual student groups such as the Sanford Women in Policy and Policy and Living Color

— Serving as regional alumni club leaders

— Working with our career services team to sponsor internships for undergraduate and graduate students

— Offering career advice to students with the DeWitt Wallace Center, the Center for Child and Family Policy and American Grand Strategy as well as serving as panelists for our MPP career panels

— Welcoming current students into the alumni family through virtual conversations

Thank you to our Sanford alumni for offering your time and expertise to support us.

Volunteer Opportunities

More 2020-2021 Highlights

Darity Podcast Airs on WUNC

Professor William “Sandy” Darity Jr. and co-author A. Kirsten Mullen co-produced a podcast series based on their book “From Here to Equality: Reparations For Black Americans in the 21st Century.”

The ARC of Justice podcast series was hosted by WUNC’s Lindsay Foster Thomas, and aired as a podcast and on four consecutive nights on North Carolina Public Radio/WUNC.

The event was shared with alumni through Duke’s Forever Learning Institute.

Stand For Series

The ‘Stand for’ Series – nine virtual events on a variety of topics in 2020-2021 – reached an average of 30% alumni as audience members, a total of almost 2,500 attendees over the year.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, Sanford presented a virtual (online) speaker series of nine talks to explore important policy conversations related to:

Justice: Sept. 21, 2020

Democracy 1: Oct. 1, 2020

Democracy 2: Oct. 2, 2020

Community: Oct. 13, 2020

Equity: Oct. 21, 2020

Human Rights: Nov. 17, 2020

Corporate Social Responsibility: Feb. 23, 2021

Racial Justice: March 25, 2021

Equality: April 15, 2021

The series honored the school’s founder, Terry Sanford, who encouraged students to “Stand for Something.”

Each of the 9 talks reached a broad audience including students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the community at large.


Access Playlist

Read a Student Voice About the Series


African American Woman: Tonya Robinson, Purpose and Public Policy

The Sanford School for Public Policy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics invited undergraduates to hone their sense of purpose and consider what it means to work for the public good and work in the public sector during an online event over winter break. Sanford alumna TONYA ROBINSON ‘92 served as the event keynote. | Read a student reflection about the event >>


Our award-winning series Humans of Duke Sanford continues.

woman smiling
Madhu Vulimiri MPP’18


“I work for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services where I am a senior strategy advisor to our Chief Deputy Secretary. Since March 14th I have been working full time on Covid-19 response for the state of North Carolina.

Many of the decisions we’re grappling with need to be made as quickly as possible to give people time to plan and know how to move forward, but also as thoughtfully as possible in a time when we really don’t have easy answers.”

–Madhu Vulimiri MPP’18

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