Active alumna hopes for more philanthropy as leader of BAS

Already an extremely active alumna of Kennesaw State University, Ashley Nealy ’10, ’11 now is leading its Black Alumni Society (BAS). As president, Nealy hopes to lead the organization to new heights.

The BAS was chartered February 2000 but has recently been revamped with new leadership, bylaws and committees. Nealy was chosen as the organization’s new president last summer.  

“I think around 2013 or 2014, I wanted to get involved with the Black Alumni Society because I knew we had one, but I hadn’t seen any activity from them in a while,” said Nealy, who earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science, both in information systems, from KSU. “I started attending the open meetings and there were opportunities for leadership coming up, so last year in June I was elected president.”

Black Alumni Society executive members

Joining Nealy as newly elected BAS officers are Vice President Chaz Chapman ’14 and Secretary Jacqueline Schadeck ’15. Chapman received his Bachelor of Science in human services while Schadeck graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance.

Since Nealy and the new regime took over, there has been an increase in both the number of BAS events held and alumni attending the gatherings.

“Ashley has absolutely been an amazing force to be reckoned with since stepping into her role this past June,” said Ama Economy, KSU’s associate director of alumni engagement. “She also has an amazing executive team. They were all a part of BAS as it was growing and developing, and were ready for the challenge to reengage our alumni.”

Moving forward, Nealy has many high aspirations for the BAS.

“My goal is really to increase the brand awareness for the organization because we have a lot of alumni that didn’t either know about the regular alumni association or the Black Alumni Society,” Nealy said. “We really want to get our name out there.”

After trying new ideas and going through some growing pains in the latter part of 2017, the BAS is off to a great start this year.

“We had an open meeting in January, and that was the first one of our many events we had in January,” Nealy said. “We had it at the Atlanta Community Food Bank downtown, and we actually had probably like double the turnout at that event. We had a lot of people that had a lot of input, and then a lot of the people it was their first time coming to a black alumni or alumni event in general.

“Before that, during the MLK (Martin Luther King Jr.) holiday, we participated in the MLK March. We actually had a lot of people come up to us that said they graduated from Kennesaw and want to get involved, so we were able to hand them information and then just get visibility about the brand, or Kennesaw State as a whole, by marching in a parade and wearing black and gold.”

Activities, with even more involvement and interest, continued into February, which is Black History Month.

“We then had our Founder’s Weekend (on Feb. 2-3),” Nealy said. “So, the first event we had that weekend was our mixer at Gordon Biersch in Buckhead, which was a really good turnout. Most of the people who came I hadn’t met before and I’m always interested in meeting new people.”

On Saturday, Feb. 3, a special BAS 18th Anniversary Celebration Brunch was held inside Prillaman Hall on the Kennesaw campus. The event attracted some of the founding pioneers of the organization, along with many new, young alumni.

“The culmination of that weekend was having the alumni brunch in Kennesaw,” Nealy said. “I think that was kind of more intimate because it brought together our older board members that had served before, and then we had a handful of people that were new to the Black Alumni Society.”

Nealy has given back to her alma mater in many ways, including establishing a fund benefitting KSU’s Advancing the Teaching of Mathematics and Science (A.T.O.M.S.) Center. The fund was arranged more than three years ago to support the teaching of science and math in Georgia’s schools.

Now in charge of the BAS, Nealy is hoping for the organization to increase its giving.

“We really just want to get the word out, but the other big push I have is fundraising,” Nealy said. “So, the biggest thing I’m trying to instill into my board and to Kennesaw State as a whole is for alumni philanthropy, and how giving back can make a big difference.”

Besides her leadership of the BAS, Nealy stays extremely engaged with KSU in other ways as well. Recently, she served as a panelist for a Scientista event on Kennesaw State’s Marietta campus. Nealy also participated in the Student Professional Development Conference on Jan. 20 in Kennesaw.

“I do a lot of panel discussions, trying to give back to the community,” Nealy said. “I’m also involved with the OWL Circle through the Coles College of Business, and that’s called Outstanding Women Leaders.”

Outside of her volunteering with KSU and in the community, Nealy has worked for the federal government since 2010 and also serves as chief creative officer for Mindly Maven LLC, a company she founded in 2013.

“I work for the United States Department of Treasury, but specifically it’s called the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration,” Nealy said. “We audit the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), and I do web development and application development there, so I’m an IT (information technology) specialist or web team lead for the agency.

“I also have a web and graphic design business called Mindly Maven,” Nealy said. “For that business, I pretty much make websites for different nonprofits, small businesses, personal blogs and things like that. And then I also make flyers, graphics and logos for businesses.”

Several factors contributed to Nealy becoming an Owl. She matriculated to Kennesaw State from Hardaway High School in Columbus, Georgia, where she was a part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

“What I noticed about Kennesaw was that they offered a lot of credit for IB students, so I actually was awarded 29 credits from high school to come here, so that was a plus for me,” Nealy said. “They also had the major I was interested in at the time, computer science. But the biggest selling point for me was the dorms because they were apartment-style. So those three things really set Kennesaw apart from all the other schools, and it’s not too far from home.”

As a KSU student, Nealy stayed busy not only with her classes, but in other activities as well, including the Study Abroad program and Kennesaw Activities Board.

“I was involved with a lot of things,” Nealy said. “Most notably, I was the vice president of programs for Kennesaw Activities Board, so that was really fun and I think that’s kind of what helped me manage a budget. I feel like we had at least $30,000 every year to plan different events, and we actually brought the first homecoming concert to Kennesaw, which took a lot.”

Along with leading the Kennesaw State BAS, Nealy presently holds the same title of president for the Atlanta Chapter of Young Government Leaders. The Cobb County resident is also currently going through the LEAD Atlanta program. 

Looking ahead, Nealy plans to remain a strong contributor to her alma mater.

“I definitely want to continue my involvement with the KSU alumni office and association after my term is over with the Black Alumni Society,” Nealy concluded. “I want to make sure I’m still involved and plugged in, and also start another fund, depending on the needs at the time. And then one of my main goals is to do more with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), making sure more women and girls go into STEM.”

Without a doubt, Nealy is quite an asset to Kennesaw State and a role model for many young women. Under her guidance, the BAS is in good hands and has an extremely bright future.

For more information about the organization, please visit the KSU Black Alumni Society web page.