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Meet the Next Alumni Association President Lisa Conley, Ed.D.

Clayton State NewsApril 26, 2021

Alumni Association President Lisa Conley

Starting July 1, 2021, Dr. Lisa Conley, a 2002 graduate with a degree in Integrative Studies, will become the fourteenth President of the Clayton State Alumni Association. As President, she says she hopes to continue the growth of the engaged alumni population that has been ongoing under current President, Crystal Billingslea, while also expanding opportunities for alumni and students.

Like many students who have attended Clayton State University, Lisa arrived as a nontraditional student. Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she attended Clark College—now Clark Atlanta University—right out of high school to study health sciences. Unfortunately, she had to leave due to financial reasons.

Lisa recalls being devastated when she could not return to school, “I remember breaking down in tears at my roommate’s graduation, and her mom said, ‘don’t worry baby, one day you’ll graduate.’”

Though at the time Lisa was unsure if finishing college was going to be something she could attain, she continued to work hard in hopes she’d be able to return to receive her degree. She worked at the American Red Cross doing data entry until she got her first job in higher education with the Georgia Tech Alumni Association (GTAA). She notes the job with the GTAA changed her life, as she still to this day utilizes the skills she obtained in her event coordination role there.

Lisa continued to work full-time, and, several years later, she was able to pay off her account balance from Clark College. For her, this was a milestone, as it meant after working for a number of years, and unable to advance as far in her career as she wanted, she could return to earn her bachelor’s degree.

While continuing to work, Lisa was looking at other colleges and universities that did not seem to fit into her schedule. She began researching Clayton State and eventually attended an information session and felt welcomed as someone taking a nontraditional route to her degree.

“I knew that night I was in the right place,” Lisa says. The view of the lake behind the Downs Center and the warm, welcoming staff at the information session helped seal her decision.

Remembering her time as a student, she was busy with work and school, but it was a great experience. Professors were accessible and genuinely invested in her success. There are specific memories of Dr. Jourdan and Dr. Nakos and their though-provoking classes.

“Being able to complete my degree increased my confidence and allowed me to pursue a larger variety of roles,” Lisa says.

Since leaving Clayton State, Lisa has had a tremendous career in higher education. In her most recent role, she designed and launched a successful mentoring program for graduate business students. Before serving in that role, Lisa was the Organizational Development Manager for the University System of Georgia (USG), managing program logistics for the Executive Leadership Institute, and facilitated leadership development programming for USG staff. Additionally, after receiving her undergraduate degree, she continued to work at Georgia Tech in various administrative roles. Lisa continued her dedication to learning by obtaining her Master of Education in Learning, Leadership, and Organization Development and Doctor of Education degrees from the University of Georgia.

Thinking over her experiences in the workplace during her career, Lisa notes being a female in the professional world has its challenges; however, being a Black woman in the professional world can be exhausting when you have to work twice as hard. She references a Gallup survey taken in late 2020 that found Black women are less likely to feel they are treated with respect in the workplace and are less likely to feel like a valued member of the team, and as President of the Clayton State Alumni Association, she wants to help empower her fellow Lakers experiencing these roadblocks.

As an alumna of Clayton State, she has long found it important to stay connected to her alma mater. Over the years, she has volunteered at and attended alumni awards programming, traveled with a group of alumni to Athens when the Lakers basketball team played University of Georgia, participated in Alumni Weekend and Homecoming, and attended other outings, such as Braves and Hawks games.

Lisa progressed in leadership with the Alumni Association to having served as a member of the Alumni Board for the past three years. “I supported and attended alumni events, and I think serving naturally evolved,” Lisa notes. “Telling others about Clayton State means a great deal to me.”

Thinking over her time as a member of the Board, she’s excited about the growth and innovative programming for alumni and students. She also notes how well all of the members work together and the great rapport the members have with each other.

In addition to all her other accomplishments, Lisa has served as the Alumni Association commencement speaker on multiple occasions. This is an honor she does not take lightly.

“There are not many times in one’s professional life you can be at a podium where there is that much joy, happiness, and celebration. Looking out and seeing the faces of the graduates lit up with all their hopes and dreams is an experience that never gets old,” Lisa says.

Looking ahead to her two-year tenure as President of the Clayton State Alumni Association, Lisa says her priorities will be on fundraising and engagement.

Lisa has been a regular philanthropic contributor to various funds across campus, including recently creating a Dream Maker Scholarship, and she hopes to see alumni help provide more opportunities for our students and campus. Additionally, she hopes to increase opportunities for alumni across the spectrum. She says, “The strength of any organization is diversity, and our organization is no different in terms of touching all kinds of alumni.”

She further mentions alumni having more contact with current students, noting if the Alumni Association and its members connect with students from the beginning and continue to engage them early after graduation, it can increase the reach of Clayton State.

If you would like to get more involved in the Alumni Association, you can email us at alumni@clayton.edu.