JMU Spring/Summer 2013 : Page 40

the quantity and quality of daily activities on campus. Many days I have to pick and choose from among several options. I often chuckle that I have been busy all day with meetings and events, but have put only five miles on my car!” Mary Lou Bourne, director of the JMU Office of Technol-ogy Transfer, welcomed Alger to campus by inviting her to lunch. To their delight the pair discovered a com-mon interest — entrepreneurship. Con-versations led to growing connections that formed a business network of people and knowledge in the startup space. Technol-ogy transfer staff assist in moving JMU innovations and intellectual property to commercialization. Alger’s previous bank-ing and investment experience filled a missing link for this network. Bourne then reached out to me, as director of the College of Business Cen-ter for Entrepreneurship, and Joyce Krech, director of the Shenandoah Val-ley Small Business Development Cen-ter, to join in planning the network. We recognized the synergies of a JMU professional network to promote inno-vation, business development, job cre-ation, entrepreneurship and career men-toring. The Madison Business Network emerged. More than 60 JMU faculty and staff members attended the 2013 Madi-son Business Network Kickoff event. Serial entrepreneur John Rothen-berger (’88) also recognizes Alger’s suc-cessful track record in business develop-ment and higher education. He asked her to join the JMU Center for Entrepre-neurship Advisory Board. “I am happy to welcome Mary Ann to our team,” he says. “She is passionate about entrepre-neurship and has chosen this as one of her main initiatives to support.” The goal of these eight successful entrepreneurs/ alumni is to lead the Commonwealth of Virginia with excellence in undergraduate entrepreneurship education. Nick Langridge (’00, ’07M), vice presi-dent of advancement for JMU, has seen Alger’s passion for relationship building firsthand. “Mary Ann is a systems-builder with a strategic view,” says Langridge. “She has demonstrated a clear interest in actively engaging with constituents on and off campus. Such engagement is key ‘I am very interested in helping all students become productive citizens after graduation and helping them experience the best of what JMU has to offer.’ – MARY ANN ALGER, JMU f irst lady to stimulating growth in our volunteer ranks and ultimately leads to investment in JMU’s future.” Alger’s engagement within the Madi-son campus extends to the local busi-ness community as well. “We have been warmly welcomed, and it has been easy to get involved and to make friends,” she says. “I have been impressed by the widespread civic pride and efforts to continue building the community.” She serves on the Advisory Council of the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, which supports business development in a seven-county area. “Mary Ann is a welcome addition to our team,” says Krech, SVSBDC director. “She played the role of investor in a recent client meeting, and her observations and questions helped the owner re-imagine the potential and direction for the business. She is an important member of our busi-ness community in the valley.” JMU President Jon Alger shares her com-mitment to the local area and economy. The couple participated in the first Harrisonburg Startup Weekend, April 5–7. Mary Ann Alger’s tireless efforts in campus and local initiatives are infusing renewed energy into entrepreneurship, innovation and business development — vitalizing partnerships of education, business and government. Her professional and personal pursuits clearly show that Alger relishes a challenge and likes to see results. An avid sports fan, Alger already bleeds purple, and she and her family are seen regularly at numerous athletics events cheering on the Dukes. In her spare time, she enjoys a brisk walk or a game of tennis. Alger also loves music — an integral part of the Alger family. A gifted pianist, she has accompanied choirs, vocalists and instrumentalists since she was a teenager. She, Jon and their daughter, Eleanor, enjoy singing, and the family reg-ularly attends Eleanor’s choral and musical theater performances. “We are very happy with the public schools and the array of quality course offerings and high-impact teachers,” says Alger. She volunteers at her daughter’s school and is a member of the advisory board for the Shenandoah Val-ley Children’s Choir, a nationally acclaimed program based at East-ern Mennonite University. As Alger settles into her role as first lady of the JMU community, she is focused on nurturing relationships. “As a volunteer, I don’t have a job description, so thankfully I can create a role for myself that advances the university’s goals. Rela-tionship building is a priority among stu-dents, alumni and other JMU friends and organizations, which serve and interact with JMU. I will continue to devote many hours to outreach and cultivating relation-ships that will benefit the university.” The Algers enjoy working together as a team to align their professional interests and gifts with a single vision. “Jon and I have always supported each other’s careers, but I must say that this is the first time we have been in the same workplace, and I love it,” she says. “We are in the same boat and rowing in the same direction. We are both working to advance James Madison University and to nurture internal and external relationships. Our daughter enjoys being part of the team as well.” “Jon and Mary Ann seem like the per-fect power couple for JMU,” says Paul Holland (’82), who hosted the Portola Valley, Calif., event of the “Why Madi-son?” Presidential Listening Tour. Hol-land is a general partner with Founda-tion Capital, one of the leading venture capital firms in the United States. “Jon’s background in school administration and Mary Ann’s experience with entre-preneurship is a terrific fit,” Holland says. “They are a perfect combination for JMU coming into the 21st century as we attempt to build a student body that is both strong in traditional skills and strong in skills needed for today’s entrepreneur.” Students are already buzzing about the next Friday Fusion event to be hosted by Alger. She has invited students to meet at the president’s home. “Really? The Presi-dent’s home?” students inquire. Their eyes widen and they quickly key the date into their iPhones. It is a new world, in more M ways than one. 40 MA D I S O N MA G AZ I N E

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