Q&A: New 2021 Alumni Board Officers Hope to Leverage Their Diversity to Expand Engagement
The Crummer Alumni Board works to create a lifelong connection between the Crummer School and its alumni by providing meaningful opportunities, events and programs beneficial to alumni.
The Board holds a full schedule of programs in the areas of continuing education seminars, career management forums, and social and networking opportunities.
In 2021, we welcome a new, diverse class of Executive Officers:
- Alumni Board President – Alex Manrique
- Alumni Board Vice President – Manny Agon Kresky
- Alumni Board Secretary – Diahann Smith
- Alumni Board Treasurer – Austin Montgomery
We also would like to thank C.J. Maier (will continue to serve on board as past president), Danielle Spears (former vice president), Luis Llop (former secretary), and Boo Gonzalez (treasurer, but will remain on Alumni Board as a member) for the contributions as Crummer Alumni executive officers over the past year.
Crummer News spoke with the new executive officers to get to know more about them, their goals over this next year, and the diversity of their backgrounds and experience.
Can you give us a little background on yourself?
Alex Manrique: I was born in Bogota, Colombia and attended an American school there, which early on gave me a global and international perspective through my formative years. I was naturally inclined to attend college abroad and in 2001 graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management Information Systems from the University of Central Florida. I started my career in the telecommunications industry and for almost a decade held positions in Corporate Communications, Multicultural Affairs, Public Relations, Marketing, and Advertising.
Shortly after proudly obtaining my Crummer MBA in 2007 through the Executive Program, I joined the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) team at Universal Parks and Resorts (UPR). For the last 13 years as a Diversity Practitioner at UPR, I continue to lead and support the DEI vision and strategy through the creation and execution of initiatives and programming for the organization.
I love traveling with my husband and two daughters; together we enjoy learning about different cultures. I am fortunate to speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese fluently. I also have a love for the arts with a special affinity for photography and painting on canvas with acrylics.
Manny Agon Kresky: I graduated from Crummer in 2008 from the Executive MBA program. At the time, I was Director of Revenue Management at the Grand Bohemian Hotel. Expedia recruited me shortly after graduating, and I was an account manager there for 12 years. I am part of a “Crummer Couple,” as my husband, Nick, graduated in 2018. We were married on campus in 2016.
Diahann Smith: I was born in New York. I grew up in Puerto Rico and learned English while traveling with my grandparents as their “interpreter”, as they were travel agents. I moved to Florida when I was 15 and graduated from Oviedo High School and went on to UCF to complete a Liberal Studies and Business Minor degree. I graduated with an Executive MBA from Crummer in 2017.
I worked at the Orlando Sentinel for 13 years in several marketing positions and was recruited to develop the Hispanic marketing initiatives for the Florida Dairy Farmers where I now oversee and implement general market and Hispanic omnichannel programs, and business development for the dairy industry. I volunteer with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida and the Crummer Alumni Board as the incoming secretary. I am fluent in English and Spanish and some French. I am married with two teenagers and enjoy cooking, running, swimming and jigsaw puzzles.
Austin Montgomery: I graduated from the Crummer Professional MBA program in 2017. While attending the program, I worked at Universal Parks & Resorts in a number of different roles and lived in Winter Park which was a terrific experience. Until recently, my wife Julie `18MBA and I were both longtime Central Florida residents but now live in Atlanta, Georgia. Since the move, I’ve been enjoying the new city and a new job at Salesforce, and most importantly looking forward to the birth of our first child (and future Crummer graduate!) in late July.
This is our most diverse board yet. How important is it to have such a wide-ranging group of individuals with different perspectives and experiences on the board?
Alex Manrique: It is important and valuable for our Board to reflect the diversity of our Crummer students, staff, and alumni, and Crummer Rollins community overall. By including diverse racial backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities, generations, genders, professional industries, other authentic perspectives and insights, we encourage a more inclusive and welcoming environment. It’s that diversity of thought that enriches our experiences and representation and having a seat at the table matters – for all voices. My hope is that in this new year we can lean in, listen, and learn from one another. Through our unique perspectives and our collective past experiences, we can help open minds and hearts.
Manny Agon Kresky: Diversity means many things to different people. For me, it means that our Board will make all alumni feel welcomed, valued, and represented.
Diahann Smith: I am proud that there is so much diversity in our board from different programs, classes, ages, professions, life stages and backgrounds. The Crummer Alumni Board strives to consider and develop programs that all alumni can benefit. Having a diverse board helps consider different points of view to provide programs that alumni find engaging, significant, fun and that ultimately help alumni connect, network and thrive.
Austin Montgomery: I’m incredibly proud to be part of a board that’s diverse in so many ways and believe it’s a wonderful example of Crummer’s mission to produce global, responsible, and innovative business leaders that impact their organizations and communities. By leveraging the diversity of our perspectives and expertise, I believe our group can continue to reach more of our 7,000 alumni with content and opportunities that resonate with them.
Why did you think it was important to give back to Crummer and take on a leadership position on the Alumni Board?
Alex Manrique: I feel a sense of belonging and gratitude for the positive influence, impact, and life experience that Crummer provided and wanted to give back by serving on the Board. I have happily stayed connected and committed to cultivating our Crummer Alum family. I have also made and continue to develop lifelong friendships and professional partnerships within our Crummer Alum community and continue to pave the way for a new generation of leaders who pay it forward through our alma mater. I am certain that I will continue to receive more than I give serving on the Board – connecting with Alumni is so enriching and gratifying.
Manny Agon Kresky: I had always enjoyed the Crummer networking events. When the opportunity to join the Board presented itself, I applied. Crummer was my #1 choice for earning my MBA because of its reputation and the strength of its alumni network. I want to do my part to ensure the ever-expanding alumni community continues to be supported.
Diahann Smith: I think it’s important to be active and give back to your community and alma matter, help others succeed and network. It is rewarding to see businesses and professionals grow and achieve their goals, and that maybe you played a small part in their achievements. Crummer is special; we are a big and diverse extended family that is willing to support you when it counts.
Austin Montgomery: When I was considering where to pursue an MBA and during my time at Crummer, the strength of the Crummer alumni network was a tremendous influence and made a significant impact on my experience during the program. The opportunity to give back to a school and alumni network that’s given me so much has been a privilege.
What are your vision and goals for the Alumni Board over this next year?
Alex Manrique: As we emerge from a very difficult year and a half, where we learned to stay connected in a variety of ways despite the circumstances, I hope that we continue, through the support of technology, to strengthen the dialogue and virtual connections with alumni from across the globe. We will continue to create opportunities for lifelong networks through meaningful in-person and virtual events, along with programs that benefit alumni – all focused on education, career, community, and networking opportunities. The Board as active and engaged Alum, is honored to support and serve a network of alumni that stay connected as a Crummer family, this Board can innovate and cultivate our Crummer connections for all Alumni.
Manny Agon Kresky: Speaking as incoming Chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee, I would like to continue on our path of increasing transparency and structure to the new board member selection process. I would also like to build upon our relationship with the Edyth Bush Institute, believing that we will benefit from sharing best practices with other non-profits.
Diahann Smith: I want the board to listen and understand the needs of the post-Covid work landscape and help Crummer figure out how to help alumni bridge any gaps. I want to ensure we engage and reconnect more with alumni even if they are across the world.
Austin Montgomery: In my role as treasurer, I’m excited to build upon the great work of those before me and continue providing meaningful opportunities, events and programs beneficial to alumni. I think that given the events of the past year, many of our alumni will be seeking opportunities to connect with and learn from each other, so I think we’ll have a great year ahead.